Month: April 2014

What we do in life, echoes in eternity

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I’m going to go ahead and take Maximus’s wise words and take them out of context I’m not talking about the deeds we do in life carrying into the after life because that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with business. What I am going to talk about is the fact that our business lives and our personal lives are no longer separate. The actions of our personally lives can echo into our business lives and vice versa.  

The inspiration for this post came last night at a hockey game. One of the players on the other team was just the worst type of player. Disrespectful, dirty, ran his mouth, and show boated when they took the lead. I was informed he was a good guy off the ice, but that isn’t what I saw. Another fan made the point that if they ever dealt with the guy professionally they would laugh in his face and tell him to keep on walking. This seems like a stretch basing professional opinion off a hockey game, but it really isn’t. The things we do out side of our professional lives echo into business. You may be great in the professional world but the action of your personal life can negatively effect future business dealings.

The advice I pass on is to treat all of your life like you’re being assessed. You might think you are being pretty cool acting like an ass at a hockey game, or posting the video of your “epic” 60 second keg stand on Facebook, but in reality employers and clients have unlimited access to our digital lives and it is in fact “a small world after all”. It might be petty but if this hockey player walked into my office in the future I would asses him on the game I saw over and above any professional standings he had.

That’s my rant for the day, thanks for reading.

 

Sean

 

3 key times to wear a tie, and the instance when not to.

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Ties, Ties, Ties. As a business student I’ve witnessed some of the oddest attempts at business attire I’ve ever seen. Bright sneakers in lieu of dress shoes, ties that are a foot to long or a foot to short, any various levels of other business attire misdemeanors. Dress aside the one thing I’ve found causes the most issue are ties. People for some reason dislike them, find them constricting, and are generally not comfortable in them. Maybe I’m just weird but, I’ve had a love of ties since I was little. I think I was five when I got my dad to teach me a simple over-hand knot. Of course no five year old needs a tie and none fit me but I started out young. When I’m wearing a suit and tie I feel great. I feel comfortable and confident. This is why I get frustrated when I have to convince people to wear a tie at times. So the following is my humble opinion as to when to wear a tie and the cases when you shouldn’t.

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Small Businesses: Differentiate Don’t Emulate

Accidental Advice – really great advice someone gives you without even realizing it. Usually in the form of an analogy.

I don’t know if you can tell but that definition is made up but I think you get the point. I received some really good accidental advice today. We were discussing a small business trying to emulate a larger one in order to be successful. The woman I was talking to simply said if the small business was just like the larger than she would just shop at the larger. That sounds really vague so let me give a better example. Say a small family owed restaurant decides they’re going to change to fast and cheap burgers. Well there you have McDonalds. This small restaurant may think its a good move because McDonalds is successful, but if they change to be like McDonalds then they are competing against McDonalds and will be crushed! This is because a large company can do it better, faster, and cheaper than a small one.

So how does a small business compete against these giants? Differentiate themselves! There is a reason family owned restaurants still exist, even in proximity to fast food like McDonalds or other chain restaurants. It is because these restaurants offer something the chains can’t. Quality cooked food with personality. Yes it costs more and takes longer, but consumers are willing to pay a premium, in both time and money, for this higher quality good. If the restaurant tries to copy a large chain like McDonalds then consumers have no reason to go there, they just go to McDonalds.

The key is to give consumers a need to come to your business, a need they can’t fulfill elsewhere. That need doesn’t need to be quality burgers. Quality anything gives consumers a need to get that quality from you because they can’t get that quality at larger stores. However, if you try to compete head to head with bigger companies you will fail. Lose a hand to save a finger, some would say.

So what advice did I actually get from this ramble? If you don’t have extensive capital you can’t be the fastest, cheapest, or most convenient, so don’t try. Instead create a product or experience that the large companies can’t provide and you can develop a need in consumers to purchase your goods, regardless of the premium.

This should be in every store!

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Have you ever been shopping, casually minding your own busy, exploring what a store has to offer? Then out of the shadows comes a sales associate asking if you want help. Yeah I get that its their job to make sure the costumer happy and looked after, but I’m a grow man and am more than capable of coming to them if I have a question. If only there was a way to show that I’m just browsing and don’t need help from anyone. Oh wait there is! This basket is a simple and yet so genius of an idea to do this.

Before you get the idea that I just like this idea because I hate social interaction with people working retail, I don’t. I’ve worked retail so I know the pains of that side of the equation as well. Therefore I’d like to discuss how great this is from both sides of the counter.

