Tuesday

Four Ways to Get Customers to Open Your Emails

If you want to be a successful email marketer, it’s essential that subscribers open your messages. After all, if your audience isn’t opening your emails, it’s impossible for them to take action, such as clicking through to your website or making a purchase.
But how do you keep them opening your emails on a regular basis?
There are four primary ways:
  • Solve a problem,
  • Save them money,
  • Make them smarter, or
  • Entertain them
Here are some tips for crafting these types of successful marketing emails.

 1. Solve a problem.

If you knew that an email marketing newsletter would help solve a problem you were having, would you subscribe to it? If the sender set expectations upfront and promised that every email would lead you closer to solving that problem, you’d open those messages, wouldn’t you?
One example of a company that does this right is Quibb, a professional news site that allows people to share what they’re reading for work. It helps its subscribers solve their problems by digesting news and allowing readers to quickly catch up on what’s relevant in their industry.
Quibb’s problem-solving approach translates into an average open rate on its daily digest email that ranges between 50% and 70%. That’s significantly higher than the average marketing email open rate (in the US) of 25,6%, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

2. Save them money.

Groupon and other daily deal emails have proliferated by offering subscribers the opportunity to save money. Sure, you have to spend money to save, but it can be enticing to get 50% off a dinner at a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try or 40% off the oil change you’ve been putting off for months.
Similarly, business-to-consumer marketers often put words such as ‘free’, ‘save’, ‘sale’ or ‘free shipping’ in their subject lines. Many people — my wife included — save such emails in their inbox for the next time they’re shopping in a store or online. Then, they search their inbox for the promotional offer.
For your own marketing emails, test different types of offers. Sometimes free shipping can be more effective than a percentage discount. Other times, rand amount savings may work best. Try a subject line split test to see what resonates most with your audience.

3. Make them smarter.

Some of us embrace the ‘always be learning’ motto. To hone our skills, we read business or trade publications, or we take courses. Many marketers exploit this desire to become smarter by sending emails that promise just that.
An example is social media expert Chris Brogan’s weekly Sunday email. Brogan shares what’s on his mind with the goal of making his subscribers smarter. In a recent email with the subject line ‘The Sidewalk, The Storefront and the Back Room,’ Brogan talked about ‘touch points of opportunity’ — essentially, how your potential customers can find you. His open rates are often higher than 40%, and many of his weekly words of wisdom are shared on social networking sites, helping him attract more potential customers to his email list.
If your emails tend to be focused on selling, try mixing it up next time. Don’t sell, just inform.

4. Entertain them.

Some emails include an entertainment component to try to increase readership and sales. For example, MarketingProfs included a fun video in a blog post and email  to promote its annual B2B Forum. While it’s uncertain exactly how effective the video was in terms of open rates, MarketingProfs did sell more forum passes after the email went out.
I’ve been doing this with my weekly email for several months. The video is consistently the most clicked — and shared — link in the entire email, often resulting in more email sign ups.
It’s possible to craft an email that both entertains and saves subscribers money, or one that can both make people smarter and save them time. But most emails focus on only one of the four themes.
Take a look at your recent email marketing messages. Can you identify which of the four reasons your subscribers are reading your emails? If your answer is ‘none of the above’, you might want to reconsider your approach.
first published in entrepreneurmag


PS: Welcome to also connect with me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WillemTait or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/willemtait


3 Golden Rules of Negotiating

‘Negotiate’ comes from the Latin negotiatus, which is the past participle of negotiari, and means to carry on business. This original meaning is critical to understand because the goal of negotiating is to continue doing business by conferring with another to arrive at an agreement.

Find the sweet spot

So, scrap the notion that negotiating means lowering the price to reach an agreement. A lower price does not make for a better deal; it only makes for less margin for you and your company. Your goal is to come to an agreement about a proposal, and the way to do this is to build value in your offer.
The solution your product or service offers is the focal point of negotiations, not the price.
Here are three of my 12 golden rules, which I won’t allow myself to violate in any negotiation:

1. Always start the negotiations

You must initiate the process because whoever controls the start of the negotiations tends to control where they end. If you let the other party start negotiations, you will be constantly giving up control, often without even realising it.
For instance, when you ask someone what his project budget is, you are allowing him to start the negotiations. You will then spend your time chasing his number rather than finding the best solution. When I sit down to work out an agreement on the numbers involved in the decision, I will even interrupt to prevent the other side from controlling the starting point.

