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Interesting Perspective on the Psychology of Client Management

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 In the 1950s, the Betty Crocker brand (General Mills) launched a line of cake mixes. They believed it was revolutionary because they converted all of the ingredients to dry, powdered form which when added with water resulted in perfect cake/brownies.  

However, when they launched the product was a complete failure. The company could not understand it.  Then, General Mills brought in a bunch of behavioral psychologists to understand why this was happening.  They learned that Customers believed they didn’t do enough to earn the perfect cake/brownie. 

General Mills did the unthinkable then – they pulled out the milk and eggs out of the powder, so that customers had to physically mix those items in.  The product became a raging success.  

Sometimes you just need to give the customer a little to do so that they feel fulfilled and involved in the process. 

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Written by Sid Shah

February 27, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Posted in Business

Apply lessons you read to your life, don’t just read

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I remember reading or hearing something Warren Buffet did in a negotiation where he wrote to the company that he was buying, and asked ‘is this your best offer?’.   This was a large equity transaction and his objective was to shave cents off of the share price.  With that very simple statement, the company ended up reducing the share price by a few cents as Buffet predicted.  They were scared that he is going to take his money elsewhere.  His tactic worked.

I applied the same tactic to a negotiation I was conducting in China last year when I was a buyer for marketing agency services.  After I spent time negotiating with three different agencies on fees/retainer, I wrote to each CEO and said that I was going to make a decision on Friday and if what they proposed was their best offer.  I literally had multiple new proposals over the week, with one agency lowering their costs by almost 50%.

Remember, when you read these lessons from these great business and life figures, think about how to apply them in your life based on your own style of doing things.  I like to jot down tactics that I read and then write down where in my life I can apply them.  Once you apply the tactic 2 or 3 times, it becomes part of the way you do business.

Written by Sid Shah

February 9, 2016 at 7:34 pm

Posted in Business

Being Present – One of my key personal goals

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I spent much of 2015 launching a business in China, as a result I spent a lot of time there, and when I wasn’t there it felt like I was always on email, we chat, conference calls.  One of the things I realized and people made me realize was that even when I was in person, I wasn’t present.  I really started realizing this when I starting forgetting important moments that I was a part of – which told me that while I might have been there physically, my mind was somewhere else.  Around the same time I realize this was becoming a problem, I also noticed an increase used of social media and other apps on my smart phone.  It almost become a routine, a part of my life.  I remember one time I was home with my son, after being gone for about a week, and after playing for about 20-30 minutes, I reached for my phone and mindlessly went on twitter.  At that moment, I realized there is nothing in the world that was as important as being present at that moment with my son.  I spent a lot of time researching this and spoke to a lot of my friends and colleagues and realized it was a pretty rampant problem.  There is a ton of information out there, but ultimately it is about what is right for you, your lifestyle, and how you aspire to live.
Here are the changes I made which really worked for me.  I feel more in control of my life and attention span, and genuinely feel happier.  I didn’t do this all at once, but over a few months as I was monitoring my own behavior and analyzing the pros/cons and benefits.
1. Deleted my facebook account – I was spending a lot of time on Facebook during moments of idle time…taxi rides, airports, etc..I realized it was creating a lot of subconscious noise in my head about a lot of people who were really no longer in my life.  If they were in my life, they would be in my life.  I know it seems slightly drastic, my friends freaked out, but after a month it was fine.  As a result, I only thought of the people who were in my life and I wanted to keep in touch with.  I have done better with actively keeping in touch with people, and actually email/phone more, but it will always feel like a WIP.  I certainly am missing out in keeping in touch with people and seeing certain updates and pictures, but overall it is been one of the better decisions I have made.  If you don’t want to be as extreme as this, another thing a few of my friends have done is to delete the app off of their phone, so they can only access when they are on a computer
2. Deleted twitter off of my phone – I like twitter a lot, and get a lot of my news, info, articles, etc., but I was going on twitter a LOT, almost in a mindless way.  I still go on twitter, but only when I am on my computer.  I do miss it a bit, but I see how much more present I am in those idle moments, when I could be thinking or relaxing, instead of mindlessly going online to look at something I probably wasn’t even paying that much attention to in the first place
3. Keep my phone in my pocket during meals w/ people – This is a no-brainer, but difficult to execute.  I see it around me all the time, and it is annoying.  When I go to meals with people I would hope that we could spend the time together, and I realized I wasn’t doing that.  My sister and wife brought this up a lot, first it was annoying to them, then they said it was flat out dis-respectful.  I would give myself a B right now, but I am getting there.  This is a really easy fix, just put your phone in your pocket and don’t look at it tip you are done.  Nothing that important is going to happen in that one hour meal, and if you are making plans to eat with people, then eat with people.
4. Phone out of bedroom at night (this is a WIP) – This is something I am vey excited about, and working on.  Unfortunately, phones have everything – music, alarms, books, etc…so I had to unwrap all of that out of my phone and take it back to the old school — alarm clock, magazines or kindle (funny that this is old school).  I believe this and next point are the key, if you can close your day off without being on your phone and wake up without looking at your phone, you have won 80% of the battle, and can at least have some important time to yourself.
5. Don’t look at phone first thing in the morning (dependent on #4) – This is tough, but I am very much focusing on this.  Starting the day without looking at social media, emails, etc…I usually like to go for a run, so to control what I look at is the key.  I like to listen to podcasts when I run, and that is what I do, then when I am done and hydrating, I will look at emails.  I am trying to get the point where my whole morning from work out to breakfast is without any kind of social media or email.
Thats it — this has helped me a lot, I feel better, lighter, and more in control.  I feel pro-active, not re-active. Just like anything you are trying to give up, it is difficult…but the good thing is you can try a one thing at a time….
Would love to hear anything that you might do

