Information is Not What We’re Worried About

For the new up and coming generation (my generation) we don’t need to worry about information.  Within a few clicks you can find pretty much anything on the internet today and it’s only going to get more cluttered with, non-other than, more information.  When I was in high school we struggled to find information in the text books we were forced to read, that were outdated.  If we had a question that wasn’t in the textbook we struggled to find answers because we didn’t have tools like Google, Wikipedia, and blogs filled with hyperlinked sources.

Today I’m not worried about lack of information, I’m worried about how we filter the information that make up our opinions and views. Many trusted news sources have been known to be wrong, more and more so-called news outlets have sprung-up online, and propaganda is thrown at us almost daily.  How do you cut through the clutter?  And who do you trust?

Doubt what you read, hear and watch.

Orville Wright once said; “If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true were really true, there would be little hope of advance.“  The next time you read a stat that seems a little far fetched find the source, keep digging until you verify it’s origin.  I listen to podcasts like RadioLab and Skeptoid because I trust their sources and I believe what they tell is the truth.  I get a chuckle out of people who jump on the Zeitgeist band wagon without checking the sources to see if what Peter Joseph preaches is actually true.  One I fell for was the Global Warming fan club, which after seeing Al Gore live is difficult not to support.  I can now say I was completely wrong, want to know where I formed my opinion?  Read SuperFreakonomics then tell me what you think of global warming.

Information is not what we’re worried about, it’s the opinions formed from the vast amount of information, when using the wrong filter.  We’re all guilty of it, but we can improve, get smarter and research our opinions better.  So what is your filter?

Re-Thinking Your Music Career

I’ve been to a few local live bands that I can say have amazing talent.  You know the local ones that you’re positive they will go somewhere with their career?  But then comes the hard part. How do you get to the next level?  How do you consistently get paid for playing music? You must re-think your industry.

When you ask the majority of up and coming artists they reply, “oh we have a CD coming out soon, I sure hope you’ll buy it!”  I want to be supportive but I also want to be realistic.  I haven’t purchased a CD IN TEN YEARS!  Why are they still making CD’s?  I know there are exceptions to the rule and some CD’s still sell but have they ever thought about researching their own market before?  Ever tried to understand how others in their situation have grown their own music business? I can guarantee you it did not happen by selling CD’s.

In Chris Anderson’s book Free: The Future of a Radical New Price it explains that if the price to duplicate something is relatively free (as in a music file) then eventually it will be free. Young musicians needs to understand this and adapt accordingly. You’re going to reach exponentially more people by offering a free download than by trying to charge for a CD. The difficult part is putting monetary gain second and your fans first.

I’m not saying most artists are money hungry, they just need to understand their industry better.  They need to have a following, groupies, a tribe on their side that wants to tell the World about their music then give them to tools to do so.  Enabling this group to spread their music as well as finding innovative ways to make money not by selling CD’s is the new way to re-think your music career.

It’s been almost three years since Radiohead shook up the music scene with a “name your own price” album which turned out to be their most successful in history (including two Grammy awards).  It is difficult to compare yourself to Radiohead, but doing something innovative on a large scale is much more difficult then changing your band’s marketing strategy right now.

So, how would you market your band if you had one?

Chicken Legs: $1.19 /lb

I drove by Sobey’s today and a large magnetic sign out front said “Chicken legs, $1.19 /lb”.  It struck me as odd because I would assume that sign should entice me to come in.  I know what you’re thinking, that some people did go to Sobey’s because the sale on chicken legs, you’re probably right.  But couldn’t they come up with something better than chicken legs?

This got me thinking and led me to look up the four big grocer’s in Regina, those being Sobey’s, Safeway, Superstore, and Co-op. Click on any of these stores and it will take you to their flyer page.  All four have a sound online presence except Co-op, their flyer is in PDF form and is 5.8 Mb in size, but I guess if you’re looking up the Co-op flyer you have ten minutes to wait for it to download. Safeway is the only one on Twitter and all they tweet is feel good sayings and nothing that’s going to convince me to shop there*.

In the past people were loyal to a grocer, my Mom was a devout Superstore customer, she’d never set foot in a Safeway.  Our generation is different, we like convenience and a good deal.  I prefer Superstore over the rest because I think it is cheaper but the fact of the matter is I will go to where is most convenient.

A useful site would be a real time comparison of the deals offered by the big four, break it down, give me a reason to shop at your store.  Get on Twitter and tweet your unbelievable sale items (by unbelievable I mean the ones that will entice me to come in because you know I’m not only buying Chicken legs when I shop). I would love to check UberTwitter on my phone for deals at Sobey’s if I’m near by.

