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Who would learn from who?

Keeping your clients happy is key in any business. Every now and then an organisation comes up with an extremely creative way of improving things for their clients.

blog-selfie_pensioner-275x275 (1)Humanitas is a retirement home in Deventer in the Netherlands.

A retirement home is accommodation that has been designed to look after the needs of old people and whilst lots of these homes do a good job in terms of looking after their clients by way of the accommodation, food and medical support one area which is often lacking for the elderly residents is fresh communication.

In the Netherlands there is a shortage of accommodation for university students and Humanitas realised there was a nice opportunity to link the shortage of accommodation for students with the need for the elderly residents to have fresh communication.

Given that the retirement home had surplus rooms they have decided to let university students live at the retirement home free of charge. The only requirement is that they have to spend at least 30 hours per month acting as “good neighbours” to the elderly ladies and gentlemen they share the accommodation with.

Yes, the university students are being provided with free accommodation in exchange for agreeing to spend time with the pensioners who live there.

I think this is a really great idea and will benefit both the students and the pensioners.

Importantly though, will we see a sudden surge of pensioners taking selfies whilst wearing a traffic cone on their head and challenging each other to drinking games…

It’s a good idea to start walking in the office…

Do you sit at a desk when you’re at work?

If you do, how long do you spend sat there before you get up to move around?

blog-walking-in-office-275x275If you sit at your desk and work on your computer without moving around then I’ve for some unfortunate news for you because a sedentary lifestyle where you sit at your desk without moving around is bad for you.

Researchers at the University of Utah examined the health, exercise and nutrition records of over 3,000 Americans over a 3 year period and on average they spent 34 minutes sitting or lying down per hour whilst working.

Ignoring the question as to what were they doing lying down it will come as no surprise that the more time they spent on sedentary activities the more likely they were to die during the study.

Swapping sitting with standing up appeared to make no difference to the risk of death but what did make a difference was replacing 2 minutes sitting with 2 minutes of walking around

2 minutes of walking around per hour instead of sitting down reduced the risk of death by 33%.

So, the trick is to make sure you walk around for a couple of minutes an hour whilst at the office.

Of course, if those 2 minutes are spent walking to the vending machine to stock up on crisps and chocolate to eat at your desk there may not be that much of a benefit…

This is one way to lose your job…

Let’s be honest now. Have you ever played around on the Internet whilst at work?

Most of us will probably have had a quick look at websites such as Facebook or news sites but it’s worth bearing in mind that most organisations have a policy which restricts looking at non-work related websites.

dog with computer2Some people will mistakenly think that if they delete the browser history it will remove all traces of what sites have been visited but the IT savvy people amongst you will realise that the history is stored on servers.

Three judges in the UK obviously didn’t realise their browsing history would be tracked and following an investigation they were fired as they had been viewing pornographic websites on court computers.

The court cases they were presiding over obviously weren’t exciting enough and they took matters into their own hands to liven up their days by viewing adult websites on the court computers.

One of the judges who was fired was called Timothy Bowles. In a bizarre coincidence there is in fact another judge in the UK with the same name.

You have to feel sorry for the innocent one of the two.

Imagine the scene, the innocent Timothy Bowles is sat at work when word goes around amongst his colleagues that Timothy Bowles has lost his job because he was looking at porn during working hours.

A frantic clarification was issued by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office stating “that District Judge Timothy (Paul) Bowles who sat at Romford County Court and has been removed from office should not be mistaken for the High Court Chancery Master Timothy (John) Bowles. There is no connection between the two.”

So, in conclusion three judges have lost their job due to watching pornography on court computers.

There is an important lesson to be learnt from all of this and that is, if you’re going to look at pornographic websites in the office it’s best to do so using a colleague’s computer rather than your own…

James Bond – from Mexico with love.

The James Bond franchise is one of the most successful film series in the world but this success doesn’t come cheap.

It’s been reported that the producers of Spectre, the latest 007 movie, are facing a spiralling budget and the current gross budget is over $300 million which would make it one of the most expensive films ever made.

james bond in mexicoThat’s a lot of money and the producers are under pressure to cut costs to reduce the film’s budget to $250 million.

Gone are the days of relying on the revenue from cinema tickets and DVD sales to cover the costs. Film companies are looking at ever inventive ways of generating revenue.

One idea which has been around for a while is that of product placement. This is where a company pays to have its product on prominent display in the film.

We’ve blogged elsewhere about Heineken paying to have their beer placed in the previous Bond movie but the latest Bond movie has taken that a step further and instead of simple “product placement” it has now got “country placement”.

