Archive for the ‘communication’ Category


Nothing special about this shot, except I asked Shirley to help me take it and was quite amused with the whole thing because she kept getting confused by my instructions. I told her to “hold the camera low”, but then we had to re-take because it was blurry. Then I said, “try not to shake the camera” and when that didn’t work, we turned on the flash, but this time my shoes got cut off. So we tried again.

“Can you see my shoes?”

“No, cannot.”

“Ok, go a bit further.”

She takes a step back.

“Lower the camera,”


“Can you see my shoes?”

“No, cannot.”

It was rather funny. It didn’t occur to me that she doesn’t handle a camera often.

But yeah, that’s the story behind this shot.

[I need new clothes and a haircut, bah]


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The Nice Post

Perhaps some of you have heard about the TweetSG saga. For those who have not, it’s been written at length by both Daryl and daphnemaia, who focus on the online reputation aspect of the debacle, as well as by the developer himself.

As for me, I don’t wish to rehash the conversation between me and the developer, but it did leave me thinking about the need to be nice.

Personally for me it’s important to be a nice person, and to keep a good account of myself. I don’t remember my parents actually teaching me this, but somehow it’s just something I’ve always believed in.

Growing up, I met some people who could best be described as naughty, but never “not nice” or just plain rude. But as soon as I left what I call the formative years and started university and mixing around with people from different backgrounds, it became clear to me, somewhat shockingly, that there are just people who are plain not nice.

Having grown up believing that we should be nice to one another, I struggle with this fact even now.

On one hand, there’s a part of me that thinks that there’s a higher power or some kinda karma that will come back to haunt people like this. So if I ever came across somewhat who I considered to be rather nasty, I’d usually stay far far away from them, mind my own business and hope that I never have to deal with them ever again.

On the other hand, there are people to whom being nasty is like their way of surviving this world. These are the people that, if you ever cry foul on them for acting badly, will say “That’s not my problem” or “Nobody owes you a living”. And the funny thing is that they are completely capable individuals who treat their own friends nicely, but they just don’t feel the need to be nice to everybody.

Of course, I know that it doesn’t pay to be nice to everyone all the time. Sure, in an ideal world it’d be nice, but you don’t want to be taken advantage of and sometimes you need to assert yourself in order to get what you want.

So as you can see, this issue plagues me a little.

I still personally believe that we should be nice to the people we interact with. And I rather not deal with people that are not nice to me, even if it’s not personal and that’s just the way they operate.

So how? Nice or not nice?

Btw, I use sgBEAT now to tweet from my mobile phone. So far so good. But now that I’ve been burnt, I’ve tempered my expectations a little.

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how eBay’s small sellers are angry and frustrated by recent fee changes initiated by new CEO John Donahoe that favour the power sellers. I predicted that a revolution seemed imminent. eBay seems to agree with me, going by their recent decision to set up a blog written by blogger Richard Brewer-Hay, designed to repair the damaged relationship between eBay and its users, recently crystallized by the seller’s strike. Brewer-Hay was recruited due to his experience in social media and involvement in new media company Podshow.

Although Brewer-Hay denies that the blog was set up in response to the seller’s strike, I remain unconvinced. Faced with the prospect of a planned exodus of sellers, I believe eBay Ink represents an attempt at damage control. However, if it is indeed true that the blog is intended to enhance communications with users, does give one hope that eBay is not beyond redemption.

Some issues to consider:

  1. Will the content of eBay Ink truly be unfiltered? Given that Brewer-Hay was hired by eBay to blog about eBay, will he report the truth even when it reflects negatively on the company? Will Brewer-Hay ever do a Robert Scoble and say that “eBay sucks”? Will eBay allow it?
  2. Will users be able to relate to Brewer-Hay since he has admitted that he is not a seller on eBay? Will users consider him a “person like me”? Does this undermine his credibility as the official eBay blogger? See this excerpt from the interview with Fortune Small Business:

FSB: Based on your experience with the company these past two months or so, what do you think about our readers’ claims that eBay does not listen to small sellers?

RBH: I don’t get that sense. I just don’t think they’ve had a real place to talk directly with the company. Sure, there’s the Chatter blog, and the community can talk, but this is first time they will have the opportunity to talk directly to us. I’ve read things out there in the blogosphere. They are one-way dialogues right now, and I’m looking forward to making them two-way conversations.