2. Always negotiate in writing

Many professional sales people make the mistake of discussing and working on the terms of an agreement without ever committing their ideas to a written agreement. But the purpose of negotiations is to arrive at a formal written agreement.
From the moment I make a proposal, I refer to a document that is being created in front of the client. It includes all the points of agreement and becomes real. Negotiating first and then having to create a document adds unnecessary time to a transaction. But if you build your written agreement as you negotiate, you are prepared to ask for a signature as the decision to buy is made.

3. Always stay cool

The negotiation table can be loaded with agendas, egos and emotions. Great negotiators know how to stay cool, providing leadership and solutions, while the rest of the room becomes insanely invested in personal agendas and useless emotions.
Crying, getting angry, name calling and blowing off steam may make you feel good, but such behaviour will not benefit you while negotiating. Use logic to negotiate and close.
first published in entrepreneurmag

7 Ways to Get the Press Coverage You Want

Over the last few years, I’ve had hundreds of conversations with people who have noticed that we are frequently in the press. They always want to know, “How do you do it?” I don’t have some special playbook, but I do have a few rules and tricks that I think are helpful.

1. Don’t pitch to the top of 

the masthead.

When pitching to journalists, too many start-ups that are new to PR try to reach out to the top writer or editor or the “face” of a publication. But you are likely wasting your time, these journalists are probably too busy to respond to or even read unsolicited pitches.
Instead, try building a relationship with the newer journalists; they are often hungry for stories and are receiving far less cold pitches. Always remember that the journalist, not the publication, is covering you – so finding the right people to share your story is critical.

2. Find out who covers your industry.

Another commonly overlooked fact is that writers are usually assigned specific “beats,” or have a focus and interest on certain topics. Take the extra time to do some research; find out which journalists cover start-ups or the industries you’re closely related with. These are the people you should be reaching out to.
Journalists receive plenty of spam from people who haven’t taken the time to find out anything about their background or coverage area – don’t be one of these people.
You can do a lot for your PR strategy simply by compiling a list of the writers who are focused on, and more importantly, genuinely interested in your space.

3. Build relationships and be authentic.

Just like any business relationship, building a solid network of people in the media is important. The closer the relationship, the more value they will provide for you in the future. Refer to your list of journalists and find new ways to engage with these people. Engage with them on Twitter, follow their work and send notes with comments showing you read their articles regularly.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a journalist write about you on their own, make sure you reach out and thank them. They are already intrigued by the work you’re doing – build on that interest and continue to share your story with them.

4. Create unique and exclusive 

opportunities.

By looking for unique ways to engage with journalists, you’ll naturally attract more (and better) press. One of my favorite techniques that we have used numerous times in the past is media dinners.
When we were launching UP Global earlier this year, we wanted to make sure that we got plenty of coverage from all the major media outlets. We organised an intimate and exclusive dinner for the media and unveiled UP Global to them first. We never asked them to write a story; we simply organised a great meal and shared some drinks with a group of people interested in what we were up to.
Unsurprisingly, every reporter wrote a story about us the next morning. Yes, 100% conversion rate. Try accomplishing that with some cold emails sent out to reporters.
Creating environments like the dinner we organised work well because they allow for more authentic storytelling to unfold and relationships built. With so many start-ups pushing to get exposure in the press, it’s inevitable that entrepreneurs must get creative and put in some extra leg work.

