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Showing posts from February, 2010

The Indian Budget Story

'I have seen many such items in almost all budgets—they have ranged from ‘agarbattis’ to ‘bindis’ to vests, and God knows what else, over the years. And I wonder why? Why do we have these strange items in the budget? Are they really worth it? And what about that whole notion of a simple tax regime that is moving towards uniformity of rates? Look at the range of items which are being exempted from indirect taxes in this Budget—cold storages, transporting cereals and pulses (but not fruits and vegetables), corrugated boxes, latex rubber thread. And the list goes on.

The whole point of tax reforms is that we must stop fine-tuning taxes. And we in the past have seen the benefits that come with simplicity. But somehow, India’s most important annual economic event is full of subtext that is either nonsensical, or a farce, or both. And it is not just this Budget. Pick up any one over the last two decades, and you will see the same story.'


- Laveesh Bhandari, 'Enjoy the nice, safe …

We've met the enemy and he is us

Its isn't easy keeping up with a three year old. More so because where everything around becomes material to be explored for him, I seek the familiar to ease into. For example, when I seek my favourite couch to sink into after work, he's almost finished dialling every possible number on planet Earth using his mom's mobile phone. But then its interesting how his sweet antics play a major role in keeping what's in my head young ands sprightly. Right now Alphy's unsuccessfully trying to fry something in the kitchen, 'cos Jaden's insisting he does it, his way!Like I said, it isn't easy taking to everything Jaden does. At times it starts to overwhelm and irritate. And at such times we tell ourselves it isn't Jaden we need to control, instead its our own emotions. In trying to keep him and his naturally curious urges in check we may make things easier for ourselves, but we grossly mess up on providing him a nurturing environment. In raising Jaden up, we k…

The flaw in listening to your best customers

'For a marketer, its the ones who line up for the brand that matter most. May their breed increase, as their support, is what the marketer prays. The ones who stay with the brand do so as a result of positive attitudes built within them. And then there's the enemy camp that consists of people who harbour a negative attitude towards the brand. Its best the marketer leaves them alone as changing attitudes is a difficult proposition.'

That's from my post of yesterday; Note a certain contradiction to what I proposed;

At the core of the research summarized in The Innovator’s Dilemma is the notion that companies intent on listening to their best customers frequently miss opportunities to create new growth businesses. There is tremendous value in listening to demanding customers. Feedback from demanding customers helps to map out a trajectory that allows companies to continue to charge premium prices, earn attractive margins, and beat market competitors. However, established fi…

Thomas Bruso and Consumer Categories

'Does Thomas Bruso deserve to be lionized? Or is he just a crazy old coot? And what, if anything, does this video say about generational and racial conflicts in America? (In my opinion, the only real hero in the video is “Black female passenger #1″ [see transcript below], who is just about the only person who tried to intervene and stop the violence.)

I get the feeing that, basically, people just like to see an authentic fight, unedited, and all the analysis is just justification for our bloodlust. Perhaps, in the long run, this video’s only lasting impact will be to introduce the word “ambulamps” to the English language.'


That's Zombie's concluding take on the bus brawl antihero Thomas Bruso story. I think its a telling conclusion.

My take? I think people can be slotted into three categories, actually two. The ones who want to see and enjoy a fight at another's expense and the ones who want to stop it. Of course, the latter's a minority. The ones who want to see …

A time to keep and a time to throw

Nowadays I seem to be running into things. At home, I mean. At first I thought it must be me. On checking, I find its the 'things', not me. I mean, over time we seem to have too many 'things' that have piled up at home. After all, most things are durables and so have to get in my way. Its a few things that are perishable and consumable. Now of the things we have, what we regularly use is anybody's guess. Yet, we still seem to have all of them, and we persist in keeping them. The solution to my stumbling around is simple. Identify things we don't use or use sparingly, and give or throw them away. I know, easier said than done. Its downright difficult to let things go. Its far easier to buy and keep them. Letting go requires that we not be insecure about the 'lack' of things. But then, most of us are. We tend to think that giving something up isn't a good idea as we may have use of whatever it is we are disposing off, some time in the future. Never mi…

Genderless emotion with nationality?

