Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon lights the way into a new decade

Tonight's Blue Moon ushers in the 10's

Happy 2010

Y2K + 10

Can it really be ten years ago that the world feared the ticking of the twelve clock hour? We watched first as Australia turned the century with no Y2K disaster, then Asia, Europe and finally here in the United States the relief was palpable. Ten years, Google, Twitter, Facebook, text messages, iPhone, housing bubble, great recession, out-sourcing, rise of Asia and Blogger.

Change is undergoing Moore's Law which doubles knowledge and capacity every cycle. What will the world be like in 2020?

Happy 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

SWOT Analysis

The sun has completed it journey around the Sun yet again. Amazing, we live on a living mass orbiting a fiery ball, which itself is orbiting the center of the Milky Way galaxy, which is moving through the void of space with a cluster of other galaxies toward the future. Whether you believe in the Big Bang, Biocentrism, self manifestations, quantum fluctuations, particle spin or multiverse universe's you got a business and a life to make sense out of.

SWOT analysis is here to help you analyze your strengths, weakness, opportunities and obstacles.

Creative destruction

Barry Mcguire's rendition of his classic "Eve of Destruction"

Scott Thurm's WSJ article

Companies always fail or get acquired. But the past decade was unusually tumultuous: Two investment bubbles grew, then burst, each followed by a recession. The Internet matured into a crucial cog of commerce and spawned innovative upstarts while ravaging one traditional industry after another. Global players from emerging economies muscled their way into business's top ranks. Wall Street was remade almost overnight by the financial crisis. And governments reversed a decades-long retreat to lay a more forceful hand on the global economy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What are you feeling like on Dec 31, 2010?

This is a very simple exercise. Imagine your world in one year. Feel it, understand it, breath it. Now work backwards until today and outline how you got there. That is your path, follow it!

Jump into the icy waters

Jon Gordon reminds us to trust

thought of all this as I prepared to jump into the icy cold water-to take a symbolic plunge that this would be the year of NO FEAR. Regardless of the circumstances I was facing, this would be the year where I would trust and go for it. This would be the year I would be bold in actions and faith and humble in spirit. No longer could I do it alone. Now I needed a miracle and I decided to act as if my future depended on me and pray like it depended on God.

By jumping into the ocean I was declaring that no longer will I allow fear to cut off the flow of abundant and positive energy in my life. No longer will I allow fear to paralyze me. Instead of fear I would trust.

There are two ways to do this, trust and believe it will work or live in the shadows buried under the immeasurable weight of fear. Trust and belief is much more fun and feels a lot better regardless of the outcome.

Happiness is the point

Kevin Huffman's article offers hope;

Tal Ben-Shahar, who teaches positive psychology at Harvard and has written extensively on happiness, calls it "the end toward which all other ends lead." He writes: "Wealth, fame, admiration and all other goals are subordinate and secondary to happiness; whether our desires are material or social, they are means toward one end: happiness."

If happiness is the point, four in five Americans already are on the right track, and that should make all of us more optimistic about the decade to come.

What are your power users doing?

Seth has a insightful post today about watching the behavior of your power users.

Amazon and the Kindle have killed the bookstore. Why? Because people who buy 100 or 300 books a year are gone forever. The typical American buys just one book a year for pleasure. Those people are meaningless to a bookstore. It's the heavy users that matter

The same logic applies to any business, if those customers who accounted for the majority of your sales no longer frequent, the model needs to change fast.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Movie theaters need to go upscale

Mary Ellen and I went to see the hilarious comedy "It's Complicated". The popcorn and Diet Coke however were just ok. Most movie house have cavernous entry areas where you can purchase snacks. Why can I not purchase a cup of coffee, a sandwich, a smoothie or some other culinary delight. Why has anyone not figured out a food court for the large movie theaters?

Changing the business model in the new decade

As we leave the Double Naughts, what will the new business model look like.

