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Posts Tagged ‘sustainable environment

Selling nuts to squirrels: What can we sell for the highest in the food chain?

Squirrels eat nuts: All kinds of nuts? Would they eat anything else if offered other food alternative not found in their environment?

What can we sell for the highest in the food chain?

Mankind kill anything alive, even if he is not hungry and feeling sick.

Mankind bought pieces of Real Estates in the moon.  Mankind bought a Star in the sky and gave it his name.

Mankind eat anything:  Rich people in the desert eat caviar, while they should be serving refreshing condiments.  But, how can we change world-view on human rights issues?

Seth Godin wrote:

“In All Marketers Tell Stories, I argued that most organizations shouldn’t try to change the worldview of the audience they’re marketing to.

Worldview is a term popularized by George Lakoff. It’s the set of expectations and biases that color the way each of us see the world (before the marketer ever arrives on the scene).

The worldview of a 45 year old wine-loving investment banker is very different from that of a fraternity brother. One might see a $100 bottle of burgundy as both a bargain and a must-have, while the other might see the very same bottle of wine as an insane waste of money.

Worldview changes three things: attention, bias and vernacular. Attention, because we choose to pay attention to those things that we’ve decided do matter. Bias, because our worldview alters the way we filter and interpret what we hear. And vernacular, because words and images resonate with people differently based on their worldview.

It’s extremely expensive, time consuming and difficult to change someone’s worldview. The guys at Opus One shouldn’t spend a lot of time marketing expensive wine to fraternities because it’s not efficient. Sell nuts to squirrels, don’t try to persuade dolphins that nuts are delicious.

There’s an exception to this rule, and that’s the necessity of changing worldviews if you want to become a giant brand, a world changer, a marketer for the ages. Starbucks changed the way a significant part of the world thought about spending $4 for a cup of coffee.

Or consider Facebook. It started by selling nuts to squirrels. At first, Facebook was social crack for lonely (all college students are lonely) college students. Over time, the social pressure it created snuck up on and surrounded those with a different inclination, those that would never have signed up on their own.

These folks had a worldview that privacy was valuable and that time was better spent elsewhere.

But once a sufficient number of their friends and colleagues were online, they felt they had little choice. Converting those people (often against their short term wishes) is where Facebook’s most recent 300 million users came from.

The interesting truth in both the Starbucks and Facebook example is that a different worldview was at work. The latecomers to each company were sold a very different story–the story of, “you need to be here because all your friends are.” That worked because it matched the latecomers’ worldview, the one that includes an imperative, “don’t be left out.” Different nut, same squirrel.” (End of quote)

Squirrels eat nuts: All kinds of nuts?  What can we sell for the highest in the food chain? Selling nuts to squirrels is a pretty candid catchy title, but not on target and misrepresenting what mankind want.

Attention, bias and vernacular are certainly good factors in enticing man to buying particular products and services.  Mankind is ready to buy when prompted with either attention, bias or vernacular:  Mankind might not be satisfied with all the above incentives, including the “don’t be left out”.

Common people have to do with what their environment offers:  Most of us survive on a few condiments:  the varieties and nutritional qualities of the few daily staples are even worse than many animal species eat.  The rich classes are not satisfied with anything, but nothing stop them from envying everything and everybody.

Do you know that multinational financial institutions are already exploiting Earth potable water?  Every cup of water you drink, you are paying for it and revenues are reverting to the coffers of the multinational financial investors. 

Do you know that multinational financial investors are lobbying to exploit the air you breath?  They want to have the right to selling you the air you breath:  Yes, the are running out of venues for fresh exploitation of mankind!

Selling nuts to squirrels; but, how can we change world-view on human rights issues, on giving priority to people survival, on eliminating enfantile mortality, on focusing on the human development indicators, on a sustainable environment, on clear water and clean air?

Can mankind wishes and wants for a cleaner and sustainable future be marketed as products and services are marketed?  If yes, lets get on with it:  Almost every specialty and job are related to marketing.  The expertise in marketing is abundant:  Let us work on the most important check list of human conditions, wants, wishes, and dreams.

Reid published ten rules for successful business ventures, borne from his experiences starting companies and partnering with great entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.  I slightly edited the rules before commenting on the rules, this insane urge for going bigger and bigger once we start a company, and the lack of defining exactly the product for the reflecting on the relevance of a rule. You may read the link to the original

Rule #1: Look for disruptive change.
If you’re about to start on a new venture, ask yourself: “What is becoming possible or necessary that wasn’t possible before? Is a new product (or service) able to take over an existing market or create a new market?” When I co-founded LinkedIn, the tech industry was in a deep depression. I looked at all the opportunities created by the Internet and had the idea that, eventually, everyone would need a professional profile online. The disruption was that people were able to directly reach the best candidates rather than hoping for responses from a listing in the paper or an ad on a Web site.

(I guess that disruptive change was empowering the entrepreneur for direct access to the best qualified professionals in specific fields.)

Rule #2: Aim big.
Regardless of whether a start-up is targeting a big idea or a small one, it will still require the same amount of blood, sweat and tears—so aim big! What is “big?” It is a new product or service that creates or dominates a significant market.