It’s been reported that Mexican officials are paying the Bond producers up to $20 million to portray a positive image of Mexico in the film.

$14 million will be for filming approximately 4 minutes of footage in Mexico in the opening scenes and $6 million will be paid for the producers highlighting the skyline and modern features of Mexico City.

The idea behind the payment is that it would be a great showcase for the country’s tourism industry. After all, James Bond rushing around in some fantastic scenery should be a great advert for the country.

They also went further in promoting the country as the agreement included a Mexican actress being cast in a leading role. It was recently announced that Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman has joined the cast of Spectre as Bond girl Estrella.

Whilst $20 million is a lot of money, in my mind it seems pretty good value for the Mexican tourist board. They will have stunning shots of Mexico included in the film and the film itself is going to be shown worldwide.

Mexico’s famous tequila drink though won’t be featured in the film as Mr Bond will be drinking sponsored vodka in his vodka martinis (shaken not stirred) as Polish Spirit maker Belvedere has signed a multi-million pound deal to product place Belvedere Vodka in the film.

Would you have refused to accept this?

Let’s be honest here. Would you have done what Rick Holley did?

Who is Rick Holley I hear you say?

ethics in businessMr Holley is head of Seattle based Plum Creek Timber, a company that manages forest land as well as energy and mineral extraction, and he did something which is extremely unusual.

He was awarded a bonus worth $1.85 million but he refused to accept it as he didn’t feel comfortable accepting the bonus.

According to the terms of his contract he was entitled to receive the bonus but he wasn’t comfortable accepting the bonus as he felt it wasn’t the right thing to do given that the shareholders returns in the company were down 10%. He stated that the results of the company he was running didn’t show the strong performance he believed was deserving of a bonus.

I can’t imagine many other people refusing to accept a bonus worth $1.85 million.

Cynics may point to the fact that he still received over $8 million in remuneration during the year but even so it’s an honourable thing for him to do and I’m sure the vast majority of the stakeholders were impressed by his actions.

Now, hands up who else would refuse a bonus of $1.85 million?

Will you meet your future partner at a segmentation event?

Online dating sites are big business.

Years ago you would more than likely have met your future partner face to face at some social event whereas nowadays there is a high chance that you’ll meet your future husband or wife on the internet.

anonymous_coupleThe online dating industry is also great at segmenting the market. In addition to the more mainstream sites such as match.com and friendfinder.com there are more niche dating sites out there including for example:

tallfriends.com – where as the name suggests, you can meet tall people;

farmersonly.com – to meet people that work in the farming industry;

meetingmillionaires.com – where yes, they do check your wealth when you join up, and

womenbehindbars.com – where you can meet women that are currently in jail (this has the added advantage of not having to pay for an expensive meal on your first date).

One particular dating site in America called Positive Singles has been in the news for the wrong reasons recently.

The market segment that it is aiming for is people who have sexually transmitted infections and who want to meet potential partners who have the same infections.

Understandably, people who sign up to the site are keen to keep their situation confidential and don’t want their details made public. Unfortunately for some of the members of the site their images and certain information were made public by Successful Match, the company that ran PositiveSingles.com.

The end result was that some of these individuals took the company to court claiming that they were misled about their privacy when they joined the site and a jury has just ordered the dating company to pay $1.5m in compensation and $15m in damages to one particular individual.

So in summary, from a business point of view the company was pretty good at segmentation techniques but not very good about maintaining privacy policies.

And whilst the one gentleman that complained about his details being released was no doubt very upset, hopefully the $16.5m he received as a result of the breech of confidentiality is making it easier for him to find a girlfriend and in fact he may well be switching from the positivesingles.com site to the meetingmillionaires.com site.

This is how not to cheat in the exams…

Passing professional exams is a tough exercise. You’ll only pass them if you work hard and put in the hours of studying that are required.

Occasionally people will no doubt try to cheat and maybe try to grab a quick glance over at the person next to them to see what they are writing. The advice is simple. Don’t do it and instead focus on preparing properly in the first place.

Ok, speech over with and now let’s look at the husband of Finland’s president who if I’m honest would be rubbish at trying to sneak a look at the answers of the person next to him.

Mr Arajarv is married to the President of Finland and together with his wife was recently attending an official function where he was sat next to Princess Mary of Denmark.

Now frisky Mr Arajarv didn’t try to have a sneaky look at Princess Mary’s exam paper. No, he tried to look at something more… how can I say it… but more personal.

Alas for Mr Arajarv his attempts to grab a quick look at Princess Mary’s “exam scripts” were spotted by the Princess and his attempts to look innocently at the ceiling afterwards are hilarious or pathetic depending on your point of view.

