Monday, December 11, 2006

Volume 29 - China - Intra-China flights

In my first addition China 'blog', Volume 28, I hadn't mentioned any of my intra- China flights, nor my three and a half hour flight flight from Beijing to Guangzhou after just flying fourteen hours from Chicago to Beijing, so let me describe this experience as well as others on airlines as China Easter, Dragon Air and China South.

The intra-China flight from Beijing to Guangzhou took place after 'immigration and customs', and as mention above, after a very long flight from Chicago. Needless to say not only was I tired from flying, but tired of the process involved in standing in lines, customs, immigration, and all the 'stuff' that takes place with security and traveling from one country to another, therefore I was somewhat hesitate as I boarded my first truly China commercial airlines, known as China Air.

I can only tell you that the first class upgrade was not only very timely but like no other airline experience. The attention given its passengers was almost embarrassing, it was so exceptional. The airplane was an Airbus A330-200, and as I was escorted to my seat another stewardess was placing 'slippers' (blue in color) along side my seat for my three and a half hour flight to Guangzhou. Although the only English spoken was during some of the pre-flight announcements, the hospitality was unequalled in all of my air travels. It was aboard this flight that I had my first Chinese beer, Yan Jing, ate fish over rice with 'real' silverware (not plastic) including the knife.

Four days later, I'm boarding a China South Airlines heading to Shanghai. A half hour before the scheduled flight everyone was boarding and getting situation for this three hour flight. Exactly on time, our Airbus was 'wheels up' and hundreds of people were on their way to Shanghai. Apparently, there was a 'fashion' show in Guangzhou for I was sitting with and around six individuals from Los Angeles as they prepared to meet other clothing manufacturers in our destination city. The young lady sitting directly next to me was a 'twenty-something' who had recently graduated from college, and now was working for this private LA label clothier, who had taken a number of people on this 'buying trip' visiting four cities over three weeks (nice job).

China South Airlines provided another excellent flight experience with authentic Chinese fare, including the chopsticks, which after four days I was getting quite proficient. The young fashion person next to me was not as enthusiastic as I regarding the 'sometimes unknown food', but nevertheless the service was perfect, on-time takeoff and arrival with courteous service. Approaching the city of Shanghai, one becomes instantly aware that a new experience was to unfold. The skyline of this city was simply magnificent. With its seventeen million people, the visual site of endless skyscrapers, construction cranes and freeways offered up a clue that this is a special city (more to come about Shanghai).

Four days later, I'm boarding another intra-China airlines, China Easter, heading to Taipei, Taiwan with a 9:00 a.m. departure. (As a side note, a thought to ponder is the idea of a 9:00 a.m. departure, meaning arrival at the airport by 7:30 a.m. after being out in Shanghai the night before. For future trips, this scenario will be remembered.) I was picked up at the hotel, at 6:30 a.m., by a 'transfer agency', an absolute must for traveling in Asia. China Easter, flight 701, departed 'on time' at 9:00 a.m. with the customary courtesies shown on other China airlines, heading for Hong Kong. Although my destination was Taiwan, one leaving the mainland must fly through Hong Kong, deplane and get checked through immigration/customs and board another plane onto the island of Taiwan even though it is part of the PRC; and even though mainland Chinese aren't easily granted a visa to go to Taiwan, whereas people living in Taiwan can readily obtain the necessary paper work to go to the mainland. I never stated everything was perfect within this country, as politics does show its bureaucratic side.

Two hours later, after the bureaucratic stuff was out of the way, I boarded Cathay Pacific Airlines, Flight 564 from Hong Kong to Taipei. The scheduled time of such a journey is approximately two hours. After being on the plane for only ten minutes, you desire the trip to take many more than the scheduled hours for Cathay Pacific is world class. The menu handed out start out by stating "The best Chinese restaurants have moved to 30,000 feet". They go on to state, "The best way to enjoy good Chinese food is with friends. So we are especially pleased to offer our passengers the best of Hong Kong Cuisine. To celebrate our 60th anniversary, Cathay Pacific is serving popular and signature dishes from some of Hong Kong's finest Chinese restaurants throughout 2006. We will be offering a variety of dishes and highlighting the restaurants that created them, so sit back, choose your favorite dishes, raise your chopsticks and enjoy. The best Chinese restaurants on the ground are now in the - only on Cathay Pacific." And if you think the marketing is good, how about the main course: "Braised Sea Bass Fillet with Preserved Gooseberry Sauce Steamed Rice and Chinese Mixed Vegetables"!!!

Unfortunately I only spent two nights in Taipei full of meetings and factory visits and didn't get to spend anytime seeing this beautiful island. Two days later I'm at Taipei's International Airport boarding my final intra-China flight, in another great China airlines, Dragon Air, flying to Hong Kong. Another five star restaurant in the sky with breakfast being "Scrambled egg with tomato and cream cheese, potatoes and broccoli or Fried turnip cakes with Oyster sauce, and Chinese Dim Sum." During this rather short flight of approximately two hours, I was further amazed at the simple courtesy of everyone connected with the flight. From the efficient security to boarding to the ease of 'smiles' that were so apparent throughout this great adventure. There maybe many improvements that must be made within the country of China, but when it comes to cell phones or the airlines, nobody does it better!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Volume 28 - China - the first 72 hours

After spending almost three weeks in China, Beijing-Guangzhou-Zhongshan-Dongguan-Shanghai-Suzhou-Taipei-Hong Kong, one might expect to hear about the fourteen (14) hour flight, the food, the traffic, the pollution, the population, the government, emerging markets, one child per family rule, poverty of workers, the civilization of bicycles, or other 'television produced ideas' of what 'China' is supposed to be so let me attempt to state what I wasn't prepared to witness.

I didn't witness an emerging market, I witnessed a country that already has emerged. I witnessed a nation that has been undergoing a huge commercial and creative upheaval, entering the world market. I witnessed a country emerged in a spirit of entrepreneurship that reminded me of what the United States was before we promoted 'socialism' under the guise of 'liberalism'; before we paid workers to sit on their 'butts' without working. I witnessed a 'pay as you go society'; if you couldn't pay, you worked until you were able to (purchase).

I witnessed construction cranes that worked seven days a week, in the creation of breathtakingly spectacular skylines that rival New York, Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles. Construction involving highrise office buildings, apartments, airports, hospitals, malls, and hotels. The creation of jobs for millions of people that earn them a spending power they have never known and are eager to exercise. I witnessed crowds of people working, shopping, and dining in an international environment.

