Archive for October 2010
In recent weeks, I have identified lessons that can be learned from different sources that can be applied to our lives or to our businesses. These lessons can lead us to be better people or businesses and our family, friends and customers will be the beneficiaries of this advice. I offer no lessons to be learned today.
Today, I have nothing but observations and questions. Before going any further, I ask that you review the picture above if you have not already done so. You may find it humorous and it is the starting point for today’s blog. As you can tell, that original piece of artwork is evidence that I chose correctly when faced with the career path – Artist or Accountant. I am to stick figure art as Claude Monet was to impressionist painting.
- I ask you, is the person who had the idea that 50 is the new 30 closer to 50 or 30?
- If 50 is the new 30, what is 30?
- Is it good or bad that 50 is the new 30?
- If 50 is the new 30, is it safe to assume that 100 is the new 60 or that 70 is the new 42? Does this math work in the same proportion or is there some magical formula that is safely stored in the same secret vault as the recipe for Coca Cola?
- While we are on the subject of mathematics, I offer the Hornak theorem: The amount of laughter from seeing the words “large print edition” is inversely proportional to your age. (More laughter = less candles on your birthday cake)
- Good advice I heard that makes more sense everyday: “walk instead of running, sit instead of standing, lie down instead of sitting”. That’s my idea of energy conservation.
- When calling a company and navigating through various automated menus, why do you have to enter your account/ID/phone or other number using “your touch tone phone” if the first question asked of you by a human being is “what is your account/ID/phone number”? That makes my head hurt.
- I recently bought some new Hanes T-shirts and it had nothing to do with their “lay flat collars”. Does that mean they wasted all that money on Michael Jordan and those commercials that seem to be ubiquitous lately?
Have a great week.
Last Wednesday the final Chilean miner was safely rescued from the collapsed mine that held him and 32 of his co-workers for over 2 months. We need more of these kinds of stories. Too often, we hear bad news reported from various media outlets. Negativity is the kind of thing that seems to achieve high ratings. Congratulations to the miners and the various rescuers and organizations around the world that helped and lent support to the effort.
What can we learn from this? Is there a lesson out there? In June, I wrote about A Lesson from Imperfection. (Click here to read more)
Last month I wrote about Lessons we can learn from the NFL (Click here for more)
and two weeks ago I wrote about lessons to learn from Arby’s. (Click here for more)
I believe there are many lessons to be learned from the triumphant Chilean mining rescue. Today I will focus on a few that stood out to me.
Lesson one – Managing expectations.
Once the miners were found to be alive, the Chilean government stated it would be as long as late December before they could have them safely out of the mine. In addition, once they were nearly in place to begin the rescue effort they set a much longer time line for recovery than what occurred. They under promised and over delivered and looked like (and were) heroes in the process. This strategy is a fine line that must be navigated wisely. A customer is always looking for fastest, cheapest and best so don’t lose a possible opportunity by sandbagging. However, if that is not a concern and you can manage expectations without losing business do so and profit from it.
Lesson two – Leadership when the chips are down.
The foreman that was trapped with his crew rose to the challenge, kept the men together, and focused on survival. I am sure he made mistakes during the ordeal but clearly had the respect of his men. They honored him by letting him be the last man rescued. It is easy to be the leader while things are going well but the real test comes during a crisis. Ask yourself, have I been a leader during this economic crisis or have I let my customers, employees or shareholders down?
Lesson three – Taking advantage of a second chance.
This lesson has yet to play out for the miners but what about you? Are you ready “to do better next time”? Start over now wherever you are and give yourself a second chance at doing it right – whatever it is. Acknowledge mistakes, learn from them and move on to make a difference.
I am sure since the rescue was completed there have been hundreds or thousands of bloggers writing about this topic. My hope is that we can learn from this and apply it to our lives and businesses. Have a great week, start your second chance now.