'So what happened to us good Indians, who judged obscenities as moral slips of the tongue? When Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker’s book The Stuff of Thought argued that swearing was an emotional trigger for the brain and often used to arouse equally negative responses in others, we nodded reluctantly. But when Messrs Vishal Bhardwaj and Anurag Kashyap, professors-in-vogue of profane linguistics, peppered their scripts in Ishqiya, Omkara, Dev D and Gulaal with fiery obscenities rolling off the tongues of even their female characters, Pinker started making sense. Emotion has no gender, but it has a nationality. The answer also lies in a dialogue in Karan Johar’s My Name is Khan, when two young TV interns find themselves jostled in a crowd impatient to see the American president. The boy curses in Hindi, and the girl smiles and comments, “Hindustani gaali ke jaisi koi gaali nahin hoti! (There is nothing like swearing in Hindustani).” Say ‘fuck’ and you’ll feel brighter, stronger, f…

When tranquil turns terror & Why

Anita and friends take a weekend trip to Vythiri. I play a part in recommending the place. They come back exhilarated. Anita tells me how breathtakingly beautiful the place turned out to be. I should know, years ago I lived there for some time. Anita also tells me how touched she was by the people she and her friends encountered. The people at the Resort they stayed were extremely helpful and also forthcoming to every request or query of theirs. Never did they once complain at being bombarded with questions. The guide who took them around too cared for their welfare. He accompanied them on their treks and so on. But at the end of it all, Anita said she was glad to be back in the city of Bangalore. She needed the bustle of city, a far cry from the tranquility of Vythiri, to stay sane.

Interesting.

As grown adults we have gotten used to a certain way of living. A getaway from that, though surely welcome, must last only a certain time. Afterwards we want to be back to what's 'norma…

Indian Identity

'Is there such a thing as an Indian identity?

Do we really need one?

Who is an authentic Indian and who isn't?

Is India Indian?

Does it matter?

Whether or not there has ever been a single civilization that could call itself 'Indian Civilization', whether or not India was, is, or ever will become a cohesive cultural entity, depends on whether you dwell on the differences or the similarities in the cultures of the people who have inhabited the subcontinent for centuries. India, as a modern nation state, was marked out with precise geographical boundaries, in their precise geographical way, by a British Act of Parliament in 1899. Our country, as we know it, was forged on the anvil of the British Empire for the entirely unsentimental reasons of commerce and administration. But even as she was born, she began her struggle against her creators. So is India Indian? It's a tough question. Let's just say that we're an ancient people learning to live in a recent nation.

Wh…

Rebuilding Tiger & Toyota

'As the Irish political commentator and cultural critic Fintan O'Toole has pointed out: "Celebrity culture thrives on two qualities. One is a false intimacy -- the belief that a famous person is known to us in the way our friends, family and neighbors might be. The other is blankness -- the celebrity is a screen onto which we can project whatever feelings, thoughts or desires we choose at any given time."

What marketing people like to call "brand loyalty" is the consumer economy's equivalent of the cultural of celebrity. We'd all like to think our material purchases are supremely rational, but the truth is our deep-seated preferences for certain brands are based on considerations beyond the physically qualitative.

Woods' celebrity is based not only on the perfection of his swing, but also on the idea that his modest origins and mixed racial heritage democratized and integrated a sport that hadn't fully shaken the shadows of its historic elitis…

Why grudge wealth?

NATO troops have once again taken casualties fighting the Taliban. Our prayers are with the troops. Our admiration too. I don't think there's another country as gutsy and noble as the United States of America. I don't care what certain people think, to me the Americans epitomise nobility. No one's done more for freedom and liberty than the Americans. That too by paying a heavy price. The life of its citizens. Of course there will be the liberals and socialists who think America is the greedy Yankee panting for a world order dominated by their likes. I couldn't disagree more. Me thinks the liberals and socialists neither have the gumption for a fight nor have what's called moral courage.

Just like the Americans, private businesses too are derided. As scamsters getting fat on their ill gotten wealth. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the odd rotten apple, private businesses are wealth creators. So are they solution providers. It isn't easy doing…

Tiger, Tiger, wailing right!

I must say I am impressed. By the style, setting, content and delivery. Tiger's pulled it off pretty well. He had to. I'm sure networks around the world carried his apology live. Imagine if he had come across as a schmuck?