I had the privilege of working with two interpreters, Chinese citizens, both bright and act as independent contractors, entrepreneurship at its best, who were given the assignment of being with me not only in a work environment but after dinner, socially in their environment. We walked the streets, ate at 24 hour diners, drank and socialized with their friends at bars, talk about every subject imaginable. We discussed politics, religion, America, 'change', security, crime, food, and a multitude of other subjects without rules or censor. By the way, it should be mentioned that they (the interpreters) and other Chinese females are unable to obtain a visa to visit the United States. These two professional individuals as well as three others met, two other interpreters and an educated Hotel middle manager, are unable to obtain a visa to travel the United States because 'we' don't permit single female Chinese to enter this country. I'm embarrassed that my country has such rules toward what may be our best future ally (future blog subject) yet we permit an onslaught of Middle Easterners, and South Americans to cross our borders seemingly at will.

Driving two and half hours outside of Guangzhou, a city of ten million people, to the city and surrounding area of Zhongshan, a city of three million, to visit my first two factories, I saw terrible air pollution, driving conditions that makes the 10 and 405 in Southern California look like a sensible highways. I also saw many small motorcycles, with occasionally three people seeking transportation on one vehicle. But I also saw people working in factories that smiled, when you made eye contact, no dirt floors, no armed guards, and none of the 'TV' conditioned 'Chinese factory'.

The following day, my drive to the third factory was less than an hour to a five story building within Guangzhou which housed 3-4 different factories. Our particular factory consumed four floors, and other than the walking up and down the flights of stairs, and the lack of 'flow', so promoted by US companies, this factory was full of energy from the managers of the company to the 'forming process' workers through the software creation department, to the circuit board production, molding processes and another dozen departments all the way to shipping. Energy and pride of work emanated from the factory floor to the Chinese owner, who has twenty-three patents on his products.

That's only the first 72 hours, and I don't desire to get caught up into reporting a daily schedule but to discuss in the next blog, along with some travel, and manufacturing tours my impressions of another world that has two millennia of history, a newly found entrepreneurial spirit possibly unrivaled, exceptional freedom for the female gender and a growing sense that Chinese destiny is being returned to a higher place in the world of today.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Volume 27 - Welcome Nick Ingledue and Marty Nicholas

Two months have gone by since my last posting, I find the 'speed of time' to be very difficult to comprehend. I desire 'time' to 'stand still' as it seemed during my earlier years. As my granddaughter said to her mom late yesterday afternoon, "Mom, there's nothing to do; I'm bored." To which I thought, without speaking, the day will come that the hours, days, weeks, months and years, take on the 'speed of light' in which boredom is a meaningless word. One certainly learns, as time passes, to 'savor' the taste of each day in which there aren't 'good or bad' days, just 'days' that accomplishment is greater than the previous.

From my last insert, 'i.2 update', our world of Independence2, LLC has moved from a year and a half of preparation to the 'playing field'. Within the past month we've added two more founding members, Nick Ingledue, our 'logistics' member-partner and Marty Nicholas, our 'sales' member-partner. We are very fortunate to be able to acquire, as our partners, two more individuals who have our similar business philosophies, work ethics, and an understanding of the importance of the 'customer'. They are able to answer the most important question of 'what do customers really want'. They understand quality products, reliable services and what a fair value means to not only the customer but the company. They understand that most business problems stem from the fact that companies have failed to keep their 'eye on the ball', failed to listen to their customers, and failed to deliver on the basics.

We have three more slots to fill, manufacturer representatives evaluations, completion of some final vendor selections pertaining to marketing and software, some contractual matters to 'think through', as well as finalization of certain manufacturing partnership purchase agreements, and these are just the 'broad-strokes'. The 'devil' still remains in the 'details, many hours of preparation still exist.

It becomes very apparent that most decisions have to be made without having all the information, or facts; nevertheless, 'time' is of the essence. Decisions have to be made. My theory has always been that it is better to make a decision than not; for in the latter one is always wrong. I've worked for too many people that would spend hours finding fault with everyone's input, hours spent in phony analyzation for they never had the guts to make a decision and 'live' with the outcome. Only after a 'success' did 'they' attempt to jump in front of the line which, by the way, never surprised the employees.

Returning to the subject of the disappearance of time, during this two month 'blog' absence, I had the pleasure of traveling to China. My experience and adventure could easily make up the next dozen 'blogs'. There is no doubt that the world is 'flat', and certainly much smaller than you think. This past July, I wrote Volume - 24 'Gobalization' and couldn't have been more on target. 'Globalization' isn't a theory, it's 'live' and doing very well.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Volume 26 - i.2 update

After sixteen months, filled with a great deal of work, a 'term sheet' has been signed with a major bank to finance Independence2, LLC.

During the last couple of years of employment with my former employer I was privy to information regarding potential acquisitions. During some of those meetings, I was a proponent of 'greenfield' proposals, and heard resistance toward that type of thinking. I witnesses purchases made of poor companies for excessive amounts of money, knowing that a 'startup greenfield operation' seemed more realistic, and certainly more potentially profitable. After nearly a year and a half of building the foundation for our startup company, Independence2, LLC, I realize why start-ups ('greenfields') are frowned upon by companies interested in fast 'growth'. It takes a very long time to create the foundation necessary for a long lasting company from a 'clean sheet of paper' concept. Nevertheless, I'm betting the rewards are worth it!

I believe that fundamental issues such as building a solid comprehensive business plan, showing every detail of the proposed business, is an absolute. In the long run, it will show far better returns then attempting to bring about a 'turn-around'. Fundamentals and application of a proven system is as important in business as it is in plotting out a successful football program. Our business plan, thanks mainly to the efforts of our Operations/Marketing Member, Bonnie Buchanan, who has multiple 'startup' and business experience, as well as the advice of other members, is a detailed 140 page 'bound' document that has been reviewed and critiqued as one of the most comprehensive business plan "ever to make their offices", and actually read, by some of the most intelligent business minds in the Eastern half of the country. This is an endorsement that is not taken lightly. A piece of work that took one full year in preparation and documentation. Persistence mixed with the right attitude stirred with competent and energized people can bring not only positive results but different perspectives to an ordinary playing field.

The longer I live the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. As my friend W. Mitchell preaches, it's not what happens to you, but what you do about it that matters, and as Robert Ringer writes, "it is more important than the past, then education, then money, then circumstances, then failures, then successes, then what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude that we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one stream we have and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent of how I react to it and so it is with you. It is indeed within your power to choose your attitude in any given set of circumstances. And as a result it is in your power to choose your own way and to have a great deal of control over your destiny."

So, another page of our journey begins filled with excitement, plans for the future, a group of people bustling with ideas, applying concepts, seeking solutions, a start-up with fire in it's belly. And yes, I'm fully aware of the realities of life and business, but this is ours to succeed or fail.

