Monday, August 25, 2008

There will be more older Entrepreneurs - Col. Sanders, James Dyson will be some among many

John Sperling, founder of the University of Phoenix was 65 when he founded it. Not all entrepreneurs are 20 year olds - far from it! Colonel Sanders was the same age when he founded Kentucky Fried Chicken. Momofuku Ando, who introduced the "Cup Noodle" when he was 61, was one of many older entrepreneurs around the world who have consistently created businesses. The first portable computer was introduced when Adam Osborne was 42, perhaps under 50, but far from a 20 year old.

By 2012, people over 55 will constitute 19 percent of the labor force, up from 14 percent in 2002. The AARP recently found those age 50 and above account for 40-percent of the self-employed in past years. This will grow and implies that more entrepreneurs will be over 55 in future.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Why do people refuse to learn or take advice? Is this why executive turnover is so high?

It is a cliche that teenagers do not listen to parents. We make jokes about how they do not ask for or take advice. Yet, there is truth also in the saying, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." As people get older, they genuinely do resist change. So many learn a really bad habit. They ask for advice, yet never take it. Worse still, they do not respond and engage in a discussion, but behave in a passive-aggressive way by asking for advice, yet simply ignoring it. They do not want to change the way they do things.

I have never understood why people do not take pride in seeking advice and then really changing the way in which they do things. They think that if they simply ignore it, it will go away. You see it in the TV programs in which an expert goes into a failing company and provide the solution. Yet, usually, the management or owner simply ignore it. As a consultant, I see it every day - executives are in trouble, they know they are in trouble (or perhaps not, which is one reason why executive turnover is so high), but they will not ask for help and take it.

Punching above your weight in Busimess and the Olympics

In these Olympics, Jamaica and New Zealand won about as many medals as Brazil, and far more than India. So two countries with much larger populations did not perform as well as they should have on that basis. The same can apply to companies. Often, huge companies disappoint. When we look at the best performing countries, they each do well in certain sports, and have training programs and incentives for those sports. In the same way, large companies can do well if the people in those companies understand their own objectives clearly, and get rewarded for performance.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What you measure changes what you do

Today, in the New York Times and other US newspapers. the USA leads China 65 to 61 in the Olympics medal table. However, in the Uk, newspapers such as The Times (of London) puts China (with 35 gold medals) ahead of the US (with 19). So it depends on what you measure. So the US way of measuring national success at the Olympics gives the US reason for self-congratulation, whereas the UK way, leads to change in behavior. Incidentally, the US way puts Britain at 5, while the UK way puts it at 3. So in business, or political strategy what you measure results in different strategies. When two business competitors are measuring different things, it is possible that either each considers that it is winnung, or that it is losing.Thus the Vietnam war become prolonged because both the and North Vietnam believed that it they were winning. In business, one company may be focusing on market share, while the other maximizes profitability - Dell vs. Apple; Ford vs. BMW.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gordon Ramsey teaches us a lot about management and business

The celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey has a TV program called "Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares," in which he spends a week at a failing restaurant helping to turn it around. Interesting, while the kitchen and the food are usually important, the most important are typically those of people management and marketing. Gordon Ramsey goes into the community to do market research by talking to prospective customers. He ensures that the team running the restaurant works well together, and carries out much word of mouth marketing to get new customers into the restaurant. While his advice is directed at a restaurant, most of it is equally applicable to any business.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We are "patriots," they are "nationalists." Semantics can break bones

Words have incredible power. Our choice of words in how we describe something or someone tends to have influence in how others see it or them. Thus words change history. Advertisers know this, politicians do, and so do journalists. Yet most of the people who read them do not recognize how they are being manipulated. Greater awareness of this would help voters make better choices, consumers buy better and even diplomats create better relations between nations.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Why do voters believe politicians when they misrepresent their opponents?

Time and time again, politicians put words into the mouths of their opponents. Many voters believe these. Why would anyone believe what an opponent claims that an opponent says? This is powerful, and is very carefully restricted in commercial advertising. Truth in advertising laws do not apply to political speech. Perhaps they should. steadily identifies claims made by politicians which would not stand up in business advertising.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Too many online social networks, and now corporations want you to join theirs?

Online social networks are a great idea. But there are too many, with more to come. No one can reasonably manage all of them, and I find the same people connect to me on multiple ones - Why? Are we simply viewing the number of connections we have a status symbol?

corporations are now setting up social networks to connect users of their products. Usually, this has little effect. Why on earth should I join a Marriott social network, when I am already a member of several broader ones? Corporations are not being realistic about how important their brands are to consumers if they think that they will put this above general networks.

What will replace online the current online networks, Something will, much as The Well was replaced by Compuserve, which was replaced by AOL, then Ryze by LinkedIn. What happened to Wikis as a way for groups to interact? Will the next generation be cell-phone driven rather than computer? I will pout forward some speculation in weeks to come/

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The tendency to distrust others'motivations leads to separation

It is always amazing how people can think the worst of others' intentions. So people can think that a Presidential candidate is not patriotic. Or that a certain ethnic or religious group can really be traitors. Or that a colleague is out the sabotage the company. A friend is out to undermine one. This creates and accentuates differences between people. There may be an evolutionary advantage to a caveman, but in a world where most activities are carried out in groups, we must learn to compensate for them.