An apology in principle is a good idea. Yet know that it has all the possibility of making things worse. That's if it isn't carried off well. If an apology is messed up, the aftermath would be far lousier than before it was mouthed.

Tiger got all things right with his apology. Brands can learn from him (as much as not learn too), or at least from his apology. Great brands are ones that can get their 4Ps right. In substance, that is the product, they have to be better than competitors, in setting, they have to merchandised well and be available, in style and delivery they must be positioned to perfection. Of course all of that must come at a price that drives value.

Tiger's apology is a good one, but I wonder if its complete? What about the women he …

The Deep Thinks of Deepak Chopra

'Note once again, Deepak’s ability to see inside souls. And whereas in Palin he finds only deceit and a certain coquettish seductiveness (the wanton!), in Obama he discovers the noble qualities of a true prince. Back to fairy tale land. And now he reveals where he has been taking us all along: Obama and his sage advisors:

‘…are playing the role of adults trying to call forth the adult in all of us. ‘

So you see, what we are living through now is not a time of political and economic crisis but rather a grand spiritual quest, in which the immature, childish American people will be saved by their wise leader who shall bring them not simply to better times but also, at last, to adulthood. All they have to do is listen, and obey this wise man who has come to lead us out of darkness. Don’t question, because he’s right. Don’t doubt, because he’s braver and more noble than you are. Don’t fight, because you’re being manipulated. Obey your elders. Obey your betters. And then you will be grow…

For Sade, its back to the top

I've been in love with Sade's voice since I can remember. 'Smooth Operator' left me with goose bumps. So did 'Your Love is King'and 'Sweetest Taboo'. The next one that hit home was 'By Your Side'. Since then I've been waiting. And now she's stormed back. With an album that's gone straight to the top of the U.S. album charts. It has also made its way up to No1 in Canada, France and Switzerland and No4 in the UK chart.

Sade, I believe has got one of the most unique voices in the music world. She sounds like smoke on water. And that's perfect foil to the mystery she is. Having exhibited a disdain for fame she went into a hiatus for ten long years. That normally should have erased her off her listeners' memory, yet it did just the opposite. Her comeback took her back to the top. Goes to show how much people, like me, were waiting for another listen to her voice.

Returns aren't easy. For artists as for brands. If an artist or a …

What's right isn't necessarily fair

The other day walking down a street, I am startled by a tow truck that whizzes past, swerves, and stops beside the road. Out jump two ruffian looking characters who run to a mo'bike parked on the pavement, lift it and tow it away. The owner who spots the bike being taken away runs helplessly behind the tow truck to try and salvage it, but without success.

The scene I described plays out on Indian roads all too often. Tow trucks towing away vehicles with owners running behind. Now I am all for people parking at the right spots. But there's more to the story than the traffic police doing its job towing away vehicles. The story must also include those that aren't towed away because they belong to privileged folks. Take for instance this real estate firm that has its offices close to where we stay. They park all their office vehicles on the pavement. I've never seen those vehicles being towed away. Guess their privileged position as a business firm allows them such outrageo…

Every Skeptic's a Believer

'I don't believe in superstars, Organic food and foreign cars.
I don't believe the price of gold; The certainty of growing old.
That right is right and left is wrong, That north and south can't get along.
That east is east and west is west. And being first is always best.

But I believe in love. I believe in babies.
I believe in Mom and Dad.

And I believe in you.'

I agree with Joseph Bast. The Cilmategate saga ain't over until apologies are offered to skeptics who were once derided for calling a junk science into question. Thinking about the ridicule skeptics had to suffer in the past only makes me angry.

Its also makes me thoughtful. About the act of skepticism.

I am a skeptic in many ways. I am skeptical about Global Warming , as I am about Evolution, Government and Do-gooders. In probing deep into my skepticism, I uncover the fact that, as much a skeptic I am, so am I a believer. I believe climate changes are natural. I believe we were created by a God. And I believ…

The Fable of Market Meritocracy

Shikha's article, 'The Fable of Market Meritocracy' is a must read and runs counter to what I proposed in my post, 'The paradox of our times' (I will still put in a counter-word later).

