Saturday, April 29, 2006

Recognise this man...

Richard Brown’s Einstein in Pencil


"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."

Friday, April 28, 2006

Stay Sane

Great Article at Guy Kawasaki blog about keeping sane in business...

Guy writes...

It's meant to help you avoid being driven crazy by your competition. This isn't a top ten--it's only a top five because the key to maintaining your sanity is to keep things simple.

1. Delight your customer. As the old saying goes, “The best defense is a good offense.” If you continue to delight your customer, it's unlikely that your competition can get to you. There are two reasons this is true. First, you'll be successful at driving your competition crazy, and not vice versa. Second, you'll be so busy that you won't have the time to worry about the mundanity (mundane + insanity) of what your competition is trying to do to you.

2. Don't assume that “perfect information” exists. It was bad enough before Google alerts and other news gathering services, but companies have begun to assume a world of perfect information as a result of such technology. They think that the minute the competition announces a new feature, service, or partnership the entire marketplace is aware of it--and buy it. In reality, only you, your competition, and Google know what was announced. By overreacting, you may inadvertently increase awareness and exacerbate the problem.

3. Take a chill pill. Never let your competition see you sweat. Instead, keep focusing on delighting your customer. Certainly you shouldn't lash out and inflame hostilities because you'll probably do something stupid. In the story of Sinbad, there is an episode where his sailors threw stones at monkeys in coconut trees in order to provoke the monkeys into throwing coconuts back at them. That's exactly what the hungry and thirsty sailors wanted the monkeys to do.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you should ignore your competition. You should know as much you can about them. If your competition beats you to the punch, you should take it personally and then furiously out-innovate and out-implement them. You just shouldn't let your competition see you sweat because they will gain strength and confidence from your nervousness. I also believe noticing that you're sweating will make you sweat more.

There is one more case when you should take a chill pill: when your competition has beaten you to the punch, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. In this case, as my mother often told me, “Don't worry about things you can't change. Focus on things that you can.”

4. Hang a negative on your competition. Here's an illustrative story. When F. W. Woolworth opened his first store, a competitor that had served the community for years hung out a sign that said: “This same spot for fifty years.” Nice shot, huh? Except Woolworth then put up a sign that said, “A week old. No old stock.” The lesson is to try to find a crucial negative that you can hang onto your competition. Maybe they will leave you alone next time.

5. Act like a maniac. Yes, this is an apparent contradiction to taking a chill pill. What can I say? I'm a complex person. To continue the theme of making your competition leave you alone, one effective strategy is to convince the competition not to attack you because you might do something really crazy. Virgin Airlines personifies this behavior. Who would want to get in a battle with an airline that offers free motorcycle and limousine rides to the airport, in-flight massages and manicures, and accepts the frequent-flyer miles of its competition? Most rational companies would conclude that it's smart to not engage a maniacal competitor.

The bottom line on remaining sane is that it you don't let your competition play with your mind. All this takes is mental toughness and a focus on the customer:

“My way of fighting the competition is the positive approach. Stress your own strengths, emphasize quality, service, cleanliness, and value, and the competition will wear itself out trying to keep up.” Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's

Thursday, April 27, 2006

That's clever

When Security Pacific Bank merged with Bank of America many Security Pacific branches were closed.

First Interstate Bank rented trucks and parked them in the lots of the branches that were closing. Then First Interstate employees in those trucks then helped people open new accounts as there were leaving the banks.

It's just perception... really!

An electrician with only one truck was constantly razzed by his competition because his company was so small. To fake them out, he finally painted three different truck numbers on the right, left, and rear of the truck.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Getting all done... or "What's next!" Godin Wisdom

Found this great article on Seth Godin's blog, and it makes sense to me, becuase I am never done.

Done. By Seth Godin

What happens when your inbox is empty?
What happens when all the agenda items and all the incoming emails are cleared?

Time to go home. A job well done. Congratulations, you earned your paycheck.

This is the factory mindset that has been drilled into us since kindergarten. You get assignments, you do your best, and you finish them.

It is at this point that we draw the line between workers and entrepreneurs, between people who work in marketing and marketers.

The challenge is NOT to empty your inbox. The challenge is not to get your boss to tell you what to do.

The challenge is to ask a two part question: What next? What now?

Asking is the hard part.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Quote of the Day

"It is our responsibilities, not ourselves,that we should take seriously."
Peter Ustinov

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Qantas QF489 take 5

fter two 20 minutes sessions on the priority line listening to "Your call is very important to us. All our service advisers are busy at the moment" and then the encouraging - well I thought it was - you have progressed in the queue, I get a live person.

"Yes, your bag left Perth this morning at 6.30am and will be in Melbourne at 11.30. Give us a ring then and we will update you."

Hang on... Perth?? Didn't I just come from Sydney?? But this lady had obviously had a few people chasing luggage and strongly informed me, "Yes, it is on the 6.30am out of Perth and we will get it to you."

I struggled through the day, got to tell the story a few times and magically - well with all what had gone on it certainly seemed like magic, my bag appeared at 2.30pm, nearly in time to pack it up and head home to Perth.

I always thought that people made up these stories...

Qantas QF489 take 4

Starting to feel confident, I stride trough the arrival hall, down the escalator to where the corporate car pick up area is, and I see a sign with "Wayne Mansfield" held aloft. I acknowledge the driver who comes over and says, hello Wayne, I'm Adam.

Something is going right...

So Adam and I go over to the luggage carousel and wait for the luggage. Here comes all the priority luggage... but none of mine. Oh well, that doesn't mean too much, after all everybody now qualifies for the orange tag, don't they.

After another 15 minutes another lot of luggage appears through the curtains, and I eye my luggage but... hang on... didn't I have 5 pieces, the ones I had to pay extra the $44 for? Well just 4 pieces came through. And the case which didn't arrive has the workbooks for my seminars in the morning.