5. Think beyond the press release.

Journalists who cover start-ups are constantly bombarded with press releases, and those press releases get ignored most of the time.
Save yourself some time and money; forego the traditional press release and send out a personal email to one of your contacts with a short description of your update and a helpful list of contacts and resources for them in case they want to begin pursuing the story. Even better, just write a blog post about the story (you are going to anyways, right?) and give the journalist exclusive access to that before its published.
Google is a great example of a company that does not use press releases and instead focuses on blog posts and making sure the right journalists know they are releasing a “blog post” about big news.
To increase traction, I keep a curated mailing list of 100 influencers with a combined following of over 1 million people that we send our big news updates to with a simple “click to tweet” button. We see more engagement and traffic driven to our news updates (on our blog of course) just from these people than any national news coverage we have ever received.

6. Understand what’s newsworthy.

Make sure that you understand what is newsworthy and what isn’t. Founders are notorious for sending out updates and stories that no journalists care about. Too often, entrepreneurs blast journalists with emails about the addition of a new feature for an app or service.
This is not news, and unless you are the hot new startup, no one cares.

7. Getting press is just one 

way to get attention.

Remember that the media is just one distribution outlet for you to get your news out to the public. A lot has changed in the last five years with the popularity of blogs and social media.
You can gain much more traction and eyes on your story by optimising these channels for news distribution.
I’m always surprised that I don’t hear about more people empowering their early customers, advisors, investors, etc. to spread the word about news and updates from your start-up more easily.
The bottom line: Ask yourself regularly if you are wasting the time of already busy people. Don’t send out updates that aren’t news, don’t bombard journalists with press releases, and don’t send information to the wrong people.
Start applying your innovative, entrepreneurial practices to your PR strategy and you’ll save time, money, and see a lot more exposure for your start-up.
First printed in entrepreneurmag

PS: Welcome to also connect with me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WillemTait or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/willemtait

Wednesday

3 Principles of business greatness


What is exceptional?

Defining “exceptional” was a project in and of itself, but it began with one question: “How much of a difference is enough to make a difference?” What Raynor’s team ended up doing was generating something of an actuarial table for business success.
“If somebody says I am 82 years old. Is that person old or not? Well, if they live in the Northern Islands of Japan, that is early middle age because those people live forever. If they are from Tanzania, they are probably the oldest person in the country. What counts as old is a consequence of your context.”

What makes a company great?

Raynor and his team also developed a mathematical algorithm that corrected for age of business, date, amount of debt, size and industry, among other variables.
The goal of the analysis was to strip out the effects of luck and variation to come to an answer to the question: “What do managers do to make companies great?” says Raynor, who is based in Mississauga in Ontario, Canada.
After identifying 344 top performers, Raynor and his team, who officially started working on the project in 2007, looked for common traits to define how those exceptional businesses acted.
The team largely came up empty.
However, when Raynor and his team started to look at how those exceptional companies think, the principles started to become clear.

The principles of greatness

They are as follows:
1. Better before cheaper. Differentiate yourself from your competition based on quality, not price. While you may achieve some level of success undercutting your competition with cheaper prices, you will almost never become exceptional on a price-based model.
2. Revenue before cost. It will be more valuable to your company to drive your revenues higher than it will be to drive your costs lower. Cutting costs may result in some degree of success, but, most likely, your company won’t sustain an exceptional level of greatness.
3. There are no other rules. Technology, talent, markets, people – it can all change. But don’t mess with Rule 1 or Rule 2.
Exceptional companies include long-haul trucking company Heartland Express and teen clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch. The companies are all publicly traded companies, larger than the sorts of companies that many young entrepreneurs may have on their hands. But Raynor says the three rules still apply to younger, smaller companies, if with a modicum of compassion in the application.

Choose a direction, not a route

Consider the rules “a compass, rather than a map,” says Raynor. “You are lost in the forest and somebody says civilisation is North. If I hand you a compass, I have done you a favour. You still have to be creative. You can’t just walk straight north, you will bump into a tree, walk off a cliff, do whatever it is you do. And so sometimes you have got to go East, West, double back South even and really pay attention to cost for a while, but you want to make sure that over time, you are pushing your company in one direction versus another.”
Very often, new start-ups are especially cash strapped. And Raynor recognises that. But the rules of putting quality and revenue first still apply on a comparative level.
“If you want to have higher profits than your competitors, the way to do that systematically is not to have lower costs than your competitors,” he says.
Raynor cautions that this doesn’t mean businesses should put “gold-plated Aeron chairs and Godiva chocolates in all the conference rooms,” but that businesses should figure out where they are better than their competition and exploit that gap with higher prices or higher volume, not lower costs.
“It is all about your relative position. If you want to be relatively more profitable, you want to have relatively higher volume and/or relatively higher price” than your “relevant” competition, he says.
via entrepreneurmag
PS: Welcome to also connect with me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WillemTait or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/willemtait

