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Interesting article in the Economist about business creation in Germany this week with stats about the percentage of new entrepreneurs in 2012 according to a Deutsche Bank survey: almost 8% in US, almost 7% in Holland, almost 4% in the UK, and then less than 3% in France and Germany.

Now what I found interesting is that actually the issues relevant to these 4% are rarely newsworthy. The topic dominating the discourse will be home ownership. Or benefits. Or immigration…Yet what these 4% are facing up to should be of great interest both because they affect a big enough group if folks and also because their energy to extract value out of investment is more rare and more important in the long term to an aging country.

Il n’est de richesses que d’hommes.

Thinking about how a bank’s financial products could look like if it was built on saver-centric design. Saving is a goal oriented task: it’s all about reaching a certain target whether it is related to an eventual spend, ie saving for a car, or as an insurance for rainy days. In both cases you are always shooting for a specific number. And what would best match this behaviour is a fixed saving program built to help me and reward me for reaching my saving goal.

Imagine Wonga-like interface where the inputs are monthly payment and overall target, it tells me how long it’s going to take, and the account enforce that I pay the monthly amount or at least nudges me with notifications flows so it helps me get there. The bank is gaining this regular capital inflow and also this type of accounts should influence your credit rating based on regular payments.

Maybe as an option the saver could open time windows where it could withdraw from the account. This would be set at specific threshold and for an additional fee which lengthen the time it will take for me to reach my goal. The neat behavioural benefit is that it rewards me for my saving commitment and for keeping with it.

What do you think? Would you like to use this kind of accounts?

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Another weekend, another loaf… Or two. I wanted to play around with shaping different looking bread and I really like the look of the double-round-crossed one. What do you think?

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Good looking loaf, in fact maybe the best looking one I have ever baked. I went free form on the measures once the mixing started. The fat in the dough came from good rapeseed oil and I wonder how much that played in the nice golden shine of the end product. I am still struggling with the bottom: it ain’t soggy but it ain’t crisp and hard either. As a Frenchman the crust is 80% of a good loaf. I am not sure how to get the bottom to cook more: do I need a stone? Can I use slate for that purpose?

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How can Nintendo still ask for 3 or 4 times the price of a game on an iPad?
I stumbled on this advert for this game clearly intended to the teenage girl market, Fashion Boutique or something, 21.99… Really? How do you set this price tag based on the appalling pixelated graphics compared to the high res of everything else released on the market? But even assuming that the production was on par with modern games, I would still be able to purchase equivalent gaming experience for 1/3 of that price. So of course a tablet is more expensive than the DS but I would argue that parents would consider it a better educational investment on the whole. I can only assume that the cost of plastic has gone up massively over last few years so the cartridges and up ridiculously expensive…

chestnuts

I remember how back when the manifesto came out it became a sort of semi-biblical reference within the realms of the internet communities and earl-ish web geeks. And then the other day I thought about the impact this book and the thesis it laid out had on the tech business and even the world of business in general. Has all the early promises of the Cluetrain Manifesto been realised? Everybody can point at a company which demonstrated why the world has changed in ways described by Levine, Locke, Searls and Weinberger, and how to be successful in this new world. Yet this new era is maybe not moving in as fast as we thought. Or maybe this new world is just an overlay on the old world, not replacing but merely enhancing or reigniting old conversations and collaborations.

So I took to having a look again at the manifesto’s 95 theses (the ones they nailed on the door?) and picked at random with my fat finger landing on 50:

  • Today, the org chart is hyperlinked, not hierarchical. Respect for hands-on knowledge wins over respect for abstract authority.

And you know what? That’s definitely more true than 10 years ago. And even 5 years ago I think command and control was more prevalent. More importantly I genuinely think that credibility and influence are winning in the workplace today: if you want to grow your career it’s a better medium to long term strategy than the old org chart ladder slug. And the change I see has not been triggered by one particular event. It’s just getting harder and harder to climb the ladder whilst having no credibility because it is now much easier now to get found out than 5 years ago, let alone 10 years ago.

So here is to opening that old chestnut again from time to time and finding out how its wisdom is percolating slowly but surely into our world.

When Xavi Hernandez, celebrated Barcelona footballer, described his coach Pep Guardiola to the press he used the word “pesado”, heavy, intense. Now Pep was an idol of mine growing up, the best passer and football mind rolled into one. As a coach he has won everything in just 4 years, and with style.
I love the expression: “pesado”. It’s not really something that would be considered a complement at the best of time. But it is probably the best accolade for the genius of Pep Guardiola. The best or maybe perhaps just the most interesting people are the ones that are pesados about their job. They are so passionate and involved and perfectionist about it, that their unblinking focus becomes heavy. And contagious. And that focus reflected and amplified makes for a better team all around. It makes them not just good but great.

  1. You can convert one currency to another from Google search box and that’s incredibly convenient.
  2. How to tie a bowtie: it does look so much better than a pre-tied one but darn does it take a while to make it work! <insert loads of french expletives> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjI-58KrBmM
  3. Random facts, always a conversation starter no matter how obtuse they may be. Like for example England used to have a saffron cottage-industry back in the days, who knew? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saffron_Walden#History
  4. How to iron a shirt super efficiently: wet the hell out of it, then collar-shoulder-arms-side-back-side, done (as Gordon would say). I trawled the net for some time to make sure this is the most efficient, probably slightly autistic of me.
  5. I learn tons about pricing frameworks and strategies starting with  the best introduction to the topic I found from Eric Sink: http://www.ericsink.com/bos/Product_Pricing.html

I have been looking into a survey into when pricing is most important in the sales cycle that the good people at LeveragePoint ran in the last few weeks on LinkedIn. Interesting that for instance pricing isn’t really as relevant in the Trial phase according to this survey: so maybe people should think about ditching the pricing info in the web pages or emails build around the Trial flow. This is great insight anyway mostly because it makes you think about your own product, your own sales cycles and when does pricing comes into play. Maybe the nature and timing of the conversation on pricing should have a greater impact on pricing as we always tend to focus on the two elephants in the room: cost and value.

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As I have been working on product launches I have really liked analysing the business model on which products are built. The framework that the author of Business Model Generation really makes sense to me as a product manager and it’s really useful in the more strategic activities of my job. I find it really useful to reflect on the business built on a product(s) and to highlight areas of a business that need to be worked on. I was just reading one of their latest post on their blog about 7 questions to assess the design of a business model. Check out the video, super simple and to the point.

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