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Hockey and Canada are two words that go very nicely together. We love the game and some of us are just outright crazy about it.

Here is the proof. According to Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, the men’s gold medal hockey match reached an average audience of 16.6 million viewers, making it the most-watched television broadcast in Canadian history.

Now, bad news. In total, Canadians watched 1.25 billion hours of Olympic coverage on television, with the average viewer watching 38 hours.

The statistics are likely unprecise and the average may not provide the complete picture but the number is stunning nonetheless.

On Friday, the Olympic Games have finally kicked off with a great ceremony. Being Canadian, I readily admit to being biased but I thought it was a colourful, original, energizing, contemporary production.

However, have you noticed that the most vociferous sports critics and self-proclaimed “experts” are also the ultimate coach potatoes who are way more qualified to be experts in soft drinks, beer and packaged snacks than in competitive sports?

Likewise, all of a sudden, you can read pretty awful “analyses” of the event by numerous bloggers and bloggettes who, in most cases, wouldn’t be able to organize a two-person picnic, leave alone an opening ceremony of these proportions.

There is nothing new about this. I have written scores of articles and spoke in front of professional audiences. People who understand the subject offer their own poignant examples and point out critical issues. The unrecognized geniuses of the cubicle jungle tell me that I got it completely wrong, or that there is a typo or that I’ve “obviously an academic” (which I have never been, an easy thing to verify).

We cannot stop doing what we do, working to improve ourselves and others every day just because someone of no consequence wants to hear his or her voice. We cannot go through life paying too much attention to unsolicited, self-serving criticism. It is just not worth it.

I will listen to Jamie Sale’s commentary on ice skating, not to that of my 45 year old neighbour who lives in his parents’ basement.

The business might have been shaky in the last year or so. The recovery is tentative, yes, I’ve heard that. Your clients are not ordering… that’s understandable. You have to cut cost and offshore your operations, or die. It is next to impossible to hire qualified people… of course.

I guess Apple is not aware of these pearls of wisdom, since they have just had their most profitable quarter ever. Ever!

Apple reported net income of $3.4 billion, or $3.67 per share, in the latest quarter ending Dec. 26. In the same period of 2008, it had income of $2.3 billion, or $2.50 per share (adjusted due to changes in accounting policies).

You can read more about the numbers some place else but here is the point I want to make. If you have a great product strategy and you execute well, you don’t have to listen to all the wisdom being spewed out by th numerous prognosticators. You don’t have to count pennies and compete on price. You can always hire great people.

Most importantly, you don’t have to play by the others’ rules. You set your own.

I hold a lot of respect for people who, despite the odds seemingly stacked against them, doggedly stick to their guns, ultimately, to succeed.

It takes a healthy sense of self-esteem, the willingness to go against the grain, the sense of urgency and, of course, sheer determination.

Here is a case in point. Roman, a former IT administrator from Toronto. At some point it dawned on him that IT wasn’t really his calling. So, he went on to devote five years of his life to building a search and rescue vehicle – through ridicule, superciliousness and assurances that he would fail miserably.

Here are the fruits of his labour.

Losing is not pleasant, especially if you are not used to it. How did it happen? What did go wrong? How is it possible?

Losing is daunting, heartbreaking, horrible. You are not the best at it, despite what your mother or spouse told you. How can one carry on?!

Oh, pleeeeeaaase! Get over it.

The very best of us are not immune to setbacks every now and then. Sometimes, things just don’t work out. You can make a mistake, your employee can make a mistake, your client can make a mistake or any other living soul close enough to  you can make a mistake. You are also bound to meet reprobates, thieves, liers, egotists and others you’d rather never know.

However painful, get over it. Jay Leno, a brilliant comedian in my books, has just had his new show cancelled. Did his famous chin quiver as he tried to hold back tears? Nah, he laughed it off. Nothing he coulc do, nothing to do with his performance.

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Cola was a flop. Guess what, he didn’t get into bouts of self-pity, nor did he blame anyone for it.

