Sunday, December 26, 2010

Are you GOOD or FLEXIBLE ?


A few days ago, I had a conversation with a client. It went something like this:

Client: I want this and this and that, and I want it for yesterday. I don't care if you have to work nights and week ends, I'm the client, I'm paying you and I'm always right.

Me: I hear you. I will do everything I can to give you the best possible product at a decent price in the shortest time possible; but it will not be exactly as you say because: 1) You're late 2) You do not have the budget and 3) We have other good clients in the pipeline and the word I gave them is worth more than any money you can put on the table.

Client: You're not very flexible.

Me: No we're not. But we're very good instead.

Client: And you're cocky as well.

Me: No, not cocky; honest.

Client: What you're saying is that you are walking out of this deal.

Me: Not exactly. What I am saying is that we will walk out of any deal that will prevent us to deliver top quality.


I am in the service business and I have a variation of this conversation at least once a week.

People are always surprised when a business refuses money, even when the rest of the deal is crappy. For them, it just doesn't make sense. When you think short term, this way of thinking is just impossible.

When you think long term however, it is the only way to go.

FLEXIBLE Business will always:

- say YES
- promise whatever is asked of them
- over-promise and under-deliver
- accept money, regardless of what is attached to it
- bend their own rules and principles

By so doing:

- they will please the client in the short run, but disappoint him in the long run
- burn their staff and lose the respect of their team
- this will lead to high turnover with the added costs, lower morale and other problems that come along with it
- their best people will leave for better (GOOD) companies
- in the end, only the mediocre, insecure and newbies will remain

The more FLEXIBLE they'll be, the more they'll need to be, because by being FLEXIBLE, they will create conditions where is is impossible to be good.

On the other hand, GOOD companies will do just the opposite. By choosing their projects well, they might lose some money short term, but over time they will excel and establish a stellar track record. And by so doing, they will gain the respect of their staff and attract superstars into their team. They will never neglect an established client to accommodate a new one in a hurry. They will also get good client referrals because they will very rarely disappoint their clients. Their word will become more valuable than all the money they will have left on the table.

By refusing jobs where they cannot excel, they'll become better and better. Their portfolio and referrals will attract other interesting customers looking for a GOOD business partner rather than a FLEXIBLE one. And these are the best and most profitable clients a business can have.

You see, it's Pareto's principle all over again: 80% of your profits comes from 20% of your clients. And that's the 20% of very good clients that never complains. On the other hand, 80% of your problems comes from 20% of your clients. These are the ones that are never satisfied, that want you to be more FLEXIBLE.

Be careful not to neglect your good (and quiet) clients to please the vocal ones asking you to be more FLEXIBLE.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

What Exactly are the World Bank and the IMF doing?

The income ratio of the one-fifth of the world’s population in the wealthiest countries to the one fifth in the poorest countries went from 30 to 1 in 1960 to 74 to 1 in 1995. And the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for the International Development, the IMF, and the rest of the banks, corporations and governments involved in international “aid” continue to tell us that they are doing their jobs, that progress has been made.” – John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Luck Is Yesterday

I was not a big fan of Josh Hartnett until I saw Lucky Number Slevin. Great acting, great movie.

But that's not the point for today. It's Christmas after all.

The point is in a quote by one of the characters in the movie - The Rabbi:

The unlucky are nothing more than a frame of reference for the lucky. You are unlucky, so I may know that I am not. Unfortunately the lucky never realizes they are lucky until it's too late. Take yourself for instance; yesterday you were better off than you are off today but it took today for you to realize it. But today has arrived and it's too late. You see? People are never happy with what they have. They want what they had, or what someone else has.

Besides the fact that I'm happy to deliver a Christmas message though a Rabbi, I just wanted to remind you of how lucky you probably are.

On this Christmas day, there are children in hospitals, hungry families, war torn countries and the World is unfortunately full of unhappy and unlucky people.

If, like me, you happen to be among the lucky few, take some time to appreciate and enjoy your luck and, if possible, by all means, try to share it around.

Merry Christmas to you all.

- JM

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The End of the Road

I love to drive and am a big fan of road trips.

In December 2001, I drove with my father all the way from Montreal (PQ) to Los Angeles (CA) and back: 11200 km (7000 miles) in 11 days.

In May 2002, with my best buddy Sylvain "Rob" Robillard, during a long week end, we drove from Montreal (PQ) to New Orleans (LA) and back to visit a friend: 6000 km (3750 miles) in 4 days. Including 2 days of party on Bourbon Street.

In 21 years of driving, I had the opportunity to drive (from Montreal, PQ) to the Eastern End of the road (Mingan Archipelago, PQ), the Western End of the Road (Pacific Ocean) and the Southern End of the road (somewhere in the Louisiana Bayou).

The Northern End was missing in my book.

In the same vicinity, I also wanted to visit the mighty LG2 dam, the world's largest underwater power generating station.

So last June, along with my friend Pat, his 4 month old pup Xena, his white FJ Cruiser and red Zodiac boat, we drove from Montreal to Radisson (PQ) and even a little further north to the exact end of the road.

From Montreal, it is a 1400 km (875 miles) drive. When you reach Matagami (800km from Montreal), you have to register before driving futher on the James Bay road. From here it's 650km to the end of the road (Radisson) and there's only one solitary gas station (at the 350 km mark). In an entire day of driving between Matagami and Radisson, we saw a grand total of 5 cars on the road. And this, mind you, was at the height of the high season.

Upon arriving, we visited Hydro Québec dams (LG1 & LG2), the Cree village of Chisasibi (pop. 4000), Radisson (pop. 343) where black bears and wolves roam the streets, the cold shores of James Bay and last but not least, navigated the immense Robert Bourassa Reservoir (1095 sq miles, 3 times the size of Lac St-Jean).

We found an unnamed island we nicknamed Peter Island and camped in total solitude, with only the stars as companions.

This far North (53rd parallel), in early June, sunrise is before 5 AM and sunset around 11 PM so we had plenty of light to take a few pictures.

WikiLeaks - The documentary

I was chatting with Twist Image's president Mitch Joel last year at a Longboard event where he was presenting his new (and very interesting by the way) book Six Pixels of Separation.

It is always fascinating to listen to what Mitch Joel has to say and there are good reasons why he's one of the most prominent Internet Gurus in the World. That day, he told me something that stuck with me.

It ran along the lines: "We're seeing a major change all over the World, this is history shifting. We just can't see it because we are right in the middle of it, but 20 years from now, we'll look back and say: I was there when it happened."

Well, one of these shift has gained momentum in the public's eye and it's Wikileaks and its controversial president Julian Assange.

Here's a short documentary relating Wikileak's rise to fame. Well worth the watch.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The 6th Continent

There is a patch of floating garbage in the North Pacific.

It is twice the size of Texas.

It is so large, it has been dubbed the 6th Continent.

It is not a pretty sight and it is killing the ocean.

One of the major causes is people drinking water from plastic bottles.

In the US alone, 173 589 041 plastic bottles are dumped in the oceans every day.

Yest, you read it right, over 173 million plastic bottles, every day.

Please, stop drinking from disposable plastic bottles and switch to reusable bottles.

It will save you money and give the oceans a chance.


I know some of you will think: We all know this, this is old stuff. Come on man, we're in 2011.

I know, I know.

Yet, everyday, I see decent, educated, wealthy professionals using plastic bottles and I'm wondering at how disconnected from reality they can be.

If you already know how bad drinking water from plastic bottles is, go and tell all your friends. I bet some of them haven't heard the Gospel yet.

Skills vs Fame