John Sviokla offers this model,

The general message is very clear — open up; involve your audience in crafting solutions as well as the information about your firm's offers to other customers. The economics of this type of customer care are superior to anything that can be done with internal resources alone. When I did an analysis of a customer service organization at IBM many years ago, the codification of solutions into a knowledge base shifted first call resolution from less than 60% to over 90%. Customers were happier. The technical staff could spend their time on new products instead of chasing down customer problems. What's not to like?

The future will be more connected, with more ability for people to share their impressions, stories and advice. In an ever-more crowded information market, the natural tendency will be for those people who lead the tribes to become important influencers. Those who generate great new content will be the market movers. Isn't it time to get involved in this emerging customer service structure now — while there is still time to build a reputation based on "earned media"?

So my questions for you are:

  • Are you transparent?
  • Do you lead your tribe?
  • Have you unlocked the talent latent in your customer base?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday season is a great time for serendipity

Amy Wilkinson offers encouragement for all those holiday gatherings, stay aware and observe without judgment because,

Serendipity strikes when diverse groups congregate," Wilkinson adds. "Season's greetings can turn into season's meetings when people share creative ideas."

This is a unique time of the year when people gather from across geographies and sectors. Listen to them talk and be alert to excitement or frictions that might uncover new opportunities.

It should be personal

Meg Ryan had a great line in the movie "You got mail." She said "putting me out of business was just business to you however it was personal to me."

Adam Bryant has an interview with Jeffery Swartz,

You know the line in “The Godfather” — “Nothing personal. It’s just business.” At Timberland, I want to make it clear from the beginning it is personal. Not invasion-personal, like I need to know what’s going on in your life. But if you aren’t going to play at the level of personal, it’s probably not going to be nourishing for either of us.

A willingness to be exposed, a willingness to acknowledge the personal dimension, a willingness to value the personal dimension — from the beginning, that’s what we’re after. I’m saying that there’s no chance that our company, in a cruddy industry in a world that’s in an L-shaped recession, not a V- or a W-shaped recession, is going to be able to reinvent itself with the speed and ease that it needs to unless we bring more than our intellects to the table.

I’ve got to find people who are comfortable with fuzzy logic, who are comfortable being exposed, who are comfortable being wrong, who don’t value as the first notion, “I got the answer, Boss.”

Q. Sum it up for me.

A. Comfort with ambiguity is one thing and faith in a solution is another and a commitment to fight for a worthy outcome is the third.

Method to Menu magic

Sarah Kershaw explains how a little menu magic can rev up sales. It is all perception.

Tabla is just one of the many restaurants around the country that are feverishly revising their menus. Pounded by the recession, they are hoping that some magic combination of prices, adjectives, fonts, type sizes, ink colors and placement on the page can coax diners into spending a little more money.

“There is constant tinkering going on right now with menus and menu pricing,” said Sheryl E. Kimes, a professor of hospitality management at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. “A lot of creative things are going on because the restaurants are trying to hold on for dear life to make sure they get through this.”

Deep and elemental

Seth Kahan explains a simple life enhancing exercise to alter a deep and dark December.

On New Year's Day Create a 2-page Document that Pulls All This Together:

  1. The one-page list of all your engagements
  2. A new area to master
  3. Business growth intentions for the next six months
  4. Personal reflections on life

This short doc is a great reference for gong forward. There is something powerful about the simple act of documenting your intentions. In fact, each of these five simple acts is profound in its impact and the synergy of the collection is extraordinary. Time to reflect and listen to your inner wisdom is irreplaceable - you must do it. To achieve an exceptional life, reflection is mandatory. The time when the end of one year meets the beginning of another is perfectly fitted for it.

This work is deep and elemental, with a quiet power. Draw on the natural rhythm of the calendar and use it to your benefit.

Ask those who believe why?

Knowledge at Wharton has an article about Guy Kawasaki Ten Commandments of entrepreneurial success;

Learn who's buying your product, ask them why and give them more reasons. That's a lot easier than asking people who aren't interested 'why not,' and trying to change their minds."

