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Monday, November 20, 2017

PERSONAL SPECIAL .....How to Stop Being a People-Pleaser (Without Being a Jerk)

How to Stop Being a People-Pleaser (Without Being a Jerk)

I’m a recovering people-pleaser and I know the recovery will take a lifetime. Why do we care about pleasing other people so much? In short, we want to be liked. We wanted to be accepted. And we don’t want other people to think badly of us. It’s a vicious, never-ending way of life, because people are always going to ask things of us. Always. “Could you babysit Friday night?” “Do you want to make cookies for the school bake sale?” “Want to come to my destination bachelorette?”
Martha Beck said something wonderful that struck a chord with me a long time ago: “When it comes to saying yes or no, choose the answer that feels like freedom.” If you’re resentful, overscheduled, and stuck driving a friend to the airport on Sunday morning when you’d really love to be sleeping in instead, you don’t feel very free.
And I get ya… and I’ve got ya! Here’s how you can stop being such a people-pleaser (and still be nice):
1. Stall!
Next time someone texts or emails a request, wait to reply. Force yourself to delay your response (even if it’s going to be an eventual yes). We show people how to treat us. And train them on what to expect from us. Immediate replies are conducive to an on-demand human. And that’s not what you are. You are not a slave or a robot. Wait up to 24 hours if you can!
2. Provide an alternative.
There is an old saying that “no is a complete sentence.” And it’s true. But for those of us who want to soften a no, instead of giving an excuse (I’d love to but my cat’s sick and I have a migraine and the cable guy is coming over and I think my mother-in-law is going to need me… ”) you can, instead, provide an alternative. It’s more useful too!
Something like, “I’d love help you pick out a new sofa Saturday but can’t this weekend. Renee has an excellent eye for interior design, and she lives near a Restoration Hardware!” is much more helpful.
3. Realize you have a choice.
More times than we think, we can say no. It’s easy to believe, “Oh, but I can’t say no to Laura. She bought me a concert ticket this summer,” or “But I must impress my new boss. I have to take on this extracurricular project to impress her.”
Pause for a second when a choice comes up that feels uncomfortable. Then do like Martha and decide if, ultimately, a yes or no feels like freedom—and choose that. Even though it doesn't always seem like it, you have more choices than you think.
4. K(no)w it gets easier.
Saying no is a muscle. The more you do it, the more used to it you become and—here’s the kicker!—the less people expect from you. Once you say you are unavailable, unreachable, unmanipulatable a few times, people stop asking so much from you. The irony? They can even respect, and like, you more because of it. We naturally treat people the way they treat themselves and those people who respect and honor their time? Well. We follow suit.
5. Recognize that you can’t please everybody.
And exhale. In his best-selling book Essentialism, Greg McKewon writes, “We can either make our choices deliberately or allow other people’s agendas to control our lives... If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.”
Other people will always control our agendas, our calendars, our lives, if we let them. And that’s a recipe for misery because we have more than one person in our life. We have our family, friends, colleagues, college alumni, community leaders, pets, neighbors, hairdresser (the list goes on!) to please.
The only way to have a sane life is to know that you can’t please everyone, ever, so please yourself. As you can’t pour from an empty cup, know that “doing you” is a better decision for everyone in your life. Because a positive life experience begins and ends with you.
When making a decision, author and inspirational speaker Danielle LaPorte talks about experiencing a full-body yes. You know the feeling. When you jump at something, feel ease at doing a task, enjoy the eager expectation of getting something done. That’s pleasing yourself, my friend. And a rich, fulfilling life has lots of those yeses—and plenty of loving nos.

Best Business Books 2017: Economics

Best Business Books 2017: Economics

Invariably, the stories return to World War II. Ten years after the first stirrings of the global financial crisis of 2007–09, economic historians are trying desperately to understand what has gone wrong. With remarkable frequency, writers and thinkers orient themselves and their stories around World War II, which seems entirely appropriate: What’s happening in the global economy and in politics certainly may feel like an unraveling of the postwar institutions and order. But precisely why that unraveling is occurring and what it implies for the future is a matter of debate. This year’s three best business books on economics focus on this issue. They vary in their pessimism.

