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Category Archives: Entrepreneuership

Code Talking, Apps and the new “Lingua franca”

If I told you that you could communicate with anyone in the world while sleeping and make money would you believe me?  Or would you dismiss me as a “Billy Mays as seen on TV” sleazy pitchman?  If you write computer code, create an app and place it in the Itunes store, Steve Jobs becomes the modern equivalent of the pitchman.  How is this possible?

The concept of a Lingua franca as described by Encyclopedia Britannica began as a “Frankish Language” developed by the crusaders in the middle ages as a way to communicate with middle eastern traders as they plundered their way to the holy land.  Functionally this created an ability to communicate between people who otherwise spoke unintelligible languages to one another. Fast forward to 2012 and the world’s Lingua Franca is found in computer coding.  Recent examples in the business world support my assertion.

In a recent interview Groupon co-founder and chairman Eric Lefkofsky stated that the ability to  take your ideas, produce something and articulate a solution people can interact with is a key success.  One of the greatest tools you can have is the ability to code.  (Chicago Tribune 4/15/2012).  With the resources and technological advances your dream or wish can be translated into a functional application that benefits the public.  Dream, articulate, code it,  and prototype.  When it works put your app in the Itunes store.  This is how commerce is done in 2012.  (As a side note the app market is growing at a 77% rate–year over year).  Instagram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom received his formal educational training in marketing and is a self-taught computer programmer at night.  His investment in teaching himself coding paid off as Facebook bought his company last week for $1 billion.  

Finally in a telling post written by Lifehacker (Lifehacker has been recognized as an outstanding blog by Time, Wired, Mensa, PC Magazine and others)  founder Gina Trapini she describes the process of learning coding as a long battle that consists of small incremental victories.  As Trapini states “Getting really good at programming, like anything else, is a matter of sticking with it, trying things out, and getting experience as you go”. (Lifehacker Gina Trapini 11/09).

As I write this piece I fully intend to take my own advice.  Check out this you tube video courtesy of MIT and you have the opportunity to learn a valuable skill.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6U-i4gXkLM 

See you the coding journey it may be bumpy but we’ll get there.

Until next time, be good and cultivate your community of friends.

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How Best Buy Became Amazon’s Showroom and why your Big Box will Shrink

I woke up this morning thinking about James Earl Jones saying “If you build it they will come”.  Of course 23 years ago when these words were uttered in Field of Dreams Kevin Kostner built a baseball stadium in the middle of an Iowa cornfield.  If we change the context of the quote to today’s retail market, how would this be understood?  I would suggest that the “voice” speaking to us in contemporary terms would be creating an app or an e-commerce website that both engages and successfully generates revenue without the overhead of commercial retail property.  The former CEO of Best Buy Brian Dunn was quoted in a March telephone interview with Bloomberg Business Week as saying  “The one critical thing we offer the world is choice.  We provide the latest and greatest choice of all technology gear, from Apple (AAPL) products to Google (GOOG)products, and that brings more opportunity to help people put technology to use. That is a great place for us to be.”  A week later Best Buy posted a $1.7 billion quarterly loss, announced the closing 50 stores and now Brian Dunn is looking for a new job.  The failure to recognize the significant cultural shift in retail consumer behavior ultimately may bankrupt Best Buy and several other Big Box retailers unless they embrace the new customer dynamic.

 

Lets pinpoint this paradigm shift of consumer behavior so that we can benefit and become both thought leaders and adapt our business to meet the needs of the modern marketplace.

Before shoppers had access to apps and extensive exposure to e-commerce websites, the only way you could comparison shop was to go from store to store.  Now we can walk into a retail establishment, look at the wares, scan a QR code and instantly find the same item online for less money.  As we depart the commercial property we are able to use smart phone apps to comparison shop and purchase the item.

So what is the answer to the ideal retail operation?

Lets summarize, learn and be proactive to the new demands of today’s consumer:

1.  Bigger isn’t always better.  Again as I have reminded you before, focusing on a niche market and perfecting your operation and processes will create memorable customer engagement.  This will allow you to compete in qualitative areas that the customer cares about rather than focusing on price comparison.  Remember if you have to compete on price someone will always sell for less.

2.  All new and current operations need to be built in a scalable manner that will allow the seamless execution of mobile technologies and platforms.  It won’t be long until a majority of e-commerce will be done on smart phones.  Again “if you build it they will come” but make sure it is “app friendly”.

