Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Trader Joe's Business Secret Recipe

Great article on Trader Joe's Business philosophy and history. (Saw it on Yahoo)

Some take aways from the article:

>> Strike a balance between choice and customer experience
"Swapping selection for value turns out not to be much of a tradeoff. Customers may think they want variety, but in reality too many options can lead to shopping paralysis. "People are worried they'll regret the choice they made," says Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore professor and author of The Paradox of Choice. "People don't want to feel they made a mistake." Studies have found that buyers enjoy purchases more if they know the pool of options isn't quite so large. Trader Joe's organic creamy unsalted peanut butter will be more satisfying if there are only nine other peanut butters a shopper might have purchased instead of 39. Having a wide selection may help get customers in the store, but it won't increase the chances they'll buy. Read More Learn More about Choice - Go to blog post "Insight into choice"
>> Value pricing of product matters even if its the hottest trend

The success at Trader Joe's validates the behavior economics idea about "The Compromise Effect" - Customers rejecting the idea of shopping at higher priced Whole foods (and other gourmet retailers) or the lower priced Walmart products but end up finding value at Trader Joe Read More

>> Employee help in customer experience - take care of your employee
"An employee, noticing that he has his arms full, brings him a basket. At the register the perky cashier offers up that the mango sorbet Flickinger has selected is on her top 10 list of favorite Trader Joe's items.Read More
>> Manage and be deliberately careful in growth plan

Grow only after you worked out your supply chain issues and more importantly grow only after you can keep delivering the same customer experience that made you what you are. Read More

Friday, August 20, 2010

CNBC's 10 Best Business Books 2010 Summer

Watch The slide Show on CNBC - The 10 Best Business Books

To read more detail review on business books visit Gloria McDonough-Taub CNBC.com blog, "Bullish On Books"

Google at 6 - What do analysts have to say about that

Here in an article in Yahoo Finance via cnbc
Remember that old saying from the 1920s retailer, John Wanamaker? He knew half his ad budget was wasted, now if only he knew which half. Google promised to change all that.
Instead of focusing ever harder on its core-providing smarter search results and better-tailored ads for what you're looking for, thereby boosting the only real revenue stream the company has-Google has wanderlust.
Goes on to compare it to Sun Microsystem Read More

Fools.com evaluate Google Moat and found the following
For a company in a constantly evolving industry, Google has a surprisingly sustainable series of competitive advantages over its peers. Read more about the Moats fools.com analyzed (namely Intellectual property rights. Customer switching costs, The network effect, Cost advantages)

Mark Hulbert: An exclusive Google birthday party Hulbert Financial Files - MarketWatch
Mark Hulbert warns it's a mistake to assume other tech IPOs will see the same level of success.

Charlie Rose - On the growth of Google with Chris Anderson of 'Wired,' Michael Copeland, senior writer for Fortune and Jessica Vascellaro of 'The Wall Street Journal'

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Interesting Books - Zoo Story

Yesterday Thomas French was interviewed on CN about his new book "Zoo Story: Life and Death in the Garden of Captives" (Kindle)

Locate a local Independent Store - at IndieBound

"Inside the zoo, time was not human. Time moved outside human expectations. It did not settle into a single groove," French writes. "Zoo time was fluid, changeable, unpredictable. It unfolded in different rhythms, at variable speeds, calibrated to the heartbeat and breathing patterns and behavior of each species." Read full Review on USA Today
Listen/Read NPR Interview - The 'Zoo Story,' Both Beguiling And Repellent

Monday, August 16, 2010

Updated 2: Warren Buffett - PFE - No?

  • Did Warren Buffett increase/buy Stake in PFE (Pifzer)? Bloomberg TV reports Yes - Watch Bloomberg to find out more
  • Warren Buffett's Stock Buys - This website provides an interactive list of Warren Buffett's current stock portfolio holdings
  • This Google Spreadsheet Tracks Warren Buffett's Portfolio

Read this 1999 Article in Businessweek about Warren Buffett's Investment

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Investing in Chinese Company

Look out for (Key Words) - Reverse Merger, Auditors, Unproven Business, Require More Research.

