Monday, December 28, 2009

Deriving the Most Profits from "Free" Space

I have been spending my past week in Hong Kong, finally having enough time to spare to see my hometown. 

It has taught me plenty of things about:
  • Logistics: try taking transit or taxis here, it's a whole new experience - if you don't jump out quick enough the bus might close its door on you - it has happened before, look it up in the news; 
  • Economics: that they might be wrong about there being some sort of recession, since there are approximately 500 million people shopping at 11pm at night - the stores don't close here!
  • Efficiency: The elevator, MTR, restaurant, or just ANY space in general can always fit more people.  I saw people literally pour out of the MTR cars and elevators.
  • Profit Maximization: Taking a look at the MTR stations in Hong Kong, they use every available space for advertisements.  Walls beside the elevators going up, ceilings, round pillars...everywhere you look there's an ad.  This generates a lot of profit for the MTR stations, and whoever built our skytrain stations out in Vancouver should do the same.  Olympics are coming up, tons of people will be taking the skytrain so why not put ads in the stations?  I've taken the skytrain a couple times and it's quite boring standing there waiting; give me something to look at, that will make me spend more, buy stuff and help the economy (this is the Florence economy stimulus plan..haha).
I think it's because space is so precious in Asia that we make the best use of it; scarcity stirs creativity.  North America can seriously do better maximizing its use of free space.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thank You Globalive

I got my phone bill from Rogers today.  It's $300.

I blame it on the many long distance calls I've been making and my time away in the US.  I need to stop making phone calls and sending text messages + checking emails while I'm outside of Canada.

What I just said, is what a customer would say if they have been conditioned.  It's hard for me NOT to be conditioned when roaming minutes are at $1.45/min and international text messages are $0.75/message.  I added $150 to my bill from international activity.

Now, because there's a new wireless carrier on the playing field, I may no longer have to pay a premium for Rogers' services.

Thank You Globalive.

Globalive will offer wireless services as soon as this week in Toronto and Calgary, according to this article in the Globe and Mail. It will operate under the Wind Mobile brand, which helped it make the regulatory cut to be recognized as Canadian company. 

Wind Mobile CEO Ken Campbell says Globalive won't charge its customers system access or 911 fees. Though it will not offer Apple's touch-screen iPhone, available from competitors, it will offer the BlackBerry and other smart phones.
As long as they don't charge that $7 system access fee I'm good.  To this day I have no idea what I'm paying for with I paying to cover their overhead for keeping me as a customer?  Ridiculous.

I know it's going to take some time for them to get a firm footing and to make the industry much more competitively priced than it is now but at least there's hope.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Empowering Your Employees

I think this concept has been around for quite a while and many would back this and say that it's an effective way of motivating employees to do more for the company. 

Question: is MORE always better? 

Often times you get employees that love the feeling of being in control of what they contribute at work...BUT, don't know what they can do to contribute to the overall BIG PICTURE that you're building.

Don't get me wrong, the whole empowering people concept works for people that see the big picture as you do and know what they can do to enhance it.  That's your problem, developing the ability to see who these people are that "get it", and are able to manage their goals to create an opportunity where 2+2 = 5 (yes, I like simple math, don't you?)

Most of the time company executives read about great management concepts in a book or from a blog and decide to throw it at their employees for implementation, and what happens?  Employees run around like chickens with heads chopped off.  Before implementing ANYTHING, figure out whether your team of employees can handle it.  It goes back to who you hire.  The right people can handle the right concepts and make them great.

So should you be a dictator and tell your employees what you want them to do?  Or should you let them take full responsibility of how and what they create and give you what they believe creates value for your company?

I think the balance should be to set the overarching vision for your company yourself.  For example, the vision statement for Walt Disney is "To Make People Happy".  So if this is your vision, make sure everything your employees create and put in front of customers has that impact.  Your vision should be simple to understand for everyone. 

Internally you would need to provide more detail on your vision, because just telling your employees that they have to create things to make people happy is pretty hard to ensure that they would be creating anything similar to what you had in mind.  Narrow it down for them by telling them who you want to sell to - kids, teens, adults, females, males, single/ get the picture. 

In conclusion, choose the right people to empower; not everyone is made for it - some people do need directions.  One of the toughest jobs of running a business is selecting only the best to work with yourself.  Good luck with that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Secret Santa Online


It seems like everything is moving online nowadays.  My friends and I were chatting about playing Secret Santa for Christmas since for once in three years we will all be in the same part of the world, so getting actual gifts and hand-delivering them just seemed like an awesome thing to do.

Our issue: all of us are super busy workaholics, so...who wants to manage the Secret Santa game? 

No problem - there must be something online - and there it was,

Apparently it has a patent-pending algorithm that does the matching.  I love how even secret santa can be patent-pending.  For all the investors out there are go googoo gaga over IP, maybe they should consider investing into that - it's patent-pending after all :)

Oh I just had to get a cheap shot out of that - I still love all you smart investors out there.

Friday, December 11, 2009

An "Affair" Service Site?

I'm definitely not endorsing this but I just thought it's extremely interesting how people are identifying "new markets". 

The Ashley Madison Agency promotes dating for married couples.  So....encouraging people to have affairs. 

It was on the news this morning on CNN after a segment on the Copenhagen summit.  Interesting that they would promote such a service after something like that.

What are your thoughts on something like this?  This in my opinion really crosses the ethical and moral borders...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Witty Advertising

I was just wondering what I should blog about when I saw this commercial on TV for  Quite a clever set of commercials since I've seen a couple of their TV spots over the past weeks. 

It makes fun of the fine print in credit card applications and offers.  The fact that many things are "limited offers" or have many "offer restrictions" is emphasized in their ads.  Here's

There are many things that people are frustrated with in the financial services industry, mainly that the whole services part is missing.  There are many opportunities to improve on existing services and that's exactly what these new companies are doing - it makes me wonder how existing service providers will react?  If at all.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Back from a Short Break

So I'm back from a short break away. 

Technically I never made it away from work - felt more like I was working remote from another country.  My Blackberry never left me so my emails kept reaching me.  Sometimes I admire people who are able to turn off their cell phones, PDAs or any other device that promotes instant communication. 

Maybe next time I should leave the Blackberry at home and travel without it.  I might just try that when I head over to Asia next week.  I intend of having some actual time away, so this means I will be working around the clock before I leave - fortunately I have our team taking care of things while I'm gone.  Good to have reliable people around.

One interesting note is that on my way back from San Francisco I was flipping through National Post and saw my friend's company featured in one of the articles.  The company is called Polar Mobile and it looks like they're doing really well - congrats!

Good things happening all around :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Website Refresh Update

I'm liking the look of our new site. 

Right now we're integrating the social media components into our news & resources section so it'll be easier for us to keep everyone up to date with our progress.  I love how we get emails from people following us on different channels expressing their interest in our business.  It's definitely encouraging for us and 2010 looks like it will be a GREAT year!

With the new website design launching in January 2010 we will need your feedback on this one too! Keep 'em coming!