    More importantly, will people start to trust eBay/feebay again? Or will this be an exercise of futility? If the response at AuctionByte is anything to go by, it appears that Brewer-Hay has his work cut out for him.

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      I’m a bit slow on the uptake, but I’ve only just got wind of the recently ended eBay seller’s strike.

      Personally, I think that the emphasis on the strike having had minimal impact is rather irrelevant. eBay seems to have lost the plot somewhere. WebProNews writes:

      We think they may see the protesting sellers as a less-profitable nuisance eBay would not mind seeing depart, especially if they plan to be more friendly to higher volume sellers.

      Here’s what some people are saying about the company (taken from Youtube):

      “Boycott greedbay – Feb 18 – Forever!”

      “eBay is Big Brother”

      “..they don’t seem appreciative of their customer”

      “eBay is the biggest screw job on the planet lately”

      “It’s about time people see FeeBay as what they really are”


      Some might argue that these protesters are by and large made up of small sellers, and as such won’t affect eBay’s bottomline (at the end of the strike, 3rd party statistics indicated that eBay’s listings were down 13% to 13 million items, although eBay has denied the dip)

      Although eBay seems unfazed by the strike, here’s why I think it should care:

      1) It is not the first strike against eBay, but it has been the biggest, mostly thanks to the use of social media like youtube, myspace, Delphi Forums (about 1300 messages posted) and Facebook (although the Facebook group was considerably less successful).

      Can eBay afford to have another, bigger strike? Already protesters appear to be continuing the strike till March 9th. Josh Catone at ReadWriteWeb thinks that the power of social networks cannot be underestimated. Can eBay afford to ignore the power of the people?

      2) Ignoring the long tail is just not a smart strategy, especially when the success of your business depends on it. Sure, these strikers may be small, but what happens if (and when) they all jump ship? Isn’t it much smarter to make these individual, small sellers happy and keep them as customers? And when eBay’s latest policy changes seem to favour its powersellers, doesn’t it necessarily mean that buyers’ needs are ignored as well? There’s an imbalance in the equation somewhere, and I doubt even a mega corporation like eBay can sustain such an imbalance.

      3) eBay competitors (such as Amazon) only stand to gain as unhappy customers look out for better alternatives, and in some cases disgruntled sellers and buyers are considering striking out on their own.

      What does eBay think about this? According to this USAToday report, eBay does not plan to alter or revise the unpopular policies, nor does it seem willing to address the concerns of protesters.

      In this Web 2.0 age, this kind of response just won’t cut it anymore. No company has immunity from the collective voice of the people anymore. Judging from the comments that I cited above, I do believe that eBay has lost the people’s trust.

      Valerie Lennert, unofficial spokesperson for the strike has this to say (taken from Fortune Small Business):

      “There are a lot of people who are really upset, and if we choose to go somewhere else as a group, there won’t be an eBay anymore. We don’t think eBay understands that. They think they’re invincible, and they don’t seem to listen to what we need. Even if listings don’t go down, we’re reached the main goal: to let them know how upset we are. I’m pretty sure they know that at this point.”

      This might just be the start of a revolution.

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      spaghetti sauce

      So today during Social Media class we watched an awesome video from TED, which reminded me that I had yet to explore the videos on the website. If you’re even remotely excited at the prospect of hearing extremely smart people talking about great ideas in every field imaginable, then I strongly encourage you to check out TED.

      Well, finally I did tonight, and after watching one video, I just kept clicking and clicking and clicking on more. And the more I listened, the more it made me think (such that now my head is buzzing, and I’m pretty sure it will keep me awake for a while).

      End of ramble (sorry).

      Anyway, I watched Malcolm Gladwell’s speech, on what we can learn from spaghetti sauce and realised that what he was talking about was basically the idea behind the Long Tail, which we were discussing about in class today.

      The 1st thing about the video that I liked: the democratising of taste.

      He talked about how marketers were asking the wrong questions by trying to create the perfect mustard, or the perfect Pepsi, because we all have different preferences that cannot be met with just one type of mustard/Pepsi. From what I gather, trying to find the perfect version of a product is

      1) undesirable because what you deem is “perfect” won’t make everyone happy anyway, so why waste your time and

      2) impossible because what you then deem is “perfect”, isn’t really.

