Penis extensions

There are some men in the world who are deeply disturbed. They have inferiority complex, or they are impotents or have other kind of problems that seriously affect their self-esteem. As a result they go out of their way to seem bigger, better and more important. They rely on external things when it comes to their self-worth. These things are called penis extensions.

Some have to drive a big ass car, some have to yell at their wife, children and employees to make themselves feel better and get ego satisfaction. Two examples that happened to me in the last weeks in my business meetings:

Case A.
I go meet this manager of some company. Secretary leads me to his room and I find it to be a quite a large room. In the middle there is a huge rectangular table. The manager sits in one end of the table, I am being seated in the other end. The distance between us is perhaps 5 meters. He smokes while talking to me.

Case B.
Another company, another manager. He sits on a throne (its golden and any emperor would feel proud sitting there). He starts telling me about himself. How many degrees from which US universities (3 undergraduate, 2 masters, 1 PhD), where he has worked for how many years and how successful he has been. He tells me whom he knows and what connections he has. He talks about his relations with local royal families (he is not a local himself) and shows me an invitation sent by one of the sheikhs. His rant lasts easily over 5 minutes.

Seriously, get a life. Figure yourself out. Penis extensions don't work. They make you look insecure and pathetic. I fear for people who have to work under a person with a need to compensate something. Strive for inner confidence and internal self-worth instead.

Anyone can slay a dragon, she told me

I read quite a few blogs on regular basis. Sometimes I click the "Next Blog" link in the upper bar in Blogspot blogs with the hope to discover something cool.

One day that just happened to me. This blog belongs to a girl named Lindsay whom I've never met, but find very interesting. She is the most poetic person I know (even though I don't know her), her writings just keep on amazing me. I especially love the way she titles her blog posts.

Check it out. Its worth reading several entries, then you will see what I mean. The address is this:


Go see "An Inconvenient Truth". It is very, very important.

Getting cold

Its the end of November, winter is approaching. Right now its 27 C outside. In the morning and evening its a bit lower and - and I can't believe it - I actually feel a bit cold then. Dubai weather has spoiled me (even though I hate the summers here).

I'm going home for Christmas and New Year. I bought the ticket today, so its official. Between 19.12 and 06.01 Estonians have a fantastic opportunity to meet up with me. I keep wondering whether the weather will kill me. Haven't seen snow or experienced sub-zero degrees for 1.5 years.

Social capitalism

"Companies are beginning to realize that these questions of 'How can I accomplish more good in the world?' and 'Where is the market opportunity?' are essentially the same question," says Jeff Hamaoui, founder of Origo Inc., a consulting firm that helps both nonprofits and for-profits navigate this blended arena of social enterprise. "Simply put, good business design maximizes opportunity and resources, now and for the future."

43 Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing The World

This just came in. There are a lot of organizations out there who are doing their bit in making the world a better place. Fast Company analyzed some of them, the ones who are using disciplines of the corporate world to change the world for better. Outcome is the list of 43 organizations who are the best at it.

Go here: and see the list for 2007. We should applaud all of them and go work for them. Devoting your skills, passion and time for a cause worth fighting for is a life well lived.

The way things are supposed to be

I saw this movie recently in the cinema - "Accepted". It's this typical college-life simple fun movie that is easy to watch. Plot outline: when a high school burnout discovers he's been rejected from every college he's applied to, he creates a fake university in order to fool his overzealous parents.

Now in the university they create the students are the teachers and every student chooses what they want to learn. In the end of the movie they try to get the college accredited and the lead character gives an inspiring speech how the purpose of education is to develop the creativity of young minds and they don't have to be like any other university.

And that is quite an amazing point.

People are used to the way things usually are. They expect certain types of organizations to act a certain way or to have a certain way of operating.

It's expected that universities provide you with a specific curriculum and they have a faculty of professors. It's not expected that you give classes while being a student and choose every single subject you want not following a specific discipline.

It's expected that the waitress serves the tables in a coffee shop. It's not expected that a coffee shop serves as your temporary home where you can host your friends.

