Posted in General

Hey you…



If you are you getting this post, it means you are subscribed to an old feed that has moved.

I would dearly love to have you back, but you have to either :

1. Paste this feed in your feedreader:

2. Head on over to and subscribe again via RSS or email

To give you flavour of what you have been missing…

Posted in General

Do you have money?

Or know someone who does?

Here is the deal:

We have been trying to get our start-up going for almost 2 years now.

We have:

  • The plans
  • The prototype (wireframe)
  • The passion

We lack the connections to source the funds to progress development. Realistically, the next stage is going to require a few million to throw the engineers, coders and designers at it – while the opportunity is still there.

The application we propose to develop will transform the retail supply chain.

It is a B2B application that has the potential to be bigger than Facebook, Amazon and Apple put together – although competitors will jump in before that happens, but you get the idea.

We have exhausted our own capital resources to get to this point.

By publishing this post/request, you can appreciate that it is an absolute long-shot, last resort attempt to get this up.

If nothing happens in the next 30 days, it is all over.

All it takes is one phone call, one 5-min conversation to change history.

Call (Aus 0411 030 436) or email myself OR email Joe.


Who knows what happens next?


Posted in General

Easier said than done, but done it must…

As part of the presentation that I am doing at the Retail Expo and Conference (13-15 Sep) I have spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking and researching the difference between online and offline retail.

There is quite a bit of hysteria from every angle you care to look, but the reality is that this can and should be treated as a normal competitive threat:

I have come up with the following 6 reasons why people buy online:

  1. Convenience (time)
  2. Control (being in control – consumers think they are not being influenced)
  3. Community (share other consumers’ experiences)
  4. Cost – (and associated price transparency and flexibility)
  5. Choice – (is almost unlimited)
  6. Curiosity (the novelty value)

If you want to join them, then those are the things you must deliver.

Whether you want to compete with your offline offer, or simply ensure your offline store prospers anyway as you go multi-channel, then the normal rules of competition apply:

MATCH ALL OF THE ABOVE, plus raise the stakes…

  1. Convenience (location)
  2. Instant Gratification

And I will give away the not-so-secret, secret: the H-Factor is the Human Factor. 

The key challenge (and what you will gain from attending the conference) is to understand exactly what it is (clue: it is not customer service) and how to construct your strategy to execute the H-Factor.

Easier said than done – but that is the challenge offline retailers face.

After the conference I leave for NZ to experience the RWC. I will miss a week or two blogging here, but will be sure to come back and check the comments and respond to questions or suggestions.

Kia ora



PS: Not too late to attend I am sure. Get your VIP invitation here, and use the codeword to extract a good discount on an already affordable rate. You can’t afford NOT to go 😉 OR CLICK BELOW

Posted in General, Management

Do you really, really know? Or just think so…

Do you also notice how people often say they know the difference between this and that, but they don’t really, really know? Then there is also a difference between knowing the difference and practising the difference.

Do you (a) know and (b) practise the difference, between:

  • Visual Merchandising vs. Interior Decorating
  • Profit vs. Cash Flow
  • Margin vs. Mark-Up
  • Talking vs. Communicating
  • Listening vs. Waiting for someone to stop talking
  • Customer Service vs. Customer Experience
  • Human Resources vs. People
  • Features vs. Benefits
  • System vs. Process
  • Training vs. Instruction

It may appear to be playing around with semantics, but as I wander through the corridors of retail business, I am astounded by the discrepancy between what people know and what they think they know. (Despite my vigilance, I am sure the same applies to me.)


I was wondering if you can add your favourite to the list above?

Posted in Future, General, Productivity, Strategy

Just get out my $%#ng# way

The Wollongong and Shellharbour councils had been disbanded a few years ago due to gross incompetence and the first elections in some time to create newly elected councils are in the ‘promise-the-world-until-you-are-in-power’ phase. Occasionally I catch a bit of this dribble on the local ABC radio and the papers.

Coincidentally, BlueScope has recently announced the retrenchment of 1000 workers.

The result is predictable. Every candidate is promising job-creation for the Illawarra. There is plenty of rhetoric about how every candidate will lobby, cajole, convince, and empower the AAA, the BBB, the ZYX Federation, Council, Association, Alliance et al to create jobs in the Illawarra.

I never swear (badly) on this blog. But if there is anything that would make me break that rule then it is this topic.

The ONLY people who can actually create jobs are ENTREPRENEURS.

All of the aforementioned and most other organisations know how to spend money researching and talking about it, but they cannot ACTUALLY create jobs.

Just entrepreneurs can.

