Monthly Archives: June 2008

How to Really Solve Global Warming

I was trying to catch up on my reading this weekend and spent a lot of time on magazines that I have sitting around. I have converted most to the digital format, because they tend not to stalk me by phone if I have the digital version of the publication, and second, it’s a lot easier to clean out my inbox than it is to carry a stack of magazines outside. It gets heavy after a while.

As I was reading, I noticed how doom and gloom the predictions of global warming are getting. Apparently we will have no land left in 10 years and we should all learn how to swim. Or how the Bush administration caved in to extremist environmentalist and froze solar power research because we might ruin the environment by stepping on the grass. Of course there are a million people out there with their own ideas as to how to fix the global warming issue and their idea is the only idea as far as they are concerned. But the more I look into this, the more I realize, those most invested in the global warming problem are the least among us to be listening to. Here’s how I came to this conclusion.

Look around the world, you will notice something in common, countries that pay the most attention to the environment have two things in common, citizens are free and they are wealthy. Poor countries are more focused on basic needs, the environment is not on that list of needs. China is not a free nation, so it doesn’t focus on the environment (yes they claim to care but really go and look, that is if your eyes don’t burn from the pollution in the air).

A lot of the people invested in global warming want the government to control things, tell everyone what to do, but history has shown that the real way to help the environment is to help people become wealthy, then they have the money to be worried about the environment. Take the current situation, 10 years ago when gas was around $1 a gallon, many people were against off shore drilling and anwar. Now, the majority of people are for it. Why? Simple economics, when you have to spend $4 a gallon, that adds up fast and that leaves little for other things, so many Americans are focused on basic needs, not the environment because they do not feel wealthy anymore.

Capitalism is best for the environment, not socialism, not communism, but capitalism. Look at China, it is a communist nation, and the worlds largest polluter. Socialist countries are not much different, it is when people are free to make money and enjoy money that they can afford to be concerned about the environment. So things like wage depressions through outsourcing, H1-B visa abuse and illegal immigration are all actually bad for the environment. When wages are held down, people make less and are therefore, more concerned about basic needs than the environment.

When I say capitalism is the answer I don’t mean the Bush style of the rich get richer, I mean everyone has to! It is nice that the rich can afford nice things but the vast majority needs to be able to. Then we have to replicate this to other nations as well. When people are wealthy, they can afford to be concerned and when incentives are in place to put in the effort to find new ways of doing business that are cleaner, then we have a winning formula. This idea that some how the government is going to get us to be green is just nonsense. People, not governments, change the world.

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Reflecting on Stress

I found myself with more free time this month than I had expected. As a result, I have been catching up with my reading. It is funny how many books I have laying around un read or half read, just waiting for me to finish. The really interesting aspect is how often I buy a book months in advance and later, seemingly at the right time, I get around to readying it. Kind of cool how that works.

Lately, I have trying my best to relax and unwind; the funny thing is how this actually stresses me out. It is interesting how the things that are suppose to help free us, often are the things that cause us to be trapped in some way.

So there I was, working out, meditation, taking walks in the woods along the river, taking afternoon naps, engaging in hobbies, etc… But all this was stressing me out! I found myself captive to my choices. This was odd, isn’t this suppose to help me relax, not cause more stress? So this got me thinking, in work I find that people often get burned by the very things that they think will free them. Could this be happening to me too?

In business, I see people do this all the time, they play politics, only to get destroyed by it, they play it safe only to lose to faster competitors, they take advantage of people only to be taken advantage of. We do this to ourselves all the time. I remember when a Chair, I saw hundreds of companies, all claiming to be different and unique. They were more similar than anything else because they focused on the same thing, fear of failure so that’s just what they got, failure. So what happens?

What happens is, we become the very thing we identify with. I’ve heard people say “everyone play’s politics here,” next thing you know, that’s what they are doing too, they may say they hate it, but they are doing it none the less. So there I was, trying to avoid being stressed and yet I became what I was saying I didn’t want.

In the end, I came the conclusion that most people are never truly in control of themselves. We jump from one thing to the next to find a solution to “save” us. Businesses do this too, every new fade comes along to save them, I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this, I shake my head at it. It doesn’t work! In time resentment is the outcome. This is no way to live nor run a business.

So what’s the answer? I would say, but I really don’t care for the hate mail. It’s not bad or anything it is just not what most people like to hear nor do I think most people are ready for it. I guess if you are ready, you already know or will know by your own methods, so I will leave you to explore on your own. All I will say is, for the vast majority, you will have to give up your usual ways of finding solutions, but I don’t’ think that is so bad, most methods don’t actually work anyway.

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Great Qoute

Seen properly, what is any dark mental or emotional habit – such as fearfully trying to proect ourselves from “may be” – other than the unconscious practice of perfecting what punishes us?

Guy Finely

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The Web 2.0 Map

A little dated but I think it is funny

Web 2.0

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Psychics In the Boardroom

This Newsweek article I saw today struck me with some interest. It is about a particular psychic or intuitionist as she prefers to be called, and her relationship with big corporations in America. Psychics are nothing new, the fact that American businesses are being open about it, is.

A few years ago, I saw an article in European Business Magazine that said something to the order of 25-40% of European companies use psychics on a regular basis. Anywhere from major strategic moves to weather or not to hire someone. I wasn’t all that surprised honestly, although the companies that used it for employee issues did get in some hot water. It’s a bit tough to justify firing someone just because some psychic tells you too and you have no other reason or cause, that doesn’t fly in most European countries.