Tuesday

How to Recognise Which Customers Are Bad for Business

Q: How can I identify the customers I should shed- the ones who suck up my time and energy in exchange for meagre returns?
A: Most business owners know in their guts that a good chunk of customers are not profitable. But in a universe in which it’s drummed into us that the customer is always right, it amounts to heresy to admit that a customer may, in fact, be wrong and should go.
It’s difficult to send any potential revenue packing, but culling the client list is worth it – it frees up resources to take better care of your best customers.
The Pareto principle, more commonly known as “the 80-20 rule,” can be applied to customer profitability. In short, it means that 20 percent of your customers likely provide 80 percent of your profits. Inversely, it says that 20 percent of your customers may be sucking up an astounding 80 percent of your direct customer costs.
The problem is that many small-business owners don’t have the tools they need to determine if one unprofitable client is worth nurturing for a big payday down the road, or if they should say, “Sorry, I can no longer work with you,” and move on. That’s why I’m here to help.

Analyse Profit By Customer

Profit equals revenue minus costs. Simple, right? To analyse customer profitability, we must assign revenue and costs to each customer. For those of you with thousands of customers, you’ll want to put them into groups.
For example, a restaurant could divvy up its patrons among the breakfast, lunch and dinner crowds; a building-supply house could group retail and wholesale customers separately.
Revenue is usually pretty easy to pull, since accounting systems can match each sale or invoice to a specific customer. Costs, however, are trickier to determine. Without burying you in the arcane world of cost accounting, I’ll lay out a simple yet effective approach.
Assign the costs of goods sold plus the direct costs of acquiring (marketing), serving (your staff’s time) and retaining (follow-up) customers to an individual or customer group.
Keep in mind that for this exercise, overhead costs are not assigned to customers. But even without including overhead, you’ll have enough information to make good decisions.
The actual number-crunching is, unfortunately, not trivial. You may need the help of an experienced analyst, controller or CFO to do the work or to set up and train your staff to periodically run the numbers themselves.
I often find that a company’s chart of accounts needs to be tweaked to get costs into the right “buckets” to make the profit analysis correct and straightforward.

The Numbers Game

With a revenue-cost number attached to each customer, you can easily identify those who are ruinously unprofitable. And now you have a choice: You can work to make them profitable- i.e., raise their prices or cut the costs associated with serving them – or get rid of them.
On the flip side, you’ve also identified customers that make up the majority of your profits. Don’t just use that information to send them a nice thank-you note; consider exactly what it is that makes them profitable.
Can you turn other customers into better ones? How can you find new customers like the most profitable ones you already have? And what do you need to do to keep them?
After running through this exercise the first time, make it a regular task (quarterly is a good frequency to shoot for). This way you can catch problems before they seriously affect your business; for example, a longtime great customer who suddenly turns into an unprofitable one. That’s one client you want to nurture, not cut.
via entrepreneurmag
PS: Welcome to also connect with me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WillemTait or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/willemtait