(On a side note: It is this kind of delusional thinking that led Governments to bail out failing companies by transferring their debt to the citizens. They are playing God in the economic sphere instead of just getting out of the way.)

Whilst the BlueScope retrenchments will create heartbreak on the individual level, and I do not want to diminish their pain, there are a few other perspectives to consider:

  • I do wonder if the unions, who have insisted on 5% increases year on year on year on year take any responsibility for making BlueSope internationally uncompetitive?
  • I wonder if the proponents of a minimum wage accept any responsibility for making Australia uncompetitive?
  • I wonder if the ‘workers’ who seem to focus on their ‘entitlements’ have thought about their obligations?
  • I wonder if politicians and workers have ever thought about the PAIN and the RESPONSIBILITY that the entrepreneur feels when they go about creating those jobs that everyone seems to demand – until they have them; only to then complain how it is not good enough.

In the business climate that exists in Australia, I certainly don’t want to be an employer. I find it hard to stomach the culture of entitlement from workers and the oppressive legislative regime.

The argument that we won’t allow slave labour in Australia is a furphy rolled out by anti-capitalist, anti-entrepreneurial sorts as a scare tactic. I am willing to put a lot of money on the fact that the market-rate for wages would be not very dissimilar to what it is now. The difference is that the current regime adds additional responsibilities of the employer that significantly increases the cost of employment. And in addition, the death kiss is the concomitant, increasing inflexibility that becomes part of your business with every additional employee.

I realise it may hard for people to imagine the alternative if you are raised in the current regime, but consider a few examples:

  • What is the rationale for a government legislate that the EMPLOYER (in my case the individual ME) should pay a nominated superannuation fee and NOT put that obligation on the individual? Why must the employer be responsible for the prudent financial management of your retirement – and not the employee?
  • Why must the employer pay the taxes and not the employee?
  • Why can’t the employee be expected to insure themselves against accidents?

I think the point is made.

FIXING this problem is important.

There are two considerations:

Firstly, climate change proponents are probably prone to exaggeration (who really knows) – but if they are even half-right, we will be living in a shit-hole in a few decades.

The bottom-line of the climate change debate is this: GROWTH as we know it is over. The world cannot support growth at the rate that it has grown in the past. (Jeff Jarvis wrote an interesting post on the “jobless future”.)

Secondly, I believe we are migrating to a new economic structure. I don’t (and no one really does) know what it will look like.

I think that will be an environment where only the nimble and flexible will survive.

I think companies will be smaller – with many more solo businesses.

But what I know is that Australian business environment is not future-proof. And THAT will be the single biggest factor limiting Australia’ survival and our place in the world economic-pecking order.

The culture we have harks back to an industrial era where ‘industrial relations’ were probably necessary. But in the world we live in now, the same principles don’t apply. Workers in that era were different. The modern era means:

  • Workers can communicate instantly with each other and establish what is fair and what is unfair.
  • Workers are mobile and can move their skills anywhere at anytime.
  • The balance of power (in the age of Intellectual Property) lies with the employee – not the employer.
  • Employees can and do take responsibility for their own training because the skills required for economic success are not dictated (or resourced and controlled) by employers.

It just does not make sense to punish entrepreneurs with a restrictive employment regime when exploitation is not viable or available anyway.

If wannabe councillors/ politicians want to really help, they should get out of the way. I am not advocating anarchy or that businesses or entrepreneur are above the law.

What I AM asking governments/councils to do is change their attitudes. The prevailing approach (apparently entrenched in the culture of these organisations) is to look at every business, at every attempt to develop or grow something from the perspective of ‘what is wrong with this proposal.’

If they could change their approach to ‘how can we help make it happen’ then the entrepreneurs have all the help they need. Real entrepreneurs can make anything happen (e.g. raising capital when rates are not favourable) but they can’t break the law and these politicians ARE the law.

Such an attitude shift would be a big challenge in itself, but that is all we require.

Thank you. Sorry for the rant. Let’s save Australia.

Posted in General, Management, Personal Development

A lion, a cow, a horse…WWYD?

1. Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper.

2. When you are done, click on “Check Your Answers” (below).

You are in a desert. You have with you the following five animals:

  • A lion
  • A cow
  • A horse
  • A sheep
  • A monkey

To escape the desert you are going to have to get rid of one of your animals. Which one do you drop? (You can use whatever logic you like BUT keep track of which animal is discarded when!)

You have 4 animals left. The desert is burning up! It goes on for miles. Sand is everywhere. You realize, to get out, you are going to have drop another animal. Which do you drop?

