Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ray Bradbury: Advice On Driving, Pleasing Yourself And Writing

Ray Bradbury spoke with these college students and this is what happened.

"Nobody else is going to give a damn what you're doing, so you need a few other people like yourself"
- Ray Bradbury as told to two college kids on road trip in 1972

In the autumn of 2012, Lisa Potts rediscovered -- literally, behind her dresser -- a taped cassette of a long-lost interview with author Ray Bradbury that she made as a college student journalist back in 1972. 

Even earlier, Ray Bradbury turned up a TV show hosted by Groucho Marx.

A Peek Behind The Curtain: Leonard Cohen Choices

Here's a rare gift - a chance to see the evolution of a performance.

This song is a cover of a song by George Jones September (12, 1931 – April 26, 2013), which Leonard Cohen offers as something of a tribute to him.

It's also a great coaching song! Choices. We all have them.

It was not really a planned choice for Leonard Cohen to have his retirement savings stolen by his manager but he's made some good choices, with a lot of help from people around him, about what to do next.

Imagine yourself at 80 producing some of your best work.

Now that's a better life to expect than the one we often are presented in popular culture for what old age will be like.

I know which choice I'd make.

Sound Check 


The song "Choices" from the album Cant Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour Live.

George Jones sings from experience it seems in these lyrics. You can find his life story here  It makes for an interesting read. 


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Higher Cost Wine - Is It Really Worth It?

Why is it that we so easily fall into the trap of believing that something expensive is better?

Once upon a time there may have been some connection between the cost of production for high cost items and similar products on the low end of the scale. These days that may not be true.  We know that factories making generic cans of fruit and the like just retool to change the labels for the different brands.

When it comes to wine I know I have bought many bottles of reasonably expensive wine that were less enjoyable than some other bottles that I like which are much cheaper. But then I don't get any kick to my self esteem by buying wine that has a high price.  Don't misunderstand, some more expensive wine is superb and well worth splashing out for on occasion. I think the lesson here is to make choices based on what you really like and not what you think you should like.

A few years ago a TV channel did a testing panel of champagne and champagne styles with some Melbourne Cup racegoers. Now this is a time of year when people like to drink some champagne and have fun. Many of the tasters were inclined to put strawberries into the champagne anyway so not exactly wine connoisseur.  What transpired was that the favourite bottle of champagne turned out not to be a vintage French real McCoy, but a domestic dry bubbly that retailed for about $14.

Red Wine Price Versus Enjoyment Test

"We blind-tasted three cabernet sauvignon wines, one of which (the most expensive) was described by Wine Spectator as "extremely well done ... with style and panache." Our response was somewhat different."

Vox wrote an article on this you can find it here - Expensive wine is for suckers

It's little wonder then that research into human behaviour can allow marketers to use those same patterns of human behaviour to sell more products using psychological tricks to make us buy more, eat fast and get out of a fast food restaurant (it is no accident that fast food chains are all garish red and yellow colour combinations), buy the more expensive option or in some way affect our decisions around purchases.

Shopping Is Like A Minefield 

This article on Mental Floss goes into some detail to show how menus presented a certain way will drive sales of particular items that might otherwise not be our first choice. They limit options, since more choice adds more confusion and can make it harder to make a choice at all.

Like this one:

"One way to encourage you to spend more money is by making price tags as inconspicuous as possible. “We get rid of dollar signs because that’s a pain point,” says Allen. “They remind people they’re spending money.” Instead of $12.00 for that club sandwich, you’re likely to see it listed as 12.00, or even just 12. One Cornell University study found that written-out prices (“twelve dollars”) also encourage guests to spend more. “Your pricing format will set the tone of the restaurant,” says Rapp. “So $9.95 I’ve found is a friendlier price than a $10, which has attitude to it.”

Dotted lines leading from the menu item to its price are a cardinal sin of menu design. “That menu was introduced before modern typesetting,” says Allen. “It was a way of keeping the page looking properly formatted, but what happens is the guest reads down the right side of the menu and then looks to the left to see what the lower price point can afford them.” The solution?“Nested” pricing, or listing the price discretely after the meal description in the same size font, so your eyes just glide right over it. "

Planned Environments

The way stores feel, the temperature to which the climate control is set, the light levels, the music that is playing in the background, even the visual cues like fresh flowers at the entrance to the grocery store are not there to sell flowers but rather to get you geared up to buy the fruit and vegetables you will find when you pass them and enter the store.  Welcome to Neuromarketing.