This is not a company full of politics, the slow pace of change, lack of decisive leadership with people chained to their desks, confined to a numbers game, staring at the clock to end a day of monotonous work. Returning to that type of setting is simply not an option. Imagination, energy and enthusiasm are daily traits to nurtured and accepted, otherwise you can't become a part of this venture.

The 'creative process' may not be new, but the natural implementation of its process reaching for moving strategies and higher technologies, instilling innovation, and identifying better processes and systems, yet putting the customer in their rightful position, delivering on your word, with the highest quality of product, and making everyone partners within this venture is what it is all about.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Volume 25 - 'Ishmael and Isaac'

On January 1st, of this year, I posted Volume 16 - "The next Hitler and the 2006 Demonic Person of the Year" referring to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran. I state that "he undoubtedly will move with great speed and determination along the path of radical policies with continuing sponsorship of terrorism, and the drive to obtain and enact nuclear weapons."

I went on to state "is it not curious that religion, again, is used as the excuse to pillage and plunder? Race and color is not a factor, region of the world is not of importance, nor is the intellectual debate about the differentiation of the Christian, Hebrew or Islamic religions. Yet, it is religion as a structure, not the concept of spirituality,...that is the backdrop for murder, torture and mayhem."

Eight months later, we have 'Ishmael and Isaac' playing war games over the heads of innocent people. And, before my conservative friends gasp for air, I fully understand that the Hezbollah crossed over into Israel's territory, killed nine solders and captured two. I'm also fully aware of the UN's bill 1559 to disarm the terrorist Hezbollah (what a joke! Like the UN is actually going to do something constructive). And, everyone is fully aware that the government of Syria and the gangster president of Iran supports, the Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and Hamas, as well as many other Muslim extremist/fascists groups bent on destroying any thriving economic society. Notice the words 'thriving economic society' versus using the word 'democratic' society, for it is economics that makes a country thrive, not its politics. It is education that makes economics thrive, to wit we have thousands of years of war in a region, a part of the world, certainly not known for intellectual thinkers or educational system.

In the twelfth century, at the close of the First Crusade (notice the word 'First', the Church has to love that...)the 'Holy Land is back in 'Christian' hands. The King of Jerusalem is not Muslim. The Crusaders after 'liberating' this part of the world take their plundered riches and go back to Europe. At that time, the Turks and the Muslims, who had lost much of their lands to the Christian armies, attack, robbed and kill, through gorilla warfare (you see their educational process of warfare started centuries ago) any pilgrims or foreigners to this land. With the exception that they used bows and arrows, large rocks, spears and fire, instead of missiles, rockets, grenades, and 'exploding people', the scene is the same.

For the simple sake of history, let's back this history up a couple thousand years prior to about 600 BC, or so, when the Chaldeans destroyed Solomon's temple, built around 950 BC. These invaders then took the Jews back to Babylon as slaves. 500 years later Herod (Arab origins) adopts Judaism, builds a new Temple in the Kidron Valley. Around 66 AD, after Herod's death, the Jews rebel and take control of Palestine. The Romans put an end to this uprise and take back control of Palestine. Hundreds of years later, a second Jewish rebellion with the same results, as the Romans vanquish this with superior world power. Six hundred years later with the rise of Islam, and the conquering of Jerusalem by the Arabs, the location is redefined by Mohammed's 'horse ascending to heaven'.

Enough of history, this should give one a pretty good idea of where this present 27 day war is headed; exactly NO WHERE. All the shuttle diplomacy, regardless of the country involved, and certainly not by the corrupt UN, will solve, in the 21st century, thousands of years of war. And, we haven't even mentioned the very modern scrimmages of 1967, 1973, and the early 80's, nor the constant civil war and hatred between the Shiite, and Shunni, regardless of what Mid-East region. Circumstances of war are terrible and tragic; but, there comes at time in history when countries, and people, must accept their responsibility, and be held accountable for their actions.

As much as I'm a believer in 'Globalization'; and as much of an optimist/positive thinker as I consider myself; there comes a time when we, the civilized world (normal acceptance of levels of crime aside), and in particular the United States, start to do those things necessary within our country, and with those countries that have mutual economic relationships (to be briefly discussed in the following paragraphs). It is also, about time, that we rethink our strategies when going to war (this is in no way an endorsement of 'pulling out' of Iraq, for those consequences involve an entire new subject and associated consequences). As already stated, circumstances of war are terrible and tragic, but if we, as a country have entered into those decisions, then we ought to engage the enemy to 'win' rather than be concerned about 'collateral damage' or 'image'. For example, Vietnam was never a war that this country had the stomach to win. Tens of thousands of young men died for a war entered by the government, with a phony 'domino' communistic scare tactic, but not 'stomached' by the government. More recently, in Iraq, and specifically in the first taking of the city of Falluja. There was no strategy to do what was necessary after the decision was made to 'take it' and now, we fight for the 'cameras', rather than the accomplishment, expending our soldiers lives rather than doing something right the first time.

With regards to the war in Iraq, and the recent incidents involving brave American soldiers ambushed, and taken hostage, murdered, tortured and butchered in the most horrendous way imaginable, where is the outrage for this brutality? Where is the protest about their human rights having been violated? Where is the ACLU? Where is the International community? Where is the media? Shouldn't there be a calling for the heads of those responsible? Instead of talk about withdraw, constant whining about human rights of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, we should let out all the stops, use whatever method necessary to eliminate these thugs. It's either time that we wipe off the face of the earth these Islamic militants, that have twisted their religion to allow the murder of innocent men, women and children, or we retreat, and allow the middle east to solve their own problems that have been unresolved since before Christ.

And finally, we must start doing those things necessary within this country for those United States citizens that must be 'accounted for', such as providing health care for the millions that go unprotected, yet are capable of so much accomplishment. Sounds very 'liberal', doesn't it? It may well be, but it doesn't lessen the needs of productive citizens, young and old, that if provided health care, their deeds of accomplishment would far outway any cost.

Sometimes these 'necessary things' are not 'things' at all, but an attitude. For example, five million of our older Americans have not signed up yet for their Medicare, Part D, drug plan. In many cases, the reasons are very simple, they are old, tired and confused. And, we, I'm told are not going to grant them an extension! But 'we' have fifteen million illegal aliens in this country, which we allow to stay, protest, procreate, receive support monies, attend schools, and demand services. What happen to legal immigration, the history of Ellis Island, working for a living, and respect for the law of this country (Volume 21 - Immigration).

