Wednesday, March 16, 2005

It's springtime, so that must mean it's...


This morning, while putting on my socks, I notice a scratch. Upon closer examination, it has all the signs/symptoms of poison oak. Where did that come from??? Skiing at Heavenly? Walking around downtown Palo Alto. Dammit!!! The only thing I detest about the wilds here is how those oils just seem to jump onto my skin without me knowing it. Okay...done venting.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

You know why hotel shams are multi-colored?

To disguise the stains. Nice, huh?

Luckily, we have people like Barry Sternlicht of Starwood to bring us the wondrous Heavenly Bed. This week, while at the Innovations in Marketing Strategy in SF, Scott Williams, Starwood's Chief Creative Officer, enlighted me with a talk on the Bed Wars and Innovation and Design in a commodity market.

Hotels...all the same, right? We typically choose hotels because of cost (cheap!!!), preferred status (points!!!) or location (the conference is there!!!). Then Barry came along and said, "Hey, I sleep in a nice bed, why can't all of our guests?" And voila, the Heavenly Bed was created: white comforters; high threadcount sheets and big, fluffy pillows. Now when you walk into a Westin, you think: clean, comfortable, HOME!!! Marriott and others quickly said "me too" and the bed wars were launched. Not to be complacent, Starwood asked themselves where else can they look to innovate (with a strong leaning towards design). Answer: Heavenly shower...with a curved shower curtain, protecting raised elbows from touching icky curtains; Heavenly your child doesn't have to sleep through a Romanian orphanage experience; and Heavenly Dog 27 million travelers with pets can pamper Fido. it's checkout time and as you close the door you give a fleeting look to your newfound flame. You mention it offhandedly at checkout, "boy, I would sure love to have one of those beds in my home." Well guess CAN! The Heavenly Store sold over 5,000 beds last year. You can buy the whole damn Heavenly line if you desire!

Scott's message: innovation and design are hand-in-hand partners now. We can't escape it. His favorite design and innovation trendsetters: Starbucks, Apple (each new product release = AWESOME!) and Masterlock (a nice segue where we learn that new products positioned Masterlock as a security company, not a lock company, radically altering the size of their potential market from $300MM to Billions). We can have cool, nice things for low prices too...think Target. Design doesn't have to mean expensive.

So, if you are locked into a commodity business with a product that hasn't changed in better start innovating/designing now, cause your competitor is gonna sooner or later.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Making gym memberships part of your health plan

My idea: encourage gym usage by paying people to go to the gym. Who should do this? Your health provider, of course. What better way to ensure that you are healthy and in good shape than to have you at the gym several times a month. Each visit, you make $3...go 3 times a week and you have $36...almost covering the cost of a system wide monthly fee at 24 Hour Fitness (~$46). Cap it at $50 a month. Kaiser and their peers should buy up Bally's, 24 Hour Fitness, Gorilla and others and build them out to more neighborhoods (increasing accessibility) and make sure they have a large day-care center (so moms and dads can go and not worry about the kids). Add nutritionists, physical therapists, massage therapists and chiropracters to the locale and you have all that you need...a real fitness/wellness center. I bet this $600 *investment* far outways the healthcare costs of dealing with unfit people.

I heard a rumor that the city of Monterey pays you $1 for each gym just sign in and they tally it up at the end of the month and send you a check. I spent a few minutes googling this, but couldn't verify it. But...a good rumor nonetheless.

Next idea: you know those VIP cards that gamblers get in Vegas to track gambling activity? They should put those readers on exercise machines so that you can track your workouts: calories burned, heartrate, progress in matching your exercise plan, etc. Make it interactive, make it fun!

C'mon Kaiser, get proactive!!!

Ships flying kites

This is VERY cool...ships that use kites to save fuel and cruise faster. Wonder what they will do at night, put lights on them? Wouldn't want to fly into a kite while in a plane. OUCH!

Friday, March 04, 2005

DoCoMo's vision of the future

Just came across DoCoMo's Vision 2010 project. The streaming video is about 11 minutes and shows some future technology scenarios. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

We are a BIG-TIME New York ad firm!!!

4pm...sitting at my rings:

*me* Hello
*btafg1* [on speaker phone] much do your memberships cost? I'm with an ad firm and we want to give away your memberships?
*me* Could we back up? Who am I talking to?
*btafg1* Look, we are a BIG-TIME New York ad firm, working for a BIG-TIME global telco, working on a promotion to give away predictions about the future.
*btafg2* Yeah [indecipherable mumbling on speaker phone], we want to know how much a thousand memberships costs.
*btafg1* How much are memberships to your website?
*me* I'm sorry...I need to know more about who you are and who you work for. And, who is your client? A telco or the top 1000 Forune companies?
*btafg1* I am not at liberty to disclose who I am or my firm's name. We are a BIG-TIME ad firm, though.
*btafg2* The telco is our client...who we want to be our client. We want to give about a thousand memberships to the Fortune 1000 companies.
*me* You mean get memberships for all of the Fortune 1000?
*btafg1* much will that cost?
*me* [I take this time to explain that we are not just a website, how we work, how we market our services and how much our services cost.]
*btafg2* So we can't give away trials to your memberhips?
*me* No, we don't work that way, we don't do trials and we don't give discounts.
*btafg2* Oh...well, we can't afford that.
*btafg1* Yeah...we can't afford that.
*me* Have a great day.

Interesting, no? I'm picturing these two clowns sitting in a 40th floor office scheming about how to pitch their client. What cracked me up most was their usage of the term: BIG-TIME. Now c'mon...if they were really BIG-TIME New York ad guys, what the hell are they doing at 7pm on a Wednesday calling me up. Wouldn't one of their lackeys be doing that? Wouldn't they be chasing some tail at the hip, new bar-of-the-moment in the Village?

By the way:
btafg1 = BIG-TIME ad firm guy 1
btafg2 = BIG-TIME ad firm guy 2