Packaging follows a similar strategy with "fresh" and images of rolling hills with contented cows in stylized artwork make us think of farms and rural life, that is nothing like the product it represents which many times may have no natural ingredients that came from anything like the image depicted.

Spoil Yourself Anyway

All this is not to say that there are not times when it is okay to splurge and some things really are worth a premium price. That vintage bottle that has been aged and stored for years in the right conditions to reach its peak right now when you buy it to drink may well be worth the extra price for what you get.

But if you can remember that price alone may not be an indicator of the product being worth that much, then you might start to discover some bargains that are just as enjoyable because they really do taste better to your palette.  

After all. We are all unique and so too our taste can be out of step with those educated to prefer a particular style different from our own.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Yellowberry A Mission & Brand For Young Girls

What happens when you take your little sister shopping for her first bra and don't like the process you see? When you notice that clothing for young girls is not age appropriate and the choices are poor?

If you are Megan Grassell you pay attention to that internal dissonance and start a kickstarter crowdfunding and launch a new business to cater to these young women.

Why 'Yellowberry' as a name and image?

It is the stage of the berry, after it is formed but still not yet ripe and still needing time to mature.

Perfect name for a perfectly identified market that Yellowberry will serve.

Read more about Megan Grassell and Yellowberry on Fastcompany

Now partnering with - see more on that here 

New businesses finding a niche in the market and filling it. That's what makes for better business and better choices for customers too.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Your Business Is Not You

“If those who are sent to draw water begin by drinking themselves,
 the army is suffering from thirst.” 

Starting a business is an incredibly brave thing to do. It is to make a commitment to an idea that you don't know for sure will work, and will require you to put all your money and your time and your effort into building.

All for a crazy dream.

After a while though, if you are fortunate, the business will be more than an idea. It will be a real living breathing entity that makes money and serves customers and has needs of its own. It needs to be tended and fed and watered and needs good air to breathe to enable it to be healthy. The business needs the weeds pulled and the grass mowed and kept tidy so it can be as productive as possible.

To see the business as its own entity and not just a dream in our mind now, that's a critical point for any business owner to reach.

Some never do.

Some owners of a business continue to regard their business as an extension of themselves.   "This is my business, the money in the till is mine and all I have to think about is what I want."

That works for a while but it doesn't allow the business to grow true and strong.

Any business has needs that are not the needs of the owner.  This is your business, but the money in the till is not yours and the business needs you to think about what it needs not just what you want.

We sometimes dream of having a child and when we do we learn that a dream of a child is different from the reality of a child. Real children are messy and grow and need new things as they get older, demand more from parents and learn the lessons that let them develop into individuals who can think and make decisions so that they can, when the time is right, be independent and confident.

The way we care for a baby is not the way we care for a teenager, though we love them just as much.

The same goes for a business.

The business grows and matures, the marketplace changes and new realities emerge that the business must deal with. This can mean a need for new skills, new methods of operating, better attention to detail and delivery. Consistent marketing to bring the oxygen that the sustains the business.

Sometimes - often - what the business needs, is not what the owner wants.

What then?

Business owners have a choice. To continue to do the brave thing. To steward the business to develop into a healthy strong entity. To empower it to succeed and be the best it can be.

Or do what they want instead.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Repurpose, Reuse And Recycle!

Lately I have been fascinated with the work that some people are doing in turning discarded and outdated items into beautiful pieces  that anyone would be happy to have in their home.
Confirmation once again if we needed it,  that a better life - doesn't need to be expensive. 

Consider buying furnishings for a house. New pieces that are often now made to look like 'retro' pieces, but made cheaply, compared to original pieces that can be bought cheaply but are well made. 

Renovating items and giving them a new purpose. Fantastic! 

What I notice as I collect a lot of strange things on Pinterest is the way that the mind changes in the way we view items, when we learn to look beyond now at what is and look instead to how something could be and what else it might be useful for that is not the original purpose but could work a treat and turn into a funky new unique addition to the house. And it's cheap, so there is no real risk, having a go to make something of it. And if you don't like it you can either do it over or give it away.

Having Fun With Your Imagination

On the other hand it is a deal if you can buy something for little money and make it the way you want it rather than spending a few thousand dollars to buy something that in a while you might want to change again. 