As a country that relies on foreign oil, we started our crying in the 70's, then in the 80's, and now in 2006, we whine like spoiled children but don't have the resolve to solve the problem. Our politicians speak political double-speak, we open research again and again on solar energy, coal, corn, trees and any material that will push our SUVs down the road. But are we serious? If the futures market significantly lowered the price of a barrel tomorrow, all the alternative fuels would, and will again, take their rightful place 'on the shelf' until the next crisis. Too bad, for not only are there 'crazies' in the Middle East, but South America is rapidly developing into swarm of lunatics with no love of our country, and, unfortunately they control a significant amount of oil. Serious crisis is pending.

As one of my favorite authors, Patricia Cornwell, writes in 'Blow Fly', "...that the best way to identify a cottonmouth is to poke at it. If the inside of its mouth is white, whack off its head. Otherwise, the critter's nothing more than a harmless water snake."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Volume 24 - 'Globalization'

'Globalization' is that magic word, which next to 'outsourcing', scares the 'crap' out of 'localized' thinking individuals, and connotes volumes of prejudicial opinions. Then again, 'Globalization' actually isn't a word, it's a concept. "Worldwide, a system of communication, comprehensive, universal", if one is to quote Webster.

Although I find 'globalization to be a sign of progress, free thinking and long-term success for those who understand 'competitiveness' in a free market, there are many who cringe at this concept, and promote governmental intervention (just what we need more of!) by limiting free trade and 'outlawing' private companies from doing 'global business'. For example, Thomas Pallery, PhD. in economics from Yale, said "he's encouraging workers and small-business owners to realize that they are threatened as the globalization of the economy forces more industries to compete on price." He recommends that Congress (Oh, goody!) consider an across-the-board tariff on certain countries unless they allow their currency to rise in value by market forces. And, although, I couldn't agree more with attempting to let the market place control economics, he continues (as most liberals do, instead of simply 'shutting up') by saying that "trade agreements should include regulations that force other countries to meet labor, environmental and safety standards." He continues by stating that "economics and politics should be linked." Enough of the 'other side', this is my blog, and I simply don't believe in 'socialism'or governmental interference.

Let's get back to some very 'simple' questions that need asked, and relate these questions, and answers, to 'globalization', for the benefit of understanding this process, or at least, reasoning out this concept:

Are you better off with the likes of a Wal-Mart, or not? Has you 'check-book' improved or gotten worse with importation of 'clothing'? Can a family of four clothe their family for less today, with better quality, and more choices, than a decade ago? (Refer to Volume 23 - Out Sourcing - Free Trade)

Is GM a bad company because it builds an automobile factory in China to sell Chevolets?

Is it a 'bad' thing that the GM Lordstown plant in Lordstown, Ohio not only builds the high quality, and great selling Colbalt brand, but also builds a different model, on that same production line for the Mexican market, and another model that gets sent only to Canada to be sold?

Is Toyota a good company because it builds automobile factories in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Texas, employs hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens, but is a bad company because they also import other models into our market place?

Do the workers at the Honda Marysville, Ohio plant think less of Honda because their owned by a Japanese company?

Honda just announced, June 28th, that it is building a $500 Million Dollar facility in Indiana. This facility which will begin production in the fall of 2008, will employ 2,000 people and will have a production capacity of 200,000 vehicles. Is Honda a good, bad, or simply a foreign based company?

Is Chrysler owned by an U.S. company?

Isn't Volvo, Land Rover and Aston Martin now part of Ford's family of brands?

Isn't Hyundai spending billions of dollars within the State of California in a manufacturing capacity?

Is it, therefore, a globalization problem that GM and Ford have been announcing thousands of job cuts while foreign automakers are aggressively building new factories, and expanding plants here in the United States, or possibly not a globalization problem, but poor management and/or other internal problems within those companies?

The fact that Toyota gets more out of its workers, with plants operating at about 110 percent of capacity while GM's plants are operating at only 75% of their capacity is not a globalization problem, so get out from under your mother's skirt and learn to compete! As I stated in my volume 22 - Supply Chain Management (and Respect)"General Motors, opting to carry 120 SKUs of catalytic converters versus Toyota's decision to 'platform build' with only 30 catalytic converters, thus reducing costs of a single part number..." is not a 'globalization' problem, it's an internal company decision, not unlike Delphi's decision to create a 'job-bank' that costs over 400 million dollars with no attached productivity. Not 'globalization', just stupidity!

And finally, as if anyone reading this hasn't gathered enough new thoughts on the subject of 'globalization', here is the defining mark that says, no matter your opinion, 'globalization' is here to stay, and we better prepare ourselves through a better educational process to compete, (Volume 23 - Out Sourcing - Free Trade, and in Volume 13 - Importation of Goods - Trade Imbalance - Why and How?) in 2007, NASCAR is allowing Toyota into Nextel Cup racing. This uniquely American sport of stock-car racing has always wrapped itself in the red, white and blue, as U.S. car manufacturers, since the late 40's, competed against each other.

Initially there were many qualms about allowing a 'foreign' car company into NASCAR Nextel Cup racing, but the reality is that the line has blurred as automobile companies are very much 'global' companies, making, producing and selling cars all over the world. Many of the 'foreign' manufacturers, as mentioned previously, are now only foreign by ownership, with billions being spent in this country in manufacturing plants, testing facilities, and now racing. As one of the most important and respected of all the racing NASCAR owners, Jack Roush, said recently, ..."Toyota is a very important part of our economy today...and we've got a lot of dealer investment dollars out there and we've got a lot of our population that works in Toyota plants around the country, so they have every right to be here..." Add to this, that the Toyota Camry is built here in the United States with 80% of its parts from U.S. suppliers, while the Ford Mustang contains 60% U.S. supplied parts, the facts speak for themselves.

So, other than securing our borders from illegal immigrants and terroists, there will be no building of another 'China Wall' (which, by the way, didn't work 2,000 years ago) around this country.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Volume 23 - Out Sourcing - Free Trade

It wasn't too many years ago, heated discussions took place over the use of 'robots' within the workplace. The unions screamed, the newspapers went wild, the liberals cried, that the sky was falling over the potential loss of jobs. Sounds very similar to the same 'song and dance' being heard today over 'outsourcing'. We read and hear that because of 'cheap labor', we're destroying our middle class. We read and hear that the government should limit free trade and somehow 'outlaw' private and public companies from outsourcing.

But, just like the discussion of the 'robots', it's panic induced with fear stories of 'local' events, and not facts that effect a national economy. As in all topics that have 'emotional' involvement, volumes of prejudicial opinions abound as soon as 'trigger' or 'hot' words are used, especially by the media. Words and phrases, each with their own predetermined viewpoints, used to gain advantage, or worse, to confuse, clutter and inflame a sensitive topic. Just another example of the media, 'making the news' and not reporting it. Words and phases as 'Merger and Acquisition' (M & A), 'globalization' (next volume's topic), 'pressures to reduce costs', 'sourcing competencies', 'strategic sourcing initiatives', 'improve supplier collaboration', 'optimal sourcing allocation decisions', 'global economic instability', 'knowledge sharing capabilities', 'front office/back office reduction', are only examples of this delicate and sensitive subject.

