Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cheap Or Frugal

Barry Ritholtz has an excellent example from his past of frugality that ends up costing the firm money.

I agree with his post completely. Watching the pennies is good, but being cheap towards your staff will only bite you in the end: opportunity costs, tough recruiting, lower productivity, and finally higher replacement costs.

Pinch pennies cautiously.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The best part of great customer service is that it is often transparent to the customer. They don't know how it happens, they just know it happens.

Like a great restaurant, there can be all chaos in the kitchen, but as long as everything is smooth int he front of the house the customer goes home happy.

This can require a lot of very unsexy work to build back end capacity that is well tested and engineered. The folks working "in the kitchen" have to be team players, willing to set their egos aside to ensure a quality experience for the customer.

It sounds so easy you would think everyone would do it- which is exactly why it is so rare. It is presumed to be both easy and free (or at least cheap), when it is quite hard and involves some amount of cash flow to be successful.

When margins get tight, you know exactly what gets cut first: the things the customer may not experience directly, but keep the whole thing moving forward. The result is a leaner operation that can do the job 80% of the time, and probably drive better numbers int he short run. But in the long term that 20% failure rate will chase away all of the customers who are discriminating enough to know the difference between what you used to give them and what you do now. Ironically, they are the customers you need the most.

But you increased margins for a couple of quarters. Bully for you.


Monday, November 1, 2010


I'm a heavy rss user, mostly through Google Reader. I find reader a very easy tool to use.

But it's missing one function: an easier way to "Mark as Read" everything that is unread across all of my rss feeds. There is an option to Mark As Read for each rss feed, and its has some function: items older than a day, items older than a week, etc., although I think that's too coarse.

What would really help me after a weekend off the grid or a couple of days at the office when I've been deep in the weeds would be a function to let me Mark As Read everything, globally, in one action, with finer degrees of choice: 12 hours, 24, 48, 72, etc.

Or just let me clear out every single feed in one click, so I can start with a clean slate.

I understand that much of the joy of Google products is in their simplicity, and that trying to add "one more feature" leads you to monstrosities like Office, but these doesn't seem like a slide too far down the slippery slope.


Update: Reader Mark points out that I am one big pile of FAIL.

If one views their feed under the "All Items" view, one can then has the same Mark As Read options one has on the individual feed level.

I never had a reason to use the All Items view- that has big benefits. Hat Tip to Mark.