3.  Educating customer’s remains critically important, however the methods in which you do this have changed.  Many customers are not interested in walking into your retail venture and receiving a sales pitch.  Using social media to educate and engage whether is it a blog, YouTube video or an app, teach customers what they need to know by using their smart phones.

 

The last question in my mind regarding  this subject is what will become of the strip malls and the shopping centers that once housed these mega stores?  Will your local Best Buy turn into an Urban Farm?  Probably not, If I were to guess probably a “Cash for Gold” store.

 

May all your efforts lead to productive apps and all your limbs be mobile.

Until next time, be good and cultivate your community of friends.

When Friends count, How the Instagram Value Proposition is Worth a Billion Dollars to Facebook

The paradigm shift in what we sociologically consider a “friend” was on display today in its finest form.  As Facebook consummated the acquisition of  Instragram for one billion dollars, it re-inforced the value of community building.  It would be untruthful had I told you my parting tag line “Until next time, be good and cultivate your community of friends” really was responsible for creating the immense wealth for the 13 employees of Instagram.  Lets take a closer look at the value proposition Instagram offers and why a community of 30 million users is worth a billion dollars to the world’s largest social network.

In 18 months with 13 employees, Instagram created a superior mobile photo sharing experience.  If we look at the positioning of Facebook in the social media sphere, you see the world’s largest network with many good features and a constant effort to improve intuitive components.  Even with 850 million members there is always a way to find a better experience.  The sheer size of Facebook’s operation does not allow for dynamic changes that avant-garde early adopters demand.  This vacuum creates opportunities for small tech companies like Instagram that are able to create and deliver a unique application.  In the case of Instagram the value proposition of a mobile interface that allows users to “filter”, enhance and share pictures over multiple social media platforms proved quite valuable.  Who knew that adding a 1970’s flare to a photo that I share with my “friends” would generate this amount of attention.  However if you look at the deal from Facebook’s point of view, it is possible to see the value albeit possibly overpriced and a reactive move.  Since photo sharing is such a large component of the social network and as this content increasingly shifts to the mobile platform, Facebook wants to make sure they are strategically positioned to deliver the best possible engagement.  With the purchase of this asset Facebook not only buys a community of 30 million users but it further monopolizes the photo sharing category as it prepares to compete for market share with upstart Pintrest.

The case of Instagram shows how Entrepreneurs need to build their community of users/customers as this becomes your biggest asset.  How do you put this into practice for your business?  Here are a few steps Instagram mastered:

1.  Define your expertise and create skills that positively affect user experience.  For example if you specialize in selling European motorcycles, become an expert on the subject and help create the ultimate individualized two-wheel fantasy experience for a customer.  The motorcycle shop creates an intense positive feeling for its first client.  In turn this person tells friends and family, thereby sowing the seeds of an organic vibrant community.

2.  Continually prototype and accept constructive criticism on your venture.  Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom not only narrowed the capabilities of his application but he continually beta tested it on friends and socially influential users until he found the right mix of features and benefits.

3.   Finally, stay engaged with your community.  Kevin Systrom is one of the most active CEOs on Quora .  Over the last two years he shared how the company was built and the methodology behind the exponential growth. http://www.quora.com/Kevin-Systrom/answers.  Systrom managed and increased his engagement by continually reaching out and sharing his experience building his venture.

So there it is, friendship, community building and massive wealth in three easy steps.  As you move forward seizing opportunity and creating value just remember your old friend blogging from a basement in suburbia.  I always knew you could do it, please let me know when you get to the promised land.

Until next time, be good and cultivate your community of friends.

The Morality Clause, How Generating Revenue Streams Trump Marital Fidelity.

If I had any doubt that NCAA scholar athletes should get paid, the latest case of University of Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino has erased any second thoughts.  Lets consider the known facts of the Petrino case and how the decisions being made by the University of Arkansas are driven by cost analysis.

 

Here are the facts of the case:

University of Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino was driving his 2012 Harley Davidson Motorcycle this past Sunday April 1, 2012 and was involved in a crash.

Once the initial 911 call was made, in which two people were reported on the motorcycle is when the scandal started to take shape.  The original 911 callers denied that there were two people on the motorcycle.  The second person on the motorcycle with the 51-year-old Petrino was former Arkansas volleyball player and current football program employee Jessica Dorrell, who is 25.

At a Tuesday news conference Petrino  who is married with four children, didn’t mention he was riding with another passenger.  In addition the University of Arkansas Athletic Department issued a press release quoting Petrino’s family stating “no other individuals” were involved. Petrino said that he had spent Sunday with his wife, Becky, at a lake and was going for an evening ride.