Here are some facts and a peek into the future: You may not like it that someone in a foreign county is taking your 'customer service' or 'warranty' type call, but it 'may' actually lower your price and increase your service, that is , at least, the hope of the company. This applies to claims, warranties, loans, and any service type product in which a voice is necessary to respond. Companies maybe making a mistake using a voice that isn't accented to 'our norm', but that is their internal company problem, or challenge, and not the issue at hand, and certainly not a governmental decision. The positive or negative results will be determined, as it should, by the marketplace. For example, I just had a duplicate billing on my company credit card, and it took me four phone calls to finally find someone that understood, in English, what I was saying and the willingness to do something about it; after my call went through numerous countries and was disconnected three times within their established process to solve this problem. Nevertheless, it is my choice to get rid of that 'card' company, if I so choose, and find one that is more responsive to my needs. A 'market place' decision, and one in which, I will consider.

Other examples include the importation of foreign clothing, which has given us more choices for less money, so a family benefits where it counts, in their check book. Sam Walton: "Made in America", published by Doubleday and copyright (c) 1992 by the Estate of Samuel Moore Walton, is a book that describes Sam Walton's philosophy of life and business advice, but fourteen years later WalMart's philosophy toward sourcing of product is drastically different. Company choice, and according to their 'full' parking lots most people agree, regardless of where the products originate.

And finally, with regards to manufacturing, the 'hotest' and most 'sensitive' of subjects, the facts remain that if sourcing is necessary for not only a cost benefit, but one of service to the customer, and growth on the companies part, that decision to import parts, or to move to another country is still a decision of free enterprise with the result, success or failure of a company, determined by the marketplace, and not a governmental agency; with the exception of those companies that have acquired local, state or federal funding including all types of property tax rebates, and have not repaid that source of funding in full. In the sixties there were three automobile companies in the United States. Today, there are three times that amount, and only two owned by U.S. companies. The next volume is 'Globalization' and a full discussion of the above will be presented.

With regard to workers, pay, health care and future, and all those inflammable topics that appear on the news, let me use our new startup company, Independence2 LLC, as an example. All our products will be manufactured in foreign countries, under a private label, and our 'members' (employee-owners) will make equal too, or more, than industry standards, will own a 'piece' of the company and are building wealth, not simply 'hitting' a time clock. We've established ownership, accountability and wealth into this formula, not just a job. Where can a sales person, for example, do better, than with us, knowing that he's not prostituting himself, but actually owning part of a company? Where can a 'shipping' employee work, where he is not only invited, but expected to sit at the conference table and go over 'financials', sales strategies and operational performance detail, and be asked his/her opinion?

Outsourcing can create opportunity. It might be harder to see the benefits of free trade, because those benefits aren't news worthy in this day and age, of hype and ratings news. But, understand this, it is a company's choice and responsibility to make decisions, good ones and bad ones, and that is the risk that one assumes as an employee of a company. And remember, that risk is directly proportional to ones education and ability, and the less of both, that one 'carries', the more at risk one becomes. Don't look toward Uncle Sam, in the 21st century, to build walls around this country, other than for immigration purposes, and isolate the United States economically from the rest of the world. One had, therefore, better understand the benefits of higher education, no matter the cost. 'Dummies' aren't going to make it. As I stated, in Volume 13 - Importation of Goods - Trade Imbalance - Why and How?, "Our educational system pales in comparison to high achieving countries. Our educational system has stopped being competitive. Our educational system and its non-competitive mentality is root cause for our inability to be a manufacturing leader in today's global economy."

One last comment, outsourcing does become an issue when companies hide from their employees and customers the decisions to outsource parts, pieces or even new products, and even worse hides this deception in 'red, white and blue' boxes. There is nothing more sickening then to see and read 'public relation' crap, printed or spoken, to hide the truth. As I stated in Volume 2 - Nationalism, Customer Satisfaction & Accountability, "I'm talking about Presidents and CEO's of companies waving the 'buy American flag' who damn well know that in their private meeting sessions they are advocating purchases of parts or products from Asia, India and Mexico with their other divisions already having products going to the same customers that have no 'made in America' connection whatsoever. If you gain a competitive advantage by purchasing a product or part overseas, then by all means do it, but don't lie about it. Be 'up front', tell the truth and by all means keep 'old glory' out of the story. She deserves much better then to become a prop in your sad play."

You're going to love the topic of Globalization!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Volume 22 - Supply Chain Management (and Respect)

What a simple business term: "Supply Chain".

The understanding of the term and the implementation of its consequences, as well as the respect, or lack thereof, for individual segments, and individual perspectives, equates to volumes of textbook information; but, we are simply going to start with the basics, without attempting to sell any particular point of view towards 'globalization' and/or 'out-sourcing', both of which, are future topics. Within "Volume 18 - The Customer", I refer often to the local neighborhood butcher, baker, and candlestick maker, and so our beginning point again is with these types of establishments, but for a simpler explanation, as it pertains to the 'Supply Chain'.

Like millions of individual small businesses today, the supply chain has as much importance and significance as it does for General Motors, just with less links. The butcher buys his meat from a distributor, who purchases it from a meat processor, who in turn has bought the product from a rancher/manufacturer, or something close to that process. The same is true, in theory, for the butcher, baker and the candlestick maker, with some insignificant nuances. All are dealing with supplier provided materials, and all are selling to the end-user, with a possible exception of an aggressive candlestick maker or baker, who might have elevated their game, and are now possibly selling through a distribution channel, one step before the end-user. Nevertheless, the 'supply chain' is in tack.

In the case of General Motors or Ford, the same scenario takes place, but with millions of links. Especially within the automobile industry, whose heritage, such as Ford Motors, owned the farms that grew the sheep that gave the wool to be used in the seat covers of the car, and, herein, lies the problem. Every time the supply chain is disrupted, individual companies and the employees, in particular, pay the price for the disruption. Excluding 'internal decisions', good or bad, in the area of cost expenditures, such as General Motors, opting to carry 120 SKUs of catalytic converters versus Toyota's decision to 'platform build' with only 30 catalytic converters, thus reducing costs of a single part number, most companies fail for attempting to influence external factors of the supply chain which takes place, more often than not, during their 'good times' versus struggling years. And as much as I would like to spend time on the subject of GM vs Toyota, we'll save that for an upcoming future volume on 'globalization'.

