Reactions to the iPod Shuffle

Fans of my column on the iPod Shuffle’s marketing techniques will remember that I said the worst thing that the existing makers of flash music players could do was to abandon the market to Apple, moving upstream. Thankfully, they have not done that. Instead they have decided to cut their prices and compete with Apple.…

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Yes I *am* special, but tell me why.

A lot of my job involves managing vendors. Like many parts of my day at work, it’s often drudgery. This is a lot like poker, where you must work through the same situation over and over again, looking for something unusual.

I ask the same questions of every vendor. “Are you profitable? Cash flow positive? Who are your investors?”

But I do it because I am invested in my vendors. They form a piece of the infrastructure of my company. And I think you get better results when you treat your vendors well. When they do me a big favor, I send them a box of chocolates. I call them and tell them what they’re doing right, so they don’t only hear from me when something’s going wrong. I visit them (some people never do this) and take them out to eat. And I communicate problems through disappointment, not anger, since the productive arc of a conversation without anger gets me so much better results.

One time I remember I was reporting a serious problem with a vendor’s billing system. It had the potential to make all our bills to our clients inaccurate. I carefully measured my tone of voice through the conversation, which I know my vendor noticed, and then I hit her with the hammer, “You understand that inside I’m freaking out, but that by not screaming, I’m hoping you are the epitome of speed and customer service in solving this problem.” Of course she understood, and I’ve always gotten excellent customer service from her ever since.

It’s good to be a vendor of Mindshare. However becoming one is sometimes a challenge, especially if you don’t do your homework. Over time my ego has shrunk and I’ve developed a finely tuned radar for people that are pitching me. “Why are they pitching me?” I wonder. How did they decide I’m special? Telling me my company has an impressive track record isn’t good enough, what about our track record impressed you? Tell me facts, not platitudes.

And so it was that a prospective vendor called me the other day with an otherwise reasonable pitch poorly executed…

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Final Pakistan diaries

The last three entries of my Pakistan Diaries are up. I’ve also added a number of photos to the album that cover these additional days. Week 3: Karachi Weddings Conclusion: The trip home

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Pakistan Diaries: The Trip Home

We had reached the end of our journey, and oddly, we felt it too short.  We started the long trip home in Karachi at 7pm, flew to Lahore and arrived at 10pm.  We then caught a catnap with my new stepmothers adorable family and lit out for the airport at 3am for a 5am plane. 

And that’s when Sarah finally got ill.

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Pakistan Diaries: Karachi

Our time in Karachi was mostly occupied by the wedding.  Other attempts at being tourists were repeatedly thwarted by an incompetent driver or family commitments.  However on Christmas Day (a holiday that neither Sarah nor I celebrate) we got to go to Jinnah’s tomb.  Jinnah is the founder of Pakistan who negotiated its partition from India with Ghandi.  On Jinnah’s birthday, if you’re in Karachi, or you’re particularly patriotic, you’ll find yourself at his enormous tomb.

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Pakistan Diaries: Weddings

We reluctantly left Peshawar with a long list of things to do when we returned some time in the future and headed for Karachi.  Karachi is our final city and the location of my cousin Shan’s wedding.  Weddings in Pakistan are an extremely complicated and drawn out affair.

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Yes, you should buy an iPod Shuffle.

So the iPod Shuffle came out yesterday. It’s a small 512MB/1GB flash MP3 player. That means you can cram it full of 150 or so songs and listen to it. When I saw the price ($99 for 512MB and $150 for 1GB) I thought, “Hm, that’s cheap”. Well, it is cheap, And also small. Real…

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Pakistan Diaries: Takht-e-Bahi

MonastaryTwo days in a row we attempt to go to the Khyber Pass, the most famous overland passage between the West and China, and two days in a row we are thwarted.  In case you doubted that the tribal lands are not in control of the Pakistani government, the tribal people give us a lesson.

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Pakistan Diaries: Darra bazaar

The next morning we go downstairs for breakfast and discover that my father has a meeting of physicians scheduled for the next four days.  This is a relief to me, as we can jet off and not worry about coordinating with the parents.  At breakfast we learn that another doctor from Chicago has brought his three daughters and is scheduling them for an outing to the Darra gun market.

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