So, over t0 the Baggage counter I go and I meet, at some ungodly hour, the first really pleasant person from Qantas today... Tracey.

"Mr Mansfield, the computer doesn't show that your luggage is lost, so there is a good chance it will be on the next flight, and we will get it to you about 9am tomorrow."

I explain to Tracey that 9am will be too late as the sessions start at 8.30.

"Well Mr Mansfield, I am on until midnight. I will check if your bag arrives, and make sure it gets on the 6.30 courier to the city. I will ring you and update you on when the bag arrives."

"Tracey," I quietly plead, "What if it isn't there?"

"Mr Mansfield," she says, "I promise that I will phone you before I go home and update you..."

With nothing more to say, and nothing more to be done, I go with Adam and he takes me to the city where I go to the room and collapse in front of the TV.

I look at my watch and it has gone to 20 past midnight and I think... "Well that is par for the course today, and Tracey was such a nice girl."

And my mobile bursts into life... "Mr Mansfield, this is Tracey. Unfortunately your bag hasn't arrived and there are no more planes tonight. I am going home now. I am sorry that I could be more helpful. I have found a priority number for you to call tomorrow to track the whereabouts of your bag. If you still need some help, I will be in about 1.30pm tomorrow. Have a pleasant rest of your evening."

That phone call is the highlight of my trip and it restores my belief that some really god people are still in the Qantas system. THANK YOU TRACEY!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Qantas QF489 take 3

Melbourne... we finally arrive and a sense of "let's get to the hotel and get some sleep" enters my head. Just 20 minutes late at this stage and maybe time for a meal?

"Good evening again ladies and gentleman, this is the Captain. We are at Melbourne but there seems to be a problem with the aerobridge... we will do our best to get you off the plane as soon as possible."

Aaaaaaaaargh... can anything else go wrong with this flight?? I don't see how.

Qantas QF489 April19 2006 take 2...

Great... the flight to Melbourne is loading early so I am off from the Qantas Club to gate 10 to take my seat but things aren't quite right.

As I enter the cabin it is unbelievably HOT - and it is 8pm on a cool Sydney evening. So hot it is difficult to breath. And the distress on the fellow passengers faces is clearly evident.

Taking my seat I wonder aloud why so hot... and the captain comes on the PA "Ladies and gentlemen, sorry about the lack of airconditioning but the power system is down, and the auxiliary power system is not working but we should be too long and we will be able to use our own power once we push back from the terminal. I will get back to you when I know more."

And the heat continues... and people are getting more distressed... and 20 minutes pass before our captain comes back to let us know what's going on. "We are waiting for our luggage to be loaded and should be too long. We can't hook up to the auxiliary power because it is too noisy... but once we are under way our airconditioning should give us some relief."

Another 10 minutes later, the lady sitting with me in Row 10 is becoming distressed and calls for water. After a seemingly inexcusably long wait, she is given a bottle of water. "Thank you" she says, "I am sure that there are others who would appreciate a drink." The steward says, straight faced, "Oh we couldn't do that whilst we are still on the ground..."

Oh, sorry me, customers are soooo much trouble!

So, 30 minutes after the schedule departure time we are in the air, and starting to be cool. and it's time for the MEAL!

Well, if only I was on Virgin where I could buy something to eat because the meal on QF489 is a twin packet of pretzels and a soft drink.

And to add insult to injury, the captain comes back on the PA and says, we will try and get you into Melbourne on time.

Well, we will see!!

Much more than the meal... Qantas QF489 19 April 2006

5 years of goodwill out the window??

I am a fan ( still at this stage ) of Qantas domestic... and after nearly 6 years of constant cross Australia travel it is unusual to experience anything but a minor annoyance from "The Spirit of Australia."

But QF489 Sydney to Melbourne last night April 19th, 2006 undid most of that.

I arrived at the airport 2 hours early... strange for me, and I was loaded down with luggage for my seminar program - 7 items, 2 for the cabin, and 5 for for the luggage hold. So you can imagine the sight of me struggling with the trolley to the check in counter.

After an unusually long wait to be called, as their were more counter staff than customers in the line, I handed my Frequent Flyer card to the check in lady. Now usually they swipe the card - why else give it up? - but this time I was asked what flight was I on to which I replied, it's late tonight to Melbourne. "Yes, but which flight??" rather surly she replied. "Not sure but late.."

Well, as I stood there, rightfully scolded, the card was swiped and my details confirmed. "There will a charge for excess luggage... $44 for 2 pieces" was my next exchange with the lady snarling back at me.

Now, having left Perth the evening before with more luggage but only being charges the similar amount of $44 for 2 extra pieces, I queried how that could be? Not to mention of course that earlier in the month Qantas DOUBLED the excess luggage rate!

"Well..." she retorted, "I will write to Perth and tell them that they should be consistent in charging... you are going to be charged for 2 pieces at $44. I can get my surpervisor if you want me to confirm that I am right."

I then suffered whilst it was made very clear that I wasn't entitled to be considered in the same place as this lady and there was even the suggestion from the guy at the next counter that they should weigh my carry on luggage. But I kept my cool, well for me I did, and trugged over to the counter to pay the $44...

My real gripe with the way Qantas do the excess luggage is that you can't pay at the check in counter but must go to the sales counter where everything is written up, in duplicate, then electronically charged, and then, because you are now a second class customer, they give you back your boarding pass.

When will Qantas trust their counter staff to take the money from their customers at point of the charging of the excess, as Virgin Blue do??

Well that's a good start to a quick 90 minute trip to Melbourne.

Part 2 to come...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Work or Play

"You've achieved success in your field when you don't know
whether what you're doing is work or play."

Warren Beatty