Monthly Archives: May 2012

A new kind of vote

So some craaazy hippie was telling me that, apparently, corporations these days have much more power than the government to effect society.

I think we’ve all come across this notion at some point. There’s no doubt in my mind that it is, at least in some respects, true. And, oh, how people are in an uproar.

But I think people miss a huge strategic notion in this debate. The notion revolves around where these company’s power originates. They have power because they make so much money. They have so much money because the mass population decides, on a transaction by transaction basis, to give them their money (in exchange for goods and services).

Now people in the past have tried boycotts. And that’s fine. But boycotts have an off-putting notion because the boycotters main goal is to get other people to not buy from the company. Which is fine.

My suggestion is that consumers simply accept the fact that government is broken, weak and largely un-fixable. Not that we should abandon it, but we should also do what we can in lieu of our government votes being so non-consequential. We should instead realize that every single dollar we spend is a vote in favor of that company’s practices.  Just as we have responsibility to know what the governments for whom we vote will do with the power we give them, so should we be aware of what the corporations will do with the power (through dollars) that we choose to give to them.

And just as those government parties whose policies are not liked wither and die, so will such corporations. Use your dollars to vote.

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We are a relative race

My life has changed in many different ways over the years. I’ve also watched the lives of friends change. And through those changes, reactions to changes in life status are seen. Life status can be defined as anything from number of friends to living arrangement to number of dollars in the bank account to the value of things being enjoyed having been purchased from said bank account.
And with these changes; happiness, level of excitement, general agree-ability… they all change too. Very briefly.
It is only sustained change (in most of these categories of life status) that can keep a human above his or her average level of happiness. And so it boils down: We are a relative race. NOT an absolute one. We are not programmed to care how nice our car is. Only that it’s nicer than our neighbors and nicer than the one we had before.
It’s simple, but I think the vast majority of people forget it when they make decisions whether big or small.

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To be sexy or not… Business strategy

Back to bid-niz. As I was having dinner with some start-up folk a few weeks back, I got to thinking about where talent flocks. Typically talent doesn’t always flock to just where the money is. Talent will flock to what’s sexy and has money. This means that markets, where there is currently money to be made, are very likely to be under-served.
There is disproportionate value in unsexy markets.
Think about all the badly run mid market businesses out there in unsexy markets that haven’t changed much in the past 15 years. No talent wants to work in the plastic injection molding bath tub industry. But that means there’s some guy with a facility in China pumping out these walk-in tubs for old people out at $65 bucks a pop and selling them at $800 and making 25mm per year with no competition. Not bad.
Think about all the talent flocking to tech startups trying to vie for all the VC money and all those consumers. They don’t call tech a competitive scene for nothing.
So maybe you should think about a less sexy market, where, for some reason you have an in, a leg up, an odd connection or a random talent to start your next venture.

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On judgement

I find the topic of judging someone or groups of people can be a pretty polarizing subject. The argument is usually, on one side, that you can’t judge anyone (for various reasons). But opponents usually argue that you have to judge someone to have an opinion or be insightful about people’s motivations or the reasons they do things.

I don’t think you can ever actually know a particular person. If it’s one person walking down the street or even an old friend, I think it is very hard to ever know someone’s true motivations for anything (a lot of the time I think it’s even hard for them to know their motivations). It is impossible for you to know how much effort they put in to being a better person or fighting their negatively guiding emotions. And since you cannot know their effort, you cannot judge them. Sure, you might not like them or want to hang out with them all Saturday, but it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person.
Conversely, however, judging groups or stereotypes of people can be useful in helping you understand your own values, understand how people’s minds work and debate morality.
So I guess you can’t really ever get mad at a particular person :S

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