Unfortunately for Mr Arajarv (but fortunately for all of us) his performance was caught on TV and can be seen below.

Don’t worry, he’s ok. In fact he’s more than ok as he…

A few years ago if a company wanted to advertise their products they mainly used the traditional media methods of TV, radio and print.

Nowadays the world is awash with viral marketing and social media promotion.

Although the main delivery methods used in advertising have no doubt faced rapid change I would argue that the basic technique of getting peoples attention and keeping it until the message is delivered in a memorable way is still key.

The “advert” below is in my opinion a great example of how advertising should be done.

It’s suitable for TV but importantly it’s also got the viral marketing angle to it as it’s great for viewing on computers (and of course pausing and replaying it).

What’s nice about it is that in less than one and half minutes it covers a range of human emotions. There are also no words spoken and the only text comes up at the end.

It also highlights the power of music in advertising. Three well known songs were used so there was no need to specially commission some song writing.

If you watch the advert without the music it has a far lower impact.

Have a look (and listen) and see what you think.

Oh and in case you get concerned mid way through don’t worry as it’s got a happy ending.

The interesting thing about this though is that it’s actually a fake advert. It was created by filmmaker John Nolan to showcase his animatronics skills.

John is clearly a creative genius when it comes to animatronics film making and I’m sure the big cheese companies would love to have somebody with his skills working for them.

It’s not a Lamborghini it’s a Volkswagen…

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When it comes to cars, things used to be simple. Most brands were known for a certain type of car.

For example, Mercedes produced luxury limousine cars, Porsche produced sports cars, Toyota produced mid range cars and Land Rover made 4×4 off road cars.

But that was a while ago and things have changed dramatically within the car industry.

The famous Maserati sports car brand for example is working on the Maserati Kubang and as the photo shows it’s clearly not a low slung sports car.

It’s a 4×4 off-roader and whilst there’s a good chance that the only time it will actually go off road is when the owner parks on the pavement it’s definitely more 4×4 than sportscar.

So why the introduction of the new product? (For those of you studying the various strategy papers then why the product development in Ansoff’s Matrix?)

Well it seems that they are hoping to follow in the footsteps of Porsche whose off road Cayenne model has proved to be a best seller.

As well as introducing new types of cars the car industry has also seen a number of major conglomerates appear with some serious car brands within them.

When people used to talk about Volkswagen for example they were generally referring to the ubiquitous VW golf but the Volkswagen Group is now home to far more cars than VW cars.

The VW Group with its headquarters in Germany is the largest carmaker in Europe and nearly one in four new cars bought in Europe are VW Group cars.

So does this mean that 25% of the new cars have VW badges on them?

Far from it in fact as the following car brands are all part of the Volkswagen Group:

Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Scania, SEAT, Skoda and of course Volkswagen.

So all of the above car makes are in fact part of the VW group.

Now if you’re an executive working for the VW Group and were offered a company car which one would you choose.

Now let me think.

Bugatti or Lamborghini. Which one would I go for…

ACCA or CIMA? …or MICE?

ACCA and CIMA are two of the leading professional bodies and as providers of some of the best finance and business qualifications in the world they have ethics at their core.

If you take a step back though, they are arguably in competition with each other and here’s an important question:

Have they been ethical in their approach to competing with each other?

In my opinion the answer is a resounding yes, and it’s a good example of how competition can and should be undertaken ethically.

Ethical competitive approaches include for example focussing on your strengths rather than deliberately trying to harm or damage your competitors.

If you’re looking for the other extreme though and want an example of how to compete unethically then head over to Philadelphia in America.

Nickolas Galiatsatos, the owner of Nina’s Bella Pizzeria in Philadelphia came up with an extremely unusual and completely unethical approach to winning business from his competitors.

Mr Galiatsatos was spotted by the owner of Verona Pizza, a competing restaurant, heading to the toilet of the competitor restaurant carrying a full plastic bag but then emerged a couple of minutes later minus the bag.

Doing nothing to dispel the stereotypical view of US policemen spending a lot of time at Donut bars and Pizza restaurants, there just happened to be two policemen sat in the restaurant eating pizza at that time.

Further investigation by the police found a number of mice in and around the empty bag in the toilet and when they headed out of the restaurant to find Mr Galiatsatos they found him depositing some more mice around the back of another nearby restaurant.

Mr Galiatsatos has now been charged with criminal mischief, harassment and disorderly conduct as well as cruelty to animals.

Importantly therefore if you’re thinking of ways to get ahead of your competitors please don’t involve bags of mice…