'In a functioning market, Hayek insisted, financial compensation depends not on someone's innate gifts or moral character. Nor even on the originality or technological brilliance of their products. Nor, for that matter, on the effort that goes into producing them. The sole and only issue is a product's value to others. Compare an innovation as incredibly mundane as a new plastic lid for paint cans with a whiz-bang, new computer chip. The painter could become just as rich as the computer whiz so long as the savings from spills that the lid offers are as great as the productivity gains from the chip. It matters not a whit that the lid maker is a drunk, wife-beating, out-of-work painter who stumbled upon this idea through pure serendipity when he tripped over a can of paint.…

Socialism & Stuff

'Fact is, because socialism is a lie, people have to keep pushing the lie. When someone says, “Hey, my brother is a socialist,” they never follow it with, “you know, that ideology based on envy that’s responsible for the deaths of millions.” No instead it’s, “He sells Che shirts out of hemp, when he isn’t recycling sex toys for the homeless. God he’s so caring.”

Fact is, socialism is the easiest thing you can romanticize, because it’s a big fat exaggeration of “sharing.” As kids, we were always told to share, because sharing is good. If you had twenty Playboys under your bed, surely you could hand one off to Billy, who has none. Socialism has always piggybacked on this notion: that it’s just not right for you to have so much, when others have so little. Never mind that you’ve earned what you’ve got, while the others sit around watching Judge Judy in their underpants (sorry Bill). Socialism is government forcing you to share your stuff with jerks.

So the only way to teach American ad…

Greed is Good

Its this sort of stuff that gets my goat. Tell you what, the sheer idiocy of it all is what will keep us as a country away from progress.

I mean, the allegation of greed. I say, what's wrong with greed?

The sports news anchor on TV (CNN-IBN) had this question to Sunil Gavaskar while talking about Ravindra Jadeja's IPL ban. He said something to the effect of greed playing a part in Jadeja's 'misdemeanours'. Jadeja scouted with other IPL teams for more money (not allowed according to IPL rules) leaving his home team miffed. They file a complaint, and he's banned for a year. Now, I am all for people following rules. But I ain't an idiot and so can spot the sheer idiocy in the TV man's question. According to him greed isn't what should drive players, its love for the game, or whatever (at least that's what I construed).

What humbug!

Greed's at the heart of everything that's an exchange, financial or otherwise. No one does it for sainthood. L…

The Paradox of our times

O' Reilly's note on his special Valentine goes beyond what's said to explain attitudes prevalent. Though the note's restricted to a li'l girl and what she does, it can safely be extrapolated to understand existing attitudes among the young.

'But the tech revolution has also made it easier for Madeline to escape from reality. The machines allow her to avoid thinking about problems and solutions. With a flick of a finger, Madeline can enter a fantasy world where she doesn't have to think about bad things or work out complicated situations. She can play emotional hide-and-not-seek all day long.'

In many ways the need to 'avoid thinking about problems and solutions' manifests itself in a desire for a Messiah. Someone who can fix everything without anyone having to move a muscle. That desire is why Obama won. No kidding, that's why. Remember the lady saying Obama is going to pay for my gas and mortgage!?

The sad part about waiting for the messiah is…

In Individualism lies our hope

An interesting class discussion on the need to be connected with everyone in an institution, had me countering it with my personal philosophy. To me, connecting is as important as not being connected. Staying with people is as important as shunning them.

In short, the balance between individualism and collectivism needs to be managed, and managed well.

Collectivists have for long mocked individualists as being selfish beings. Perceptually that's an allegation that can stick. Michael C Keehn puts a note out for individualists that I think sums up what its about and what priceless outcomes it has for humanity.

'Within the individualist philosophy lies a hope for the future. It surmises that philosophically man is incomplete but that he can improve. That a better future is possible as not only mankind’s expanse of knowledge widens, but also as we, as individuals, evolve in thought and manner to higher understandings. It harnesses man’s innate individuality as a driving force not onl…

The Insatiable Need

'In a free-market system, products and services evolve to serve wants and needs. Some people, like farmers, target needs -- they know that though the need is limited and can be satisfied, people will always get hungry. In this case, demand, while finite, is assured. Other providers focus on wants, and many great entrepreneurs have discovered that the well of wants is far deeper than the well of needs, with one exception. These providers find our desires and produce things to fill them. In this market, products and services will emerge with features we desire balanced against the price we are willing to pay to fill that want.