It's expected that the company's main goal is to maximize the profit. It's not expected that you are driven solely by a mission to make the world a better place.

It's expected that every person in the company has a specific job role and there's a hierarchy. It's not expected that the staff divides the necessary tasks among themselves every week and there is no boss at all.

It's expected that a conference takes place in a fancy location with high-tech facilities and they serve good food. It's not expected that a big conference takes place outdoors or in an warehouse and people have to cook themselves food over a bonfire.

What if you'd change the way people are used to see things? Sure, it will create some resistance to the idea, but more likely the innovation will make you remarkable. It will help you to stand out from the competition and create something cool. It's a great competitive advantage. It will make people talk about you. It will make people want to work for you or buy your products.

Challenge the way thing usually are and you can drive innovation.

The Long Tail

Anyone interested in e-commerce and how endless choice is going to change the marketplace, should definitely read The Long Tail by Chris Anderson. Its a very insightful book.

Seth Godin, the marketing guru, said "The ideas in this book are going to be talked about for the next ten years. Might as well get a copy now."

The main idea is that the times when the world was driven by hits (best-selling products) is about to be over. What is going on (already!) is that if you give the consumer endless choice, then the products that even sell once per quarter combined sell as much as hits or even outsell them. In the virtual room you don't have to worry about shelf space, you can list as many products as you like (millions!).

Its more and more a niche world, people's taste is more and more specialized. Our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of "hits" (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.

When I finished the book, I instantly got ideas how to use the Long Tail theory to my advantage in business. Now its just a matter of time when Google buys my websites.

Not my country

Traffic is a serious problem in Dubai and the local Roads and Transportation Authority tries to figure out how tackle it. Now they've come up with a solution - introducing road tax. That means that you have to pay some money (4 dirhams, a bit over 1$) when you use certain roads at a certain time.

I was listening to a radio show the other day where people could call in and voice their opinions. You could see the remarkable difference between the locals (UAE nationals) and expatriates. The latter were mostly saying it is not right for various reasons (like no alternative routes or means of transportation) and the locals were saying 'What a good idea! I am happy to give money for my country'.

That captures it. Most of the population (~80%) are expatriates, have no emotional ties with the country and don't consider it as their own. Now UAE is starting to introduce different kinds of taxes slowly and expats don't like it one single bit. Of course they don't have any rights as well, no say in how things are being run in the country, emirates or city.

UAE nationals feel invaded. They have been taken over. And when they heard on the radio that expats don't want to pay any taxes what so ever to their motherland, its is understandable they get pissed. Quite many of them said "if you don't like it, leave!".

You can hear/read everywhere that a large group of the expat population (especially westerners) considers leaving UAE when they introduce taxes as this was one of the reasons to move here in the first place (tax-free country). The cost of living is very high as it is.

Since UAE is an expat country by nature (built by them, can't function without them), it should consider how to create more dialogue with the expats, giving them some form of participation.

This would mean of course first steps towards democracy and involve a bigger shake-up in the current way of running things.

Customer service excellence

As our company uses Google AdWords service, I have had to deal with Google's customer support people. For some reason their system rejected our credit card (now the problem has been fixed). Although the communication was via e-mail, it has been impressive. They have been trained to address client's frustrations and make them feel better. When a customer complains, then most of all he/she wants to be understood first. Here are some examples of how their e-mails begin:

"Thank you for your email. I understand your credit card was recently declined and you would like us to investigate this matter."

"Thank you for your reply.
I understand that you have re-tried your credit card and it is still not being accepted by our system."

"Hi Peep,
I understand that you are concerned about the current issue relating to your credit card and you wish to know if I have received any updates from our technical team."

...and so on. Although I understand that they follow their protocol and training, it still works! I feel like I'm being understood! And as a result I am happy and have positive feelings towards them.

What else can a customer support unit wish for!