Retail Side

Working retail isn’t the most glamorous job, but I actually really liked interacting with people and helping them out. When people don’t want your help, well it is kind of a waste of time. When you don’t ask a costumer if they need help and they actually do, you feel like you aren’t doing your job. This is a delightful case of a lose-lose situation. Having the ability to know which costumers don’t want help, whatever their reason may be, would be wonderful to allow sales associates to focus their attention on the costumers who want it, and not annoy the costumers who don’t. Overall increasing the enjoyment of the store for all types of costumers.

Costumer Side

There is two types of shopping I do. The first is very task oriented. I know what I need and want to get in and get out quickly. If I know where to find what I need, I need no help at all. If I don’t I’ll find the closest sales associate and ask them where to find it. The second case is where this delightful basket would come into play. If I’m shopping just to kill time, I like to browse. I like to look around the store, absorb lots of information on products and I may or may not decide to purchase something. Most of the time I have no idea what I want, and sales associates aren’t going to be any help with that and frankly just disrupt my shopping for the sake of entertainment. There are times when I find something that I want information on and then sales associates provide a great deal of help for me.

This basket is just a simple tool but could provide a more enjoyable experience for shoppers and make the job of those working in retail significantly easier.

Thanks for reading,

Sean

What I want Facebook to do with Oculus

For those who don’t know Oculus is a Virtual Reality program and system. Facebook recently bought Oculus for a cool $2B. The internet, shockingly, jumped to conclusions and hated this. “How dare this corporate monster buy this precious thing and ruin it, I will not have it!”. Yeah, I’m looking at you Notch. Yeah Zuckerberg has ruined a lot of things we love. Remember MSN? Yeah, Facebook chat crushed that. On the other hand Zuckerberg has a LOT of money. Way more than the developers of Oculus.

So this is what I want Facebook to do with this money.

Education

With Oculus you could have actually effective virtual classrooms. People across the world could be in all listening the the same professor in an interactive manner. This technology could vastly lower the cost of education and increase the availability to people across the world. If I could take my degree from the comfort of my own home, at a lower cost, rather than trading my soul to the modern education system, I would in a heartbeat.

Entertainment 

I can’t afford to go to all the hockey games I want. I definitely can’t afford to go to the Superbowl or fly across the world to attend concerts or music festivals. Imagine if you could though? Oculus set up at court side seats, or in the front row of a concert. Sitting at home and being immersed in the experience that very few of us can afford. Yeah, there would be ads popping up, but whats different from watching at home, other than the fact that you’d essentially be there. 

Gaming

Notch needs to grow up. Immersible virtual reality for Minecraft would be amazing, and I would go mine for days. Virtual Reality for gaming has been around for years, but it has never been able to leverage the capital and social compatibility as it can with evil Facebook owning Oculus.

This is just a few things that I think could be great about Facebook owning Oculus. What will probably happen? Virtual Farmville.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Sean

Why everyone should have a blog, but few actually do

Well here we go. Every person I’ve talked to has given the same advice. “You have to get your name out there. Show your knowledge or expertise in an area to employers! Blogs are great ways to do that!”. I 100% agree with this, blogs are a great way to present your knowledge and opinions to potential employers in a constructive and professional way. So what’s stopping everyone from making one? Blogs are a pain in the ass!

Ask most people and they will say they had a blog at one point or another. They start with the promise of “I’m gonna write everyday” to “maybe once a week” to “oh, i haven’t posted anything in two months”. I’m guilty of this too. I had a blog that I would write in when I couldn’t sleep and it helped clear my head. I started with the notion that the internet would love my 2am ideas and I would connect with thousands of people through these posts. Nope, I think about 100 people visited my blog in total, with zero comments. We are a society that craves instant approval and acceptance, so when our thoughts aren’t accepted we figure what’s the point? May as well keep them to ourselves. I, like most people, fell into this trap and I don’t even remember the password for that old blog.

This is were I come back to Blog creating an image for employers online. That won’t just happen. It takes work to convince someone that you know what you’re talking about. So where does this leave this blog? Well I’m not gonna promise i’ll post every night or every week for that matter. I get busy, we all do, but I am going to work at it. Share my thoughts on current issues and innovations in business and technology. If you agree with my opinions, great. If you don’t, oh well. That’s the great part about the internet.

Thanks for reading,

Sean