On Thursday the Arkansas State Police released the details of their investigation of the accident.  Shortly before the report was released, Petrino contacted Arkansas Athletic director Jeff Long and admitted he was with Dorrell during the crash.  Late Thursday Petrino also admitted an inappropriate relationship with Dorrell.  The University of Arkansas held a second press conference Thursday and announced that Petrino was being put on paid administrative leave.

Now Petrino’s fate rests on how Athletic director Jeff Long evaluates the situation.  The “Morality Clause” in Petrino’s contract states:  “engaging in conduct, as solely determined by the university, which is clearly contrary to the character and responsibilities of a person occupying the position of head football coach or which negatively or adversely affects the reputation of the (university’s) athletics programs in any way.”  The quick translation of this clause is that any action Petrino takes that negatively affects revenue streams beyond what the football team can generate will end in termination of the coach.  In this case Petrino has two major problems:

1. He wasn’t truthful with his superiors about the accident and lied about it publicly,

2, Petrino hired Jessica Dorrell  to work under his supervision in the football office. If a “previous inappropriate relationship” with Petrino did indeed lead to her hiring, that’s bad news for everybody involved.

So what will be the end result of this situation?  If we look back at a similar situation involving a coach’s morality clause, Rick Pitino, the University of Louisville‘s men’s basketball coach was involved in an extra marrital affair in 2003.  In addition to the affair, Pitino paid Karen Cunagin Sypher $3,000 to cover medical costs for an abortion.  In the end the University of Louisville administration decided that Pitino would keep his job. A decision that largely can be attributed to Pitino’s ability to produce winning and revenue generating basketball teams.

The same can be said about Bobby Petrino.  Since his arrival in Fayetteville, Arkansas has risen to prominence on the national college football scene and has begun constructing a new $43 million football facility.  If the University’s decision is financially based, Petrino should survive these egregious actions.  His ethical reputation may be ruined but his production on the field is unquestioned.

 

When thinking about this situation as an Entrepreneur two potential scenarios come to mind:

1.  When should you cut a customer loose?  (remember not everyone can be your customer).  It is likely you have encountered a demanding customer that you can never satisfy.  The combination of the time, effort and resources devoted to a dis-satisfied customer can quickly become a losing proposition.  Knowing when to let a customer go can be a key decision that influences your company’s outcome.

 

2.  When should you part ways with an employee?  (remember everyone is dispensable)  Even a well-meaning loyal employee can pick up bad habits and engage in unproductive work related behaviors.  Analyzing the costs associated with an employee and understanding the potential implications, both financial and the affect on customer good will is a necessary skill for an entrepreneur to engage in.

Human Capital, Competitive Advantage and Why We Are Willing to Happily Overpay at Whole Foods

With a global economy gyrating with sweeping political changes, technological breakthroughs and new emerging global markets, an entrepreneur must think and act strategically.  One of the most overlooked assets small businesses fail to capitalize on is intellectual Capital.  In his prophetic article “Shocking Truths About the Future” (Business Strategy July/August 1996) Futurist Alvin Toffler talks about the shift in the world economy from a base of financial to intellectual capital.  Toffler states “Knowledge is no longer just a factor of production.  It is the critical factor of production”.  Lets take this relatively esoteric concept of Intellectual Capital and break down the components:

Thomas Stewart in an article entitled “So you Think You’re Company is so Smart” (Fortune April 30, 2001) delineated three crucial elements:

1.  Human Capital is the talent, creativity, skill and ability of a company’s workforce.  This shows up in innovative strategies, plans and processes that the people in an organization develop and then passionately pursue.

2.  Structural capital is the accumulated knowledge and experience that a company possesses.  It can take many forms including processes, software, patents but most importantly, the knowledge and experience of employee strengths, abilities and challenges.  Essentially the entrepreneur will have a strong understanding of the feasibility of opportunities based on the capability of her staff.

3.  Customer Capital includes the established customer base, positive reputation, ongoing relationships and goodwill the company has built up overtime with its customers.

Given these three components how has Whole Foods used Intellectual Capital as a competitive advantage to carve out a strong customer base in the grocery business where mega chains such as Wal-mart and Kroger previously dominated?