Ice Cream's new business model

Maureen Farrell outlines a new business model for ice cream,

Skip the ice cream parlor with 31 flavors. Moobella's vending machine pumps out scoops, in 96 flavors, on-demand, in about 45 seconds. This patented technique for churning and freezing ice cream from a room-temperature dairy mix has been 17 years--and nearly $50 million in R&D--in the making. Two prototypes are running at Northeastern University in Boston and Worcester Polytechnic University. Pinnacle Food Services will market the machines mainly to cafeterias in universities, parks and zoos. Cost: $400 per month, plus ingredients. Moobella raised another $18 million in venture funding in September.

The return of Fine Dining

Greg Burns article illustrates that fine dining never went away only the frequency of visits were curtailed.

Ironically, embracing the past might be the best way to attract a younger, 40-and-under crowd, he said: "It would be new to them. The styles always come back."

So does the economy -- eventually.

Baldwin thinks the downturn bottomed out in August, and he sees the numbers moving in the right direction. But it's still slow. "The period of self-deprivation is behind them," he said of his customers. "The trends are in fact better this holiday season than in recent months. We'd like to see the slope of the line a little steeper."

A line out the door waiting for tables would be nice too.

The abundance of candidates

Aye yes, what a joy it is to advertise a job and receive 350 candidate applications. The employer is definitely in control here, the great recession has created an abundance in this one area. However some employers have taken this opportunity to skew the balance even further and are using economic conditions to squeeze the proverbial "blood from the stone".

There is a very fine line between maximizing resources and treating employees like 'cow chips". Guess what folks, in a few years the mistreated, under appreciated employees will watch as your business model flames out big time. Demography is destiny and the economy will recover. The only sustainable business model is recognizing that you are in a relationship with your employees. This is not a one off transaction but an ongoing relationship. Employers need to stop acting like jackasses.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Everyone and everything is a gift. The secret to happiness is to accept everything that comes along with Thanksgiving and want for nothing more.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

A visit from St Nicholas
by Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stone soup recipe

Auren Hoffman's recipe for stone soup,

In this story, a hungry traveler visits a village with nothing but a large stone. The villagers ask him about the stone and he says it is the main ingredient for creating stone soup. He then convinced the villagers to create stone soup by first getting a large cauldron and inserting the stone. Then, he convinced them to fill the cauldron with water, then chicken, then vegetables, then spices and flavoring until the soup was complete and the entire village benefited from the stone soup.

Counting calories

It seems that customers can count calories after all. A USA Today story offers,

Diners consume far fewer calories at dinner and afterward when the calorie content of entrees is listed on the menus along with information on how many calories they should consume in a day, a new study shows

Volunteer during the season.

Roger Dooley points us toward a new study that purports that volunteering helps with cognition.

"Cognitive activity embedded within social settings may further increase task novelty, interactive problem-solving skills, and motivations to sustain these activities," the authors wrote.

"In addition, these activities are generative in giving meaning and purpose to one's life (volunteering, civic organizations, assisting others), which may make them more rewarding and personally enriching than highly stimulating activities performed alone. As a result, individuals may place more value on these activities beyond their immediate personal benefit and may sustain interest longer."

Basically it says, helping other people makes you smarter. What if your business donated your employees to help a cause on one day a quarter. You will be doing some good in the community and making your staff brighter in the process.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas week ideas

Rosabeth Moss Kanter offers this tidbit for getting through the next two weeks and maybe changing your life and the lives of those around you!

Peace on earth — or at least in the office. A period of amnesty or apology for past conflicts or troubles can pave the way to a fresh start.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Speed up the service.

People will believe they had more fun if you finish quicker than they thought. Karen Hopkin explains

So they asked people to take a 10-minute test. And then they pulled a fast one: For half the volunteers, they called “time’s up” when only five minutes had passed. The other half had to labor for 20 minutes before their 10-minute test was done. The result? Compared with the folks for whom time stood still, the finished-in-five team said they had more fun.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Change the things you have the power to change

Seth offers this bit of wisdom today

Smart businesspeople focus on the things they have the power to change, not whining about the things they don't.