I think that two key points are important. On the one hand, you should always learn from your setbacks, figuring out what went wrong. On the other hand, you should never dwell on them. Move on. Live your live,

Sometimes, things don’t work out. Don’t take it personally.

Last week, I spent two days learning from one of the world’s best known consultants, Dr. Alan Weiss.

To me, the willingness to invest into learning from the best represents self-confidence, committment to the profession and to delivering value to clients, and open-mindedness. This is quite different to limiting one’s view to a narrow set of skills or methodologies and foisting them on clients, whether they achieve the client’s objectives or not.

Pictured:  Ilya Bogorad, Dr. Alan Weiss


“Time is God’s way to keep everything from happening at once” — George Carlin

I believe that the most critical factor to individual success is the highly developed sense of discipline. It enables one to generate an enormous amount of valuable results, to get the necessary work done,to maintain one’s self-esteem and the sense of well-being.

When I started in solo consulting, many people told me that they wouldn’t be able to work on their own because they’d spend days looking out the window, playing with their dog and browsing the Internet. We see this often enough in organizations too. Despite the structure and discipline that corporate life imposes, whole department keep themselves busy by working on tasks that have no value.

In IT, as an example, you will routinely find great redundancies that have been instituted to “service the internal clients better” – the many layers of project and portfolio managers, reporting analysts turning up heaps of reports with performance metrics that no one cares about, and enforcers of procedures.

Success in life and in business is defined by results of one’s work, not by the tasks one performs.  The sense of discipline enables talented individuals to channel their energy to achieving these results, away from the “tasks” that have marginal, if any value. 

Personally, I understood this early in the game and it has made a world of difference in my life and work.

Decision making is often skewed by cognitive biases. Among the wide array of such biases is the survivorship bias, which is the tendency to assign qualities of a sample to the full population. For example, prominent lawyers may make millions, giving rise to a widespread belief that all lawyers are dirty rich. In reality, half the lawyers in the US earn less than $100,000.

Take a look at this commercial. Those who switched, saved big, it says.

However, the very same commercial can be adopted by any insurance company. Each company’s rate tables will inevitably favour some groups of drivers and those who switch (because they saw a decent enough saving to do so) do indeed save. In fact, there are likely many more (even 100x or 1000x, it really doesn’t matter) drivers who found the company’s rates unfavourable and did not switch.

The commercial capitalizes on the survivorship basis which pushes viewers to imply superior rates across the board.

Disclaimer: I do not represent interests of Allstate or any other insurance company or their agent. The video used in this posting merely illustrates the main point of the article.

Here are ordinary people making incredibly stupid decisions on behalf of their children. I trust this is not staged and I hope many parents walked away from this.

Decision making is often viewed as a rational process, particularly in traditional economics. I fail to find any rationality in this particular setting.

What goes through these people’s head remains a mystery to me.  Take a look.

Cooking seems to be a popular hobby these days, in which many men and women partake. Specialty stores are doing quite well and there is an increasing number of TV shows (on its own Food TV channel in Canada and US). Bookstores carry an inordinate amount of literature on every imaginable aspect of food preparation.

Here is the question: why is a vocation considered a chore for centuries has become a popular avocation in the past 30 or so years?

I think that cooking has become popular for the following reasons:

  • the barriers to entry are very low
  • it’s a life skill that most learn to some extent anyway, as our lifestyles now dictate (college life, earlier starting to live on one’s own, etc)
  • perception of cooking as  “a woman’s job” is gone
  • access to information on cuisines of other cultures have expanded the possibilities
  • it is easier than ever to cook with gas and electric stoves, dishwashers, running water and modern tools and appliances
  • cooking produces tangible results, quickly
  • food has become more than nourishment, it is also an entertainment
  • perception by others is positive, it is not a hobby you’d want to hide.

If you find that your employees find a particular activity a chore, be it annual budgeting or sales forecasting, I challenge you to find ways to make it appealing, much like the cooking has been transformed into a choice pastime of many.

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