The point is that disruption of the 'supply chain', usually made during successful years, creates chaos and is usually done simply out of 'greed', of course, hidden under some financial and universal 'good-will' decision or shareholder enhancement. The attempted take-over of additional segments of the supply chain for the purpose of self gain, such as manufacturers buying up distribution channels and then attempting to sell to each owned account at better terms, pricing or service, thus failing to keep the 'playing field' even, for those other 'arms length' customers, are as history has continually proven, simply dooming themselves by their actions. For those, who contemplate 'moves' in this direction, even though they have 'respect' for the supply chain and have the ability to keep a fair and balanced equity, the risks still out way the reward, with few exceptions. My only advice on this matter is as follows:


Friday, April 14, 2006

Volume 21 - Immigration

The United States is the Land of the Free, the home of the brave, a country that, since its existence, has welcomed people regardless of race, color and creed.

Well, almost true. Discrimination, racism, and bigotry certainly had its 'say' in our development and, sadly, even to some extent today.

Having stated that, however, it should be noted that, we have come a long way in our development, in a relatively short period of time, a few hundred years, give or take a few. There are cultures all over the world that have more history, by thousands of years, than us; we tear down stadiums that are thirty years old, and think we got proper usage from such structures. Nevertheless, we get a grade of "A" for our ability to absorb, learn and grow, multi-culturally, in a couple of centuries. So, what's the big deal now with the subject of 'Immigration'?

Here's the "Big Deal":

When my grandparents came from Italy, my grandfather originally from Northern Italy, and my grandmother from the Abuzzi region of Italy, only two generations ago, they traveled a very long and arduous journey in time and distance, in the search for freedom and a better life. Originally, my grandfather came to this great country, without an education, speaking only his native tongue, alone, without my grandmother, to be able to start anew, without promises or demands. Processed through Ellis Island in the very early years of the 1900's, finding unskilled work in New York, working long hours on low wages, one day to travel back to the 'old country' and deliver my grandmother to her new 'land of opportunity'.

This he did, and like many immigrates of that time, this story was repeated by the Germans, the Irish, the Polish, the Greeks, and so many others, who up to even this day, did as the Country and the law permitted. Nothing asked, certainly nothing demanded, just the opportunity to become part of a new culture, a new and hopefully better life. Absorption of the language, the study of American History (as brief as it is) and the opportunity to be free and participate within a democracy was all they ever sought. They pledged their lives for this country, and demonstrated this over many wars and conflicts. They worked through the discriminations, the hardships, the mis-givings and prejudice of others. Their children of today, those that know how to respect their grandparents and parents, appreciate their efforts and the laws of this country that enabled, even within times of difficulty, the ultimate freedoms that we have today.

So, What is the big deal?

The big deal is 'Illegal' Immigration. That's the big deal. People slipping into the borders of this country, from Mexico and Canada, illegally. People who suck our system 'dry' without having followed law and procedures set forth by this country. People, who instead of following a systematized process, attempt to by-pass procedure, not supporting this country and it's laws, waving their own 'flags', speaking their own languages and demanding...Yes, demanding that we provide bilingual education, bilingual health care and bilingual governmental bulletins, so they can reap the benefits of such, when we can't sufficiently provide proper medical coverage for our own, simply because they have arrived and crossed some border. And, this doesn't even address the potentially worse scenario of terrorists, that slip in and out for the sole purpose of destruction, toward the American way of life.

Here's a news flash to all the people in Washington D.C. and especially Congress, GROW THE NECESSARY COURAGE (BALLS) TO SECURE THE BORDERS (Mexico and Canada), FIX THE I.N.S., SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF THE 12 MILLION OR SO 'ILLEGALS', that have already entered this country for the past three decades due to your utter negligence in addressing this issue in the first place, FIX THE IMMIGRATION QUOTAS, VISAS, LAWS, or any other nonsense that you created. AND, DO IT NOW!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Volume 20 - Differentiation of Independence2, LLC

Do you know how great ideas grab defeat from the jaws of victory?

What happens is that you get this great idea and run it by your friends, family, associates and after some conversation you hear "Nah, you can't do that!" "It would be impossible, and how could you possibly succeed?"

Well, in business, it gets worse. Did you ever hear the saying that arguing with an engineer is like fighting with a pig in mud? And then, it finally dawns on you that the pig likes it. Here's a newsflash; so does the engineer. Same kind of concept. For those with high degrees of persistence, who actually make it past the engineering department, here comes the manufacturing people, who ramble on with "We can't build that!" and proceed to give you a million reasons why the light bulb shouldn't light, not to mention that it couldn't possibly be manufactured without extremely high costs and poor productivity, at which time the accountants simply smile, in their egotistical way, for they have potentially, on paper, saved another penny while stepping over dollars.

There are a number of very good lessons and one sincere statement to be drawn from the above, one about collaboration, and one about control and destiny, all of which differentiates Independence2 from the vast majority of other companies within the arena of Architectural door hardware products.

Most companies actually had 'victory' in the palm of their hands and yet lost it for mostly internal reasons and not external market reasons. Knowing this fact, we at Independence2 have structured ourselves to be fundamentally sound internally, such as eliminating the individual team approach, and have adapted a collaboration approach on major subjects for business development. For example, there aren't discrete, sequential development stages for operational programs anymore than a separate marketing philosophy or sales approach. Projects get worked on in parallel by all departments (by all people)at once with a 'birth to death' approach. Our destiny is wrapped in a 'core value' that forces us to talk incessantly about major categories, including financial performance, software, marketing, products and sales to 'broad stroke' a few subjects. Essentially, it means that products and services from Independence2,LLC don't pass from department to department or are developed in some sort of sequential development stages. Rather, it's simultaneous and worked on in parallel by everyone in rounds of interdisciplinary reviews.

Let me immediately state that this is not an endorsement of 'meetings for meetings sake' nor of long hours hearing 'owners' pontificate. Been there, done that and have paid my dues. There exists, however, review sessions or intellectual developmental stages that attack specific complex challenges that involves everyone within the company. We develop products and services in a more collaborative and integrated way than other companies that I've been associated with. Our meetings will be long on productivity and input. This process therefore requires a great deal of quality people, with diverse backgrounds, willing to submit themselves to such involvement in exchange for a 'piece' of ownership in a company and the opportunity to build wealth rather than just 'a job'. Our design system, internal and external, is a collaborative one that encompasses all facts and that, emphatically, includes the customer. We have concluded that our differentiation is in what we offer outside the product box. This will not only help us at the outset of this venture but also into the developing markets for our growth ahead. We'll become the gatekeeper to 'customer satisfaction' within our industry.