      This coincides with the concept of the Long Tail. Businesses and marketers need to move away from trying to find the holy grail, that big hit that will rake in the big money, because of the above 2 reasons. Why spend all your resources trying to find that one product that you think will satisfy the masses, when you could serve all your customers (and citizens) better by giving them exactly what they want? In other words, satisfy the “misses”, rather than the hits, because

      1) it’s the “misses” that are craving for their needs to be met and

      2) due to the nature of the long tail, the “miss” market is infinitely large.

      Long story short, businesses need to recognise the diversity of human beings by giving them exactly what they want, not what the businesses think that they want.

      The 2nd thing about the video that I liked: that Howard Moscowitz (not too sure about the spelling) didn’t give up on his breakthrough idea after being shown the door the first time.

      This was sparked from the comments from my previous post, where I asked what happens when you have a great idea but the people you’re pitching to, for a variety of reasons, reject it. Businesses that are scared of creative ideas and don’t take risks, in my opinion, don’t get very far. And I’m pretty sure many businesses are still afraid of taking a chance.

      This puts individuals with creative ideas in a difficult position, and such was the situation faced by Howard as described by Malcolm Gladwell. So I really liked that Howard didn’t give up and managed to convey his idea to business that got it (Prego).

      I did disagree with one point in the video, that people don’t know what they want. I think that people do know what they want, but it’s just that sometimes what you want hasn’t been created yet, so it’s simply a case of not knowing what to call exactly what you want.

      On a general level, we all want one thing – happiness. We want happiness in our personal lives, happiness in our career, happiness when we drink that cuppa, happiness when we walk our dog in the park, happiness when we turn off the light and turn to our favourite side to sleep on. Businesses need to realise that they ultimately should think about how to help their customers on the way to happiness, and customers need to realise that they deserve to find that desired happiness.

      And the best way to make them happy is to give them what they want.

      See this post on how customers want business experiences that make them happier and this post on how businesses need to help their customers feel less stressed.

      With that I bid you a goodnight.

      [Photo taken from http://neatorama.cachefly.net/images/2007-04/pat-cooper-

      spaghetti-sauce-and-other-delights.jpg. I just thought it was pretty darn hilarious.]

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      Came upon the concept of Ideaicide while reading John Moore’s blog, Brand Autopsy. Ideaicide, a term coined by Alan Parr and Karen Ansbaugh, means the killing of ideas by person(s) in a corporate setting. In other words, ideas are shot down on the basis that they are too radical, too new or too different from the company culture.

      In their manifesto Ideaicide: How To Avoid It And Get What You Want, they illustrate ways to pitch our ideas such that ideaicide does not happen (literally bringing our ideas to life, haha).

      While the manifesto is an interesting read overall, I felt that the section on relatibility was very useful:

      Ideas are usually rejected out of turn for being too “something”—too fast, too unproven, too far beyond the corporate image. “Too something” is a reactionary description used to take the edge off ideas that are strong, bold, and a little scary at first sight. Your challenge is to help people discover a means, harmonious with the culture, to accept your concept.

      People need something familiar to relate to in order to gain a sense of comfort with the new, the strange. Creative ideas take the facts, feelings and everyday fictions we all share and find new ways to connect them. By making the new and strange seem familiar, you not only establish an opening for your audience to interpret your idea, you create a backdrop against which the edge of your idea will shine.

      Make your ideas relatable. I liked what it says because it happens to me a lot. An idea that to me is creative gets reactions that range from ‘don’t-get-it’ stares, skeptical eyebrow raises, and even “Haha! Oh, you weren’t kidding?”.

      It sounds simple, but I think many people forget to make their ideas relatable, thinking that they can sell the idea simply because it is new and/or creative.

      I think the worst thing to happen is not having your ideas rejected, but not allowing your ideas to be heard in the first place due to fear of rejection. Talk about them, invite others to suggest improvements, or even just write them down, but never kill your ideas. Which reminds me of this saying:

      The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

      – Edmund Burke

      Alan and Karen put the power back into our hands when they say “Ideaicide is your problem.”

      The manifesto Ideaicide: How To Avoid It And Get What You Want is available here.

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