Whole Foods invests heavily in Human Capital.  They spend time and money selecting Team Members (note they are not called employees implying a much more important role in the company’s success) by carefully screening job applicants to find those that love and have a passion for both customer service and natural food.  Each Team Member is carefully trained so they can demonstrate and explain the benefits of the company’s organic and natural food.  (Remember if you want to sell more, help educate customers and they will choose to buy more).  As a result, Whole Foods routinely lands on Fortune’s “100 Best Places to Work”

The Structural Capital component for Whole Foods comes from its increased knowledge of “local sourcing”.  As we become more connected globally, there is increasing concern by many consumers on how and where their food is produced.  Whole Foods has transferred this into a competitive advantage strategy of acquiring locally grown products.

Finally, with an immense amount of Customer Capital, Whole foods knows that its customers do not shop at the store searching for the lowest prices.  Rather store managers and team members have the autonomy to recognize and stock their store with regional food preferences that local customers demand.  The ability to quickly react and mix locally demanded products has created in the words of Matthew Mell “Disney for foodies”.

As we enter the Spring here in North America lets re-energize the Bank of Social Capital because no matter what the Federal Reserve may dictate, Ben Bernanke can’t diminish the value the relationships and goodwill you create.

Until next time, be good and cultivate your community of friends

Target Knows your Pregnant–How data mining and the Analysis of Keystone Habits Grow Your Sales

Target statistician Andrew Pole may know that a family member is pregnant before you do.  A summary of the process that Pole used was published last month in Forbes.  http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/ .  Here is a brief recap of the article written by Kashmir Hill in Forbes

“An angry man went into a Target outside of Minneapolis, demanding to talk to a manager:

English: Photograph of abdomen of a pregnant woman

“My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”

The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.

(Nice customer service, Target.)

On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.” (From Kashmir Hill’s article on Forbes 2/16/12)

How did Andrew Pole know this customer was pregnant?  He was able to identify shifts in purchases by women from scented to un-scented lotion at the beginning of the 2nd trimester.  Pole was able to track and establish that in the first 20 weeks, pregnant women loaded up on supplements like calcium, magnesium and zinc. Many shoppers purchase soap and cotton balls, but when someone suddenly starts buying lots of scent-free soap and extra-big bags of cotton balls, in addition to hand sanitizer and wash cloths, it signals they could be getting close to their delivery date. (Charles Duhigg–New York Times 2/16/12)

As you can see from the example, customers started becoming uncomfortable with Target sending baby product coupons to expectant mothers.  Not only was the element of surprise undesirable but the notion of the invasion of privacy was expressed by several customers.  With all of the analyses and work that Target put in, they weren’t going to give up.  To mitigate a concern for privacy Target began mailing the baby product coupons with advertisements that they know pregnant women wouldn’t buy such as wine glasses and lawnmowers.  Now when the expectant mother gets the coupon booklet, she doesn’t feel singled out, as she thinks that everyone on the block is receiving this mailing.   However what the consumer doesn’t know is that Target is still sending these coupons exclusively to pregnant women.

Essentially on a behavioral science level, Target has recognized and understood the importance of a Keystone Habit.  “If you can change a keystone habit, you unlock all these other patterns in someone’s life or in an organization, According to Charles Duhigg in his new book “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, “One of the characteristics of a keystone habit is that it creates a culture. That’s why it seems to have such a profound influence on other patterns in our lives,” including how, what and where we consume.    In life as Duhigg points out there are only a few of these trans-formative moments where people will actually change their buying habits, hence the profound and compelling strategy Target is using.

The data mining done by Andrew Pole is phenomenal in several ways that we can incorporate in building an analytic system that will be scale-able as your business grows.

1.  Track and profile your customers as much as possible.  Using a tool to analyze purchases will help you assemble data that could help predict future customer behavior

2.  Once a customer profile is established make sure you cater to the buying habits in a non-invasive way.  Customers don’t like the feeling of being spied on but they like the opportunity to save money in return for loyalty

3.  Understand a keystone buying habit.  Know when these habits are going to change and strategically position your venture to benefit from the paradigm shift in customer behavior.

Until next time keep working on analyzing habit loops, check you mail for a “targeted” sales circular and ALWAYS PAY FOR PURCHASE WITH UNMARKED BILLS.