Health care is unique in that it is an insatiable need of humans. Our most basic instinct is that of survival, and all of us are benefited to that end by health care. The paradox occurs because we all must in fact die at some point. At that point, the health care that would have saved us is either unobtainable for cost reasons or not yet invented. And so our m…

The Lone Warrior has Sena eating dust

I am delighted. Shah Rukh's movie has opened to full houses.

The story of Shah Rukh versus the Sena is the oft repeated David versus Goliath story. Though this time its with a difference, at least in terms of the desired outcome. David had to prevail so democracy could stay intact, despite dents. And that's the way its played out, at least on the first day.

The Sena has miscalculated, big time. Today was supposed to be a 'comeback' day for them. Instead its turned into one that'll be remembered for how a lone warrior made a Sena bite the dust. For some time to come, Sena's defeat will be remembered, and that won't flattering to say the least. After all, its such issues that's bread and butter to them.

The lesson they can learn?

In politics, as in business, as in life, one must pick one's battles with care. Taking on a lone warrior in full public eye isn't recommended, for two reasons. One, public sympathy rides with the loner, and two, should you lo…

GM food isn't okay, starving is.

The Bt Brinjal controversy is symptomatic of Socialist behaviour. That genetically modified food isn't okay, but starving to death is.Talking to my brother Thomas who lives in the US the other day, I was reminded of what it means to have in plenty. Visit a grocery store in the US., and you'll encounter food varieties that you can't even dream of, in India. At unbelievably low prices. Of course, they aren't all GM food varieties. But its pertinent to note that according to the FDA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are over 40 plant varieties that have completed all of the federal requirements for commercialization. In India, the government’s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), which cleared Bt Brinjal for commercial release said it will reduce the farmers’ dependence on pesticides and enable higher yields. Again, proceeding with caution is fine. But socialists and environmentalists going rabid with allegations of US pressure isn…

Wearing Cuba means Walking Cuba

There's something ethereal about wearing 'Cuba'. Suddenly its the streets of Havana, smoke filled and lit by the groovin', more than the lights. The bars are packed to hilt and dreamy women seem to glide by. The feeling's beyond magical.

How did I get there?

Before I explain, I gotta tell you about the power of brands to take you places. Brands bring with them an ability to prompt you to conjure up the unreal. They can transform your reality into fantasy. And consumers are more than willing partners to brands as the drudgery they face in everyday life begs an injection of fantasy. Brands that operate in a zone of the unreal do the conjuring act as there's nothing else that consumers can call for, while making judgements. For instance, what should I be judging the lip paint on? Its colour and tone or its ability to turn me into a diva?

Cuba's a perfume. The moment I wear it, I am traipsing the streets of Havana. Its smoke filled bars I see. Its music I hear and…

Apology's just a good start

Akio Toyoda's note of apology featured in the Washington Post aims to achieve two things. It puts the company's response out there for everyone to take in, and also acts as a PR response to the negative publicity caused by the recall.

Akio's response has been quick and measured, and in so much, perfect. Yet what still remains to be seen is how it plays out. That is, how Toyota's cars in the future are going to be. Will they be blemish free? If yes, Toyota's would have dug itself out. Also note, GM and Ford are only getting better with their brands.

For the moment, I suspect sales will take a beating. Though in the long run, Toyota's bound to be back.

For now, its wait and watch.

Three Years & Counting

Its now three years since I started on this Blog. I wouldn't have known if Prof. Asha hadn't pointed it out. Thank you to her.

Its mostly been fun writing. Its been fun knowing that everything that happens can be material for my blog.

Thank you to all who've visited. Hope I can keep at it.