Watch this Marketwatch video "Hype and Hope for Small-Cap Chinese Stocks"

Global Hunter Securities hosted China Conference (July 11 – 13, 2010) at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco that featured approximately 100 China-based companies, most of which have shares that trade on U.S. exchanges. More information at pwcast video blog

Company's in Wireless Broadband Network - Building Next Generation Networks

Clearwire, through its operating subsidiaries, is a leading provider of wireless broadband services. Clearwire's 4G network is currently available in areas of the U.S. where approximately 51 million people live and the company plans to continue to expand its 4G coverage. Clearwire's open all-IP network, combined with significant spectrum holdings, provides an unprecedented combination of speed and mobility to deliver next generation broadband access. The company markets its 4G service through its own brand called CLEAR® as well as through its wholesale relationships with Sprint, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Strategic investors include Intel Capital, Comcast, Sprint, Google, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks.

LightSquared is building a state-of-the-art open wireless broadband network. This open network will unleash the full power of the mobile Internet, driving innovation in devices, applications, and services. LightSquared will offer network capacity on a wholesale-only basis to a variety of business partners.

Video Introduction from Sanjiv Ahuja from LightSquared

So what will a 5g Network look like -

5G (Fifth Generation) mobile network concept, which is seen as user-centric concept instead of operator-centric as in 3G or service-centric concept as seen for 4G. In the proposed concept the mobile user is on the top of all. The 5G terminals will have software defined radios and modulation scheme as well as new error-control schemes can be downloaded from the Internet on the run. The development is seen towards the user terminals as a focus of the 5G mobile networks. The terminals will have access to different wireless technologies at the same time and the terminal should be able to combine different flows from different technologies. Each network will be responsible for handling user-mobility, while the terminal will make the final choice among different wireless/mobile access network providers for a given service. The paper also proposes intelligent Internet phone concept where the mobile phone can choose the best connections by selected constraints and dynamically change them during a single end-to-end connection. The proposal in this paper is fundamental shift in the mobile networking philosophy compared to existing 3G and near-soon 4G mobile technologies, and this concept is called here - the 5G. (Read More

Insurance Fraud - at Prudential Financial and MetLife

Bloomberg Reports
Survivors are told the death benefit is being placed in a secure interest-bearing account, and they are given what the company calls a “checkbook” to spend the money when they want.

In fact, insurers place the so-called retained-asset accounts in their own general corporate accounts and keep most of the investment earnings. The money isn’t guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the “checks” are IOUs for money in the insurer’s account.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Text to Speech Software - Some Free

NaturalReader is a Text to Speech software with natural sounding voices. This easy to use software can convert any written text such as MS Word, Webpage, PDF files, and Emails into spoken words. NaturalReader can also convert any written text into audio files such as MP3 or WAV for your CD player or iPod.

Read more in 2007 article

AT&T Natural Voices is an award winning text to speech technology developed by AT&T Laboratories and distributed by Wizzard Software. Natural Voices is believed by many to be the most natural sounding TTS available, the "highly scalable" multi-threaded technology can automate and add tremendous interactive and humanistic value to a wide variety of applications and projects.
- Version 4.2 AT&T Natural Voices Server Text to Speech (TTS) for Windows or Linux
- Implemented with a developers software developer kit (SDK) and distributable runtime software
- Dynamically converts text into voice for a wide variety of applications
- Applauded by many as the most realistic human-sounding synthetic voices
- Implemented with a flexible "engine + voice font" architecture
- Supports customization of pronunciations, acronyms, abbreviations, speaking rate
- Scalable for high volume multi-thread IVR type implementations
- Distributable runtime software is available for (20) voices in (8) languages including US English, UK English, Indian English, French, Canadian French, German, Italian, and Spanish

Download Opera Web Browser and you can have a block of text read to you by Opera, select the text and use the command "Opera speak". Alternatively, say "Opera read" to hear the next block of text after your currently highlighted position. If no text is highlighted, Opera will go to the first block of text on the page. Try the "speak" command on the following paragraph:

It was not long before someone knocked at the house-door and called: ‘Open the door, dear children; your mother is here, and has brought something back with her for each of you.’ But the little kids knew that it was the wolf, by the rough voice. ‘We will not open the door,’ cried they, ‘you are not our mother. She has a soft, pleasant voice, but your voice is rough; you are the wolf!’

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Insight into choice

Product developer and marketer can gain much needed insight into customer behavior by diving into the question as to how people make choices and how choices influence their happiness. Watch the following videos on the current thinking on choices.  
Video #1 - Malcolm Gladwell makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness – Embracing the diversity of human being you will find a sure way to happiness. Move away from search for universals and search for variability.

Video #2 - Sheena Iyengar studies how we make choices -- and how we feel about the choices we make. Her groundbreaking research that has uncovered some surprising attitudes about our decisions.

Video #3 - Paradox of Choice - freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

Video #4 - Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.