This recipe will change your life, if you lead a boring life that is. It is a very reliable chili recipe that will be enjoyable to wide range of tastes. I have served this at my Super Bowl parties and it has been favorably reviewed.
1 – 46 ounce can of tomato juice
2 – 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
Chili powder to taste – 1 tablespoon is a good start
Ground Cumin to taste – 1 teaspoon is a good start
Cayenne pepper sauce to taste – 1 tablespoon is a good start
1 or 2 – 15.5 ounce can of beans – kidney, pinto or black are acceptable
1 large diced onion
1 clove of garlic – diced is a good start
Basil, oregano and thyme to taste – 1 teaspoon is a good start
Brown and drain fat from ground beef 1 pound 85% lean
As an alternative you can use soy substitute 12 ounces = a pound
If you are not worried about fat content I would recommend trying different types of meats to add some complexity. Spicy/peppery sausage and ground beef is a nice combination but lamb or pork can be used as well.
I cook this on low for 8 hours in a standard 5 quart crock pot after meat has been cooked. You can also prepare rice or another starch (I have heard some people use mashed potatoes!) and add shredded cheese or sour cream in the serving bowl for a little extra decadence.
As we head into colder weather try this out and let me know how you like it. Have a good week.
Today’s topic will not be long but will make you think, and that is a good thing. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the NFL and what could be learned by following their example. This week I have a lesson to share that I came across completely by accident.
Let me set the scene for you. I was feverishly turning things on end to achieve results last week and the lovely Mrs. H. and I were faced with a dining dilemma. Make dinner at home or grab something at a restaurant – fast food or otherwise. After deliberating for 3 seconds, we decided to go out for fast food as we were pressed for time. We rolled into the Arby’s parking lot and walked in very unfamiliar with their menu. We managed to choose our dinner but I stumbled across something that ended up being today’s topic. The item I ordered was a combo meal and the menu price was $5.01 – yes $5.01. Well, that got my wheels turning in my head all last week and I could not let it go.
My question to myself was; what happened to 99 cent pricing? Why was it $5.01 and not $4.99? Is 99 cent pricing dead? Shall I hold a funeral? I can’t believe that the price was set at $5.01 without a reason. This is the first time I have noticed blatant disregard for 99 cent pricing. I suspect Arby’s is on to something. The 99-cent pricing model no longer works. The psychological difference between an item for $4.99 and $5.01 is no longer present. They have figured it out that we have figured it out – probably a long time ago. Now Arby’s is free to set prices at various prices with more flexibility and grow revenues. They no longer have to make portion sizes match to a price the ends in 99.
The heart of the issue is that little things can add up to make a big difference. I learned this lesson years ago when I was working in a CPA firm. The partner in the firm that explained this to me was very successful and shared this with his clients as a way to provide an additional benefit in his relationship with them. This lesson does not have to be one reserved for fast food restaurants or other retailers. Why not re-think selling price throughout the business world? Obviously this works better as sales volume increases but no matter what it is you sell, if you sell 1 million items a few cents can make a big difference – especially if those sales are distributed to many individual customers. If you have a 3 cent price increase on 1 million units that is an additional $30,000 to the bottom line. The customer probably will not mind the 3 cents and you certainly do not mind the $30,000 in your bank account.
I will give one more example that works surprisingly well. A professional firm with a staff of 20 that typically have 2,000 billable hours per year will bill 40,000 hours per year. It doesn’t matter if the firm is Accounting, Architecture, Engineering or a Law firm their hourly rates could vary from $50 to $350 per hour. If you have ever noticed, hourly rates are typically rounded to the nearest dollar. Would you really notice if your professional consultant had an hourly rate of $85.44 per hour instead of $85.00? If the price sensitivity is very low in my example then if it were my option, I would prefer to invoice those 40,000 hours at the 44 cent higher rate. That is an extra $17,600 of sales revenue – 44 cents at a time. I hope this example will get you thinking about creative ways to get a few extra dollars in your pocket.
Have a great week. I hope you are thinking.