"Concentrate every minute on doing what's in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions. Yes, you can-- if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centered, irritable. You see how few things you have to do to live a satisfying and reverent life? If you can manage this, that's all even the gods can ask of you."
Marcus Aurelius on internet addiction (A.D. 121-180)
The difference between a cup of coffee from these new style coffee bars and what was available before is striking.
These shops use only beans that have been roasted in the past 10 days (though some say two weeks is fine), so the flavors are still lively.
The beans are ground to order for each cup. Certain coffee bars have a skyline of grinders: one for espresso, one for decaffeinated espresso, one for brewed coffee. If they offer more than one variety of espresso bean, that gets its own grinder, too.
Milk is steamed to order for each macchiato or latte. A telltale sign is an arsenal of smaller steam pitchers, instead of one big one.
And coffee bars reaching for the highest rung use only manual espresso machines run by baristas who, in the past three years, have been able to attend classes given by the leading roasting companies in the intricacies of these devices. Many chain stores are turning to automatic machines with preset levels for coffee, temperature and timing.
Are you an exporter or a global company? It’s a subtle but very important difference. NZ tech companies have been confused on this one for too long.
Brand NZ does little for the NZ technology enterprise, so trying to derive some advantage in our clean, green, pure image is a waste of time. If anything it reinforces distance, remoteness and high cost. That’s not to say those values don’t work for our dominant industries – like agriculture and vodka production.
Don’t get me wrong, there is lots to love about being a NZ company with a bunch of dedicated Kiwis powered by Kiwi values. But that doesn’t mean you need to feature it.
At the end of the day, what we export in tech doesn’t weigh nearly as much – often it’s lighter than air. And more than often, while the IP is generated in NZ, the product is normally made in all the usual places. We in effect export ideas to people who make things for us and then export them to our customers who in term export the final product to their customer. You get them idea, if we are all exporters, why make the point?
"It's important that New Zealand start-ups see themselves as global companies, because it may sound good to be a leading high-tech exporter [in New Zealand] but to the rest of the world it sounds pretty naff," he said.
Monro said being a New Zealand exporter gave potential customers and investors overseas the impression that their focus and scale was at a low level.
"I rail against the term export," he said.
Asked how New Zealand start-ups could escape being categorised as lowly exporters, he said they needed to be careful how they positioned themselves.
"If you position yourself as an emerging global company, it sends a completely different message."
Next Window is poised to become to of NZ’s tech giants. (And they are a supplier to Dell.)
Last year we saw, in one instance, how sound-bite reporting can go wrong. Among the 12,830 words in the annual letter was this sentence: “We are certain, for example, that the economy will be in shambles throughout 2009 – and probably well beyond – but that conclusion does not tell us whether the market will rise or fall.” Many news organizations reported – indeed, blared – the first part of the sentence while making no mention whatsoever of its ending. I regard this as terrible journalism: Misinformed readers or viewers may well have thought that Charlie and I were forecasting bad things for the stock market, though we had not only in that sentence, but also elsewhere, made it clear we weren’t predicting the market at all. Any investors who were misled by the sensationalists paid a big price: The Dow closed the day of the letter at 7,063 and finished the year at 10,428.
Blogs, tweets, and the social world can fix this. By participating in the stream, the like of Buffet don’t need to wait for an annual letter to disable misrepresentation, they can do it in real-time. Their brand affords them a platform at least equal to that of any media outlet.
… in a downturn the real difficulty lies simply in selling anything to world-weary customers who may be satisfied with good-enough but unexciting products.…Prof Kotler has chosen this moment of crisis to ask some big questions about what marketing actually does. “Is marketing the enemy of sustainability?” was one of them. For years the task for marketers was to persuade customers that the latest upgrade, the newer model, was a must-buy. But it is time to challenge that orthodoxy, he said.
In a resource-deprived world, businesses cannot hurl more and more product at customers, supported by extravagant marketing budgets. Prof Kotler recalled the message of a book published three years ago, Firms of Endearment, written by Rajendra Sisodia, David Wolfe and Jagdish Sheth.
The authors found that some of the most successful companies in fact spent much less on marketing than their weaker rivals. But they used the word-of-mouth effect of unpaid advocates – loyal customers – to boost their reputation.
… Another challenge for marketing is to assert itself at the heart of the company’s strategic thinking (an idea also suggested by London Business School’s Nirmalya Kumar in his book Marketing as Strategy). “If you have the right people in marketing it could become your engine for growth,” Prof Kotler told me. But while they might be quite creative on tactics, he added, not so many marketing professionals can do the strategic work.
So why not split the department in two? A larger, downstream marketing team working on current products, with a much smaller, strategic team looking at new markets and new ideas for the coming two to three years.
This could work – as long as the interests of customers do not fall between the cracks of organisational silos. As Harvard Business School’s Ranjay Gulati has shown, for all that businesses talk about being “customer-centric” (and marketing is supposed to represent “the voice of the customer”), many simply are not. “They look at customers only through the lens of existing products,” Prof Gulati says.
Right now marketing needs to aim high. That is what Prof Kotler is urging people to do. And he was happy to concede that, as so often, Peter Drucker was ahead of everyone on this topic, too. He even provided a handy mission statement. “The aim of marketing,” Drucker once said, “is to make selling unnecessary.”