Of Books and Men

I like to read, a lot. I mostly read non-fiction because I feel it helps me to learn and expand my world. I feel I get more out of a book that broadens my horizons, that gives me tools I can use in my life. I probably read more than your average reader does, about 4 books a month - I guess I can thank my Input and Learner talents (more about talents in upcoming posts).

Quite often after I've finished a book, I find myself thinking that what was said could have been said using less pages. It's like the authors feel (0r the publishers demand?) that the book has to have a minimum number of pages. It seems to me that this minimum is around 200 pages. Even though the whole point with explanations and examples and what not could be presented on about 100 pages or a bit more. Almost every book has these parts/chapters/blocks that are not necessary. Its like out of a 250 page book 120 give 90% of the value. The rest are not necessary.

Why is that? Is is because thicker books sell better? That the buyer feels the money was invested better if the book has more pages? Maybe then there should be a "price per page" indicator next to every book in the bookshop so customers could see the value? If anyone truly thinks this way, it is ridiculous. Or is it that if the book has less pages it might seem that the author doesn't have much to say? Some books are based on an extensive research and if I would like to know all the hard data I might as well go after the thousands of research documents. But I don't, I want to know the outcomes and conclusions of the research. And in most of the cases what truly matters can be said using less pages.

We live in a fast paced world and cutting down on pages might attract more people to read, cause then they don't have to feel 'Oh my good when am I going to find all this time to read this book!?'. Publishers might even start making more money because people will have more time on their hands to read more books.

(You can follow the books I'm reading at any point of time on the right. Feel free to ask for recommendations)

Numbers from the book industry

Ever considered making money by writing books? Here are some "encouraging" numbers for you to consider.

In 2004, 950,000 books out of 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen BookScan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. Only 1200 books sold more than 50,000 copies. True, 10 books sold over a million copies (17 million in total).

The average book in America sells about 500 copies. Whats the number is other parts of the world I don't know, but probably the difference with Europe is not huge (even if it would be 3x more, its still a pathetic number).

This means that 98% of the books are noncommercial, whether they were intented that way or not.

// Source: The Long Tail, Chris Anderson

Every problem is a business opportunity

As I mentioned in the last post, people are spending a lot of money on diet programs and stuff because they want to lose weight. They have a problem. If you look around you, every problem is a business opportunity.

In Dubai traffic is a serious problem. Before there used to be 2 rush hours, in the morning and when people leave work. Now its traffic jam almost all day long. People spend a lot of time in the car. So what is happening? Spending on outdoor advertising and radio advertising is increasing a lot. People have nothing else to do in the car but listen to different messages. Come up with a creative idea to make them see/listen to you and its a sellable asset.

I am very sure not all problems have been turned into a business yet. What are the problems you and your friends have faced during the last week? Is there a way to solve the problem in a way that people would pay for it?

The sad thing is that people are paying money on both occasions, when they create the problem and when they solve it. They pay to create the problems (buy junk food) and then they pay to get their health back. If you wouldn't pay the first half, you wouldn't have to pay the second half as well. This doesn't apply to all the cases of course, but still something to think about.

Being fat is bad for business

We all know that being overweight is not good for your health. Obese people are far more at risk to all kinds of heart and what not diseases. Being overweight is comparable to having diabetes or having high blood pressure

Now what you maybe didn't think about is that for companies that provide medical insurance having overweight employees is costing money because the insurance is more expensive. Companies all over the (developed.. or should I say fat?) world are starting to address this problem. Not for the sake of having fitter, happier and more productive employees, but because its costing them money.

According to workplace surveys in the US, the vast majority of organizations with 200 or more employees say they offer programs designed to help improve the health of employees, while about a third of smaller companies offer programs as well. All because obesity and overweight conditions contribute as much as $93 billion to the nation's yearly medical bill.

Why what I am saying concerns mostly US, is clear: among developed countries, the United States has the most obese and overweight people. Other countries are catching up fast - so maybe its time companies and governments (ministries of health) all over the world should start taking steps to avoid dealing with this issue on a much grander scale.

Then again for some being fat can be good for business. For instance Americans spend over 4o$ million annually on books, products and programs to help them lose weight.