Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Why People Cheat

It's all about the relationship. That's a human thing; as a species, we have survived by creating social groups and evolved to maintain them. So naturally we are tuned to social cues and the intricacies of relationships. When I try to understand human behavior, I will often use a common human to human relationship as the framework and continue that metaphor in order to explain it to others. The three major frameworks I find useful are romantic, plutonic and nurturing (parent-child).

Recently, I had a life experience that added a new twist to one of my old metaphors. I've always looked at job hunting through the romantic framework. You see a company you think you might like (attraction) and go on a series of interviews (dating) and eventually decide to break up or get into a committed relationship. As a husband I have never cheated on my spouse and have difficulty relating to those who do, but as an employee seeking a new job I was able to gain insight into this relationship dynamic.

It was time for me to leave and I knew it, the honeymoon was definitely over and I was seeing repeating patterns and felt I was evolving in a direction that was incompatible with my current employer. So like many others in the same situation, I started sprucing up my resumé, building connections and accepting interviews. While my direct supervisors and colleagues suspected it, there was no formal or explicit announcement that I was seeking a new employer. I was cheating... and it felt good. It was refreshing to be focusing on my own needs instead of those of the company. There was a new motivation to improve in my field, competition that didn't exist within the stale corporate environment in which I had settled. There were so many possibilities. Of course, there was also rejection but it didn't have the same sting because I didn't need a new job, I still had the cozy safe relationship with my current company to shield me from desperation. The job I had wasn't fulfilling all my desires, but it was keeping me sheltered and fed. The pace of job hunting while working full time is hectic, juggling all the names and appointments and evaluating the possibilities is a lot of extra work, but at the same time it is exhilarating and energizing, almost addictive. I didn't realize that at the time, I was too busy to reflect on any of this.

So after some searching, I found my match, a company that fits my needs and offers the kind of relationship I'm seeking. We got engaged, I left my former company and moved to a new city. Today we tie the knot. None of this was difficult or unexpected, the hard part was that now I need to stop dating. I had to tell my recruiters and contacts and other prospective employers that, at least for the short term, I am off the market. I want to focus on my new budding romance and build a trusting, strong relationship. Though I'm very happy with my decision and look forward to my new job, it wasn't easy to turn down all those other possibilities, to step away from all that attention. I've never been much of a ladies' man, never really liked the singles scene, but now I understand that itch for something new, the excitement of the chase (and the ego boost of being pursued), the fear of leaving the sure thing for the mysterious and enticing stranger and the pre-wedding cold feet.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Top 10 Reasons I Left LA

  1. Animals are not fashion accessories.
  2. Flip-flops are not always appropriate attire.
  3. Million dollar homes should have a yard.
  4. Bankruptcy in state government is scary.
  5. The sky should not be brown.
  6. Bald people can't handle that much direct sunlight.
  7. I'm over 22 years old and I'm OK with that.
  8. "Fire" is not a season.
  9. Life is too short to spend in your car.
  10. Seriously, the sky SHOULD NOT be brown!

Friday, December 16, 2011


This is just a quick update to say that I haven't abandoned the blog, but just too busy with some real-life transitions to sit down and concentrate on writing. After devoting some serious time to researching, networking and interviewing, we are now in the midst of relocating and finding a home in a new state, to be quickly followed by acclimating to a new job. Several topics have been bouncing around in my head and as soon as the craziness dies down to a normal flow, I look forward to writing again and exchanging ideas with all of you out there in the interwebs.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dear Netflix...

Photo Credit: Connected World Media
Today I received an email from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, but I'm not sure it was for me. He apologized for not making more of an effort to explain the pricing changes announced 2 months ago. Then he went on to say that I would be receiving two separate bills in the future, one for DVDs and the other for streaming media. Sounds complicated. At this point, it doesn't even feel like it came from Netflix, at least not the Netflix I've come to know and trust over the past 10 years. You can read the entire message here.

