Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Don't Blame Capitalism

People still don't realize that a lot of crises aren't because of unchecked capitalism, it's the opposite: checked capitalism. More precisely, checks on the wrong things. I'm not saying you should have no regulation of capitalism, but a lot of the bad effects of "capitalism" are from regulating one side of the coin and not the other. If both were deregulated, economics would cause them to check/balance each other. Examples: 1. In the San Francisco area, the homeless/housing crisis is because, as there had been growth from successful start-ups, there were barriers to building more housing. If housing growth was "unchecked" like capitalist start-ups, there would be a lot less homeless people. 2. The Great Recession is seen as caused by greed and capitalism (mortgage lending out of control, speculation driving up housing prices), but the root cause was the Federal Reserve increasing the money supply to ease the dot com bust to make Washington look good, rather than letting the 2000-2001 recession work itself out naturally. 3. The failure in deregulating energy, which lead to greed like Enron trading and California paying high utility prices was caused because only one side of the market was deregulated.

Friday, May 10, 2019

You Will Screw Up

 No matter how careful you are, no matter how much stress you place on yourself, no matter how many hours of practice, you will eventually screw up somewhere. You are imperfect, and will always be flawed. 

If you travel with a map, you will go off course from time to time. Your writings will contain typos. During speeches, you will stammer, hesitate, and mispronounce words. You will irritate and fight with your family.

Everyone else on the planet is the same way. Even Superman has his kryptonite issues.

Is this knowledge pessimistic, dark, and depressing? No - it is liberating! You are human! Do your best, then learn to live with the results and forgive yourself and others.

The Purpose Of An Elevator Pitch Should Be A Conversation, Not A Sale

An elevator pitch should be a pithy sentence that describes how your ideal customer is better off after working with you.  It should not be about your inputs or processes. You don't want to provide a lot of info in your pitch, because you aren't trying to sell.  You instead want:

1. If this person is your ideal client, then intrigue them enough to set a meeting for further conversation
2. The person can remember your pitch, so they can repeat it to someone they know who could use your help.

For example, a bad pitch is "I'm a great accountant with 20 years of experience who can help you."  A good pitch would be "I've collectively saved my clients $10 million in taxes."

How Long Should You Stay At A Job?

If you stay too long in one position, your skills and pay will stagnate, and you will start to feel bored and unchallenged.  

On the other hand, if you keep switching jobs every two years, it sends a red flag.  

In my own experience, before I started my own company, I stayed in one company for 14 years, which was a mistake—I should have left after six years.  

In my 20+ career, I have left other positions after an average of four years, I feel that is probably right for most people.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

JetBlue, Trans-Atlantic Routes, and Airline Strategy

This weekend's Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on JetBlue's new service to London from NYC and Boston.

Most discount airlines that try long (over 10 hour) flights end up losing money because their business model breaks down.  They need to use larger planes to make those flights but, since they fly point-to-point, they lack feeder traffic from a hub to fill the plane.  As a result, they can't fill all the seats and make the economics work.

On the other hand, JetBlue, with its London flights and other ones that it plans, is focusing on medium-haul routes.  They think this will be a sweet spot because flights between 3,500 and 4,000 miles will have peak profitability.

Why? Because JetBlue will use only a slightly larger aircraft (an Airbus A321 vs. the A320's that are used on short routes) that has less than 200 seats.  After JetBlue eliminates some of the economy seats to make room for its premium Mint class, it will have a seat count that it can fill without using the hub and spoke model.  The combination of economy and Mint seats will give them more profitability than they get from short-haul and would get from long-haul (where they would have to use larger aircraft with empty seats).

This is a good example of interesting, well-thought out business strategy.  This is the kind of strategic thinking I enjoy helping my clients with.

Can You Reject Your Pet Ideas?

In this weekend's Wall Street Journal, investment reporter Jason Zweig interviewed Warren Buffett's partner, 95 year old Charlie Munger.

When asked why he was so successful, he said that one of his keys was:

"I'm good at destroying my own best-loved ideas."

Mr. Munger said that he recognized the value of doing this early in life.  While most people would hate to do this, Munger now likes it because "I know how much power and wealth is in it..."

Can you discard ideas and philosophies that you love, if they prove to not be useful?  Can you then pivot to other ideas?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Scandinavian Minimalism at Viking Cruises

Forbes recently had a profile on Tor Hagen, the billionaire owner of Viking Cruises.  Viking started with its famous European river cruises, and then expanded to ocean cruises.

Viking targets the luxury market, and focuses on American couples over 55.

Yet, for a luxury cruise line, they don't pamper guests.  They eschew casinos, formal nights, mini-water parks, and butlers.

Instead, they focus on ease, simplicity, and comfort.

For example, Hagen showed the reporter how easy it was to open the shampoo and conditioner bottles.  As the Forbes article mentioned, he was once frustrated by "Hermes bath products at a luxe Monte Carlo hotel, which featured illegible gold lettering and were impossible to open without using your teeth."

He also showed the TV remote, which had just  9 jumbo buttons.  Hagen said, "This is my design. No teenager is required to operate it."

This is what I call user simplicity.