I feel this industry is behind technology wise because they have to cater to the baby-boomers who do the majority of shopping.  When the purchasing power shifts from baby-boomer to generation Y prepare for a change.  We will not only expect change to occur, we will demand it.

Have you recently thought about how your customer is/will be changing?  Or are you just putting up magnetic signs telling everyone about your chicken legs on sale?

*-Looking at Safeway’s Twitter feed I found a online promotion for a free box of Tangerines for their Twitter followers with purchase of $25 or more.  Limit 25,000 Followers 305 including myself.  Hey it’s a start!

Do You Want To Be Smarter?

I was heading to the mountains this past weekend and I didn’t want to listen to music the entire time so I was going to download some podcasts.  But where do you look for interesting podcasts?  Doing a Google  search, the seventh or eighth down the list caught my eye, none other than Seth Godin recommended a site. If he likes it I’ll probably love it.

When I first went to Radio Lab I didn’t know what to think, but if Seth liked it then I’m sure there’s something here worth listening to.  I downloaded a few FREE podcasts, put them on my iPod and never thought of it until we put it on in the car.  Wow, this was different, not your regular podcast.  They asked weird questions, provided entertaining commentary, and you learned in the short time it took to listen to them.

Listening to educational podcasts can seem quite geeky but I assure you it’s not (I keep telling myself it isn’t).  Try an audio book in the car or for you lovers of education, iTunes offers a free podcast downloading centre called iTunes U.  Here’s a list of the top 100 podcasts from the most prestigious schools in the World.

If you hate reading then listening to books and podcasts is a great option.  In the car makes sense because you were just going to listen to music anyway.  And the last one is at the gym, why not give your mind a workout while giving your body one? Boom.

How Do You Save a Neighborhood?

In Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, he talks about how New York reduced it’s crime rate by a substantial amount in the 1990’s by implementing some simple yet very powerful tactics.  One of those was to keep the Subways clean.  Based on the concept developed by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in a 1982 article titled Broken Windows, by eliminating the small offenses (such as a broken window) it is much more difficult to commit the larger more serious ones.

In January of 2007 Maclean’s magazine wrote an article titled Canada’s Worst Neighborhood which described the North Central Regina neighborhood.  Since then many changes have come about for the better but there is still much work to be done.  Here’s my thought experiment for the day, it’s now your job to let me know if it’s feasible or not.

  1. High school kids are looking for jobs
  2. Neighborhoods need work to be done but the majority of home owners can not afford to pay professionals
  3. Considering the broken window theory, if we made neighborhoods look good they would be less prone to serious crime

If someone started a non-profit organization supported by the city or donations, these low skilled laborers could learn to paint, fix fencing, basic landscaping, simple carpentry, and gardening.  Having these teams of workers going from yard to yard throughout the central area for the two summer months could help immensely in the long run.  Ensuring the work was of a certain standard these mobile work camps would provide jobs, teach teens new skills, and help our communities where they need it most.  The only thing missing is someone to start and run this program.  Thoughts?

University of the Future

In University I took Business, when I began six years ago there were mandatory courses and there are still mandatory courses.  My problem isn’t with having classes mandatory but the fact that the courses I had to take six years ago are still the same courses new students have to take today.  Recently I discovered that the Business faculty does a curriculum review every five years, in a World where information changes daily you’d think the institution that is responsible for our “brilliant” business minds would adapt.  They don’t.

Instead of complaining about how I think the University should be ran, lets start small and brain storm the first five classes any student should have to take.  As of now, in your first year of almost any degree you must take psychology, a math, english, a social science and computer science (give or take a class or two this is what first years are forced to take).  What if those were changed to a different five?  A better, more relevant five?

We go to University to get jobs in the real World, shouldn’t the real World have a say in what we learn?  How about we vote on it, alumni that are prominent leaders in the real world should have a good idea what you need to learn.  How about all the alumni from the past ten years vote, what would they pick?

Obviously this would never happen but what if the University gave up control of just five classes and let a vote take place?  I think it would make the students happy and the future employers as well.  But wait!  The administration and professors are now unhappy.  At the end of the day who is University trying to please?  The administration or the students?

Here’s my list of Classes:

Critical thinking – put into situations where students must find a solution.

Teamwork – “People” skills are valued very highly among employers but we never really focus on it.

Attitude – The most important attribute of any potential employee.

Technology – From the internet to the iphone everything they need to know about the tech world.

Giving back – At the end of most motivational books about how to get the most out of life it almost always comes back to giving back and helping the less fortunate.  If this will end up being one of the most important aspects of our lives why aren’t our “prestigious” Universities teaching more about it?

What do you think?  I know this isn’t the perfect solution but our University system is flawed and I’d like to see a change.

Please leave you comments below.