(The term “niche in a market” used to be the common expression in marketing studies, but again, it is better to venture into a stable and developed market.  For example, every specialty business are grouped on a certain street or locality for obvious reasons of clients attraction)

Rule #3: Build a network to magnify your company.
People tend to think that behind every great start-up is a single entrepreneur with a whiz-bang idea. The reality is great companies are built by a number of people with talent who are surrounded by amplifying networks. The most successful entrepreneurs bring in advisors, investors, collaborators and early customer relationships.

(The idea is to steer away from templates that dictate rigid principles for starting up companies.  The trend is to empower many early collaborators in the ideas generation, planning, and decision making.  Open discussion of the early problems are necessary for the designated decision makers in the start-ups.  For example, the enterprise “kharabeesh”, based in Amman, permitted the office kitchen employee to becoming their best animator, and the driver to lend his voice to Qadhafi…)

Rule #4: Plan for good luck and bad luck.
You should always assume you will have both good luck and bad luck with your new company. Good luck is not as simple as “it worked out.” Rather, this is when you discover a great opportunity and can quickly shift to go after it. Bad luck is what happens when your first idea doesn’t work. It doesn’t mean failure; it means you need to pursue plan B.

(No matter what some professionals insist on getting on with the business, and investing time on trial and error tactics, it is essential that meticulous research and comprehension of the business be the first building block.  Otherwise, how would you be able to selecting the best candidates for the job?)

Rule #5: Maintain flexible persistence.
Very often entrepreneurs are given conflicting advice: “Be persistent! Stay committed to your vision!” or “Pivot on key data! Know when to change!” The challenge is to follow them both, but know which advice is most appropriate for which situation. You must know how to maintain flexible persistence.

(I guess flexible persistence presumes a thorough knowledge of the business venture and the need to have confidence in the professionals in the field. How are you supposed to “Pivot on key data” if you are unable to making heads from tails looking at data?)

Rule #6: Launch early enough so that you are embarrassed by your first product release.
With my first start-up,, it took us nine months to launch the first product. That was a disastrous mistake. We wanted to have all the detailed functionality right away, including social controls to people could decide to connect or not with the people in their networks. We wanted everyone to “Ooh” and “Aaah” about how terrific the product was. We wasted a bunch of time and it put us months behind on more important problems that needed to be solved, such as how to get our product in the hands of millions of people. From that I learned, if you are not embarrassed by your first release, you’ve launched too late!

(If you are not slightly embarrassed by your first release, how would you convince the customers that you consider “redesigning a product” is more important than patching faults and errors?”

Rule #7: Aspire, but don’t drink your own Kool-Aid.
Target excellence, but be very careful about blind trust or belief in your theories. It is important to launch as early as you can in order to learn how your customers use your product or service. It is equally important to identify metrics that tell you if your aspirations and vision are on target. You should also get feedback from your network in order to iterate or pivot on the target, the product and/or the service. In other words, maintain your aspiration but always look for good perspective on how you are doing. It is very easy for creative innovators to get caught up in their own story rather than learning where they should be headed.

(It means, factor in data collection process and timely analysis on clients behavior and feedback as an intrinsic part of the business.  How could you “pivot on the target” if you don’t believe that “data can talk”? How can you gain different perspectives if you refuse to communicate with the data from different venues?  How do you think financial multinationals are making such huge profit if not from mastering the process of gathering data and instant analysis and synthesis of the market responses, needs, and wants?  Fact is, financial multinationals do not speculate: they know for fact what is the outcome of every decision!)

Rule #8: Having a great product is important, but having great product distribution is more important.
I meet a lot of entrepreneurs who think the best product is the most important thing and that the best product should always win. What a lot of people fail to realize is that without great distribution, the product dies. How will you get your product in the hands of millions or hundreds of millions of people?

(That is the principle of vertical integration: Associate with a successful distribution company from the start.)

Rule #9: Pay close attention to culture and hires from the very beginning.
Your first hires set your culture, so make them good ones. These first people hire the next people and so on. The old wisdom was that you needed people with a decade more of experience in your start-up. The things a smart person learned a decade ago won’t help you now – you’re doing things that have never been done before, and the world and the competitive landscape are changing at hyper speeds. What you really need are people who can learn fast.

(Most important rule of all: every generation has a new brand of intelligence that is quicker and more adaptable to the new technologies.  You might be doing a huge mistake if you insist on not hiring from an older generations:  Knowing and adapting to the newer paces in technology is never enough for building a cohesive and sustainable business.  Any exclusion of older generation is a sure sign or amoral ethical conduct of the start-up:  Social movements of solidarity are fine-tuning their selection of companies of choices, not based on just good product, but on sustainable moral and ethical conducts)

Rule #10: Rules of entrepreneurship are guidelines, not laws of nature.
Do not pay too much attention to rules set by other people. Entrepreneurs are inventors. They are successful when they make something work for the very first time. Sometimes in order to make something work, you will drive over the guardrail of one of these rules. Entrepreneurs sometimes just make new rules.