In the US, I find that we generally have a stigma to such things as psychics; a lot of people do not want to admit to being a little interested in the idea of someone reading them. So it was a surprise to read about American companies doing this.

Generally I am open to the idea of psychics, if they are real, of course there are lots of scammers out there that know how to work a crowd. So that doesn’t help either. But getting away from the idea of psychics, I think this speaks to the broader issues of intuition in business. I think intuition for the most part is under utilized in most companies. We rely on facts and stats and all kinds of fluffy powerpoint presentations filled with nonsense that sound nice. But to be honest, some of my best ideas that made the most money were total intuition. I had no proof of concept, just a gut feel it was going to work and they did. One such idea lead to 25% revenue growth in 2002, when our competitors were seeing 20% revenue declines. If I had done the stats and figures with the fluffy powerpoint, I would have ended up like my competitors.

I think business people who take the time to learn to listen to true intuition and inspiration, won’t need a psychic. As in my last post, I mentioned how intention comes from the sub conscious, well, intuition comes from there too. Our sub stores all our memories, thoughts and ideas, maybe in that process our conscious mind is not aware that our sub did all the analysis in the background and said “here, do this and stop complaining, you are giving me a headache, take this idea and you won’t have this problem you are worrying over anymore.” Nobody knows, maybe that’s what does go on. I’m being humorous on that, but I have found, the most successful and often interesting people, do rely on their intuition in business. The boring people, who don’t, just play politics because they have nothing better to do with their time.

In any case, I hope such articles get people to see they have more than the rational side to them. The more I do research on the brain, the more I learn this side we often neglect in business. Mainly because people just don’t trust those they work with, which is another issues all together.

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Marketing and the Mind

We spend billions getting people to buy what we want them to buy and do what we want them to do. I have degrees in marketing and branding and that’s pretty much what I was trained to do was get you to do and buy things you probably would not if left along. Almost all of this is geared toward the conscious mind, impulse buying, emotional selling, rational product features, etc… But the interesting thing is, some research suggests we may be focused on the wrong part of the brain. Benjamin Libet, a neuroscientist did some interesting studies to what happens in our brains when we make a decision. What was found was that a spike of brain activity took place in the subconscious mind before the conscious mind. Interesting.

The sub conscious seems to be the true driver of human intention, yet this is the part of the mind we know the least about. There isn’t a single ad agency that can tell you how it truly works, if they did, they would be able to charge any price and every Fortune 500 would be their client. In fact why bother with that, just rule the world! So what is happening in the sub conscious mind? This process that takes place that tells the conscious mind “go do this.” According to Guy Claxton the author of The Wayward Mind, “no intention is ever hatched in consciousness; no plan ever laid there. Intentions are premonitions, icons that flash in the corners of consciousness to indicate what may be about to occur.” Ok, I can understand that, but where does the thought come from? Where does the subconscious gather information and ideas to come to a conclusion that it wants us to do something specific like, ready this post? We just don’t really know. We have a good understanding of the conscious mind and how it works but the sub is such a mystery, we have theories, but not much else.

It really speaks to something more than we actually know is going on in our minds. If you are selling something to someone, you are probably best to treat the conscious mind as secondary in the decision process, the sub is where you first have to go for, but again, we know so little about how this part of the mind works. Where do you even start? For many the sub is a dark unknown of old thoughts, ideas, and memories that bubbles up every now and then. You can consciously decide not to go along with the sub, we “rationalize” our way out of that sub nudge that we get. We sometimes call that free will; it takes place after the sub has given us the intention and before we act on it. This is where most marketing is geared towards, getting your free will to go along with the message. But this is the secondary, what would happen if you can go for the primary decision maker?

As most kid’s product marketers know, advertise during cartoons, get the kid (sub) to want it and demand it and even if the parent (conscious) doesn’t see the point to it, sooner or later the parent often gives in and buys the kid what it wants. I guess that is kind of how it works but again, we don’t know actually know for sure.

To truly make marketing a more impact driven activity, this is something we need to get answers to. Now the marketer in me sees value, the humanitarian in me sees red flags. This goes back to neuro marketing which was all the rage 5 years ago. It all sounds great when you are making money off it, but not so great when you realize, people may want to use it to get you to do things you may not agree with. That is the negative to all this, the potential can be there if someone is smart enough to use it. Or will we just find there is another layer beyond the sub that drives us which we again find, we do not understand?

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Oil Subsidies

Something most people don’t focus on when it comes to our high gas prices, is the role of fuel subsidies. I’m not talking about in the US but in China and India. These countries, along with many oil producing countries, subsidies the price of oil. This creates an artificially higher demand than actual supply would naturally allow if they were to float these commodities naturally as is done in most modern countries.

The simple solution is to have these countries stop and allow the price to settle in at a natural supply and demand point. Oil I am sure would fall as most Chinese and Indian’s, and Russians or Venezuelans, cannot afford to pay $4 a gallon and would fall out of the oil market all together. This would mean the artificially high demand would go away.

The problem is, these countries will not do this without some substantial pressure from the outside and I do not think the will by Europe and the US is there to create such pressures. Beyond that, the other options do very little to curb this artificial demand. You can impose surcharges on imported goods or some other measure but they would do very little in the long run.

The only way to move away from this is to create more choice in fuel options. When you have competition, quality improves. If I were in charge of the government, I would be giving tax breaks and funding every alternative fuel source I can find. This will create more options and choices and as more people move away from oil to these other options, the demand on oil will go down and the need for it will as well. Those still dependent on it will find that prices will go down. Seems like a good solution, too bad no one in Washington can think up something so simple.

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