Wednesday

Here is the the World's Fastest Business Jet


Despite enormous odds, a small aircraft startup hopes to sell the world’s fastest business plane, one styled after a military fighter jet.
Saker Aircraft is pitching its two-seat S-1 as the only airplane able to fly business executives and playboys at just under the speed of sound. The plane will have a maximum speed of Mach 0.99 but will cruise at 0.95, or about 720 miles per hour, a good deal faster than most commercial flights. Why not Mach 1? Federal authorities prohibit supersonic flight over the U.S., because sonic booms are annoying.
The $5 million jet is supposed to appeal to executives who want to zip from Los Angeles to Chicago, or New York to Florida, in about two hours. ”That’s what we’re selling: the fastest aircraft available,” says Saker CEO Sean Gillette, a 25-year-old ex-Air Force pilot from Santa Monica, Calif., who says he has spent about $100,000 of his own savings to design the S-1. The jet’s development is estimated to cost roughly $350 million, with a delivery target date set for sometime in 2019.
The plane’s speed could prove critical for passengers in another important way: There’s no toilet on board. Nor is there a desk, table, or sofa—common amenities on business aircraft, many of which hit speeds only marginally slower than the S-1. (Cessna Aircraft’s (TXT)Citation X cruises at Mach 0.93 and carries nine passengers, although at $23 million, it’s about 4.5 times the price of the Saker.) The S-1′s lack of comforts for a gazillionaire could hinder sales, although Gillette says the airplane represents a new niche in aviation–quick flights under 1,600 nautical miles. “We know our jet is not going to be for everybody,” he said. External fuel pods will increase the plane’s range to about 2,200 miles, just under the distance for a transcontinental flight.
The S-1, which will also come with an ejection seat option, is counting on the fact that half of all business jet trips are made with one or two passengers, even with planes that can carry 10 or more people. “It’s like one person riding a bus,” says John Narraway, Saker’s marketing director.
Charlie Johnson, the former president and chief operating officer of Cessna, and a former U.S. fighter pilot, has been working with Saker as an advisor. Johnson is also the former president of Aviation Technology Group, which designed a similar aircraft called the Javelin in the early 2000s and collected 120 preorders before financing dried up; the company dissolved in 2008. He predicts that the S-1 will field at least enough orders for the company to produce 50 planes each year for a decade — provided it can find the money to proceed. Gillette says he and Johnson are talking with an investment bank, name undisclosed.
Still, if you have gobs of spare cash and want to fly fast, why not just buy an old fighter jet? That’s what theGoogle (GOOG) founders,Larry Page and Sergey Brin did in 2008, getting a Dornier Alpha Jet from Europe.Microsoft (MSFT) co-founder Paul Allen acquired a Russian MiG 29 two years ago. Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison, an avid fan of airplanes and boats, has also purchased fighter jets, according to the New York Times.
Fighter jets are relatively cheap, too: A 1980s era L-39 Albatros jet from the former Czechoslovakia can be had for under $200,000, while aged Russian MiGs are sold online for as little as $79,000, less than a high-end Audi. But Johnson says a speed demon with a fat bank account cannot buy current military hardware to fly fast, and he contends that an old fighter jet is far from safe. “The old airplanes require a lot of care and feeding. Nothing in the world is nicer than something that’s brand-new and high-performance,” he says. “When you talk to these guys who want to buy [a fighter], the wives are the ones who roll their eyes.”

Monday

7 Quick Steps How to Bake Marketing into your business


The most successful businesses bake marketing into their services.
If you have not heard the term before, baking marketing into a service (or product) means creating something, which is of so much value and interest, that people want to buy it and also tell their friends about it.

Most small business owners do the opposite

Look around you at your competitors and you will see that with few exceptions, they all seem remarkably similar. So, they try and undercut one another on prices or fees, out network one another or outspend one another on marketing. They are focusing their time and money in completely the wrong direction. They are trying to get people interested in something, which isn’t interesting. This is a costly, avoidable mistake.
That’s why I want something far better for you and your business!

Bake marketing into what you do

Today, I am going to ask you to consider doing something bold. I’m asking you to consider not changing your marketing, but changing what you market – your core services.
Why? Because you can waste years of your time trying to sell a service, which is simply not interesting enough to the marketplace. Great marketing is no substitute for an uninspiring service (or product).
Conversely, a service that is of exceptional value will often sell itself, as people are so impressed with it that they spread the word. I regularly speak with business owners who don’t need to spend a penny on advertising, because their customers and their marketplace are always recommending them.
Most small business owners use the opposite approach. Instead of inspiring people with the story behind their business, they try to motivate uninspired people to talk about them.
  • Some pay people to talk about them or offer commissions.
  • Others try to pester people into recommending them.
  • Many join networking clubs, hoping that social pressure, reciprocity or rules of membership, will get people to talk about them.
  • Some spam us with unsolicited emails – I get around 50 of those a day, from people pushing dull, uninspiring services at me.
All of those work to a degree, but you can do massively better, by shifting your focus 180 degrees!
Here’s what we know: People do not need to be pestered or pressured into recommending a GREAT service. They automatically spread the word when they encounter something exceptional. However, we must first give people something worth talking about – a story worth sharing. When we do, they can’t help themselves. They shout from the rooftops.

