Experts Vs Conventional Wisdom

I’d like to say I was smart enought to come up with this post on my own… but I’m not. The riff goes something like this:
The problem with conventional wisdom is there’s too much convention and not enough wisdom.

The wisdom of crowds fails in so many areas because they are conventional. Which is why a convention is made up of a crowd of people. Crowds are not counterintuitive but individuals are counterintuitive… or at least, they can be.

We see this all the time in business but also in my other life as a job expert. Most resumes look the same because there are certain conventions for formatting and defining skill sets. The reason why I can become an expert in job seeking is my approach was counter intuitive to what was being taught.

Being an expert is all about showing people what is possible rather than what is popular. Crowds make things popular but it takes someone to think outside of the box to give the idea life and create a niche.

Being an expert or standing out from the crowd is about having a depth of knowledge or understanding about a subject so you can see past the conventional wisdom of the subject.

It’s that concept that creates amazing business and amazing work opportunities if you’re an employee.

You can read more about this idea from the smart people at:
Businesspundit: The Wisdom of Crowds Niches: Why Experts Still Matter

Published in: on March 26, 2006 at 4:13 pm Comments Off on Experts Vs Conventional Wisdom

Make a book from your blog

So much work goes in to your blog and have a great service where you can turn your words of wisdom into a hardcover book.

You can also create your own recipe books, photo books etc.

Nice idea and something I’m going to look into when I get back from my trip. Check it out at Blurb Blog Book

Published in: on February 10, 2006 at 11:32 pm Comments (43)

Tag cloud T-shirt of your Blog

I love tag clouds… the artistic quality of key-words that catalogue a site. Luckily I found snap shirts that has beautiful tag-clouds of famous books printed on t-shirts. But these guys have gone one step further, you can enter the URL of your blog or website and create a tag-cloud of your own that you can wear with pride. Here’s my blog tag-cloud:

For $18 I can get it printed on a shirt and make a statement with keywords from this blog:

So while these words may look like one of those japanese ‘engrish‘ t-shirts that we all laugh at, at least I know that the splatter of words on my shirt reflect the ramblings of my mind.

So take a visit to Snap Shirts and get your blog out of the blogosphere and onto the street.

Published in: on January 29, 2006 at 9:10 pm Comments (21)

The problem with being a ‘thinker’


I was thinking about drug testing at work the other day and came to the conclusion that if I was running a large company I would use drug screening to hire certain substance abusers… I don’t want them to operate heavy machinery but my thinking is if you stick everyone with a degree and a suit in the same room you’re going to get similar ideas and opinions.

None of them want to give you their more crazy ideas because they are scared of looking like the guy in the picture… if their idea fails, or is too whacky they become prime targets for the next staff cut.

Because most staff will avoid doing anything that exposes themselves to friendly/enemy fire most fly just under the company radar as this is the safest place to be if you want to keep your job

The person with the whacky idea that just might change an industry might not come forward because they don’t want to appear to appear to be smarter than their manager, and if the idea fails then they know who’s going to take the blame and it won’t be their manager or the boss.

smallknife.gifBut get a drug user hopped up on goofballs just before the meeting and he/she just doesn’t care about these things. While everyone is sitting around talking about creating the new knife block, our drug user starts ranting about the movie ‘Kill Bill’ and babbles on about a knife block that is shaped like a human with knives stuck through the body!

I was thinking about all of this when visiting Jake who created surfume (a perfume for surfers). I’m not saying Jake was on drugs when he thought about the idea, but Billabong, Rip Curl,and Quicksilver all could have created Surfume but none of them did.

Who wants to be the Billabong employee and say to the boss… ‘you know, we make surfer fashion, why don’t we make surfer fragrances?’… when you know your manager is going to tell you that Billabong makes clothes and wetsuits not perfume!

So it’s left to crazy guys like Jake to create a new niche market product and I’m willing to bet that a company like Billabong will come along and buy him out.

We see it all the time, big companies buying out small innovative companies simply because the small guys dared to dream!

Published in: on December 24, 2005 at 3:49 pm Comments (1)

Custom covers for Ikea Furniture… brilliant

Very often in business we look down the wrong end of the telescope. Someone in the furniture business would see Ikea as a competitor, but if they were willing to look at their business and Ikea’s business in another way they could become partners – probably unwitting partners.