Have at it

'Afterwards I gave my son a huge hug; he had performed well all day. He fell into my arms in tears. To his young (and competitive) mind the difference between his team taking first and finishing in second place was the missed element in his routine.My heart broke for my son. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. I have three sons and have wiped many tears over the years – some of them my own. Disappointment is part of life and salving the wounds of disappointment is part of a parents’ job description. Call it the bittersweet experience of parenthood; bitter because the tears we kiss away are always salty; sweet because these moments flavor our lives forever; they remain with us as parents and are part of the glue of trust that bonds our children to us.I held my son as tightly as I could. I kissed his face and wiped away his tears. I whispered to him over and over again how proud I was of him–how proud his mother was of him. It had been a long weekend; he was emotional…

Why Private isn't Palatable

I think the prospect of personal gain is a more powerful driver of co-operation than the idea of the general good... Exchange, though motivated by self-regard, spreads benefit far and fast across the planet...Despite the fact that self regard 's our best chance at fair exchanges, it isn't easy convincing the average citizenry. Especially in countries trying to shrug off their socialist past. Take India for example. It isn't easy convincing people that their best bet for quality education is if private parties deliver it at a price of their choosing in exchange for a quality commensurate to that price. This is so, as when it comes education, its difficult to convince a citizenry used to governmentalised education that private parties can do it even better. Again, education as a service when tied to the prospect of profit making, renders it unpalatable. Its as if, how can education be sold at profits? Shouldn't it be given out of the goodness of a party's heart?The u…

Why we 'really' do what we do

'Third, while we share many of the same ideals, I think the prospect of personal gain is a more powerful driver of co-operation than the idea of the general good. In exchange, both sides benefit – or they would not do it. We only gain personally if we can make someone else better off too. Exchange, though motivated by self-regard, spreads benefit far and fast across the planet. It encourages people to build up and look after their productive resources, allowing goods and services to be produced ever more cost-effectively. It works, even despite the best efforts of politicians to divert it for their own ends. Plumbers get up at three in the morning to fix people's blocked drains because they get a direct personal benefit from doing it. Would they get up at three out of the goodness of their hearts?'

- Dr. Eamonn Butler, 'Capitalism or Socialism?'

Easy on the senses gets the Masses

Some time ago Anita said something remarkable. That in Delhi the most people read is Chetan Bhagat. Surprisingly, the last time I was at Delhi airport, the guy next to me was buried deep in a book. Needless to say, it confirmed what Anita had said.

There must be something about Chetan Bhagat (his site calls him the paperback king of India) that makes the masses want to read him. I guess Chetan is to Books in India, what McDonald's is to Fast food. Easy read. Not taxing at all. Truth is, you don't need a PhD to finish the book.

Easy on the senses is what the gets the masses. The moronic song and dance routine gets crowds. Heavy story line and its a trickle. If its masses brands target, sophistication can best be abandoned. Ditto for anything serious. Nice and easy is the way to go.

Personally, I can't get to reading Chetan Bhagat. Too easy, I guess. If its relaxing I want from a book, I still pick Sherlock and his ways. Last night, right before bed, I reread how Black Peter go…

The Idiocy in Local Food

'Let’s get real, people: Globalization is the best thing that ever happened to mankind. Most of the edibles you enjoy on a daily basis come from thousands of miles away, grown in climates where you wouldn’t want to live: Coffee, sugar, chocolate, wheat, rice, cinnamon, vanilla — the list is endless. Civilizations have risen and fallen in pursuit of new foods. The Romans conquered North Africa to get access to its wheat fields; the Arabs invented international capitalism by gaining control of the spice trade; the French and the English colonized half the globe to bring home sugar and tea. The story of the last 4,000 years is the story of our quest for exotic foods.

And here comes the locavore movement to say, in essence, Let’s go back to neolithic times when we only ate what grew in the immediate vicinity. I say: Screw that. We worked hard as a species to gain access to every imaginable kind of food that this planet can grow. I’m not about to give it all up now just so I can feel a …

Hari Sadu - Redux falls to Weber Curse

Its done damage earlier. Its done it again. Its the Weber curse.

First, the law. Weber's law states that the ratio of the increment threshold to the background intensity is a constant. So when you are in a noisy environment you must shout to be heard while a whisper works in a quiet room. And when you measure increment thresholds on various intensity backgrounds, the thresholds increase in proportion to the background.

Naukri.com had a brilliant commercial in Hari Sadu, Round I. Real funny stuff. Then they bring version II. Its falls flat. Hari Sadu, redux isn't funny. Worse, I couldn't even figure what the commercial was about till a magazine article explained it to me. For Redux to have worked, Hari Sadu and the story line had to be funnier. It wasn't. My bet is, give it a few days, the plug will be pulled on the commercial.