An alternative approach

The alternative is to bake marketing into what you do. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  1. Observe your marketplace and develop a product or service, which is based on what they want, rather than ‘just’ offering your version of what your competitors already provide.
  2. Give people a story about you or your business, which is worth sharing. This means having the courage to be different. Easier said than done, but essential if you want to attract the interest of your marketplace.
  3. Deliver a customer experience, which stands out for all the right reasons. Pull out all the stops. Leave your clients and prospective clients feelingmoved and roused by the experience of working with you, visiting you or connecting with you.
  4. Demonstrate your passion for what you do and your desire to help others. Passion stands out. Passion is infectious.
  5. Have outsiders. You can’t have insiders, without outsiders. Insiders are the people who buy from you. Insiders are the people your services are aimed at. Don’t try and be all things to all people. If you do, your story will be vague and cease to motivate people.
  6. Learn from the products and services, which you recommend. What lessons can be adapted to help you deliver something remarkable?
  7. Strive to become remarkable. It’s the only way to compel people to remark (or talk) about your service to their friends and contacts.

Just don’t fall into the trap of trying to get people inspired about an uninspiring service or product. It’s expensive, low leverage, frustrating and the least rewarding way to develop your business.
PS: Welcome to also connect with me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WillemTait or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/willemtait

Tuesday

5 Reasons Why Most Don’t Become Wealthy

“Why is it that people don’t become wealthy?”  In a country like ours, with the opportunities that we have, why is it that so few people retire financially independent?  And I eventually found the answers. Here are what I consider to be the five reasons why people don’t become wealthy.

Who Me?

First, at the top of the list, is that it never occurs to them.  The average person has grown up in a family where he has never met or known anyone who was wealthy.  He goes to school and socializes with people who are not wealthy.  He works with people who are not wealthy.  He has a reference group or a social circle outside of work who are not wealthy. He has no role models who are wealthy. If this has happened to you throughout your formative years, up to the age of twenty, you can grow up and become a fully mature adult in our society, and it may never occur to you that it’s just as possible for you to become wealthy as for anyone else.
This is why people who grow up in homes where their parents are wealthy are much more likely to become wealthy as adults then people who grew up in homes where their parents are not.  So the first reason why people don’t become wealthy is it never occurs to them that it is possible for them.  And of course, if it never occurs to them, then they never take any of the steps necessary to make it a reality.

Make a Decision!

The second reason that people don’t become wealthy is that they never decide to.  Even if a person reads a book, attends a lecture, or associates with people who are financially successful, nothing changes until he makes a decision to do something different. Even if it occurs to a person that he could become wealthy if he just did certain things in a specific way, if he doesn’t decide to take the first step, he ends up staying as he is. If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got.
The primary reason for underachievement and failure is that the great majority of people don’t decide to be successful. They never make a firm, unequivocal commitment or definite decision that they are going to become wealthy. They mean to, and they intend to, and they hope to and they’re going to, someday. They  wish and hope and pray that they will make a lot of money, but they never decide, “I am going to do it!” This decision is an essential first step to becoming financially independent.

Maybe Tomorrow

The third reason that people don’t become wealthy is procrastination.  People always have a good reason not to begin doing what they know they need to do to achieve financial independence.  It is always the wrong month, the wrong season, or the wrong year.  Business conditions in their industry are no good, or they may be too good. The market isn’t right. They may have to take a risk, or give up their security. Maybe next year.
There always seems to be a reason to procrastinate. As a result, they keep putting it off, month by month, year by year, until it’s too late.  Even if it has occurred to a person that they can become wealthy, and they have made a decision to change, procrastination will push all their plans into the indefinite future.

