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Showing posts from August, 2010

Why Sal Khan also represents doom

Its truly amazing what Sal Khan does. But it also poses a problem. To marketers. What do you do when you are a service provider, and you have someone else who's an expert and offers that very same service for free?Welcome to the nightmare services are going to face in the future. If there will be a service that can be offered without necessary accompanying physical infrastructure, someone will do it for free. And that someone will be an expert and therefore will do it well. Like Sal Khan. People who teach math and science, and charge a fee are in trouble. Because Sal does exactly that, extremely well, for free. Imagine what that means. Tomorrow, someone's going to offer great golf lessons for free. In fact, no subject will be spared. If there's something that can be taught, it can be taught for free. And why restrict it to learning? It can be extended to other domains and disciplines too. The Internet with its virtual connect that's only going to get better has overnig…

Revelations from Obama, the Lightworker

Revelation #5: We now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that our formerly august mainstream media is replete with socialists.

Revelation #4: We now know that “limousine liberals” is objectively apt — they only love the poor with other people’s money.

Revelation #3: We now know that the only economic policy liberals consider is tax and spend, spend, spend, then tax some more. Nothing else even enters the discussion.

Revelation #2: The Lightworker has revealed for all the world to see — again — that appeasement still does not work. And that awarding peace prizes preemptively, based on someone’s decision to, again, try appeasement, reveals just what fools the Nobel elitists are.

Revelation #1: Liberal Democrats don’t stop to ask the following questions before pressing forward:

1. Is it constitutional?

2. Will it work?

Read Kyle Ann Shriver's complete article here.

The Most Fiscally Irresponsible Government in U.S. History

Coming from Liberal Democrat Mortimer Zuckerman, this is something,

'There is an instinctive conclusion among the American public that President Obama's stimulus package has failed to create a sustained recovery. Unemployment has increased, not declined; consumers have retrenched; housing starts have crashed along with mortgage applications; and there is a fear that a double-dip recession may very well be in the pipeline. The public perception, reflected in Pew Research/National Journal polls, is that the measures to combat the Great Recession have mostly helped large banks and financial institutions, and that's a view common to Republicans (75 percent) and Democrats (73 percent). Only one third of either political leaning thinks government policies have done a great deal or a fair amount for the poor.

There is another instinctive conclusion among the American people. It is that the national deficit, and the debts we have accumulated, are of critical political importance. On…

What Tiger can learn from an Indian Tiger

'Any inspiration derived from Atwal is due not to success alone, but struggle. Here’s a self-taught player, a weekend duffer who started late. He could’ve given up, but didn’t. Wouldn’t.

Unlike Woods, who was 2 years old and barely taller than his driver when he teed one up on the “Mike Douglas Show,” Atwal didn’t begin playing until age 14. Weekends only, when his father wasn’t working in coal mines. The sweat ethic rubbed off on the son who, even without dad, became a regular at the course. Every day. Alone.

Getting Better.'

- Scott Soshnick, 'Tiger Woods Can Learn From 182nd-Ranked Atwal.'

Commerce in Interrupted Commerce

It seems the China-60 mile-traffic jam could last weeks. Which isn't good news for many. Especially for the truck drivers waiting to deliver their goods at its destination. From a business perspective its also an interruption to the flow of commerce.

Yet what's heartening within this 'stuck' scene is that the wheels of commerce still keep rolling. The act of selling and buying continues. As truckers wait, villagers at the scene along Highway 110 take advantage of the jam, selling drivers packets of instant noodles from roadside stands and, when traffic is at a standstill, move between trucks and cars to hawk their wares.

Now that's the spirit of Enterprise. Of Business. Always in wait for an opportunity to buy or sell.

Wow! Hats off!

Bury Keynesian Voodoo

A 2002 study by economists Richard Hemming, Selma Mahfouz and Axel Schimmelpfennig of recessions in 27 developed economies from 1971 to 1998 found that increased spending by government had, in almost all cases, a barely noticeable impact, and sometimes a negative one. Heavily indebted countries that spent more in recessions grew about 0.5 percent less, relative to trend, than countries that didn’t, the study found.

Ask Joe

Why is the left so profoundly committed to stimulus-by- spending, even though there is scant evidence that it succeeds?

Joe the Plumber knows the answer: The left has become religiously Keynesian because that is the only corner of economics consistent with its redistributive ideology.

- Kevin Hassett, 'Bury Keynesian Voodoo Before It Can Bury Us All.'