Marc Levinson, author of An Extraordinary Time: The End of the Postwar Boom and the Return of the Ordinary Economy, is not very hopeful. But neither does he suggest that something has broken. Levinson is a historian and journalist, formerly of the Economist (and an occasional contributor to s+b), who is best known for The Box, a surprisingly engrossing history of container shipping. An Extraordinary Time, like The Box, is an efficiently presented chronology of the global economy since the end of World War II. Levinson opens at the hinge of this chronology, which he locates in October 1973 — at the start of the oil crisis precipitated by the Yom Kippur War. In Levinson’s telling, this single moment split the postwar era into the decades of freakishly rapid and broad-based growth and the subsequent period of uneven and unequal progress.
An Extraordinary Time reminds us just how tenuous were conditions after the surrender of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. With much of the world in rubble, both victors and defeated nations lacked the hard currency to import basic essentials, to say nothing of the material needed to rebuild. Economists worried, or assumed, that demobilization would plunge industrialized economies back into a depression. Even rich economies remained a long way from what we would consider modernity. In 1948, Levinson reminds us, only one French household in 30 had a refrigerator.
But then came three decades of extraordinary growth — Les Trente Glorieusesin French, Wirtschaftswunder in German, and the Japanese postwar “economic miracle” — that utterly transformed the lives of many Europeans and East Asians. Families who worried about finding their next meal in the 1930s, and who fled for their lives during the war, suddenly found themselves with telephones, televisions, automobiles, and well-stocked fridges to boot. Prosperity brought confidence in government and a feeling of security, even in the shadow of the Cold War.
As Levinson traces the era’s macroeconomic history, it is clear that in the 1970s, this era came to an end — slowly and then all at once. Weaving together data and narrative, he shows how productivity growth foundered and the irritant of inflation appeared and would not leave. The social strains that began to simmer in the 1960s boiled over, politics turned more dysfunctional, and the economic themes that would dominate the next few decades (rising inequality, wage stagnation, and financial instability) began to emerge. Faith in the competence and honesty of government was shaken. During the boom years, rapid growth had flattered nearly every intervention, making even the most ham-handed central bankers and trade officials seem like policy geniuses. But in the 1970s, what had worked before suddenly didn’t. Stimulus programs raised inflation but did nothing to reduce unemployment. Industrial policy no longer seemed a reliable route to higher productivity.
Yet as Levinson notes, this sudden helplessness did not cause an outbreak of humility. In fact, another set of wonks seized their chance to slash tax rates and regulation, privatize state-owned businesses, and squeeze union power. Perhaps economies would have performed worse in the absence of such measures. But the change of tack did not prevent inequality in the distribution of economic gains even as growth in incomes and productivity remained well short of the postwar glory days.
That should come as no surprise, argues Levinson. In his macro view, the golden age was an aberration. In the decades prior to it, technological innovations such as electricity and automation piled up unused by the private sector thanks to the Great Depression and war. The conflict also repressed corporate investment and consumption. Then after the war, a burst of investment in productive capacity, infrastructure, and education juiced employment and incomes, and generous government benefits powered consumer demand. As governments worked to piece the global trading and financial system back together, integration further propelled growth. Rarely in history has so much economic potential been unleashed at a stroke.
But since the 1970s, the circle has unwound. People grew less secure as their incomes oddly failed to soar, and as social safety nets began to fray. There was nothing nefarious behind all this, in Levinson’s view. It simply represents regression to the mean. And there’s no easy fix, apart from an adjustment to our expectations. Although Levinson correctly points out the fundamental difference in growth potential between the early postwar period and more recent decades, he is too willing to accept that things could not have gone better for most people since the early 1970s — and that actions taken by politicians and business leaders were ineffectual.
The Decline of Paternalism