Motivate by progress

Sean Silverthorne post offers the recipe to help motivate employees,

The single biggest thing managers can do to up the progress quotient, according to the authors, is “scrupulously avoid impeding progress by changing goals autocratically, being indecisive, and holding up resources.”

2010 Menu Trends

Technomic predicts the following menu trends,

1. New Spin on Old Favorites: Comfort Foods
2. Exploring New Corners of Asia (and the world)

3. Frontiers of Flavor
4. Back to the Future: Tending Our Gardens and Farms
5. Breakfast ’Round the Clock
I never understood why you could only get breakfast at breakfast!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

McD's unlimited Wi-fi

A news release came out today that McDonald's is offering unlimited Wi-fi. First the coffee experience, then joining the sustainable movement and now unlimited Wi-fi. WOW, the journey from the dark side is complete. I expect that eating fast food will no doubt be the healthiest option very soon!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Right Ear

Do not even talk to customers or staff unless you are talking to their right ear!

Changing Minds' post offers this;

When you want to persuade someone about something does it matter which ear they listen with? Apparently it does. Recent research by Marzoli and Tommas in Italy shows that if they listen with the right ear, they are far more likely to comply with requests.

We used to provide that service but given the economy

I heard a sales clerk utter those words today and I nearly went ballistic on him. The reality that he was clearly not trained tempered my rage.

Number 1, I do not care why you are no longer providing the service.

Number 2, Not providing the service is not a sustainable business model.

Return of the tavern

Katy McLaughlin's piece explains a sustainable business model

they used to call this model a neighborhood tavern. Welcome back!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Triangle Cuts

What is the optimal way to cut a sandwich?

NPR explains;

If your bread is square, and if each side is 4 inches long, you have 16 inches of crust. Cut that bread down the middle, and you get 8 inches of crust-free surface. Cut that same bread diagonally, Calter calculates, and you end up with almost 11 inches of crustless surface. That's a substantial increase.

The number 3 has always been more popular than 4, says Calter, who writes about the intersection of math, art and culture. Three is mother, father and child, he says. Three is the beginning, middle and end. Three is birth, life and death. Without three, there could not be a best — only a good and a better.

Geolocation functionality

Those words did not even exist a few years ago, soon maybe next year it will be the killer mobile app.

Pete Cashmore's top trends for 2010

What's clear is that location is not about any singular service; rather, it's a new layer of the Web. Soon, our whereabouts may optionally be appended to every Tweet, blog comment, photo or video we post.

The return of barter

Not that it ever really went away, however the mechanics of it made the process difficult to access for the majority of businesses. It is making a comeback as this WSJ story relates,

As they struggle to keep customers and pay the monthly bills, restaurants are swapping food for services like oven-hood cleaning and pest control.

Bartering helps restaurants fill seats, reassuring prospective customers who might be turned off by the sight of a vacant eatery. It also attracts new customers when tradespeople bring friends along, reduces some costs, and helps retain employees who can't scoop tips off empty tables.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dual Concepts

Listening to an NPR piece this morning got me thinking about dual concepts. I have always been a purist. Concept clarity has always been one of my tenets for success. However, I am willing to concede the possibility that I am misguided in my adherence to that business model. The story is about a a breakfast place,

Scramblers, a breakfast diner in Springfield, Mo., got a roommate last June: Andoro's Pizzeria.

The Italian eatery moved into the same restaurant as the bacon-and-eggs joint to keep costs down for both businesses. The arrangement has allowed a new restaurant to open, and an existing one to stay afloat in a tough economy.

The idea is not new, however just like a lot of people are moving back in with family or taking on boarders to help defray the cost this restaurant rented out the night business which was laying fallow. Forget the logistics for a moment and concentrate only on the concept piece. Is this a workable business idea? I think it is, we are not taking about a hot dog stand also serving pizza, salad, and beer. We are talking about two distinct concepts sharing a space, sharing customers, and sharing infrastructure. It can work when dayparts are distinct, however it can also work when it isn't such as lunch in this case. It will not be long before savy entrepruneurs start testing new concepts with the confines of their exisiting ones