The Automobile Was Once Upon A Time Just For Transportation…

Do you remember the days when you use to just get into your car to go somewhere?  Those were the days, the concept of the car was simple, you just got in and drove it to where you wanted to go, what could be easier?

Well those “simpler” days are gone, today’s automobiles are no longer just a means of traveling from point A to B, no my friend they have evolved into a mobile “venue“.  In a prior post, I wrote about the concept of “venues” being the future of media revenues and your car just happens to be one of them.

My wife for years has had OnStar ™, and reveled in the safety she felt from having it able to call for her in a monument of need, however her new car selection took her even further into the “venue” concept this time as not only does it have an OnStar ™ like service, it also has satellite radio, iPod connection, SD/USB reader, GPS, video input, and Internet access point!  The vehicle has more entertainment capabilities then my living room!

Where is all of this taking us (insert humor here), it’s merging the information super highway with the real life highway and consumerism.  As everything we do is about creating value either perceived or real to make a buck as that is the hamster wheel we all live on.  With this and the car as a “venue” we will start to see media packages bundled with the car, music, videos (while in Malaysia a couple weeks ago I saw an ad for an in car satellite TV!), news feeds and Internet bandwidth.  Car companies will have media delivery arms which will package content especially formatted for consumption in the vehicle in a safe yet appealing manor.

Hey, what about that dash?  When is the auto industry going to lose it (the dash that is) and take a page from the iPhone/cell phone play book and make some real coin and save some money too?  Be it LCD or digital ink, I want to be able to pay 99 cents and download new dashboard skins on a whim!  Have also companies taken note of the success of the apple App Store? Hey a car companies sells a car once and then hopes to make a little, yes a little on selling parts and service.  However that is so old school, get with the age of “micro” purchases as all of the 99 cents adds up fast, then you couple in media and as fast as Detroit’s own Deadly Teddly can say Wang Go Tango, you have a new annuity based income engine built for pennies on the dollar.  Just remember it’s not your Dads automobile any more, it’s your “venue”….

People just love (to create) a good Problem!

A few years back it became clear one morning that a change was needed and my current employer was never going to provide that opportunity so with that I set out to find a new job.  During this time I had been working crazy hours jetting around the world just busier then all get out if you know what I mean.

After a month or so of looking in the market, a new opportunity presented itself (actually a couple) which prompted me to tenure my notice and because of the current role gave one month and since the new job was not competitive with the old.  I was allowed to stay on-board and help wind things down from my current role with my soon to be former employer.  During this time I was no longer in the first row and had basically moved to be a member of the audience if you will. Where there once were 12 and 14 hour days, there were now six hour ones with a lot of coffee break’s as I was no longer “the guy”.  Than around two weeks into the month long transition, a realization struck me.

When I looked up no one was doing all the crazy things I had been doing, my replacement was far from up to speed as they had only selected an interim person (while they looked for a permanent one) at the time and while the customer was not overly happy with the situation (personal change always has an impact), the world per say wasn’t falling apart either, then it hit me.  It hit me like a ton of bricks landing square on my chest with enough force to take my breath away!

The epiphany which struck me that day is I loved a good problem, I loved the feeling of solving a good problem, I loved it so much I even created them and not only did I do this, so did most every other human being which I knew!

Sitting  there that day staring out of a frosty window watching the snow fall, it seem to me a “problem” was not much more than a personal value proposition.  Where the majority of the people benchmarked their “perceived value” by the problems they had to solve and if they didn’t have enough, the solution was to simply create more!  It was easy for me to do this as the opportunity to create them seemed to be limited by my own imagination. If this was true for me, was it true for others?  I started to think back as the snowflakes continued to fall outside to the problems which others had provided to me via the on-slot of daily e-mails, phone calls and seemingly endless array of meetings.  All of these required a solution and 9 out 10 were not aligned with the goals of either our company or the customers which they had set out.  These were instead personal value propositions which individuals set out to create in order to have something to add to some dashboard as saying “everything is ok” doesn’t seem to carry the same weight (read as frowned upon) as “look at all these issues I have to solve”!

Well the snow kept falling that day, my coffee cup now empty and the winter sun had set, with this it was now time to make my way home.  However first I pulled a cell phone from my pocket and dialed my wife to say the falling snow was going to be a “problem” and I would be late…

Outsourcing & Carbohydrates…

With cigarette smoking on the decline (in America) coupled with a moderate improvement in the responsibility of alcohol consumption the major growing threat in front of the American people (and coming to the world) is obesity. The main driver of this is the infamous “carbohydrate” which is for the sake of this discussion is a long chain saccharide or simply put complex sugar.

High quantities of these are found in baked goods and other processed foods, while they pack a wallop calorie wise, they bring with them no nutritional (or very little in reference to their caloric yield) and therefore are typically referred to as “empty calories”. Why is this important and what does all of this have to do with outsourcing?
Starting in the 1990’s with the rise of right shoring where we started to see clerical and technical jobs move from American shores to abroad. New jobs failed to form in similar fields during this same time, therefore forcing the re-tooling of the workforce to provide services who demands as well as delivery where locally based. With manufacturing having already made its exodus to the far east and the world of information technology following quickly, there remained very few options outside of basic staples such as food service which met these criteria.
The interconnect of food service also fits solidly in Maslow’s base of fulfilling physiological needs and therefore universal, however the challenge becomes that of economic yield as typically profits and therefore wages in this space tend to be low because of the broad level of competition and commoditization. However here is where the carbohydrates enter the scene as a disruptive influence.

For a moment, take for example the penultimate carbohydrate food, the donut. It costs almost nothing material wise to produce, as its main ingredients are water, flour and sugar. Yet it can be sold easily for 50 to 60 times its cost (note this number has been adjusted for spoilage and waste otherwise the raw figure would be much higher). This same axiom also applies to all carbohydrate based products such as pizza, breads, etc.

Thus, as more jobs leave the American shore, the greater the American waistline will grow as a primary reinforcing loop is created as more and more folks move into the food service [or related] sector to seek employment. Also as this primary loop forms, it will then spawn a second reinforcing loop as mentioned above since the wage scale is less [in the food service field] there is also less income available to purchase food meaning low cost high carbohydrate foods stuffs (as it is cheaper then protein centric food, such as beef, chicken and fish) will be forced center stage to the American dinner table further driving the weight gain cycle.

Editors Note: to further demonstrate the impact of caloric impact lets take a regular bagel (without butter, cream cheese, etc) which weighs in at 350 calories and lets say its consumed by the average American male whose weight (as sampled from 1999 to 2002) is 190 pounds. This person will require around 2,000 calories per day to maintain their weight so this one bagel will be 18% of their total intake. For comparison let’s take an apple, which is only 60 calories and tips the percentage scale at only 3%! As you can see, the calories can add up very quickly as our friend the bagel (meant in a negative way) packs one heck of a caloric punch!

We Walk a line…

What many people fail to realize is that every day they unknowingly walk a line between binary opportunities such as employment or unemployment, being married or single, and even  their mortality is governed by this simple axiom.  Some days this line is ten miles wide, while moments later one will find it no thicker than a human hair drawn so taunt it nears its breaking point.   Every second of our existence is governed by the decisions we make which balance us precariously upon this line, even if we do not choose to choose, we still have made a choice.  As the lack of choice is choosing itself as fate has a way of providing us limitless forks in the road with every breath we take…