Rick Wartzman provides a less fatalistic account of the same story in The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America. Wartzman’s book is a meticulous and essential history of the worker’s place in the postwar corporate United States. He, too, starts his narrative arc during World War II, as titans of industry met to work out how to employ all those who would need jobs at the war’s end. Having come through the pain of the Depression and the sacrifice of the conflict, residents were desperate for security. If the economy could not deliver — if its corporate giants could not provide — there would be no telling what sort of political backlash the capitalists would face in the home of capitalism. In the words of Harrison Jones, then chairman of Coca-Cola, “Any nation with a great unemployment wave becomes a seedbed for -isms.”
Wartzman is also a journalist, and a director at the Drucker Institute. His comprehensive tale follows four of the great companies of the 20th century — General Electric, General Motors, Kodak, and Coca-Cola — all of whose executives were members of the conspiracy to maintain full employment. In the decades before the war, they had not been uniformly progressive or paternalistic. At Kodak, generous pay and benefits were meant to foster loyalty, but also to deter efforts to unionize. General Motors, having hired Pinkerton detectives to spy on and thwart efforts to organize its plants, ultimately acquiesced to union pressure in the 1930s, but only after the Wagner Act made organizing far easier.
After the war, as unions gained more strength and critical mass, GM and the United Auto Workers struck the so-called Treaty of Detroit in 1950, which established a model for the achievement of labor peace. The five-year contract protected GM (and later, other carmakers) from the risk of strikes, while workers received good pay, annual cost-of-living adjustments (which became a common feature of labor contracts), and a pension. It also established a set of benchmarks that other industrialized companies would follow.
As the decade wore on, the benefits that were extended to workers grew. Some employees received annual “wage dividends” as a form of profit sharing. Pensions and health benefits expanded, as did efforts to shield employees from turns in the business cycle. Firms invested heavily in workforce training, occasionally setting up internal institutes indistinguishable from university programs. Companies pumped out a steady stream of consumer goods to soak up fattening paychecks and fill the homes employees were buying in growing numbers. It worked for everybody in the U.S. — workers, management, shareholders — in part because so much of the world’s productive capacity had been destroyed in the 1940s and was slow to rebuild.
Wartzman concludes, as does Levinson, that the good times could not continue. But the story he tells is more specific to companies and industries. As the world’s other rich economies recovered, the competitive environment for firms intensified. GM, for example, faced competition not just from Ford and Chrysler, but from Toyota and Honda. Improving technology allowed manufacturers to automate factory floors and streamline corporate offices. The macroeconomic environment also grew more difficult. Cost-of-living adjustments and union wage bargains were increasingly seen as the source of inflationary pressure, and therefore something to be resisted. Companies relocated their operations from the Midwest and Northeast to Southern states, where labor costs were lower and organized labor nonexistent.
For Wartzman, the new generation of post-1970s policymakers that Levinson focuses on had a parallel in the executive suite. CEOs began to prioritize profits and share prices over commitments to employees, and hacked away at fat payrolls. “Any organization that thinks it can guarantee job security is going down a dead end,” said Jack Welch, the iconic General Electric CEO who earned the sobriquet Neutron Jack. “Only satisfied customers can give people job security.” Complacent companies were at risk of experiencing an assault by corporate raiders. Ronald Reagan’s decision to break the air traffic controllers’ strike in 1981 represented a stark warning to organized labor: Submit or face destruction. Even left-leaning politicians embraced the notion that the computing age demanded flexibility and the relentless accumulation of skills.
As the Treaty of Detroit was metaphorically ripped up in the decades after the 1970s, the sense of corporations’ loyalty to workers was utterly destroyed. Yet Wartzman presents this broad and important shift as the inevitable result of structural economic change: of technological advances, globalization, and the increased pace of change across markets. Where Levinson casts the difficulties of workers as the result of regression to the mean, Wartzman suggests they are the product of adaptation in the face of progress. And it is indeed difficult to imagine that GM and Kodak, whose size and history could not prevent a spiral into bankruptcy, could have maintained their historical commitments and loyalty to workers and still prospered. Nonetheless, Wartzman, along with Levinson, doesn’t fully examine or explain how the intentional economic reforms of the 1970s and 1980s altered the political climate in which these companies operated.
Mean Means
In the year’s best and most striking economics book, Walter Scheidel views today’s economic woes through a significantly wider — and darker — lens. The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century is a more sweeping, bleaker version of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. A professor of history at Stanford University, Scheidel packs the book full of data and historical analysis, including differences in the comparative splendor of ancient tombs and variances in human height, to present a stylized but compelling picture of inequality across the whole of human history. Inevitably, he argues, societies that manage to create an economic surplus become economically and politically unequal. Within those societies, over time, elites get better and better at rigging the system to divert resources toward themselves. Only catastrophe limits the march toward greater inequality — great plagues, state failure, revolution, and mass-mobilization warfare.
In Scheidel’s view, this has been the way of things since the domestication of crops more than 10,000 years ago. Farming societies generated agricultural surpluses, and found themselves with land, equipment, and stores of food that needed defending. Such societies sorted themselves into hierarchies dominated by the strong, who were best able to defend the surplus — or to expropriate an outsized share of it. Control of resources made elites stronger still, and allowed them to bend the rules of society in their own favor.
Political and economic inequality carried on growing in this way until disaster struck. In the West, for example, inequality reached a peak under the Romans, when a large and integrated Mediterranean market generated enormous wealth that flowed in wildly disproportionate degree to elites. State collapse destroyed that market and led to a dramatic fall in inequality that persisted for centuries. But over time, medieval European elites built new states, restored commerce, and established tighter control, driving a renewed upward trend in inequality. That, then, was interrupted by the arrival of the plague in the 13th and 14th centuries. Mass death resulted in a scarcity of labor, which returned power to the surviving peasantry. But when the population began to recover, inequality began to rise — straight through the ages of colonialism and industrialization and right up to the eye-popping levels of 1914, when both revolution and mass-mobilization warfare were unleashed.
World War II was a historically potent leveler of economic status. In the thick of war, governments seized corporate elites’ power to run the economy and drained corporate fortunes to fund the war machine. Much of what was left was shattered by inflation and physical loss. In defeated and victorious nations alike, the social trauma of war and the political demand for new rules and institutions that would make its recurrence less likely led to sweeping changes in the state’s role in the economy, such as the creation of the welfare state, which enshrined in law the regular redistribution of resources from rich to poor.
And then, many of us imagined, history ended, more or less. The welfare state and international institutions such as the European Union and GATT made the world safe for global capitalism, which eradicated the threat from communism, brought magical technologies into the world, and finally spurred development in the world’s vast emerging markets. But, as Scheidel notes, even as communism was teetering and triumphalism was spreading, the old worrying trends emerged: slow productivity growth, stagnant incomes, and rising inequality. Why?
Top of Form
 Bottom of Form
Perhaps, as Levinson writes, it was simply a matter of regression to the mean. Or perhaps, as Wartzman reckons, it reflected the ways in which the world was becoming a more complicated place with new markets and technologies and realities to manage, demanding new expectations and ways of doing things. But Scheidel’s work suggests a different interpretation. Perhaps what we have seen is the reestablishment of an even older pattern. Maybe the tax cuts and the deregulation, the union busting and the trade deals, the waning interest in public investments and the listless response to regional economic hardship, the complacency toward the financialization of the global economy and concentration of economic power in the hands of a few firms — maybe all of that was, at least in part, the doing of elites who wanted a larger pie, yes, but also a larger share of it. And perhaps they are not done with their work.
Of course, Scheidel’s bleak theory need not be prophecy. He, like Thomas Malthus, may have identified a fundamental truth about the world just as it ceased to apply. But saving liberal society and the market economy will require quite a lot of political effort. These books, with their compelling diagnoses, tell us that we are recognizing the seriousness of the problem. They also make clear that we are a long way from agreeing about how to treat it.
by Ryan Avent

