Newspaper delivery kid for nursing home (lots of interesting war stories and free hard candy), Second Cup “barista”? (Wasn’t called that in the 80s), auto factory worker (experienced being part of a union), car detailer (chemicals must have knocked 5 years off my life), hotel engineer (janitor), UI designer / Tech support (experienced working for gov), entrepreneur (CEO and founder of Bottom Line Enterprises… The makers of IndyCushion: seat cushion sold at the Toronto Indy) :)
… All great memories and experiences that have shaped me in my early years, and will remain stuck in my head :)
The phrase “Time is money” is absolutely true. More true than ever these days. Product and service based businesses looking to innovate should think in terms of time and experience currencies. How can your new product or service save people time, or provide them with an experience that is more valuable than their time?
I wonder if world currencies would ultimately be standardize to a time based currency? I think it makes sense. A local currency would be weighted based on what an amount of time is worth on average to a particular group of people.
But going back to the original thought, Human decision is ultimately time/experience based. Do I buy a coffee or wait until I get home and make one. Do I get (or make) a regular coffee which will satisfy my want, or spend more (or take the added time to make) a caramel mocha latte which will enhance my experience? Human lives are a series of these ongoing debates. Innovators are then challenged with whether they can come up with a new product or service that can shift the human balance of time and experience.
From that extra mark on a test, to a discount on your next bill, our environment these days rewards complainers. Or punishes those that don’t.
I just received a memo from my gas provider stating that my heating protection plan is due for renewal. Along with accepting to renew I’m accepting an increase to my rate. If I had any concerns, I needed to call in the next 10 days or my new agreement would kick in automatically.
Luckily I picked up the mail on a Friday evening and this memo was dated only a couple of days ago. My wife had taken the kids to a splash park, so I was home alone to rummage through the mail in peace. Otherwise, on a busy week, mail like this would have likely gone unopened and sat on a ledge, or worse left in the mailbox for days, until it was too late to react on.
I call and declare I will be cancel my protection plan. A bluff of course, and I was hoping they don’t call me on it. Furnace maintenance is quite expensive and I paid the price of not having a plan in the past. But at this point I was cancelling based on principle [gulp].
After being asked why by the front line agent, I was put on hold and passed over to a “Contract Negotiation Specialist”. Yes, that was the exact title. This agent spoke without an Indian accent, and once again asked to verify all my info, which I don’t understand why I need to do this again for each agent?! But that’s another topic. I explained the situation again, firm that I’m looking to cancel my plan. My plan worked, and I was offered 20% off the current rate for 1 year. Asking if the rate will automatically go to the regular or likely raised rate next year, the agent responds… and here’s the kicker… “Just call back before the new rate kicks in and ask for a discount”. Really?
[Flashback] Recalling back to my university days. I remember the day a test would be handed back, and the hoard that formed up front around the professor after the class was dismissed. And the debates were on for the half mark here, or full mark there. Perhaps I was doing it all wrong by simply accepting the professors opinion of my answers.
So in an effort to prove my theory, I tried it with my cellular provider… same results! So that’s how the world works these days?
I’ve come to believe is that service providers are aware of this. Today’s busy schedules, preauthorized payments, and auto renewals are key to their business model. But they won’t get me! … at least not this time.
Mirror neurons in your brain light up when you observe someone performing an action in the same way as it would if you were performing the action yourself. It has been proven that about 20% or 1/5 of the neurons that normally fire when you perform an action, also fire when you observe another person performing that same action.
Neuroscientists have argued the purpose of these neurons. Some believe they are related to our sense of empathy, to understand their actions and intent. Like when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Or as a method to learn new skills by imitation.
In fact there have been many studies in sports to determine the affect of watching sports as compared to playing them. I recall one study that measured free throw skills using 3 groups of similarly skilled basketball athletes. The first group was given no practice, the second given time to practice, the third only imagined themselves making free throws. With the assumption that imagining yourself making free throws fires similar mirror neutrons to watching someone else making free throws. The result was that the 3rd group improved significantly more than the first group, and almost as well as the second.
It’s also believed that Happiness is related more to the quantity and quality of social connections.
So more and more we are finding that who you define to be “We” (be it your friends, family and coworkers) plays a big part in shaping who “you” are. Mind you this also depends on the amount of time you spend with these groups vs. say watching TV. If you end up watching more TV the socially interactive with these groups, then I would assume your favourite TV star or Sports Hero will weigh in on your personality. :)
Gone are the days of the Super-Dedicated workforce. A time where an employee enters the corporate world with the intention of working 20, 30, 40 years for a single company until retirement. Welcome to the age of the Super-Dynamic employee.
There is one thing that the 21st century can promise you, and that would be “Change” …
Change at a pace humanity has never seen before in its lifetime. And this rapid pace of change (other than the change itself) will affect every aspect of our lives, including some of the most fundamental aspects, such as the way we think of our work and career.
This stems from the shift into the information age, led by the relatively general availability of the internet. At a 50,000 foot level, the internet was a game changer for the business world on many levels. At a more direct level, it’s challenging information based businesses such as news, movies, television and music by making all forms of information readily available to the masses, in many cases at no cost. At a more implicit level, it’s been a catalyst for Globalization. Were we are seeing the collapse of international boarders for where business can be done, and products can be sold.
This then forms a perfect storm to disrupt the way business works. Many businesses today, both mature and new, successful or not, are in ultra-adaptation mode. Keeping their business model and resources as flexible as possible to any upcoming change that may broadside them.
The workforce is also evolving. Many of the next generation employees that make up the new workforce come from a time that has seen their parents or relatives, after years of dedication to their career and employer, being “let go” due to change. Swearing this will never happen to them, they adopt a new view on their career. One that not only prepares for, but embraces and even takes control of change. They stay in school longer and take on a wide breadth of courses and degrees. When entered into the workforce, they have a sense for change, and are not afraid to ride the wave of skills demand in opportunistic fashion.
This is not to say that this new breed of employee is not productive, innovative, or motivated. In fact it is these qualities that is driving their evolution. As discussed in my previous post, “Entitlement or Enlightenment”, many view this generation as one to have a heightened sense of entitlement, or even refer to them as “spoiled”. When I believe, in fact, that this is merely an adaptation to their environment. And instead it is those judging that are likely bound for extinction. Because the next generation ultra-adaptable business will need to be made up of Super-Dynamic employees.