Pay the Price

The fourth reason that people retire poor is what economists call the inability to delay gratification.  The great majority of people have an irresistible temptation to spend every single penny they make and whatever else they can borrow or buy on credit.  If you cannot delay gratification, and discipline yourself to refrain from spending everything you make, you cannot become wealthy. If you cannot practice budgeting as a lifelong habit, it will be impossible for you to achieve financial independence. As W.Clement Stone said, “If you cannot save money, the seeds of greatness are not in you.”

Take the Long View

The fifth reason that people retire poor is perhaps as important, if not more important, than all the others. It is lack of time perspective.  In a longitudinal study conducted by Dr Edward Banfield at Harvard University in the 1950s and published in 1964 as The Unheavenly City, he studied the reasons for upward socio-economic mobility.  He wanted to know how you could predict whether an individual or a family was going to move upward one or more socio-economic groupings and be wealthier in the next generation than they were this generation.
All his research brought him to a single factor that he concluded was more accurate than any other in predicting success in America. They called it time perspective.  This was defined as the amount of time that you take into consideration when planning your day-to-day activities and when making important decisions in your life.  Time perspective referred to how far you projected into the future when you decided what you were going to do or not do in the present.
An example of long time perspective is the common habit of upper class families in England to register their children at Oxford or Cambridge as soon as the child is born, even though he or she will not be attending for eighteen or nineteen years. This is long time perspective in action.  The young couple that begins putting $50 dollars a month aside in a scholarship fund so that their newborn child can go to the college or university of his or her choice is a couple with long time perspective. They are willing to sacrifice in the short term to assure better results and outcomes in the long term. People with long time perspective almost invariably move up economically in the course of their lifetimes.
PS: Welcome to also connect with me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WillemTait or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/willemtait

Wednesday

Woolwich memorial page

One of the men behind a barbaric terror attack on the streets of London today was filmed wielding a bloodied meat cleaver and saying, “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.” Here is a couple of photos. Our thoughts are with the family of the victim. 