What it means to be Bitter vs. to Aspire

To know the difference between a capitalist and a socialist, you must know what it means to be 'bitter' and what it means to 'aspire'.

See, its like this. The 'bitter' man sees another riding a set of shiny wheels and wishes his wheels crash. So the two of them can be on foot and be miserable. This is in contrast to the way the one who aspires looks at things. He sees another sporting shiny wheels and 'aspires' for the same. And so works hard so one day he can ride the same wheels.

The socialist sees prosperity and wishes 'ill' on the prosperous. He wishes everyone's poor and miserable. And so goes about propagating the mantra of 'spreading wealth around'. The capitalist on the other hand witnesses prosperity and wishes for the same. And he know the only way to get there is to either turn to making products and services, thus making money, or be part of that process. This so that he can earn enough to buy his own set of shiny wheels an…

The diversity in Indian Shopping Behaviour

The diversity of India is reflected in its different buying seasons. Most of north and west India buys during Diwali, but many regions have their own festivals. People from Kerala buy during Onam in August. Tamil Nadu shoppers shop during Pongal in February. Baisakhi in April is important in Punjab. Durga Puja in October is the peak season in Bengal.

Indian retailers have tried to move shoppers away from the single shopping season mentality. They would love to have Memorial Day sales, Labor Day sales and Thanksgiving sales like retailers in the U.S. India’s retailers have been trying to promote Akshay Tritiya in April as a mini-Diwali for shopping. But as this season has mainly been promoted by retailers without much religious sentiment, it has met with a lukewarm response.

- Devita Saraf, 'India Journal: ‘Tis the Season to be Shopping.'

The Asian Shopper

I had quoted earlier from the 'Eye on Asia Retail Study' about Indian shoppers. Here's some insights on shopping and the Asian Shopper.

Some of the key “eye-sights” captured along the Purchase Decision Journey include:

1. Two-thirds of final purchase choices are made in-store.
2. Asian shoppers take time to study products in-store.
3. Advice is appreciated as long as the staff’s approach is non-intrusive.
4. Almost half the promotions done in-store are wasted.
5. Asian shoppers visit stores not just for products but also for the experience.
6. There is an Asian shopper. There is no Asian shopper.

Read the Grey G2 report in its entirety here.

The Myth of Free People

'Indeed, one of the most pernicious myths about leaving people free to make their own choices is that it leads to atomisation. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, big government undermines the complex fabric of voluntary relationships that exist in a free society, and replaces it with nothing more than distant, top-down authority. Instead of combining with their families, colleagues and neighbours to help themselves, people are infantilised, told that they are too weak to be independent, and that they must become clients of a patronising state.'

- Tom Clougherty, 'Let's not muddy the waters over the big society benefits.' (via Adam Smith Blog)

Consumer Buying Habits

The Indian shopper -

1. Keeps a brand in mind but buys the brand that gives him value.
2. Indians are more decisive than the Chinese about the brands they want to buy.
3. Indian in-home shopping behaviour, confidence in shopkeeper; quick and timely delivery; payment at doorstep; option of returning products; shopkeeper willing to make multiple trips if required.
4. Takes time to slowly read the information, to make sure that he gets what he want. Also compares products before deciding.
5. Usually takes whatever the store keeper suggests if preferred brand is not available.
6. Doesn’t look for promotions because most of the shopping is routine.
7. Enjoys shopping. He can see different things in the market.
8. Likes reading the ingredients and product benefits before buying.
9. Will buy a slightly pricey brand if it can give him an experience/feeling like no other.

Read the complete consumer survey here.

What North Korea could do than getting a Twitter account

So now we know North Korea's on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, not so much to network as to spread rogue propaganda. And so their YouTube account has more than 80 videos. The series of clips include condemnation of 'warmongers' South Korea and the U.S. for the blame North Korea endured in sinking a South Korean warship.

Yawn. What do you expect?

Getting on a social media platform sure gets the word out to whoever's networked. But it may not a do thing about a change in attitude. I wonder how many people interested will view the videos or tweets and change their mind about a dictatorship that denies its own people the right to access or use the very same media?