Until next time, be good and cultivate your community of friends

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The Curious Case of the Etch a Sketch–An Exercise in History, Context and Truthful Assumptions

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My Etch a Sketch broke this morning.  I got so excited when I saw that a Mitt Romney aide was using it to frame his political views, now I am despondent and wondering where to turn.  Thankfully the good folks and the readers of “Good, Evil and the Things I do” are here to assist me.  When my Etch a Sketch was working, I was able to come up with numerous business ideas everyday.  As a passionate entrepreneur I know these ideas would work and I invested heavily in every idea I drew.  As each idea failed to pay off my cash reserves dwindled and now I must take up a carreer as a strategic marketing consultant.  My new employer will benefit from my unique skill set especially the lessons I learned from Etch a Sketch.  Here is what I learned:

History and Context are critical to making truthful assumptions toward sound business decisions.  Since I was starting fresh every time with my Etch a Sketch I didn’t realize the importance of the aforementioned elements.  Lets look at why this is important and build out a business model.

A.  History–what motivates you?  What is your world view and passion?  What experiences can you draw on to become an expert in your field

B.  Context–Evaluate the current state of affairs and find the opportunity for your innovation.

C.  Inputs–What materials, labor, equipment and other resources do I need to start my venture.

D.  Activities–How do I uniquely add value.  I have an idea, take my materials and through a “proprietary” process create value for customers and stakeholders.

E.  Outputs–What is the finished product I deliver?  When I was using my Etch a Sketch, I kept erasing my ideas and never produced anything meaningful.

F.  Outcomes–How do I want the world to change?  This is a core value of Social Entrepreneurship.  If I create a unique program to educate children, what values do I want to instill?  Through my

intervention, how will I impact and change people’s lives?

G.  Impact–Does my outcome have a measurable metric that shows how I qualitatively and quantitatively made a difference.

Finally the biggest danger with erasing my Etch a Sketch and always changing my views is that it ignored the assumptions I need to make to ensure that my Output, Outcomes and Impact are viable.  By using a prototype and testing my idea to reach a proof of concept, I can show that my assumption is true and therefore my innovation will be successful and make a difference.  However what do you do in a case where you “build it and they don’t come”?   First of all don’t build it.  Before you allocate your resources to a project that may or may not be viable, ask people if they will come to the ballpark.  If your survey and information gathering indicates they will come, go buy some land and build it.

I would be re-miss without giving a link to the Etch a Sketch clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DmtPA02SNk

Thank-you to http://townhall.com/tipsheet/ and Greg Hengler for the YouTube clip.

Go out my dear friends and build a sound infrastructure for your venture, but please make sure your assumptions are sound, you seek the truth and material evidence supports your cause.

Until next time, be good and cultivate your community of friends

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Walgreen’s, Nerf Darts and Using Creativity to Create Customer Goodwill

How can an 11 year old wanting to buy Nerf Darts teach us how to maintain both personal and business relationships?  I have one word for you:  Walgreen’s.  Is it just me or does it seem that when you go to buy the $.39 toothpicks advertised in the weekly sales flier, the item is either sold out, scans at the wrong price or that particular location never has and never will carry toothpicks.  As I went into Walgreen’s today I did not intend to buy Nerf Darts although my son did mention that he would like some extra ammo for an upcoming birthday party.  As I went down the toy aisle I saw a closeout on the exact replacement darts he uses.  Along with my other purchases, I brought them up to the register.  Two out of the 5 items scanned incorrectly and my total came to $54.  Upon closer examination I was incorrectly overcharged nearly $25.  When I questioned the manager for the correct price, her answer was, I can refund your money but I can’t sell you these items at the marked, posted price–company policy (Whatever the price scans at is what Walgreen’s will sell at).  This is a classic case of a self-defeating policy.  While a computer managed system of SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) certainly can be efficient, it does no good if a manager does not have the authority to over-ride and use her own judgement.  I left the store and will contact the manager tomorrow.

As usual I started to frame my experience and question what I could learn.  In a poll conducted by IBM among 1500 CEO’s from 66 countries and 33 industries more than 60% responded that the singular element of CREATIVITY will help companies navigate successfully through the increasingly complex global economy.  (here is a link to the poll http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/31670.wss )  The situation described above happens in business even at the best companies.  However the Walgreen’s manager did not use creativity to respond to an error and take advantage of an opportunity to make me a loyal customer.  The Walgreen’s manager had a chance to offer me some type of goodwill but dismissed the opportunity using company policy as a damaging crutch.  While there may be many codes of company policy that are valid, make sure that the freedom to be creative is a part of your business culture.

Go out there and be creative, the worst that can happen is a mistake.  I love learning from mistakes.  At this point my mistakes are too many to count but I will get up tomorrow, learn and try to do better.

Stay tuned loyal readers, tomorrow I will be reporting on Toe Nail Fungus, Excess Capacity and Lessons in Depreciation!

