Home > April 2009

April 2009

Buying Sweeties.....

Saturday, April 11, 2009 0

Timing is everything and my timing it seems might be slightly out – for every company I’ve worked for the old timers have always shared with me their stories of the “good ol’ days”, normally the stories that start “back when...” followed by some quirky story about how they got away with something the new, more modern, company operation would no longer tolerate; as its not deemed “professional”.

Whilst the old timers always look back with rose tinted spectacles, recalling the good times, there are still such moments in modern business. I’m sure every company has their own quirky systems or traditions that still exist to this day, or they have a select number of people who are able to just “get away” with it without question (“one rule for one, one rule for another”). But it is this; I wanted to share with you today:

Our office decided a long time ago to beat the vending machine companies and those that stock them with chocolate delights by starting a non-profit sweetie cabinet, stocked with a variety of items, and always cheaper than the vending machine prices. It was originally an “in department” thing, but as word travelled across the company, we do have visitors from other parts of the building coming to buy their sugar induced snacks.

The original ‘owner’ of the sweetie cabinet passed on the ownership on his retirement (from the company, and not from the profits generated by a sweetie cabinet or so I’m lead to believe), and now the time has come for the new owner to pass on the baton again. The email read as thus:

Hi All,

Well summers coming up and I’m looking at biking it to work 3
times a week (I can wish), my experience last year meant that I was unable to
keep the cabinet stocked as well as biking to and from work, trust me you don’t
want to go buying sweets after biking 11 miles home at the end of the day, like
wise you don’t want to but sweets out of the cabinet is they have been
transported to work I’m my gym bag

So I’m reluctantly going to offer
the cabinet up for sale on the auction site that was used last year. If you have
any questions or comments please get back to me and I’ll answer then where I

I should explain at this point that our quirky system here is an eBay-like in-house auction site; we created to allow the sale of a couple of company assets that were no longer needed. Now, it seems the ownership of the “Sweetie Cabinet” is now available for bid. Being an IT department though, the payment for the winning bid isn’t monetary, but is payable in return for coffee making duties.

I have to admit, I was tempted to make an offer and transform the business model from “non-profit” to “profit”, but I’m not sure the time and effort invested in purchasing and stocking said sweetie cabinet is worth it. Plus the fact I’m already considering changing the business model for a simple in-department sweetie cabinet means I’ll take the thing far too seriously and before I know it, I’ll have ambitious plans for expansion into other departments and that can only invite competition – which I will have to crush and conquer...and surely that can’t end particularly well....for anyone.

However, on the other hand, what a modern-day rose-tinted story that could turn out to be.....


Friday, April 10, 2009 0

“When i was born, they said, what a good boy, what a smart boy, what a strong boy. When you were born, they said, what a good girl, what a smart girl, what a pretty girl”

Expectation is always a difficult thing to manage. On one hand, you don’t want to get too excited or dependent on something, but equally it is all too easy to let these expectations spiral out of control and expect far too much.

I think at some point or another, we’ve all experienced both of these feelings. I know I certainly have and I have very high expectations right now, yet every time I let my mind race ahead of myself and get myself excited about them possibly happening, I’m also reluctantly trying not to set the expectation too high in order to ease the disappointment for when things don’t happen as I would ideally like to envisage them.

The guy who sits next to me at work has just had his first child, and whilst the rest of the office (especially the girls), swarm for every little detail, I – unsurprisingly, and perhaps quite evilly – have very little interest and have resorted to hiding behind my headphones and drowning out the noise. But every now and again, I hear the expectation level rising and the competition between the parents rising; oh my child did this, mine has done that, etc.

Obviously every parent wants the very best for their child, but there is a thing as too much pressure surely? There’s a Barenaked Ladies song, which I seem to be playing constantly, called “What a Good Boy” about the expectations that are placed on children at very young ages and how they have “got these chain, hang around our necks, people wanna strangle us, before we take our first breath”, effectively shackling them into a pressured environment and expectation levels being raised sky high.

Fortunately, the song ends rather well and is written from the point of view of the child fighting back and setting their own destiny: “I go to school, and I write exams. If I pass, if I fail, if I drop out, does anyone give a damn? And if they do, they’ll soon forget, cos it won’t take much for me to show that my life ain’t over yet”. Pushy parents are always expectant and I’m intrigued by just how much expectation I’m hearing in between music tracks and I’m fascinated by it.

I’m sure any child who does their very best is something any parent would be proud of, but I’m equally sure that these higher than high expectations need to be reigned in.

Marketing Opportunity?.....


I’d imagine that sometimes it’s quite difficult for people who work in shops and stores to position items in exactly the right place, and I’m sure they are many ‘professionals’ who get it right most of the time (like those who figured out putting fruit and veg in the first section of any supermarket to show off freshness and trick you psychologically).

Other times I’m sure that the placement of products is done purely by chance and coincidence.

This, however, I saw in my local Borders (or should I say “Paperchase”), and I’d like to think that the staff had realised the opportunity presented to them, thought about it a little bit and then thought, “To hell with it, it’s funny”.....

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