A change in attitude towards a brand won't happen just because it gets on social media networks. It would happen only if what consumers 'believe' (read, cognitive component) or 'feel' (read, affective component) about the brand is altered. And that requires a carefully crafted communication cam…

The Feminine Scare

'One thing I haven't mentioned but have been interested in recently in my work with creative men (and uncreative men) is the horrible fear of anything that the person himself would call "femininity" or "femaleness", which we immediately call "homosexual." If he's been brought up in a tough environment, "feminine" means practically everything that's creative. Imagination, fantasy, color, poetry, music, tenderness, languishing, and being romantic are walled off as dangerous to one's picture of one's own masculinity. Everything that's called "weak" tends to be repressed in the normal masculine adult adjustment. And many things are called weak which we are learning are not weak at all.'

- Abraham Maslow, 'Emotional Blocks to Creativity.'

Gagging Social Media dissent? Think again.

Dr. Debashish and I opine that trying to gag 'dissent' expressed on Social Media is foolhardy.

Writing in the Hindu Business Line, we say, 'Social media networking has just made word-of-mouth electronic and widespread. The ‘word', positive or negative, was always there and so will it be in the future. According to a recent survey by global Internet content security provider Trend Micro, the percentage of employees visiting social networking sites at the workplace globally rose to 24 per cent this year from just 18 per cent in 2008, even as more companies are restricting access to such Web sites.'

Read our complete opinion-piece here.

What the Delhi Superbug is eating into

Dr. Naresh Trehan is pretty peeved at the New Delhi Delhi Superbug (NDM-1) discovery published by Lancet Infectious Disease journal. And the doctor's got good reason too. Of course not one he tells you, as he did on a TV show a few days ago. The real reason's a probable hiccup, or an extended belch affecting his 'Medicity' plans. After all he badly needs foreigners to throng the medical facility he's building.

Its now being reported that with the NDM-1 superbug news getting stronger every day, India’s business from medical tourism looks set to take a serious dip, as per medical consultants and hospitals. Tamil Nadu probably will take the biggest beating as its capital has been the city that hosts maximum number of medical visas. I guess that's quite worrisome to the good doctor. So he tries his best to make it seem as if there isn't the kind of problem the journal describes. He almost makes it sound as if the report's an insult to our country. What balon…

The normalcy in 'differences'

'In countries around the world, all sorts of groups differ from each other in all sorts of ways, from rates of alcoholism to infant mortality, education and virtually everything that can be measured, as well as in some things that cannot be quantified. If black and white Americans were the same, they would be the only two groups on this planet who are the same.

One of the things that got us started on heavy-handed government regulation of the housing market were statistics showing that blacks were turned down for mortgage loans more often than whites. The bean-counters in the media went ballistic. It had to be racism, to hear them tell it.

What they didn't tell you was that whites were turned down more often than Asians. What they also didn't tell you was that black-owned banks also turned down blacks more often than whites. Nor did they tell you that credit scores differed from group to group. Instead, the media, the politicians and the regulators grabbed some statistics an…

The Principle of Individual Rights

'America’s founding ideal was the principle of individual rights. Nothing more—and nothing less. The rest—everything that America achieved, everything she became, everything “noble and just,” and heroic, and great, and unprecedented in human history—was the logical consequence of fidelity to that one principle. The first consequence was the principle of political freedom, i.e., an individual’s freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by the government. The next was the economic implementation of political freedom: the system of capitalism.'

- “A Preview,” The Ayn Rand Letter, I, 24, 5.

'The most profoundly revolutionary achievement of the United States of America was the subordination of society to moral law. The principle of man’s individual rights represented the extension of morality into the social system—as a limitation on the power of the state, as man’s protection against the brute force of the collective, as the subordination of might to right. The …

Why India should be your destination

The automobile sector in India reflects two realities that bring in a lot of cheer in these recessionary times. First, the rise of this sector in terms of manufacturing is a pointer to India's capabilities as a small car manufacturing hub. Global car biggies, including Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen and Ford see that, and so are here to stay.Second, and more importantly what's uplifting is domestic demand for cars. Indians have unleashed an appetite for products and services like never before. Car sales hit a record high last month with demand coming in from rural areas too. According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, Indian domestic car sales rose 38 per cent to 158,764 in July, compared with 115,084 in the same period last year. The growing demand for passenger vehicles in India is a contrast to China, where car sales rose at their slowest pace in 15 months in July, the latest sign that Asia’s biggest economy is losing momentum.The lesson in all this is plain and…

The return, for closure

Though in Hollywood they ascribe it to a 'rehook', a film that lures so many cinemagoers back for repeat viewings that box office takings soar, the 'real' reason for people returning to watch 'Inception' a second (or more) time is their 'need for closure'.