STARTUP SPECIAL ... 4 Win Customers in the first 3 Seconds!

STARTUP  4 Win Customers in the first 3 Seconds!

That's right! The motto of this startup, Vital20 Communications, is to generate strategic content that helps you win customers instantly. And how do they do that? Ask them, and they'll tell you it's a science. They follow the Pareto Principle, which states that generally 20% of causes produce 80% of results. Likewise, only vital 20% of messages or communication could generate 80% of your customers. By restricting the core communication only to vital 20%, they help you win customers by providing the most important aspect of business offering within 3 seconds.

Hetansh Desai, Founder and CEO, and alumni of the prestigious Babson College, US, says, “It is important for brands to identify the Vital 20% to focus on and devise a Vital Grabber statement. The entire communication, right from the sales pitch, to the visiting cards, to the landing page of the website to the cover page of social media should then be aligned to that one statement.'Vital20 Communications contributes to the growth of businesses by providing print, outdoor and online communication services. Want to know the right Vital Grabber statement for your business? The first 50 people to call them on +91 8355969244 get this one for free!

ET 2317NOV17 

TRAVEL SPECIAL.....Winter Frolic in Canada

Winter Frolic in Canada

Explore Canada's many attractions and signature experiences this season

Canadians embrace winter in a fun adventurous way. When the snow begins to fall, a plethora of unique recreational activities come to life. 

Here’s more:

Soft adventures in winter
You can simply strap on snowshoes and stomp across powdery glades. Hire a dogsled musher to show you the ropes of traditional winter travel. Straddle a snowmobile or ice skate across a frozen river hand-in-hand with your companion. From the Aurora skies of the North, to the misty West coast, to the frigid Prairies, to the snowy expanses of Ontario and Quebec, to the blustery Atlantic — your family will truly love the experience.

Winter Festival of Lights
Visit the Winter Festival of Lights for its 35th annual season. This festival turns the Niagara Falls into a winter wonderland with over 2 million lights along an 8 km long illuminations route. The route travels along the Niagara Parkway, past the roaring Falls, into Dufferin Islands and surrounding tourist areas. Many family-friendly events take place during the Winter Festival of Lights (From Nov 18, 2017 to Jan 31, 2018) including: Opening ceremonies, weekly fireworks, sound and light shows, the Sparkle Lighting Awards and the New Year’s Eve concert.

Northern Lights and Glamping in Yukon
This signature arctic range experience in Canada is highly recommended. Yukon’s Aurora viewing along with wildlife and hot springs can be explored over a three-night excursion based in historic Whitehorse. Here, days are full of guided excursions and nights are rich with the magic of the Northern Lights.
It starts with waves of green, rippling over the horizon. Fringes of purple and red begin to illuminate the edges, the display growing more vibrant minuteby-minute. Soon, the Yukon sky is brightened with Aurora Borealis; colours weave an otherworldly tapestry as electrons from the sun collide with the Earth’s upper atmosphere. It can be an impressive first night on your Yukon adventure — and the following days unveil an expansive wildlife preserve, soothing natural hot springs and cultural explorations.