Within our industry, businesses both manufacturer and distributor, used to be able to compete based on price and product. Today, assuming a high-quality product that is competitively priced, a company's success will be determined by the service it provides to customers and the understanding of the customer's business. That's because today's customers should demand that their satisfaction comes first. Although most intelligent business people understand and agree with this, few distributors (customers) are doing anything substantial about it. Why? My guess is that they don't know how or unwilling, at a certain stage of their development or business maturity, to 'rock the boat' with regard to their suppliers. Yet, in some cases, the major manufacturers attempt to control the entire construction, material supply process, and have all but eliminated the very valuable distributor. Today, for example, on pricing issues for medium to large products the distributor is waiting until the 'eleventh hour' to obtain 'job' pricing. This is a 'control' issue and subject to another 'blog' issue in the future.

Let it simply be stated that our organization believes in the contract door hardware distributor and locksmith house and believes that their expertise is, in fact, a vital link in this supply chain. It is our duty to service, not control, and respect that chain. It simply goes back to the statement that if you can't differentiate what you deliver outside the product box, you're forced to compete at the lowest levels of the playing field. If you're working on a continuous improvement of your service capabilities, processes, product offerings and your ability to communicate your company's unique value package, your customer maybe able to differentiate why you are better than the rest of the other growing options out there.

An example of this pertains directly to the Sales force and sales approach of Independence2. Not in the fact of Direct Sales personnel versus that of manufacturer representatives but at a more meaningful level of understanding the customer. It is a proven fact that a growing portion of the customer base finds little value in the traditional sales call made by the traditional salesperson, direct or 'rep'. As customers move away from spending time with salespeople, these salespeople will confront customers who have many alternate sales channels including e-commerce and a proactive inside sales program. As I stated, in my volume 14 edition on 'Consultative' selling, the sales people must become more highly skilled in this technique for the days of success at distributor selling consisting of pitching a price and becoming the customer's lapdog are coming rapidly to an end. Skill at bringing real value to customers every time they are in contact with them is now paramount. Also as stated within that volume 14, "In an industry characterized by brand name and quality of product upgrading with generally poor service standards and little respect for distributors, Independence2 will, through a respect for an commitment to its distributors, effect a change that will affect practices for the new building and after-market end users, architect's, contractors, facility managers commercial and industrial building owners."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Volume 19 - California - (Again) The Land of ZERO Accountability

The 'Fruit and Nut' Award goes to California US District Judge Jeremy Fogel for halting the execution of Michael Morales because lethal injection would be painful and as a result could be construed as "cruel and unusual punishment". U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled that the state would have to modify them or halt the execution until a full hearing could be held on the process. The federal judge will hold a hearing in May on the state's lethal injection process, and Morales's execution remains on hold.

This fiasco involving not only this judge's ruling, but the defense attorney's argument of cruel and unusual punishment after denials for clemency from the Governor and denials from the US Supreme Court on appeals gets even 'wackier' with the explanation of the lethal injection and the possibility of some degree of pain as it is used.

Stop the press. Enough. In 1981, this 'scumbag' brutally raped and murdered a seventeen year old young lady by the name of Terri Winchell. He admits to the crime. Twenty-five years later, a judge puts off the execution for the above stated reason of "cruel and unusual punishment". Twenty-fives years later!

Does the State of "Fruit and Nuts" have a special prison where these convicted killers sentenced to the death penalty stay for decades at a time? Does the name Stanley Tookie Williams ring a bell? The fact is that there are 649 of these 'scumbags' sentenced to death in California living off of your 'dime' and apparently for decades!

There are 38 states in this great county that have the "death penalty". If you live in one of these 38 states and are convicted of a death penalty crime, you should be executed in a reasonable amount of time. That process doesn't take twenty-five years living on the tax payers money. Get an Express Line established! Learn what accountability for one's actions really means. It's not a question of 'opps' or 'do-overs' in real life. Victims do count. If businesses operated like this they would be bankrupt! Sad. Bureaucratic bullshit hidden under the skirt of liberal thinking mixed with a dollop of socialism.

If you don't want the death penalty in your state, then don't include it on your State's table of contents. If the people desire the death penalty in their respective state, then use it. But don't 'dill dally' around like some wishy washy transvestite attempting to figure out who you are and taking decades to make decisions wasting tax-payers money on convicted 'scumbags' that rape and murder. Take your holier than thou leftist thinking and go sell crazy to other parts of the world that support indecision and socialism.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Volume 18 - The Customer

The Customer: the purpose for the creation of a product. The reason that R & D exists. Why we have 'customer service' people. The portion of the supply chain that 'pays' for the product we create. The reason that millions of dollars are spent on 'attention getting advertising'. The source of our paycheck. The reason stores get 'stocked'. The Christmas 'rush'. How budgets are inadvertently justified. The reason that the 'Easter Bunny' was created. Why yogurt comes in a hundred flavors. Why butter isn't butter (anymore). Why 'Rudolph's' nose is red. Or, at least, that's what it (business) should be about. But is it?

I think not. It hasn't been about the customer since the 'local neighborhood' butcher, baker, and candlestick maker disappeared. It hasn't been about the customer since it became more important to 'enhance shareholder investment' not through the old fashion way of earning income for delivery of product with fit, function and purpose but rather through manipulation of inventories, pensions and falsifying facts or, within mergers and acquisitions arena, which had its false beginnings in justifying an analyst's report for a stock rating (public sector) or a business loan or sale (private sector).

At least in the past, the executive or business owner involved in such larceny had the class to jump from a 50 story building or take a warm bath with a cigar, soft music, a few candles and a sharp knife instead of 'playing' the innocent in a long trial and then sent to prison while others, and in some cases many others, suffered for his/her crime. Or worse, simply walking away and starting a 'new scam' all under the justifications of some self-righteous indignation proclamation as if nothing happened.

I still live under the notion that a company's brand, its reputation, its 'being' includes the product, services, and overall experience that defines the relationship the company has with its customers. Not only in its marketing and alleged 'differentiation' but actually and clearly in its actions from the top to the bottom within the company's 'food chain'. Real value is created on a daily basis, with small decisions that follow a strong internal customer value system. The 'butcher, baker, and candlestick maker' understood the basic of their company's value package, the products and services that the company represented in the marketplace. And now we have taken this simplicity that existed with customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, regulators, etc. and turned a simple concept into some complex analytical form of 'enhanced shareholder value' at any cost.