Please follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook #woolwich












Tuesday

Guptagate what’s that smell? Must be the name droppings



Minister Jeff Radebe on Sunday blamed “name-dropping” for the Gupta corruption scandal and said the government wanted name-dropping to be classified as a form of gross misconduct – presumably for members of the civil service. But for Radebe to blame officials for a culture of name-dropping and to rail against such a culture, is a bit like a habitual drunk blaming a culture of wine making and railing against liquor stores to excuse the fact that he killed a child while driving under the influence of liquor.
Several years ago I was involved in an argument with the principal of a high school in Polokwane. The principal had endorsed unfair discrimination against gay and lesbian learners during a school assembly (comparing homosexuality to Satanism) and I was trying to get the principal to repent and to respect the existing law. The principal was evidently an old style beneficiary of Broederbond-style affirmative action gone wrong and was clearly not the sharpest tool in the shed. He refused to acknowledge the existence of the sections of various Acts prohibiting his school from unfairly discriminating against gay and lesbian learners, choosing to repeat his own narrow-minded, racist and homophobic views as justification for his actions.
As it dawned on me that the principal lacked the basic intelligence and academic literacy required to engage in a logical and coherent debate, I am ashamed to admit I finally reverted to name-dropping. Pretending to be good friends with the then-Minister of Education, I threatened to report him to my good friend, the minister, if he did not relent.
But even this intellectually challenged man did not fall for my bluff. He knew as well as I did that I had no influence with the Minister of Education. I could drop her name a million times until her name shattered into a million bright little pieces at my feet – he would be safe in ignoring my increasingly shrill demands and threats. He knew I had no influence or power over the minister and hence that the name-dropping was nothing but an empty gesture to try to get him to do what his reactionary politics prevented him from doing.
Now, of course, the situation would have been different if I was widely known to be a friend and financial benefactor of the minister. The principal would probably have quaked in his boots if it was widely known that I were the minister’s financial benefactor and that I had been bankrolling the minister and her family. He would have jumped and done as I asked if he had thought that the minister would do anything I told her to do because I had bribed the minister. In those circumstances, not even a person as stupid as that principal would have dared to ignore my complaints. He would have been far too scared of losing his job or being transferred to Putsonderwater High School.
But because the principal correctly suspected that I would never pay bribes to a politician, because we both (probably correctly) assumed that the Minister of Education would never have taken bribes from me or anyone else, and because it was therefore highly unlikely that I had the Minister of Education in my pocket to do as I ordered her to do, that principal had no problem in ignoring my pathetic attempt at name-dropping.
The admission by Minister Radebe that “names were dropped”, is therefore telling. Using the passive voice – a classic technique of evasion – Minister Radebe on Sunday said that the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Transport and President Jacob Zuma’s names were dropped (by whom we are not told) to officials to get them to break the law.
Even if we believe Minister Radebe when he claims that no minister, nor the president, gave direct instructions to any of the officials who orchestrated this abuse of state power, the very appeal to “name-dropping” as a justification for exculpating the politicians, suggest that corruption is at the heart of this scandal. For some reason – which might or might not be linked to activities that are prohibited by the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act – all the officials miraculously believed that when the Gupta’s drop the president’s name, they better jump – after asking the Gupta’s how high they were required to jump.
The most telling and shameful aspect of Guptagate is that – even on the version of events dished up to us by the likes of Minister Radebe – the officials all believed that they had to follow the Gupta’s request or face the consequences from the president and the ministers whose names were dropped. On Radebe’s own version, then, senior officials believed that the president and his ministers were corrupt and willing to break the law and endanger South Africa’s security. On this version officials wilfully broke the law and endangered South Africa’s national security because they thought their jobs depended on fulfilling the corrupt and unlawful wishes of the President and his Ministers.
This is an extraordinary admission to make and I am not sure the minister and his colleagues have given sufficient thought to what they are admitting to. They are, in effect, telling us that the culture of corruption and bribery around the president and the government he leads is so deeply entrenched that – without even having to take instructions from the president or one of his ministers and regardless of what the actual situation might be – senior officials would break the law and endanger national security to please the Guptas, because they believed the Guptas had bribed President Zuma and could instruct him what to do.
What is equally astonishing is that Minister Radebe and his colleagues have failed to ask the obvious question that flows from this unintended admission of government entanglement with corruption: why would the officials believe that the name-dropping by the Guptas (or their underlings) of President Zuma’s name was anything but the empty threats made by any other citizen? After all, those officials would have been unimpressed if any of us ordinary citizens, who (unlike the Guptas) had not been paying off the bond on the house of one of the president’s wives and had not co-opted the president’s son as a business partner, had dropped President Zuma’s name in order to get those officials to break the law. I could drop President Zuma’s name a million times, and I would still not get a single official to allow me to land a civilian plane at Waterkloof Air Force base.
When Radebe claims that the scandal shows that name-dropping in the public service had to be classified as a form of gross misconduct, he is either demonstrating a tenuous grip on logic, or he is wilfully trying to mislead the public. Officials do not drop names. People like the Guptas drop names. They drop names because they have paid their dues and know that the officials will feel pressured by the name-dropping. They drop names because they have names in their pockets to drop. People who drop names have those names in their pockets because they are willing to pay for the privilege.
It is not the officials who are at fault. It is the business people who buy the influence of powerful politicians with offers of financial and other assistance (and the powerful politicians who allow this to happen), who are at fault. And there is no need for new legislation to deal with this problem. This kind of buying of influence that makes name-dropping effective is all outlawed by the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act. This is, not so incidentally, the very Act under which President Jacob Zuma was going to be prosecuted before charges against him were mysteriously dropped. (I guess President Zuma must have dropped his own name to get the National Prosecuting Authority conveniently to make those charges go away.)
So, dear reader, when you hear a politician bemoaning the culture of name-dropping, ask that politician whether he or she could take a lie detector test to promise that he or she had never received any financial or other benefit from any one of those rich businessmen and -women who so love to drop the names of our politicians. Then watch as that politician squirms to avoid answering your question.
Written by Pierre de Vos