Let me now venture a guess on why Hari Sadu redux, or for that matter most reduxes fail. Creative ideas flower out of a process. Wallas' creati…

One's Staple is another's Scarcity

I noticed families of construction workers, living close to where we stay, slaving at a fire in the process of cooking. It was meat they were smoking. And my instant thought was, what an irony! The very same smoked preparations appear on snobby restaurant menus as delicacies at premium prices.

Its easy to see why.

It isn't easy for the rich to come by what's staple for the poor. The scarcity thus felt poses an opportunity that's been cashed in. The food's smoked delicately, garnished finely and served. A hefty bill follows.

One man's staple is another's scarcity. Therein lies an opportunity. The dirt and squalor of an Asian street is saleable to the westerner, who drops in to experience it, hoping nirvana is tucked away at some cubbyhole corner. The contrast is Asians gleeing in delight at walking down a neatly tiled street in some European country. The Westerner strips down on beaches to burn his bleached skin. He calls it a tan. The Indian on the other hand cove…

What binds Shah Rukh & Gao Zhisheng

The story of GaoZhisheng and Shah Rukh don't have much in common. Yet there's a similar streak that binds them together. Their stories talk about societies that can't guarantee freedom to its citizens. And such societies won't ever lead the world. Socially or business wise.Business brands that rule are born out of acts of innovation. Such innovations flourish in societies that allow for varied and dissenting expressions. Its no wonder why the West has a stranglehold on innovation across business sectors. America, I believe, has nothing to worry from the 'rise' of China and India. For that 'rise' is essentially about consumers hungry for products and services. And if you were to closely watch consumption in these societies, you'd see western brands gaining in strength, day by day.Shah Rukh must be accorded the freedom to have his movies screened.GaoZhisheng must be freed.To know how you can put in your support to either, visit here and here.

The Apparent & The Hidden

All of us move up levels on the Maslowian hierarchy. Which means our needs change and therefore the factors that motivate change accordingly. For example, when you sought your first job it was about working for a branded company that paid well. Pay was important. But years later, pay isn't as important as position. Its designations that now matter. On the hierarchy, from a lower 'security level' you've moved to 'esteem'.Now when the move on the hierarchy plays out in front of you, its fascinating to watch it unfold. More so if its a li'l child in question. I am talking my three year old son, Jaden. Earlier his obstinacy centered around him wanting something as a response to a physiological need. Chocolates when he was hungry, though we disapproved. But now, its more than just a physiological response. This morning he insisted on having the complete pack of Ginger biscuits. He refused to share one with Alphy. He very well knew he wouldn't be able to fini…

Reference prices did Newsday in

A redesign and relaunch that costs four millions dollars for sales of $9000.

Shocking?

You bet. The brand in question is the Newsday website that went for paid subscription to their content and ended up having 35 people sign on in three months. The Dolans who bought the New Island daily and relaunched its website wouldn't have done so if they had an inkling of the concept of 'reference prices'.

Consumer use reference prices as basis for comparison. That is, they compare the asking price with what they have as a reference price. Now the reference price could either be internal or external. Internal reference prices are drawn from memory for comparisons, whereas external prices are ones taken off competing brands. What's the reference price when it comes to new content online? Zilch. Surfers currently pay zilch for news content. If that were so, why should they be paying for such content just because its on a redesigned news site? They won't and they didn't. That…

What's it with Tim Tebow Ad?

'The real problem with the Tim Tebow ad has nothing to do with football, nothing to do with the legalities of abortion on demand and nothing to do with all the people now living, walking, talking breathing.

It has everything to do with the value of each and every human being, the unknown possibilities of every conceived child and the profound weight of the decision that mothers and fathers made when they chose to conceive.

In the end, abortion proponents are forced to focus only on the mother’s financial, physical and emotional well-being. If they, even for one minute, stop to consider the non-choice of another human being (not to mention fathers), all their arguments to women suddenly fall on deaf ears.

Tim Tebow, with quite astounding football prowess, is one child who was allowed to live. And grow and prosper. And succeed. To the delight of his parents and his family, friends and football fans.

Since 1973, 51 million Americans just like him were not given this privilege. They were …