(Do not be dominated by “template” success stories.  Reinventing the wheel is a great mechanism for discovering new ways of doing business:  Pioneers have necessarily missed to investigate many factors, and the new age has a different way to look at wants, needs, and problem solving.)

My first question to these rules is: Are we considering the new “ethical paradigm” of sustainable environment and life-style?  The key words in this generation are “green”, sustainable, rejuvenation, recycling, quality life-style, reforestation, climatic changes, water quality deterioration, toxic waste disposal and sites.  For example, why market a less than “clean” performing product and end-up dumping millions of outdated toxic leftover products?

My second question is: Are we researching how raw materials are being exploited and how the citizens of poor countries are being abused and robbed dry in order for your “great idea of a product” be manufactured and marketed successfully?

My diploma happened to be called “Industrial Engineering”:  Thesaurus for academic fields?

At an advanced age, I decided to engage in a PhD program, out of boredom and lack of expertise in anything, I guess.

It was 26 years ago when I thought that PhD programs provides some kind of expertise in something… I was single and still is.  My former university student colleagues were now my professors, married, and marrying their children.  The program dragged on forever, over 6 years, while a few clever undergraduate students got their PhD at the same year as I did.

The program was a Calvary:  After the first semester paying full tuition as a foreigner, I could no longer afford taking more than a couple of courses:  Quarter-time and then half-time scholarship for correcting tests and exams were leisurely coming my way, while I toiled under several part-time minimum-wage jobs.

In order not to “waste time”, I would enroll in requisite courses as auditor.  A few professors were kind enough to give the full grade without re-attending the next semester as I could afford the tuition.  The administration was quick catching up and put a brake on my “circumventing” method of actions.

I had to work 4 minimum-wage jobs within the university, as constraining laws on foreign students, to make ends meet.  This post is not about the troubles I encountered and the difficulties of my academic program: I already described at length in my category (autobiography).

It happened that the Industrial engineering department lacked professors to open up enough graduate courses to satisfying the schedule.  I was thus dispatched to several academic departments to satisfy the graduate course requirements.  It was my good luck that carried my adventure to a variety of fields such as MBA, finance, economics, marketing, accounting, psychology, sociology, and higher education…

My good luck wanted that most of these graduate courses were tailored-made to applying computer statistical packages for particular designs of experiments.  Thus, I learned varieties of math models, design of experiments, ran experiments (in hard and soft sciences), and analyzed statistical results adapted and used in many academic fields.

I learned that we don’t necessarily design cause and effects experiments, and that there is a wide array for designing experiment and collecting data.  There are not only numerical designs but also qualitative and categorical designs and data.

Every field, depending on levels of math requirement, adopted the easiest set of equations to interpret statistical results, and not necessarily what is the best in providing optimal information on interactions among the factors.

I learned that, actually, experiments designed in hard sciences were mostly antiquated and very inefficient compared to well-developed designs applied in social sciences (involving live subjects and people such as in psychology and sociology…)  

I learned how complex, biased, difficult, and detailed are experiments done on human subjects and how they can hide serious confounding factors that have strong effects but left uncontrolled (due to incredible amount of variability) and how time-consuming they were.

There were times where courses turned out to be like rerun of bad dreams:  I was proficient in the usual model and statistical packages,  but I had to finish the course:  I used these courses as opportunities to learning the terminologies of the field and comparing them to other fields. I discovered that different terminologies in different fields had the exact same meaning.

It was obvious to me that most fields of study were the same from an experimental perspective:  All you had to do is learn the appropriate terminologies since the fundamentals of experimenting were basically the same.  Thus, this idea of issuing a thesaurus of academic terminologies.

My diploma happened to be called “Industrial Engineering”, a very broad field researching the physical and mental capabilities and limitations of people so that workers can be used efficiently and more productively in the management of safer and healthier workplaces.

I learned that the diversity of fields I was engaged in entitled me to work in any field I desired, if it were not for the fictitious constraints and limitations set by syndicates and academic associations intent on giving priority to their own graduates.

I know that I can earn a new degree every two semesters if I am allowed to apply, without undue stress on course load. All that I need is getting initiated and familiar to the few key-words bounced around in the field and reading typical peer-reviewed articles.

Working democracies must structure their academic courses to focusing on how to think right, scientifically, rationally, and practising designing and running experiments.

I wish this openness to other fields of study be instituted and graduates be hired on capabilities of doing the job instead of based on nominal diplomas.

I also wish that mathematicians are encouraged to earning a degree in other fields of application since every statistical analysis is based on a math model. We need statistical models that are closer to how nature and people behave rather than these simple equations used in the packages.  The computers are very powerful to accommodate complex models.

Note:  Statistical analysis packages are driven by math models of a set of constraint equations and an objective equation (mainly operations research models).  I conjecture that it is the moral values and ethical standards of scientists for equitable behaviors toward mankind and sustainable environment that ultimately guide most scientists to conceiving the appropriate constraint and goal equations.

There are an abundance of data to suit or validate any model that scientists can imagine and thus, earning them a Nobel Prize, especially in economics.




June 2023

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