Written by Sid Shah

January 14, 2016 at 9:57 pm

Posted in Business, People

Tagged with ,

Good advice from Ashton Kutcher

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This was probably not the right forum for Ashton to give this kind of advice (Teen Choice Awards), although this was the audience he needed to give it to.  I am a fan of Ashton, he doesn’t care what people think, and constantly is re-inventing himself and ahead of the wheel (atleast from a business perspective).  Anyways, I think this was really good advice that I hope the kids listening although it probably went in one ear and out of the other.

Written by Sid Shah

August 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Books I read and recommend in 2012

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One of the reasons I love the Kindle app is because I can easily see what books I read and when. Looking at the themes this year, it was apparent I was heavily into WWII, Big Hollywood Entertainment, the World Economy, Mafia, and Spy stories (fiction and non-fiction).

All of them were pretty good books. I gave a little commentary if they were exceptional.

Trying to go from most recent by category:

Non-Fiction:

  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and hope in a Mumbai slum – Katherine Boo
  • Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World – Michael Lewis (Amazing explanation of what went wrong in Greece, Iceland, Ireland, and US municipalities.  A very easy read that sums up very complicated problems in a very simple way)
  • Confidential: The Life and Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon – Joseph Gelman, Meir Doron (Crazy book about an ex-Mossad spy who was responsible for arming Israel with the nuclear bomb who turned out to be one of the biggest Hollywood movie producers)
  • Disney War: James Stewart (This extremely long book reads like a fiction that you will not be able to put down.  If you like Hollywood, dealmakers, big deals, and the movie business – this is a must read)
  • Dongri to Dubai: Six Decades of the Mumbai Mafia – Hussain Zaidi
  • The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA – Antonio Mendez (great story of a real CIA spy and how he was involved in things that have become popular stories and movies now)
  • Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America’s Hidden Power Brokers – Gus Russo
  • The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called Dreamworks – Nicole LaPorte (Another great, behind-the-scenes looks at some of Hollywood’s biggest figures and what really happens when egos, money, and pride get in the way)
  • Seven Days from Sunday – M.H. Sargent
  • Churchill – Paul Johnson (probably the best biography of Churchill)
  • Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con – Matt Taibbi

Fiction (I am a huge fan of Ken Follet and Leon Uris, and love history based fiction, primarily in WWII, so didn’t give individual comments):

  • The Tehran Initiative – Joel Rosenberg
  • Berlin Noir – Phillip Kerr
  • Morning Spy, Evening Spy – Colin Mackinnon
  • The Last Supper (Paul Christopher) – Charles McCarry
  • The Old Boys – Charles McCarry
  • Tears of Autumn – Charles McCarry
  • Lie Down with Lions – Ken Follet
  • Jackdraws – Ken Follet
  • Eye of the Needle – Ken Follet
  • The Key to Rebecca – Ken Follet
  • The Cardinal of the Kremlin (Jack Ryan) – Tom Clancy
  • Triple – Ken Follet
  • Red Storm Rising – Tom Clancy
  • War and Remembrance – Herman Wouk
  • Topaz – Leon Uris
  • Mila 18 – Leon Uris
  • Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin – Leon Uris

Business:

  • Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands (great read if you are into big brands and the evolution of how a brand can go from a commodity to a lovemark)
  • Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space – Chan Kim, Renee Maubornge (one of my favorite all-time business books, a must-read if you are an entrepreneur)
  • The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership

Would love to hear if you picked up any of the books I recommend….

Stock performances of recent tech IPOs

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I wonder if people thought this was going to end any different? I understand the banks and underwriters made their money, but the public? Remember the rule during the dot com era in the late 90’s….if your dentist or butcher is talking about something, it is time to get out.

(note: I lifted this from Johnnie Manzari’s twitter feed)

Written by Sid Shah

August 25, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Posted in Business

Tagged with ,

YES FINALLY! Dark Side of the Rainbow (Pink Floyd) + Wizard of Oz on Youtube

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I remember doing or attempting to do this in college, and it never really worked to my satisfaction, and if you tried – you know why. Finally, somebody has done the whole movie to the Pink Floyd track. Now that I have Apple TV and can mirror youtube from my iPad on my TV….game time. While it might not be completely consistent the whole movie, there are certain scenes that are bang on…thats when the mental trip starts….

Check it here:

Written by Sid Shah

July 30, 2012 at 11:28 pm