Niagara Icewine Festival
Celebrate the delectable harvest of icewine from Niagara’s frozen vineyards. Icewine is made with grapes that are picked at -8 degrees celsius under frigid production methods. This specialty of the Niagara region is the focus of the Niagara Icewine Festival. During the festival, over 30 wineries participate in the events and offer icewine tastings. The hosts create glasses and even whole bars from carved ice. Local chefs prepare delicious accompaniments for the rare icewine. You can enjoy entertainment both indoors and out at street parties in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Jordan. The Niagara Icewine Festival will be held from January 12-28, 2018. Come along!
For more details, log onto:

Sunday, November 19, 2017

STARTUP SPECIAL....3. An environment friendly ‘Joy’ ride

STARTUP  3. An environment friendly ‘Joy’ ride

WardWizard is an enterprise active in the field of technology and health oriented consumer products. Their team of experienced individuals have created a niche in the market by their unique range of offerings which are unique and innovative, helps to live an enhanced and healthier lifestyle. It is an umbrella brand which comprises of VYOM brand of car purifiers, air purifiers, water purifiers etc. And their latest offering is Joy e-bike, a battery powered bicycle which runs 12-40 km on a single charge. It’s an urban commute vehicle, which not only leaves a zero carbon footprint, saves on big fuel costs, but will also ease congestion on the roads in big cities. In the current scenario, pollution is majorly caused due to carbon emissions from automobiles, such zero emission urban mobility vehicle is therefore a boon.
Yatin Gupte the Founder & CEO at WardWizard Solutions shares, “Sensing the current environmental pollution level across the globe, it is the right and ripe time for such emission free mobility solution of battery powered bicycle- the Joy E Bike to be preferred and used more and more. I am deeply grateful to my wife, Shefali Gupte, Director and COO of WardWizard, who duly complements me by heading the HR and Administration department and helps in the growth story of our company”.
Joy e-bike is a no emission, battery po wered, light weight, funky bicycle w hich is ideal for short distance trave ls. Everyone can contribute to the sustainable initiatives of  reducing the carbon emission by using more battery powered  vehicles like this. Regular use of bicycle has always been prescribed as a healthy way of exercising, Joy e-bike lives up to its promise of being a bicycle with a difference. It has pedal-assist which actually means peddling your way to the destination in a greener and healthier way. Joy e-bike has all the benefits of a cycle – light in weight, easy to manoeuvre in growing traffic, no registration requirements, etc. and topped up with the power of battery. Joy E Bike has been pursuing Public Cycle Sharing (PBS) opportunities across smart cities in India apart from Vadodara where they have already been shortlisted. Joy E-Bike the battery Powered Bicycle has an edge over regular bicycles which have to be invariably peddled irrespective of weather conditions in India.
For bulk and fleet requirements, they can also be customized to fit your requirement. Ideal for usage in large industrial complexes and areas for night patrolling by security personnel, internal employee movement, fleet for delivery and logistics solutions, ideal for school children, community cycling in parks and gardens, regular use etc.

For more details contact:-905, Signet Hub, Old Padra Road, Near Akshar Chowk,Vadodara,390020, Call on:0 265 2986511 Email:

Best Business Books 2017: Marketing

Best Business Books 2017: Marketing

Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O’Connell
Woo, Wow, and Win: Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight (HarperCollins, 2016)

Smartphones are proliferating! People — especially millennials — are cutting the cable cord in favor of buying their media à la carte! The rise of programmatic ad buying is allowing marketers to target at the micro level across devices!
With all the chaos in marketing, technology, and media, 2017’s crop of marketing books, many of which covered such topics, seemed thoroughly expected. I’d venture that as shape-shifting as marketing has had to become — who, really, watches much network TV anymore? Or clicks on banner ads? — it has also, strangely, reached a point of stasis. The megatrends affecting the field have become as accepted in the business as cable TV became by the late 1980s.
It’s not that there’s nothing left to learn. Rather, what we’re seeing now, reflected in this year’s best business books on marketing, is the triumph of incrementalism. Instead of reinventing the wheel, marketers need to expand their competencies, even against the steady drumbeat of technological change.