You have 3 animals left. Walk, walk, walk. Hot, hot, hot. Disaster! The Oasis that you were looking for is dried up! You have no choice but to drop another animal.

You have 2 animals left. Ok, it’s a long hot walk. You can see the edge of the desert way on the horizon. Unfortunately, you can only leave the desert with ONE animal. Which one do you drop and which one do you keep?

Before checking your answers, make sure you know which animal you dropped in what order




*Don’t cheat… do it



These answers are based on Japanese Archetypes. The desert represents a hardship. The animals represent . . .

  • Lion = Pride
  • Monkey = Your children
  • Sheep = Friendship
  • Cow = Basic needs
  • Horse = Your passion

So, in the face of hardship, you will sacrifice each of these things in turn. Your last animal represents that thing which you cling to at the expense of all others.

Now whether this is true or not, there is an underlying truth that is worth considering.

When people are faced with a challenge – or even a simple change, they have a ‘default’ behaviour. This default behaviour has likely developed over a long period of time, and through positive reinforcement, the behaviour becomes deeply embedded.

As business people we are facing some challenging times.

We all have to honestly question how we respond to those challenges – and in particular, how we always respond to challenges.

If you find that your response is typically negative or typically positive or typically anything – take a step back and re-think.

It may be a cliché, but it holds true: If the only tool you have is a hammer, every challenge looks like a nail.

Those habitual, ingrained responses; especially the ones we have learned to justify to ourselves, is what stands between innovating ourselves out of this mess we find ourselves in.

Posted in Future, General, Personal Development

The way out

If you own a tobacconist you’d worry about government regulation. If you run a pub or club you will be worried about anti-pokies segment and anti-smoking sentiment.

If you own a service station, you’d be worried about alternative energy. If you own a hamburger joint or a pizza shop you are worried about healthy eating habits.

If you own a bookshop, shoe shop, fashion store – or almost any other type of retail outlet, you’d be worried about the internet.

In fact, even small manufacturers probably don’t realise that 3D printing is going to send many of them broke quicksmart.

But there is a way out.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a wimp until he started lifting weights and Michael Dell was a dishwasher when he was working on selling his first PC. Bill Gates was a nerd programming software for traffic lights until he sold the first DOS license to IBM and Ray Kroc was a travelling salesman until he opened his second McDonalds.

Abraham Lincoln ran a general store before he eventually entered politics and John Travolta was a waiter until he cracked his first audition. Rod Stewart was a grave digger and Jerry Seinfeld sold light bulbs by phone. Author Stephen King was a janitor when he had the idea for his breakthrough novel Carrie.

Who you are today and what you are doing today has absolutely no relevance to who you may become.

And it is true: one store can readily become a chain just as easily as a chain can become one store. Being broke can be great training for being rich.

But these stories are not about dreams coming true.

In each and every case, the person actually DID something.  (Sold a PC, wrote a novel, auditioned – or whatever.)

And that, dear friend, has always been and will always be the difference between success and failure: the act of executing is how dreams are made real.

Your current problems could disappear overnight, or it may take a while longer.

But the only certainty is that nothing will happen if you don’t do something about it.

What are you going to do next?


PS: One of the things you can do is to attend the Retail Conference in Melbourne (Sep 2011) and tap into the ideas and the solutions on show. Get your special discount code here.


PPS: Subscribe to ReadThinkLearnLaugh for the next issue about ‘raising the bar’ in retail. (Previous issue HERE – no subscription required.)



Posted in Future, General, Management, Strategy

Is it arrogant to proclaim we have the answer?

I am presenting at a conference in September, and as part of my preparation I found this research by Lewis & Dart (2011) where they predict that 50% of retailers/brand will fail. Whilst they do not put a timeline on it – the suggestion is that it will be this decade.

If that does not scare the shit out of you, nothing will.

How do we respond to a challenge of that magnitude?

We can:

  1. Wait for the fear to subside
  2. Ignore the fear and get stuck into it.

Seth Godin recently posted about waiting for the fear to subside.

He says there are two problems with that strategy:

  • By the time the fear subsides, it will be too late
  • The fear actually helps you do it better

Obviously I prefer strategy #2.

And I have now consulted widely enough, researched widely enough and lived long enough to know there is an answer.

I am also [fill in your preferred adjective here…] enough to think that I have the answer.

I am going to share it at a conference presentation in September. You should go.

You can find the details here.

(There is a secret code that knocks almost 30% off the very good price, but you shouldn’t go because you want to save money; go because you want some answers.)

And if yo decide to go, let me know and we can try and catch-up at the conference.

Also – feel free to pass the link/invitation on to people who you think may benefit…