Until next time, be good and cultivate your community of friends.

 

 

The Illinois Lottery and Really Bad Math Skills–Why the Luck of the Irish Won’t Improve your Odds of Winning

As my daughter becomes more involved with Irish dancing, I have become more acutely aware of Irish culture and heritage.  The annual Illinois lottery‘s St. Patrick’s day raffle apparently is wildly popular.  Today when I attempted to buy a $20 ticket for a chance to become a millionaire, the clerk at my local 7-11 kindly told me that all tickets were sold out.  Now some things are shocking and some simply don’t make sense.  Sold out lottery tickets ring in my head as a huge entrepreneurial opportunity.  What is really at play here?  First in raw numbers the chances of winning a large lottery jackpot are similar to being eaten by a tiger and a shark on the same day (NY Times “Economix Putting your odds in lottery context” 10/19/09).   Since I don’t plan on swimming with sharks and napping with tigers at the same time, I may have to look at an alternative revenue stream.  Surely I am not the first consider why people buy lottery tickets but I would suggest people play the lottery for four reasons:

1.  Operant Conditioning using variable reinforcement (termed by June Foyle of Suny NY Clinton).  In terms we can understand this means fun caused by the possibility of an unpredictable reward, similar to why we like to watch contested sports.  When something is unscripted and our team has a chance to win and we are captivated.  Similarly when an individual has a chance to win a cash prize (termed variable reinforcement), even though the odds are high everyone has a dream to pursue.

2.  The Availability Heuristic is the concept in which you hear constantly about a winner.  Our mind begins to frequently recall success stories often repeating the same instance.  This is why the state lotteries run the drawings on TV and make sure the winners do an ample amount of publicity work.  As we continually hear about lottery winners,  our mind relies less and less on probability and more on the wonderful anecdotes of the lottery winners.  In real terms we equate the probability of winning with how often we hear about lottery winners.

3.  The Slot Machine Fallacy is the assumption that as a gambler we are “due”.  Our run of unsuccessful  winning tickets is about to end any day as the numbers are going to turn our way.  Again probability is temporarily suspended and we know that winning is imminent.  We will be rewarded as our time to win has come.

4.  Selective Memory plays along closely with the Availability Heuristic.  Hence we choose to remember only the instances in which we win rather then the actual facts surrounding the circumstances.   These observations fascinate me as en Entrepreneur because I see the challange as re-creating these elements in a business model.  How can a I create a contest that gets people excited to play?  What do I do make sure only the positive outcomes of my business are well represented across all media platforms.  How do I communicate to customers that if they buy my product or service they will be rewarded?  Finally how do I use the power of customer selective memory in marketing my business so I will satisfy consumers based on a high level of emotion?

Lets part today borrowing a concept from Game Theory.  If I called you on the phone and told you that had just won a million dollars your audible scream measured by a decibel level would be quite high.  However if I called you and reported that you had just won two million dollars would your scream be twice the decibel level as when you were notified that you had won exactly half the sum of money in the previous phone call?  As a teaser I will discuss the economic concept of the utility of money in an upcoming post.  Stay tuned loyal readers.

Until next time, be good and cultivate your community of friends.

Doing God’s Work, Moral Bankruptcy and the Blues Brothers

Does it take the Blues Brothers for us to learn about faith, God and choosing to do the right thing?  In light of Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, I am sending my kids to the movies for a religious experience.  At least Jake and Elwood were convinced they were on “a mission from God” to reunite their band and keep the orphanage they grew up in from bankruptcy.  In fact, you don’t have to rely on my judgement of their intentions.  In observance of the 30th anniversary of the movies release in June 2010, the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano has dubbed The Blues Brothers a “Catholic classic”.  In contrast Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of the 143 year old investment bank Goldman Sachs stated in a November 2009 interview with The Times of London that he’s just a banker “doing God’s work”.  I guess in this case, toxic credit default swaps, government bailouts, excessive bonuses and acting with intent against the best interest of his customers are the work of a deeply humble religious man.  To put it bluntly then Greg’s Smith deftly penned op-ed fair-well was the work of an atheist or agnostic.  Another words Mr. Smith began doubting the holiness with which Mr. Blankfien served the creator.  This blight of the pen cost Goldman Sachs shareholders 2.2 billion dollars on paper and will make me think twice about how my business ethics and behaviors intersect with my religious beliefs.

Until next time, be good and cultivate your community of friends.

I am just a banker “doing God’s work”  Lloyd Blankfein CEO Goldman Sachs November 2009