The year’s best offering was Superconsumers: A Simple, Speedy, and Sustainable Path to Superior Growth, by Eddie Yoon. A confession: I originally reviewed this book for the Spring 2017 issue of s+b. But its inclusion here can’t be chalked up to that bane of modern marketers, a short attention span. What I discovered was that after I had carefully vetted more than a dozen additional books for this review, Superconsumerscontinued to stay with me for its brevity, its anthropological approach, and its power. The book contains compelling examples of what makes the people of the title — the small minority of customers who buy more of, and have a concurrent passion for, a particular product — so vital for building businesses. It was also hands down the most enjoyable read.
Yoon, growth strategist at Eddie Would Grow, introduces readers to people like Laura, a superconsumer of Nacho Cheese (a real product given a generic name). In a meeting with the brand team, she demonstrates an attribute of the product that its marketers might not have noticed. While dipping a piece of broccoli into melted Nacho Cheese, “she pointed out how the cheese was viscous enough to form a perfect crown on the broccoli’s head without falling off the side, yet melty enough to fill every crack and crevice.”
Then there’s Sally, who has a passion for office products. In many writers’ hands, Sally would be a ripe subject for ridicule. But Yoon deftly explains why such prosaic products as three-ring binders and staplers inspire legitimate passion in some people: These products are “hired” to do a job beyond their baseline function. Sally, who works at a car rental agency, “hires” office products to bring a sense of calm to a tumultuous workplace. That three-ring binder is a portal to control. It’s “like a trophy for a job well done and her way of bringing order to the chaos.”
For many marketers, Superconsumers will prove illuminating because it emphasizes that you don’t have to be a maker of cutting-edge basketball shoes or fast cars to inspire passion. The key, says Yoon, is to uncover the larger reason that superconsumers are hiring your product, and use those insights to expand your market. “Superconsumers are not the be-all and end-all,” explains Yoon. “But they are the proper place to start a consumer-centric strategy.”
Yoon also points out that the lessons marketers glean from superconsumers can rope in even larger audiences and thus have a broader business impact. In an anecdote about the champagne category, Yoon explains that women superconsumers in particular “hire” the bubbly wine in the summer, as an alternative to beer. Because that context is different than it is during celebrations — when a number of people might share a bottle — the industry began producing single-serving champagne bottles.
While delighting superconsumers, this new way of packaging champagne raised the “fun” ratio because consumers could try a variety and no longer had to worry about wasting champagne. This has helped make champagne more attractive to potential superconsumers, expanding its appeal.
Attend virtually any marketing conference, and you’ll sense great excitement in the room when discussion turns to the potential of data to help marketers understand consumers at an unprecedented level. What’s rarely acknowledged, however, is that there’s also something Orwellian about a world in which marketers and retailers can track user locations, transactions, and passions in real time. Is the mobile age helping consumers and products discover one another? Or is it creating an environment of constant surveillance?

Because it wrestles intelligently with these issues, I chose The Aisles Have Eyes: How Retailers Track Your Shopping, Strip Your Privacy, and Define Your Power as another of this year’s best business books on marketing. It’s a skeptical — even occasionally paranoid — view of how big data is changing the face of retailing and, at some level, reordering the way people relate to one another. As such, it pushes marketers to step out of their industry bubble and consider an alternative viewpoint from an academic. “The transformation of retailing is, at the core, a rethinking of the ways merchant–customer relationships should take place in the twenty-first century,” writes Joseph Turow, the Robert Lewis Shayon Professor of Communication and associate dean for graduate studies at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. “Monitoring and discrimination are certainly critical to this rethinking, but they are only part of an accelerating project to redefine relationships with shoppers.” By marrying loyalty programs to tracking devices and the smart manipulation of images and messages, he argues, retailers are pushing shoppers to “accept systematic biases about them.”
That’s loaded language. The end game, per Turow, is that retailing will return to being discriminatory, as digital technology gives retailers the ability to dynamically change pricing based on individual customer data. An affluent and loyal customer may get a lower price on high-end skincare products than someone who is less loyal. A new customer who holds potential for cross-selling — perhaps she’s a grandparent who could be persuaded to buy more accessories for her granddaughter’s American Girl dolls — may get a better price than someone perceived as not having additional value, and so forth. To a degree, if this happens, it will be going back to the past. In the 19th century, when retailer–customer relationships were more intensely personal, “selling techniques centered around prejudice and discrimination, with peddlers and small merchants determining which shoppers were ‘winners’ and which were ‘losers’ in the course of negotiating sales based on such measures as the purchaser’s race, gender, ethnicity, and income,” Turow writes.
Its dire warnings aside, the book packs a punch because it provides an exhaustively researched look at the history of retailing. Most of us don’t really know how UPC codes got their start (they solved the problem of telling grocery stores when it was time to restock by transmitting sales data instantly to headquarters), or have forgotten that in the pre-industrial economy, most pricing was really the result of haggling.
Turow certainly paints a detailed and accurate picture of how the future he envisions — and fears — is technologically possible. It is not hard to see how stores could deploy the big data they hoover up to target shoppers with customized coupons and enticements. Turow notes that this already happens in the airline industry, where frequent fliers receive more perks than occasional customers and pricing is dynamic. It could be that the passenger seated next to you paid twice as much, or half, or nothing at all, for his or her ticket.

But the book misses by giving short shrift to consumers’ power and agency. As norms surrounding privacy and sharing have changed, there’s much to suggest that when it comes to privacy, consumers aren’t putting their money where their mouth is. Even though they express concern about how their data is used, they continue to shop at e-tailers such as Amazon, which use individual purchase behavior to spur additional transactions. And a 2014 Pew Research Center study found that only half of respondents thought their physical location over time was “very sensitive” and a mere 8 percent thought their basic shopping habits were “very sensitive.”
What’s more, if we’ve learned anything in the last decade of social media proliferation, it’s that consumers will speak up — loudly, and on multiple platforms — when they feel a company is mistreating them. Although Turow asserts that consumers won’t know when the marketplace is discriminating against them, it doesn’t take much crowdsourcing to uncover truly abhorrent behavior by retailers. It’s true that companies know where to find consumers and how to push their levers; however, as anybody who works on social media for airlines will tell you, consumers know where to find companies, too.
That said, The Aisles Have Eyes should be regarded as a wakeup call. Turow’s dark vision may never come to pass. But it’s worth thinking about how the powerful forces and tools already in place could make a discriminatory marketplace an unpleasant reality.

