Monthly Archives: February 2014

Pickles And Pizza

At last it’s Foodie Friday Fun time.  Today I want to contemplate pickles and pizza and how they relate to your business.  I’m a fan of each of those foods although I will admit to being rather fussy about the latter.  That stuff they serve in a pan in Chicago isn’t pizza.  It’s good, but it’s not pizza.  I’m careful when I choose to eat one – thin crust, great sauce, and whatever I choose to put on it needs to be fresh and/or of high quality.  I’m less fussy about pickles although I don’t really care for sweet ones.

Since you’re already wondering about the business point it’s this.  Even if you got your perfect pizza and a jar of your favorite pickles, you probably wouldn’t put the pickles on the pizza.  I’m told that in some parts of the country people do but pickles are probably not the first pizza topping that comes to mind.  Business is like that.

We do our best to find the best ingredients – great staff, a fabulous product or service, a superior business model – but we don’t often think about if they’ll go together.  Moreover, there is a tendency that once you realize that you have pickles and pizza to panic.  Maybe even to start over.   I think that’s a mistake in many cases.  Am I advocating a pickle pizza?  No.  I do think, however, we need to broaden our thinking.  Pizza is basically a grilled cheese sandwich with the tomato soup in which they’re often dunked already on the sandwich.  You’d eat a pickle with that, right?

We can also think about the pickle.  One can pickle any vegetable pretty easily – pickling liquid is just a spiced brine, after all.  Why pickled cukes?  Maybe peppers – you have those on pizza all the time.  Or cabbage – kimchi is a pickle and I have seen that on pizza.  That’s how we need to think in business.  How can I change whatever frame of reference has my business not performing optimally?

Business isn’t about looking at pickles and pizza and throwing your hands up in disgust.  It’s about rethinking each piece  – dough, sauce, seasoning, pickle – and finding a way to make it work.  How can I make things or people or markets that just don’t seem to fit work together to make something in which the flavors mesh and everything is balanced?  That’s how I see it.  You?

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Filed under food, Helpful Hints

Getting Twitchy

You might have read recently about the deal between Comcast and Netflix.

English: The Xbox console with the S controlle...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s screed is not about that, but since part of the reason the deal came about is Netflix’s use of streaming bandwidth, it raised a question in my mind.  If Netflix is number 1 in terms of using internet bandwidth and is not making deals with ISP’s directly to serve as their CDN‘s (content delivery network), what other companies are in a similar situation?  Who are the top five contributors to internet traffic?  The answer surprised me and reminded me once again of an important business point.

You probably got the next couple on the list correct:  Google (which is YouTube), and Apple are numbers 2 and 3.  Who’s next?  Hulu?  Amazon?  Facebook?  Good guesses since they are all major video sites and do come after number 4.  Give up?

The answer is Twitch.  No, that wasn’t a command.  Twitch is a site that broadcasts people playing video games.  I’m sure you’ve had the experience of sitting around a living room while someone plays a video game.   This is just a bigger room.  A MUCH bigger room.  So big that Twitch recently hit one million users broadcasting each month during prime time hours with 45 million monthly unique viewers who watched, on average, 106 minutes of video a day.  That means each month, viewers watch 13 billion minutes of video.  With the Twitch app coming to the Xbox (it’s only been on the Playstation 4) one can expect that the number of “broadcasters” will grow and the number of people watching will as well.

There are more people watching programming on Twitch than are watching most cable networks.  I’m willing to bet that the audience for this is bigger than many broadcast programs as well.  How many programmers are sitting around thinking about how to take away the viewing not just from people playing video games but also from people WATCHING people play video games?  That’s the business point.  We can’t continue to think about our businesses in “traditional” terms.  Our SWOT analysis need to be much broader and contain a lot of “out of the box” thinking.  The threats are everywhere.

They call it “blindsided” for a reason!

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Salt Of The Earth

It’s TunesDay and time to pause from our work day to celebrate a bit of music.  Since it’s a business blog, work will be our subject today and the Rolling Stones will be our instructors.  There was a lovely moment during the concert following the 9/11 disaster during which Mick and Keith came out to play a song from Beggar’s Banquet.  It spoke loudly to the audience of police and firefighters as well as to any of us who have ever gone to work:

The “salt of the earth” line comes from the Bible, of course, but it’s the “salt” imagery which prompted the thought today.  Salt has always been incredibly valuable throughout human history.  Once people could begin to preserve food, they could begin to explore and travel long distances without worrying about having enough to eat or to go hunting or foraging.  Certain cultures used it as currency and although Roman soldiers were not paid in salt (they were given money with which to buy salt), it’s the genesis of the expression “worth his salt.”  People fought wars over it and many cities were built on mining, producing, and trading salt.  Impressive for something so common and inexpensive now.  Which leads to my thought.

In a time when technology has made productivity incredibly high, I think many of us tend to devalue work and workers.  Specifically, some managers believe that the people who provide that hard work are interchangeable pieces, common and inexpensive like salt.  However, it’s those hard-working people that keep businesses going.  To carry the salt analogy a bit further, when a dish lacks salt, the flavor isn’t fully developed and the dish lacks brightness.  When we devalue the labor force, our businesses turn out the same way.

Mick and Keith put it very well:

Raise your glass to the hard-working people
Let’s drink to the uncounted heads
Let’s think of the wavering millions
Who need leading but get gamblers instead

Given the economic crisis and part of the reason it happened, that’s quite well put, especially 40 years before the crisis occurred!  Regardless if you’re the chef or the cook, the boss or the intern, I’m raising a glass to the hard work you do today.  Who’s with me?

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Filed under Music, Reality checks, Thinking Aloud