A simple canvas frame from the dollar store becomes a stunning wall decoration. 

Even clothes can have a new lease on life. 

No need to buy new fabric if you have an old piece of clothing you can recut to fit the purpose. 

Not even any paint needed for this transformation - just use washi tape for a new look. 

Beautiful signature gift wrapping with simple style.  

Old glassware is great to buy from a thrift shop and used here  with a length of chain to make a bird feeder. 

Old cans painted in bright colours make a splash and look more interesting than plastic pots.

Old baskets get new life in the garden.

Outdoor furniture can be expensive but why not go for something more festive by painting up an old thrift shop table (or one you want to take out of the house) to use under cover in the backyard? Or leave it inside if you like the Boho look that's fashionable now.

Home decorator pieces can be expensive! A simple redo of a thrift store buy and a bit of spray paint could be an economical way to get something stylish without the cost.  For the house or garden. 

Blackboard paint and some simple frames transform this old filing cabinet.

A tired old set of drawers with a coat of paint and drawers removed becomes an console table with open storage for the linens.

Remember when pine furniture was the thing? Before you throw it out think about how you can update it. A painted dresser new would cost a few thousand dollars to buy (if you can find one you like). Updating an old one could be a great alternative and give you the storage and the look that fits in a modern decor.  This is also a good way to unify odd pieces of furniture that don't go together naturally.

A plain storage cube gets new functionality with the addition of some baskets to store those things that won't look good on the shelf.

You'll find more ideas here 

No matter what situation you're in right now, there are things you can do that will make your surroundings more pleasant and give you projects to work on that don't cost a lot of money. If money is no object, then the appeal of creating something uniquely your taste may be the incentive you need.

Repurpose, reuse and recycle! It's a very on-trend thing to do!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Choose: High Income Or High Net Worth?

Robert Neubecker

Years ago one of the books that made a big impact on me was Thomas J Stanley's The Millionaire Next Door, a study of what really affluent people actually do and how they live. And it found a lot of surprises.  Often those who look the most affluent by their purchases and appearances - are not at all.

The difference between high income and high net worth is an important distinction to make. 

You probably know people who have had jobs with big money coming in, buy all the toys and then when the economy tightens and they are laid off, are in dire straights.

This illustrates the point quite well. It also reminds us that we need to verify the logic behind numbers and statistics that are in the articles we read.

"I estimate that there are 2.5 million households or nearly 2.2% of the total that have annual realized incomes of $250,000 or more.  Using Ms. Muller's estimates that 39% of "the rich" buy luxury brands, one can estimate the number who do so, approximately 975,000.  Ah, but this population is much smaller than those households who drive prestige makes but have annual incomes under $100,000.

About 30 million households have annual incomes in the $50,000 to under $100,000 bracket alone.  Translated:  8% of 30 million = 2.4 million who are buying luxury cars but are not in the so-called "rich" category.  This population is nearly 2.5 times the size of the high income/luxury vehicle buyer."

Which leads to the really important question...

"Could it be that it is the pseudo affluent, the aspirationals, who are keeping the manufacturers of prestige makes of motor vehicles in business?"   You can find the article this is from here. 

Sadly  Thomas J. Stanley, at age 71, died in March 2015 in a car crash.

He used research to smash the stereotype that being wealthy meant looking wealthy. On the contrary, his works said: Self-made millionaires — the real deal, not the wannabes — are much more likely to be frugal and spurn spending for show. More ...

As for the people showing off the bling? “It’s the neurotic middle-class,” he said in a 1991 interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Or the millionaires’ children."

More on Thomas J Stanley 

Paying Tribute to Thomas Stanley and His ‘Millionaire Next Door’ - New York Times

Remembering Thomas J. Stanley, who redefined what it means to be rich - Washington Post

Thursday, May 7, 2015

On Staying In A Job, Or Quitting To Follow A Passion.

Excellent answer to the question the comes up all the time about staying in a job or quitting to follow a passion.

Should I quit my job and follow my passion or stick to job and improve my performance?
My wedding is six months away and my manager just extended my probation saying I have not performed well and got an offer to teach one more subject (teaching is my passion and teach during weekends) my friends started a start up.

Click through for the thoroughly generous and satisfying answer one Quora member responded with.
Click here to read