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.

The Cute Teller

Ever go to the grocery store and someone goes out of his or her way to help you?  Your favorite pub has that one server that is simply amazing paired with that irresistible smile?  Finally, does your bank have a cute teller?

These perceived small aspects of your business have a much larger positive affect than you think.  The three examples above all have something in common; they make the customer happy.  A happy customer is a repeat customer and an ambassador for your brand.  Think about it, if you like a server at a certain restaurant chances are you will return, why?  Because they made you feel great and that’s worth talking about, the definition of being remarkable.

This doesn’t happen regularly and it’s difficult to ask out of your staff but you can encourage it.  When someone goes above and beyond to help someone, show then that you appreciate it.  Encourage your staff to pay attention to detail, after all they don’t have to dress as nice as they do, do they?  There will always be some people who leverage their own assets to create a positive affect on their organization, it’s up to you to spot those people and do whatever you can to keep them, after all, they are your brand.

Why Twitter?

@JohncMayer: That cat from the “hang in there” poster just died. Makes a man just wanna give up.

11:33 PM Oct 15th from Twittelator

Twitter’s worth taking a look at just to hear what John Mayer has to say, yes it’s really him and he’s one of the funniest on Twitter (the “tweet” above is my personal favorite).

Twitter, the overnight sensation is quickly becoming the most popular social media platform out there.  I am sure many people still see it as a waste of time, and it can be, but it can also be a very useful tool.  Twitter is the fastest method of transportation for information.  Every “twitterer” wants to be the best and the best, tweet the most interesting, helpful stories or links the fastest.  So the most popular people on Twitter are the people with the best tweets, you get the picture?

To get you started on Twitter I have compiled a list of the people you should follow.  These are the people I interact with most often.  Set up an account and start following this list, it’ll sure bring some amusement to your day, also don’t forget to follow @FraserStrategy 😉

Funny tweeps

@johncmayer @TheOnion @shitmydadsays @danecook

Great Tweeters

@unmarketing @GuyKawasaki @jowyang @barrymoltz @chrisbrogan @IncMagazine @bcuban @MackCollier @freakonomics @tonyrobbins @jeffpulver @HubSpot @fastcompany @Mashable @freakonomics

News

@Reuters @HarvardBiz @OPENForum @nytimes

Local Organizations

@Squareflo @SaskSecrets @codaclothing @22Fresh @LivingSkyMedia

Local People

@AHiddy @Derekwu @dannicholls @KiriakoRegina @mcfarljo @kdeanglobal @Tylerwilox @greened @SeanStefan @brandon_wu @rayderge @ChelseaStulberg @JayNauta @Di_Stasi @lisemerle

Regina Agency’s

@AdsparkComm @TheBurningBird @Bravo_Tango @browncomm @LookMatters

I apologize if I’ve missed any big names, please comment below for others that you’d recommend following.

Tell Me a Story

If you want to get your point across tell me a story.  Stories, fable and urban legends have all been around for years for a reason, they are easy to remember.  History’s told in stories; our ancestors told parables to pass on knowledge.  Think about how a chilling urban legend will be remembered for years, how does this happen?  It’s a story.

When we’re told a story we actually go through a metal simulation in our minds, this is why it is much easier to remember than random fact, it’s like we’re actually there.  From Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made to Stick it says this; “Why does mental stimulation work?  It works because we can’t imagine events or sequences without evoking the same modules of the brain that are evoked in real physical activity”.

Our minds have a difficult time piecing random fact together, but put in our minds a vivid picture of the story you are telling and we can recite it almost word for word as if we were there.  So if you are an educator, manager, or anyone that needs to make a point stick in some ones mind (which we all should be striving for) develop your idea into a story, you’ll have a much better chance of the intended remembering it.

The Digital Billboard Formula

Have you noticed an increasing trend in your city with these digital billboards?  Animation on an illuminated sign offering state of the art advertising, sounds like the future doesn’t it?  Hardly.  If you haven’t noticed, these signs are popping up all over the place, a friend and I counted off the top of our heads how many there are in Regina, sixteen. (to see them all click here) sixteen billboards all claiming to offer thousands of “views” per day depending on the location.

With the city being saturated with these digital boards paired with the difficulty to measure their effectiveness, paying clients to fill the spots are becoming sparse.  So who’s advertising on these boards?  The surrounding businesses.  Count the next time you’re at a red light how many ads show up that are for business in the vicinity of the sign.  It’s astounding.

So if the sign owners aren’t making the money and it’s still not a good medium for your company to buy time on, who wins?  Obviously the sign manufacturer’s stock is rising.

Now I would hate to complain about this phenomenon without offering a solution.  If you still want one of these signs we put together the perfect formula.  If you’re going to buy one ensure you put it up in the area with the most businesses around.  Find the part of your city that is saturated with businesses and put up a digital board, that way you will ensure getting the most out of the sign.

For more information on why I don’t like this as a medium read Martin Lindstrom’s Buy-ology.