Winning Design

Woo, Wow, and Win: Service Design, Strategy, and the Art of Customer Delight provides a bracing counterbalance to The Aisles Have Eyes. Its authors, Thomas A. Stewart, director of the National Center for the Middle Market at Ohio State University (and a byline familiar to readers of s+b), and Patricia O’Connell, president of Aerten Consulting, put the voice of the customer front and center. Rather than viewing a customer as a mark to be manipulated or a source of data, Stewart and O’Connell regard each customer as “an active, and quite possibly idiosyncratic, participant in the creation of value.”
The concept of “service design” essentially describes the components and strategies companies put in place to attract and keep customers. “The experience of customers propels forward your work to improve the experience of customers — customer feedback becomes customer feed-forward — and you are measuring both the input and the output,” they write.
Indeed, Woo, Wow, and Win is what might be called a post-marketing book. It views the act of winning over customers not as a series of tag lines and media buys leading to purchases, but as a set of customer experiences, which, when handled appropriately, can drive business forward.
A brand such as Dunkin’ Donuts, as the book emphasizes, is all about service design. It knows its customers are on the go and builds everything around that truth, by operating drive-through stores, picking quick-serve menu items, serving some food in cupholder-sized containers, and developing an on-message tag line (“America Runs on Dunkin’”). By providing caffeine, sugar, carbs, and protein, the brand literally fuels its customers’ journeys.
Top of Form

Bottom of Form
Good service design can help companies define who their optimal customers are — and who their suboptimal customers are. Your company can “arrange the links of your value chain to capture and encourage the customers you want, while siphoning away customers whom you cannot serve profitably or well,” the authors write.
Indeed, as that quote makes clear, one strength of the book is its willingness to eschew marketing orthodoxy. In fact, the first of its five service design principles is “The Customer Is Always Right — Provided the Customer Is Right for You.” In short, there’s no business sense in bending over backward for a customer who’s not a fit for what you’re selling.
These guardrails are important. It would be too easy to view service design as trying to please all customers all the time. In fact, there’s a full chapter devoted to what the book calls service design archetypes, from “classic” brands such as Verizon Wireless to “trendsetter” brands such as Warby Parker. Service design changes according to brand type. Those who shop at Costco, listed under the archetype “the bargain,” should not expect the store to stock five different brands of mayonnaise in eight-ounce bottles, or even to give them plastic bags to carry it home in. Costco’s service design needs to hew to what it is: a place to buy large quantities of a limited variety of goods cheaply and conveniently.
The authors also throw cold water on the belief that marketers need to “surprise and delight” customers. Delight them, sure. But if servicing a customer requires behind-the-scenes heroics, then the service design is out of alignment.
One last thing. Even though it’s easy to think service design applies more to services than products, Woo, Wow, and Win does an exceptional job of explaining why many products have become product–service hybrids. One reason people buy computers from Apple or boots from L.L. Bean is that they know those companies will be there for them if something goes wrong.
This year’s best business books on marketing may not appear to have much in common. Superconsumers and Woo, Wow, and Win have entirely different views of the consumer in comparison with The Aisles Have Eyes. But one common theme courses through these enjoyable books. The challenge isn’t to understand how technology changes the relationship between people who sell things and people who buy things. We all seem to get that. Rather, the task is to figure out the contours, shape, and rules of the future marketplace.

by Catharine P. Taylor

TRANSPORT/ FUTURE SPECIAL.... Who’s at the wheel? Changing culture and leadership to support innovation in autonomous vehicles

Who’s at the wheel? Changing culture and leadership to support innovation in autonomous vehicles