And, before all you MBA's snicker too much, while you attempt to turn a General Motors or Delphi around with 'lower pricing' or some other stupid 'rebate' program, rather than identifying the problems and putting into place corrective action, understand what the beliefs of a successful company truly are and why even today the 'butcher, baker and candlestick maker' can still be successful. A few basic values and beliefs state:

1. All employees have the ability to understand 'financials', profit and loss, costs and the other 'myriad of mystery' that has been hidden from their eyes for they also have to balance a check book and run a family. They simply deal with less 'zeroes'.
2. A belief in the importance of implementation and execution of the details.
3. A belief in superior quality and service.
4. A belief in the importance of informality to enhance communication both in and out of the company.
5. A belief that 'customer consciousness' starts with specifying value from the customer's perspective.
6. A successful company has a strong internal value system that focuses on continuous improvement and the customer, and not an external value system that focuses on capital markets and short term values.

The question that must be addressed is the one that most companies don't consider but the one that the 'butcher, baker and candlestick maker' always considered: What do customer's really want?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Volume 17 - Revenue Streams

There are only three ways to increase Sales. Raise prices, Acquire more customers or Sell more units to present customers. Simple. No Magic.

Prices rise according to a variety of conditions including competitor's movement and where one sees his/her company from "40,000 feet"; in other words, where do you fit in the total spectrum of an industry. A future blog subject matter.

Acquisition of more customers is obvious; but, its formula of 'how' has always been the issue constantly being chewed over in sales meetings. Another future blog subject.

Sell more units to one's present customer base not only includes a company's present product line but also (R&D) future products to accomplish this feat. More importantly this includes accounting for each product and/or service as a revenue stream with its associated value or profit or margin and thus the theme of this Volume 17 blog.

Let's, first of all, dispense with some conventional wisdom which only enhances errors, myths and shortcomings of business today. Selling more units to one's present customer base DOES NOT mean to sell more of what the 'manufacturing people' can easily make. One might expect this to be obvious, but having been present in far to many meetings listening to 'manufacturing people' babble about what should be made, sold and at what price would scare a sane person not to mention make even the most neophyte in business cringe. So, a principle to accept (not to be debated for I have not the patience nor the inclination to dwell on shared stupidity) is that the 'Market' determines product, quality, fit, function, price, etc. 'Yep', you heard (read) it here. It's not Manufacturing, not Human Resources, nor Accounting determining what the customer wants or needs. It's a Market driven environment. The Customer makes determinate choices and you had better be in a position to fulfill those needs. The successful company has to run on execution and implementation with various revenue streams and not on 'pounds and pieces' and top-line revenue theorists junk thinking. It will always boil down to what customers really want/need. Customers don't care about trivial differences between brands. What they really want are quality products, reliable service, and a fair value for their money.

Why do most companies consistently fail to meet even these basic customer needs? It is because, they have no process of knowing how to meet and exceed the ordinary of customer expectations. Too many businesses have simply focused on the wrong things and haven't given this any thought or, at best, lip service. At the same time, it is just as important to make sure that one's company is financially successful and one of those financial responsibilities is to determine, monitor and adjust 'revenue streams' as it pertains to your products and the marketplace. It has been my assessment over many years that businesses, in general, when faced with price pressure and intense competition have gotten into the habit of 'giving away' valu-added services and, in some cases, not even realizing those 'give-aways' as potential revenue streams to begin with.

The solution therefore is to develop , market and account for each product (or category of products) and services that target unique segments with specific offers. This would entail developing a range of offers (products and services) from high GPM to low end and less margin. The key is to segment the market and build specific offers based on your unique ability to drive economic value within your own market arena via several revenue streams. To accomplish this one has to develop a correct market strategy that will take a deep understanding of the value driver for each market segment or revenue stream. Each will have its own associated pricing, costs and profit. Therefore each organization must create it's alignment and communicate the value of each 'stream' to the market place.

This is a fundamentally new approach and replaces, at least conceptually, the volume driven pricing model. And, while most would agree with this concept, it isn't readily accepted for most businesses, unfortunately, think consciously or unconsciously that their products and services are just basic commodities. It is my belief that even the most mundane of products, the most commodity intensive businesses can improve revenue, margins and profits by adopting a revenue stream strategy that targets and monitors not only a segmented market place but the specific products or services that drives that stream of endeavor. I would therefore argue that this approach combined with the previously mentioned quality of product, reliable service and fair value creates its own branding concept built on a solid foundation.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Volume 16 - The next Hitler and the 2006 Demonic Person of the Year

I don't make it a habit of 'doing' predictions but I've always liked the idea of the 'exception to the rule' theory, so here goes: Part I. The winner of the 2006 Most Demonic Person of the Year is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran. Not a real surprise to anyone who has paid attention to his recent remarks about the country of Israel and the 'Holocaust'.

But the rest of the story is that he is allegedly the same student activist, involved in the 52 hostages, death of eight U.S. soldiers, and 444 days of captivity of U.S. citizens by the revolutionary Guards in 1979. His history of revolutionary activities are well documented including even that of playing the 'executioners' role while working in the "internal Security" department of the Revolutionary Guard, during the bloody purges of the 1980s, through to his masterminding of a series of assassinations in the Middle East and Europe.

Like all terrorists who survive for a period of time, and his might be very short, he entered the world of politics. What a surprise! From being a governor of the towns of Maku and Khoy in northwestern Iran to University teaching positions and then mayor of Tehran in April of 2003, this diminutive, in stature, little man, which seems to be a common trait amongst would-be gangsters, is the new ultra-conservative identity of Iran. He undoubtedly will move with great speed and determination along the path of radical policies with continuing sponsorship of terrorism, and the drive to obtain and enact nuclear weapons. A worrisome side note is the relationship with Russia and their intent on building their own nuclear plant in Iran.

Is it not curious that religion, again, is used as the excuse to pillage and plunder? Race and color is not a factor, region of the world is not of importance nor is the intellectual debate about the differenciation of the Christian, Hebrew or Islamic religions. Yet, it is religion as a structure, not the concept of spirituality, in one of its forms, from the beginning of time, that is the backdrop for murder, torture and mayhem. The darkest of all tyrannies have used this backdrop for their excuse throughout history and, unfortunately, it is being played again in the present not only with this hypocritical little punk but throughout the world with terroristic plots based on religious fanaticism at its core. And, for an additional bonus, with this new fanatic, as well as with other middle-east Islamic fanaticism, one can be received not only into heaven as a bomb-exploding martyr but one also can gain the services of 99 virgins along the way! And, people thought W. C. Fields was crazy.

However, the plus side of this equation, and Part II, of my prediction, is that the rest of the world has a built-in response to this little Hitler. Just 1,000 miles to its West is a small country that has some decisive plans of their own. So, I wouldn't worry too much about Iran's nuclear program nor the new 'high priest' for my money is betting on the Mosssad and the specialty work of the Kidon to make that particular section of Tehran a parking lot and possibly a new election.

Have a Healthy and Prosperous New Year!