With all due respect Mr. Hastings, I have to wonder who is the intended audience. Is this message addressed to customers or an engineered PR initiative to placate shareholders? I've received emails from Netflix before with an apology for service hiccups and an immediate remedy in the form of a service credit. But there was no remedy here, only an explanation and the announcement of further separation of the DVD and streaming business units. The timing is curious since this follows an announcement 2 months ago that kicked off one of the worst quarters in Netflix history.

Source: Google Finance
There was a fatal flaw in the Netflix streaming model from the beginning. They must have known streaming video would be their next flagship service and they offered it for free. Never offer your service for free. Trial period? Sure. Limited free account with an upgrade option can also work. Invitation only beta testing is another option that has been successful. However, when Netflix offered free unlimited streaming, they immediately devalued the service. They knew then that someday they would need to charge a fee for their streaming content, that eventually it would be the model that replaces the DVD by mail service. Had they offered the service as a reasonably priced upgrade, considering the quality of picture and volume of content at the time, many customers would have signed on. Incremental price adjustments over time would have been tolerated as quality and selection improved. That would be a transparent process with perceived value at each stage that is in accordance with evolution of the service.

The pricing model is just the surface, however, the deeper problem here is the loss of identity. Netflix forgot why they exist. In the beginning it was Netflix vs. Blockbuster. One was the establishment that had gradually killed off the mom and pop corner video stores and now dominated the market with a ruthless model of individual rental prices and exorbitant late fees. Then there was Netflix, the underdog, the David to Blockbuster's Goliath, that offered movies delivered to your door for a simple flat subscription rate. It was simplicity and convenience that killed Blockbuster. But what is Netflix without Blockbuster? They need an identity without being dependent on comparison. Better than Blockbuster only works when Blockbuster exists and, for all practical purposes, that is no longer the case. So how do they compare to their new competition in the streaming space? Who are they when compared to Google, Amazon, Apple and Hulu? I think if Netflix were managing their brand properly this wouldn't even be a legitimate question.

Netflix challenges the establishment, the very idea that you should pay for each rental and then be subjected to a deadline with late fees. They offered a simple honest alternative. Why not take on streaming the same way? Challenge the establishment of broadcast media. The model that dictates a schedule of programming with a subscription plan on top of an advertising platform. When I compare them to other companies that offer streaming movies over the internet it just comes down to price and quality, they are never going to beat large companies with diversified revenue streams on that front. However, comparing an honest little company with a simple business model to the establishment of the cable tv industry? Now that is something to rally a loyal following. Why not ask customers to question paying over $100 per month to watch 200 channels full of commercials? Why not empower cable customers to unchain themselves from their couches? The Netflix brand already has clout challenging and defeating a monopolistic empire. That doesn't transfer to building a shiny new technology platform, but it does transfer when you aim to take down a different empire.

I sincerely hope Netflix regains its footing and direction to achieve continued success in their new ventures.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round... and round

Comedy or Tragedy?
Okay, I've been chewing on this for a while and I'm finally making some sense of it all. After the whole debt-ceiling circus we witnessed a couple of months ago, Senator Harry Reid made the statement, "Nobody left the room happy, that is the sign of a good compromise." What?? Did I hear that correctly? The polarization in Washington has reached epic proportions and the list of candidates continue gravitating to new extremes. The problems seem so obvious, yet the political process just keeps grinding away in the same old broken patterns to ensure nobody is happy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What is Your Experience Brand?

Since I launched this blog a few weeks ago, some people have asked me what I mean by experience branding. It's essentially a merging of brand and user experience, which are both hot topics lately and the usage of the terminology is outpacing comprehension. Even people in the field argue about the exact definition. Further complicating matters, some people capitalize on the trends by applying these labels to work that is representative of neither. I hope after reading this post and the others that will follow shortly, you will have a clear understanding of the nature and benefits of these tools and be armed against the posers lurking within and outside your company.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

How Toyota Cleaned My House

Procrastination is a common affliction and usually fairly harmless, unless you don't live alone, and your cohabitant feels you should help out around the house, and the stuff you are procrastinating happens to be the household chores. So when this situation reared its ugly head at my house, I decided to reach into my professional toolbox to see what I could find to make routine chores more fun and engaging.