Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: February 2008

So it is Friday, I am tired, it has been a long week, blah, blah, blah the list goes on. I guess what I am trying to say is that I am mentally drained to the point where (this may come as a shocker to most of you, of course it will) I do not have anything insightful to say today (sorry, I know you have come to expect more from me, but today has been one of those days).

So what is one to do, I do not want to let down my readers (all thousands of you, right), so I thought I would share with you all two very funny posts that I read today that are sure to give you a good laugh (I got several, as did both of my office mates, although to be fair, one of them damn near laughs at anything, but it is always funny, so I can cut a lot of slack). So with all that being said, here are the two posts that I read today that brought some really good laughs:

  • 10 Things Every Adult Should Know – favorite one definitely has to be #8) You have no right to be proud, unless you did it yourself.
  • Funny High School Papers – there is a lot to read on this one, but stick it out, you will get several good laughs out of them. My favorite quote is “El Nino is spanish. It is the spanish word for child. Like all things spanish, it is dangerous.” Keep reading this one, the kid is funny, and obviously not serious.

That is it, that is all I have for you this Friday. I know this post is completely off topic from what I normally post about, but like I said, this blog is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get here. 🙂

Advertisements

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of different is:

1. not alike in character or quality; differing; dissimilar: The two are different.
2. not identical; separate or distinct: three different answers.
3. various; several: Different people told me the same story.
4. not ordinary; unusual.

And the definition of better is:

1. of superior quality or excellence: a better coat; a better speech.
2. morally superior; more virtuous: They are no better than thieves.
3. of superior suitability, advisability, desirability, acceptableness, etc.; preferable: a better time for action.
4. larger; greater: the better part of a lifetime.

Now, it may be just me, but it seems as if these two words have distinctly different meanings, but sometimes people use them interchangeably when they should not.Often times when a startup is gearing up to launch their product, they tend to position themselves as different from their competition in X,Y,and Z ways. This is good, and necessary, after all if you were just launching something that was exactly the same as your competition, what would be the point, right? It is your hope that not only is your product different, but it is your intent that it will be better, that is what will separate you from the rest of the pack, and increase your probability of survival and success. The thing is though, that better is exclusively tied to time and user reception, so you cannot state that you are better until after you have been out in the market and can measure your success (or failure god forbid that though).

The main reason one can now say that not only was Google different than Yahoo when they launched, but is also much better is that time has proven that they are indeed much better, users love them and they have grown into one of the most dominant players in technology. But, when they launched, they could only simply say that they were different than Yahoo, not better (although they most likely knew in their heart of hearts they were, but had to wait and see). So in the case of Google, different did mean better, but again time proved that out. There have been plenty of examples of where different does not mean better, look at New Coke versus the original (or Pepsi, since that is why they launched it in the first place, to go head to head with them, since they felt their “old” Coke was not doing it). New Coke vanished off the scene almost as quickly as it arrived, proving different did not mean better. Another example is the Yugo car of the 80’s. Different, um definitely, better, yeah not so much. When was the last time you saw one of those cars putting around the highway?

So when you are discussing your business with someone and they ask how are you different from your competitors and how are you going to be better, just remember that the different part is completely in our control, the better is in the hands of father time and your users. If you are going to cite Google or any other successful company as reference to how someone came up with something slightly different in crowded market, be prepared to hear that they were different and better, but remember that time always proves the later (after all, Google could have turned out to be a Webvan, yikes!), so keep plowing ahead and become better!

It occurred to me this morning as I was getting ready for work and my daughter was patiently waiting for me, that we all have a finite amount of time on this earth (everyone’s is different and we do not know what that number is) and what better way to spend my time than focusing on that which makes me happy? A lot of time (at least for me lately) has been spent on being angry and on things that do not make me happy? Why in the world am I doing that, it takes too much time and energy to be angry at something or someone, and it takes away from the time that I could be focusing on for things that make me happy. Seems very simple and easy in theory, but putting it to practice is much harder, but not impossible.

I am thankful that my daughter decided to get up early today (she is normally the last of the 4 kids to get out of bed) and wait patiently for me, all because she was spending time doing something that makes her happy, seeing me. It almost brought me to tears to see her waiting there for me, and I realized in that moment that I no longer want to waste my time on negative things, only positive.

The happiness spectrum works in the professional world as well. Unfortunately we all do not have the luxury of working on only the things that make us happy, if you do, let me know what you are doing and I want to do that too! Sometimes we have to work on / focus on things that make us less happy, but they are sometimes a necessary evil of the working world (notice I said less happy, not angry, I am changing already). The key is to keep those less happy things to a minimum, but sometimes they get the best of you. The first step to recovery is recognizing that you are spending time on unhappy things, the next challenge is making the changes necessary to minimize the unhappiness and maximize the happiness.

Companies that find themselves in pissing matches with their competition or political candidates spending their time slandering their opponents, these are just a few examples of wasting time on things that do not make you happy (well, at least I think so, perhaps they enjoy it and then they are just sick and twisted, IMHO). Less time on negativity and more time on positivity makes for an all around better environment.  I know this sounds a bit fluffy and feel good, but if we all just took a moment to give it some thought and just try, then maybe the world, or at least you own little corner of it, might be a little better as a result.

END happy, feel good rant 😉

With the changing of the guard at eBay over the last month, Meg Whitman out as CEO, John Donahoe in as new CEO, it was inevitable that things were going to change. That is always what happens when a new sheriff rolls into town, they have to make their own mark on the company. Sometimes it is a positive mark, other times it is a negative mark.

John Donahoe wasted no time in making his mark on the company by making changes to user feedback, listing fees and service charges. Boy, I bet if he had a crystal ball when he made those decisions he surely would have stayed clear of them. The general response from their user base and the press has been extremely negative. Users are furious that they can no longer leave negative feedback (the sellers cannot leave negative feedback for the buyers), they are furious that now their service charges have increased as a result of the decrease in the listing fee pricing structure changes. So basically eBay took some of th cost off the front end and tacked it onto the back end, not a smart move, users are not dummies, they know what you have done. So to make good on this, eBay has slashed the listing prices in their media category (after all, you are talking about items that generally run around $10.00, so the listing fees should have been nominal to begin with), but this clearly did not cut the mustard for a make good.

So, as if all of this was not bad enough, some of the power users got together and organized a boycott. This has happened before and did not seem to have any negative effect, but this time it may be a little different. A Fortune Small Business article is reporting that eBay is seeing a 3% downturn in listings this week as a result of the boycott (caveat this with that they cannot determine with 100% certainty that it is a direct result, but reset assured it is having some effect). Something like this happening to a company the size of eBay could have the potential to cause a minor disruption in their day to day business, but if you are a small startup fighting to gain and retain your users, something like this could prove disastrous.

When things are not broke, you should not try to fix them. Even though every new CEO wants to make his mark on the company, perhaps they should learn a lesson from Mr. Donahoe and not mess with the users. If they are not clamoring for things to be fixed/changed, then let things ride. Like I said previously, you should take user feedback with a grain of salt, but in this case, the users were not asking for a change, so let a sleeping dog lay. Perhaps this boycott and onslaught of negative coverage for eBay may open the door for other players to step in and pick up some of their castaways.