The 'need for closure' is a psychological term used to describe an individual’s desire for a definite cognitive closure as opposed to enduring ambiguity. And ambiguity is what viewers experience the first time they watch 'Inception' on screen. So what do they do? Return to watch it a second time, maybe even more. In fact in the US, one out of every five Inception viewer has returned. And that's no accident since Inception is believed to be the first film to have been explicitly designed to pull audiences back for more. Studio executives say director Christopher Nolan deliberately "layered" the movie with visual and musical puns that he calculated would reveal themselves on…

Narcisstic Emotion vs. Behaviour

Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love, a book on narcissism, writes the following in response to a question of the narcissist’s inappropriate affect:


Why is there no connection between the behaviour of the narcissist and his emotions?


A better way of putting it would be that there is a weak correlation between the narcissist’s behaviour and his professed or proclaimed emotions. The reason is that his emotions are merely professed or proclaimed – but not felt. The narcissist fakes feelings and their outer expression in order to impress others, to gain their sympathy or to motivate them to act in a manner benefiting the narcissist and promoting his interests.

In this — as in many other simulated behaviour patterns — the narcissist seeks to manipulate his human environment. Inside, he is barren, devoid of any inkling of true feeling, and disdainful of emotions and emotional people. He looks down upon those who succumb to the weakness of sentiment and holds them in …

Will the 'secure' Slim Shady please stand up?

Every time Jaden and me are supposed to share something Alphy's made, that we can eat, Jaden demands that he have the lion's share. Of course, I am okay with it except at his age he can't finish what's on his plate, and so I end up eating the cold creepy leftovers. I can remember as a kid too, me doing exactly the same. But then again, I am not sure of such a desire for a 'lion's share' being only a kid-act. Grown ups do it too. They demand they be given the larger slice. Only its not just food.

Now the reason's simple. Blame it on the phenomenon of 'insecurity' that plagues the larger lot of us. To not want more means you're secure. To want more, and more is a pointer to a belief that you don't have enough. Abraham Maslow did well to tell us we move from one need state to another. But what he may not have mentioned is the fact that the movement across the hierarchy may just be reflection of wanting more, propelled by a sense of insecurit…

Why write, when you can rip-off?

I don't think anyone should be surprised at the acceptance of plagiarism among the student community in the digital age. After all, the act's now easier. But then, why just students, business firms too plagiarise. They rip off ideas from competitors and conjure up carbon-copy products.

Which I guess should be why I got pulled into buying the 'Rasna' brand, when in my mind I was thinking I'm buying 'Tang'. The two look dead similar on a shop shelf. Yup, you can also blame 'monetary blindness'. But the truth is, I never noticed the difference. In a way I guess its good for Rasna because should I find the taste similar (to Tang) and cost lower, I am switching. From Tang to Rasna. Though I must add, having lived in the Middle East long enough, there's some nostalgia about Tang and a feeling that Rasna can never be Tang.

Tell you what, original thought is rare. Plagiarised copies abound. What makes plagiarism terrible is that it rips off from the creat…

I said it, didn't I?

Don't wanna jump the gun, nor sound gleeful, but then hey, I predicted it. I had earlier pointed to commuters switching mode of transport due to the auto fare hike.

Seems its happened, at least on the first day. TOI reports, 'On Sunday, autorickshaw drivers across the city had to undergo an acid test of sorts. Day 1 of hiked fares elicited a plethora of responses from commuters. While Sundays normally happen to be low-business days for the drivers, August 1 turned out to be an extremely dry day for many. On a lazy Sunday, Bangaloreans chose to hop onto buses instead. In fact, buses to the central business district areas saw a good number of commuters.'
Like I said, the market has inherent correcting mechanisms within. Wish more people saw it. Even the auto-fellas.

Following consumers home

'Unilever's Omo detergent is adding an unusual ingredient to its two-pound detergent box in Brazil: a GPS device that allows its promotions agency Bullet to track shoppers and follow them to their front doors.

Starting next week, consumers who buy one of the GPS-implanted detergent boxes will be surprised at home, given a pocket video camera as a prize and invited to bring their families to enjoy a day of Unilever-sponsored outdoor fun. The promotion, called Try Something New With Omo, is in keeping with the brand's international "Dirt is Good" positioning that encourages parents to let their kids have a good time even if they get dirty.'

Read the complete Adage story here.