Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On holiday in the Provence, France

I am holiday until August 12 in the Provence, Southern part of France, near the Mount Ventoux, a mountain famous for attracting numerous cyclists (the white mountain top vaguely visible on the picture). More visible are the purple rectangular 'lavendel' fields on the slopes of the mountain. (picture taken from a 'terrace' in Sault)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Business, Belts and Borders

I am rewriting a program for The Wall Street Journal Europe, can't disclose too much about it now, but it kind of consists of a lot of copies going to ca 320 top hotels throughout Europe every day. I am struggling with some concepts based on the characteristics of high profile frequent travelers or at least I am searching for ways to integrate him/her in a program that would make some sense to high profile advertisers. In my mind there is one element that always comes back when I think about business travellers, ie. "belts". You can't go on a journey without being belted to your transportation vehicle. Smart ideas about business travelers in general are always welcome.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Working for others is a reconnaisance expedition; a means and not an end in itself. It is an apprenticeship and not a goal."
"Team spirit is for losers, financially speaking. It is the glue that binds the losers together. Is is the methodology employers use to shackle useful employees to their desk without having to pay them too much. While lives may depend on it in a few professions, like soldering or fire-fighting, in commerce it acts as a subtle handicap and a brake to ambitious individuals. Which, in a way, is what it's designed to do."
(Felix Dennis)

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Myth of the ONE BIG GREAT idea

I know some young entrepreneurs who are building their own companies. What struck me lately is their consistent search for this one BIG Idea, this unique GREAT Idea that would catapult them and their companies straight away into eternal richdom and fame. That is at least what I always hear them talk about. Meanwhile their companies are steadily growing, in normal business environments, in normal circumstances, in normal markets, most of the time just servicing people in IT, media and retail. Isn't this the way that most of the GOOD companies are born ? Just by actually doing a good job, producing and moving down-to-earth products ? Isn't it true that some really BIG companies were actually build on failed ideas instead of mind blowing UNIQUE GREAT ideas ? I could be wrong but didn't Sony start with a rice cooker that didn't cook rice ? Aren't some famous companies the result of just two friends deciding to work together, where the friendship became the carrier to success instead of the products they designed or invented ? I can imagine that the collaboration of Mister Dow and Mister Jones was more important for the creation of DowJones than the little newspaper they brought to the market ? Or Hewlett and Packard, didn't their first products fail heavily in the market ? Of course some companies grew into our collective mind after conceiving and developing a brilliant explosive idea. I think You Tube, or Google or Janssen Pharmaceuticals for that matter after having invented some world renowned medicines. But aren't these the exceptions ? I happen to live at the border near The Netherlands. Due to some government rules in the Netherlands on taxing personal wealth, flocks of Dutch millionaires crossed the border to settle down in the woods around the village where I live (disrupting our commonlifestyle, driving prices of houses, gardening, interior architecture to ridiculous heights). Most of them became millionaire in fairly 'simple' industries, such as supermarkets and retail stores, car exhausts, tires, metal scrap, or even just by being a good football coach. Not one of them is known to be the conceiver of this ONE UNIQUE BIG idea. Also, most of them are of age, retired after a full life of hard, hard work. So why loose time chasing this one everlasting, market disruptive, brilliant idea ? In my mind it's a bit like surfing. It is no use to wait for the biggest wave of the century to have the best ride of your life. At a certain point you have to paddle away from the coast and start riding what is coming at you to have some practice, some fun, and some laughs with the company around you.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

New printplant in Belgium for The Wall Street Journal Europe

After many years being printed by the Rossel Group, The Wall Street Journal Europe chose to partner up with Concentra, a modern Belgian Media Group based in Limburg. One of the first actions of the mailroom employees of Concentra was to invent a system to efficiently pack the heavy bundles destined to go to all major European airports. They mirrored the system used in bakeries to pack bread in a paper bag. Brilliant.(picture 1: ‘bread’-taking system)(picture 2: Concentra printplant)(picture 3: Concentra mailroom )

Friday, July 06, 2007

New printplant in Engeland for The Wall Street Journal Europe

The UK will be hosting the Olympic Games in 2012. A consequence of this is that the government has imposed a Compulsory Purchase Order on all industrial activity around Bow Industrial Parc (near Stratford), where our UK printplant, Newsfax, is based. This means Newsfax has to vacate their premises. They started up a brandnew site in the neighborhood of Rainham. I was fortunate to witness the first printrun of The Wall Street Journal Europe at the new printplant.(picture 1: Rainham village)(picture 2: Newsfax printplant)(picture 3: Olympic Gates )

New Design for Impactroom Blog

The Blogger platform on which the Impactroom blog has been build, launched a beta version of its technology a while ago. The old Impactroom lay-out has been crippled since. The characters in the side-bar were changing size, the width of the body shifted...it took me months to decide to change for the better. By changing to a new template I lost a lot of side bar info which will have to be added again in the weeks, months to come.The nice thing about the blogosphere is the help you can get from the blogger community. I received a lot of help of like minded bloggers, but one guy, I only know him by the name of Vin, gave me outstanding feedback and html/css tips, for free. The way he serviced me, an unknown client, is remarkable. Actually he gave me better service than any computer company I worked with in the past where I had to pay by the hour. In return I will gladly post the logo of a blog he created to help find your way in the blogosphere.