The new world of transport will demand different skills, capabilities, and culture.
The driverless car was once heralded as an innovation even too futuristic for The Jetsons. Sure, George Jetson drove a flying car, but it still had a steering wheel, and he was clearly at the helm. A different future has arrived, and the days of an actual human getting behind the wheel and piloting a car may soon be as distant a memory as rabbit-ear TV antennae.
Supplanting human-driven vehicles are autonomous vehicles that drive themselves, and they’re becoming more prevalent by the day. So the issue isn’t if autonomous cars will arrive but rather to what extent they’ll change the automotive industry; and, indeed, what effect they’ll have on all of transportation.
To remain relevant, all automotive-focused and -related companies, from original equipment manufacturers to technology companies to materials suppliers, must develop a new approach to their business—especially regarding software, cybersecurity, and the integration of the Internet of Things. The difficulty, then, is finding the leadership that can align these areas with rapidly advancing and changing technologies. New leaders must be able to direct a vast degree of change and have the appropriate experience in the traditional automotive sector while also possessing the innovative vision and digital experience to drive this vast transformation. At the same time, this leader must be able to address the cultural issues that come with such a dramatic paradigm shift.
To lead the charge in the autonomous car realm and stay relevant within this changing landscape, automotive-manufacturer leadership will need a breadth of knowledge and capabilities that many don’t currently have. Thus, finding these leaders will be key to revenue growth and success in the market going forward.
Challenges leaders must be equipped to tackle
The move to driverless cars has implications for every system within a car—from navigation systems to brakes to steering wheels. Each of these elements will need to be redesigned, with many different considerations taken into account. Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication will be a key factor in how autonomous vehicles will function. And because competition will be fierce and modernization will be happening much more rapidly in this space, companies will have to be nimble enough to adjust their products and innovate on a consumer-electronics timetable.
Then there are the broader societal shifts that autonomous cars will bring. For instance, some believe consumers will largely stop buying their own cars, instead only using them on an hourly or as-needed basis. Urban landscapes, then, could be dramatically altered if the need for parking decreases. If these predictions prove true, companies will have to capture a far different consumer mind-set. And leaders will need vastly different skill sets to do it.
Leadership will need to be far-sighted enough to see the effects of this trend—not only within a company but also on the greater automotive ecosystem and society at large. They will need both tactical and strategic awareness. The knowledge base is continually expanding, so a capable leader must have expertise in a wide array of subjects or be able to build cooperative, cross-discipline teams. Education is crucial: 59 percent of leaders working on artificial intelligence in the automotive industry hold a PhD, according to Spencer Stuart internal research. And experience with diverse and dispersed teams is highly coveted; companies increasingly seek executives who are used to having their team spread across the globe, so ideal leadership will also be able to lead and motivate across geographical borders.
An ideal leader in the autonomous car space would have a wide range of skills, including:
·         the ability to lead across borders and build “something from nothing”
·         tactical and strategic knowledge
·         a smooth cultural fit
·         a nonlinear mind-set and the willingness to push a certain level of discomfort
·         a deep knowledge—and love—of cars
Clearly, finding someone with such a wide degree of expertise is daunting.
An alternative leadership approach
Since it can be difficult to find a leader who encompasses all these qualities, one option is to hire a leader specifically to oversee the transformation to autonomous vehicles or new mobility business models while keeping separate leadership of traditional business lines. This would essentially mean having a right-brain leader to help spur innovation and blue-sky thinking, and a left-brain leader to focus on traditional automotive functions such as foundation brakes or chassis systems.
So rather than fully integrating these groups, this approach would involve keeping them siloed. In this way, each group can maintain its culture, be it safety- and order-driven or learning- and purpose-driven. The more innovative leader is able to lead disruptive initiatives with others who are flexible and adaptive to change, while the more traditional leader can help provide an industry context and use processes and tools that are relevant, critical, and comfortable to the more traditional domains. Pursuing autonomous vehicle development in parallel with the traditional business allows the company to continue to meet the current demand with a supply of cars while also preparing for the future of the industry. This can be an expensive process, but competition will be intense and automotive companies will have to absorb this cost if they’re going to remain viable and agile enough to keep pace in the new market.
Creating the right culture
More than any other single factor, an organization’s culture holds the power to drive sustained business performance—and it is especially important to consider culture during times of change. At its best, culture unifies people and creates shared attitudes and behaviors that lead to the success of an organization. Left unattended, though, culture can become a limiting force and undermine the goals of the organization. According to a Spencer Stuart client survey, culture misalignment is a key factor in 68 percent of new-hire failures. When looking to hire a leader for autonomous vehicles or, really, in any industry, culture must be a key consideration.
Organizational cultures will likely need to evolve from logical and systematic to innovation- and enjoyment-driven for a transition to autonomous driving to be successful—or they must at least find a way to combine these divergent cultural and stylistic mind-sets. A crucial first step in evolving organizational culture is to understand the current culture. Then it is possible to define a target culture and the mind-sets, behaviors, and capabilities that will be needed for the future.
This evolution doesn’t have to be overnight—and it likely doesn’t have to happen throughout the entire organization. Ultimately, many automotive companies may conclude that they need to preserve the pockets of stable, process-driven manufacturing culture even as they encourage other parts of the organization to become more flexible and innovative. Organizations will need leaders able to bridge the cultural divide and embody the behaviors and mind-sets the company needs to be successful.

The autonomous car promises to be a game-changing development—one that will lead to dramatic change within organizations and within society. Traditional automotive companies and suppliers will need to radically transform their operations to be successful in the future of transportation.
Companies realize the terrain is shifting and are developing leaders who can see the big picture. While the perfect leader may not currently exist, neither did the autonomous car a few short years ago. As the technology develops, and with intentional efforts, leadership will also evolve to be prepared for this new climate.
By Lisa J. Caswell, Christina E. Coplen, and Jonathan R. Visbal October 2017