Two wrongs don’t make a right

There’s a common trend with bad fast food restaurants. If the fries are stale and taste bad, you can rectify the situation by adding an extra portion of stale fries to the order. The math behind this is simple. Soggy fries taste roughly half as good as freshly cooked ones, so a double portion fixes the problem.

Of course that’s not how any of this works. The fries still taste terrible, now you just have twice was many. Some companies (read people) are rooted in a post-war like mentality where quantity is always more important than quality, where scarcity is still an issue. Pushing down prices (with quality), inability to modernize, aiming to please everyone, having an inconsistent product line and concentrating on “maximizing profits” is a surefire path to a difficult existence and extreme competition where the biggest company almost always wins.

Right the first time

Consider these firsts and their Apple counterparts:

Microsoft Tablet PC (2002) vs. iPad (2010)

Rio MP3 players (1998) vs the iPod (2001)

Napster (1999) vs iTunes (2001)

Being first to do something is great when you’re climbing a mountain, breaking records or going to space. Being first to launch a product is great only if you get it right.

 

K.I.S.S: Start with social media (website comes later)

Today (yesterday) at the Live Your Legend Helsinki meetup, I had a brief chat with someone who wanted to launch a website for their new business. I gave some general advice on using WordPress, what components your site should have and so on.

But my real advice to anyone who wants to build an online presence for a business or personal branding: start with social media. Unless you have a very specific reason and you know how to set up websites, don’t start by building a website! It’s 2017, not 1997, there’s no need to start from scratch. Social media is free, easy to use and the audience is already there. Once you gain followers and traction, you will have a clearer vision on what you actually need from a website (and an audience to share it with!). Your primary job should be concentrating on your business and promoting it, not spending hours figuring out technical problems.

Besides, it’s not like you wouldn’t create social media accounts for your business anyways. So why not start there?

PS. If you absolutely want to start with a website, start on WordPress.com. It’s easy to use, free for basic use, you can later export your website to another server and you learn how to use the most popular website and blogging platform on earth.

What’s the price of nothing?

I like pricing that has a clear connection to the associated costs. If I want to upgrade a Dropbox license from Free to Pro or Business, I understand why I have to pay. Upgrading unlocks an extra 998 gigs of space, so at least in theory, there’s a terabyte of HD space and unlimited bandwidth reserved for me. Costs money. Google Docs apps are free to use, but again, upgrading storage space costs something. Understandable.

Then there’s pricing that I’m not a big fan of, for example certain Microsoft products. Want to have 8 users instead of 4 on your server? Buy a better license. Need remote desktop on Windows 10? Buy a better license. I’m sure complex sales projections have been made to justify locking down features, but my monkey brain has a hard time accepting it. It’s like buying a V8 car and running it on 4 cylinders because you didn’t buy the ECU upgrade from Ford.

I’m not saying there aren’t costs involved in developing more features, and certainly not denying the right to use this model. But I am saying I’m not a big fan of it.

Don’t go to the gym unless you love lifting weights

I go to the gym twice a week. I’d go more often, but right now I’m strapped for time and energy. I’d probably go there almost every day if I had the chance. I don’t go there because I have to, I go there because I want to. I love the simplicity and “minimalism” that is lifting heavy things repeatedly. I love not having to worry about the weather or if my friends have time to accompany me.

Lifting weights is not for everyone but everyone seems to be for lifting weights. The number of gyms has sky rocketed in the past few years and the fitness industry is booming. Several programs run on TV where instructors take chubby couch potatoes and in six months, turn them into less chubby couch potatoes. I don’t have statistics, but I’m fairly certain that a large percentage of people who participate in these “shock” treatments eventually gain back their old habits and weight.

Have to is a sh*tty motivator. It’s a negative emotion, fueled by forced self-discipline *willpower which will eventually run out.  Want to is a state where you find time and energy, no matter what, to do the thing you love doing.

My suggestion? Pick up tennis or rock climbing or jogging or belly dancing or walking or swimming or any activity that you find motivating. Lifting weights is boring and monotonic for most people. Pick up something that you look forward to doing on a weekly basis, not something you have to do.

* Edit (18.04.2017) – Willpower was the word I was looking for when writing this, just didn’t remember it at the time.

Chinese sushi

I’m a big fan of Chinese buffet restaurants. You can pig out and eat deep fried pork as much as your belly can hold or you can eat nothing but meat and vegetables. Or maybe take a golden path between the two.

In recent years, sushi has become a stable in the Finnish food circle and the number of restaurants offering sushi has increased dramatically. Almost all Chinese buffets now also serve sushi, often in unlimited quantities. Naturally the quality of buffet sushi (which is prepared sometimes hours beforehand) isn’t usually that high. However, it’s definitely high enough for me to have stopped going into the run of the mill sushi restaurants and chains. The price of a Chinese buffet is almost always below the price of a medium-sized sushi platter and as a bonus, I never have to wait for my food to arrive.

What would make me go back to eating ‘real’ sushi? The same thing that makes me buy Ben & Jerry’s that’s somewhere between 5 to 10 times as expensive as regular ice cream: creating an outstanding product with an outstanding story. The absolute vast majority of sushi restaurants are completely mediocre in every aspect imaginable: service, food, price, tea, location, interior etc.. In the long run, mediocrity in a competitive market leads to cutting costs, shortcuts, diminishing customer flows and potentially, downfall. Businesses which do the opposite, flourish and often market only by word of mouth (the ultimate form of marketing).

Fun fact #1: When I visited Japan for the first time, I had never eaten sushi before in my life. My friend took me to a kaiten sushi restaurant and after my first bite into a wasabi-filled nigiri, I quickly resorted into eating only chicken nuggets and pieces of cake meant for kids. My taste buds have evolved since.

Fun fact #2: Some of the best, if not the best, sushi in Helsinki is made by Sushi wagocoro. I’ve never had the chance to visit, but word of mouth and a near 100% 5-star rating on Facebook are good enough for me.

Fun fact #3: My favorite Chinese buffet in Helsinki is Kuwano (formerly known as Hao King) and can be found in the same building as the Kamppi bus terminal.