Ikea has sold more than twenty million sofas in Europe in the past five years, the mind-boggling logistics of this means they can only offer a small range of colours or patterns. I’m willing to bet that a HUGE percentage of these ikea sofa owners would love to change the colour or pattern of their sofa about now. Enter a company called Bemz.

These guys simply make sofa, chair and cushion covers for Ikea furniture… that’s it. Their business doesn’t need retail outlets because the customers already have the furniture… all the customer has to do is choose a pattern or colour they like… it’s that easy.

So Bemz as formed a symbiotic partnership with Ikea… and Ikea probably doesn’t know about it. But both stand to benefit from each other’s success. Ikea might sell more sofas because customers know they can go to Bemz to get patterns or colours that match their decor. Bemz wins simply because of Ikeas market share in the industry.

Sometimes there’s no need to re-invent the wheel… just make the wheel prettier or work better will also bring great success.

Check it out at Bemz.

Published in: on December 20, 2005 at 7:20 pm Comments (6)

Don’t hit the target market dead centre

Big companies aren’t usually the first to create niche markets. It’s small companies that carve a niche and then – sometimes- become big companies, or get bought out by big companies.

It’s not that big companies don’t have wild and crazy people with great ideas… it’s often because a any great idea gets the edges rubbed off it by various managers, departments, lawyers and rules, to turn the idea into something that will appeal to as many people as possible. Big mistake… because that’s exactly what the competition is doing too.

A small company or individual has fewer management to please so their ideas can go anywhere. This diagram explains it better:

A small company or individual can turn a crazy idea into a business reality because, in most cases, they don’t need million dollar sales to satisfy shareholders, managers, wage bills, corporate offices etc. This allows a small organisation to target a small segment of the market: Customers who LOVE their product.

Small companies can afford to have people HATE their product or service. If you want the average version then they will send you to Walmart. Niche market, often means you buy it online or have to do some work to find it.

Big companies don’t want anyone to hate their product and targetting the niche few who will love it is not as economically viable as making a product that everyone can afford and use. (Except if you’re Apple… those ipods weren’t cheap and Apple didn’t care. Because they were selling to people who LOVED the idea of a $300+ music box)

So if you want to make a Bike Helmet you could follow the designs of the thousands of models that look the same and are average (safety in numbers), or you can make something like below:

Do you think boingboing would blog about the helmet on the right? No, and that’s the reason why noginsox are selling the helmets on the LEFT (and other cool designs) by the truck load at the moment.

Some crazy person got it in their heads to create a bike helmet that looked like a bald head with nails hammered into it… fantastic.

Forget aerodynamics, cooling, sun protection… these products are FUN.

We always rate businesses by market share, cash flow, profitability… I think FUN is just as important as all of these things.

Published in: on December 9, 2005 at 5:47 pm Comments (3)

Tarantino’s Knife Block

Because I have moved my old blog here, and because google sends so many people to my old blog when they search for the Voodoo Knife Block I thought I better talk about the sort of Knife Block Quentin Tarantino would buy, so as not to disapoint all those googlers out there.

When we started selling these knife blocks at the Spirit House we were totally unprepared for the reaction. People were either appalled or delighted… no-one looked at this thing and shrugged it off… that to me, is the sign of a great niche market, you feel something with this product.

Published in: on November 28, 2005 at 9:42 am Comments (2)

Designer coffins

Oh… My… God… I just love this coffin. Now I can go out in style.
Life Art Coffin
Life Art are an Australian company and they create amazing art that is applied to their coffins (the coffins are made of a recycled cardboard product that is as strong as wood). The best bit is you can’t look at these coffins and feel nothing… you either love it or hate it and that’s what made me CHEER when I saw this product on my new favourite show, Dragon’s Den.

Published in: on November 21, 2005 at 10:34 pm Comments (2)

A ‘desk’ teaches us two incredible lessons…

I have a friend who makes furniture, each piece is hand-carved from beautiful timbers. The problem is, there are hundreds of other craftsmen out there also hand-carving furniture out of timber… so his pieces may or may not stand out of the crowd, but they’re not necessarily remarkable. The desk below is remarkable… people have described it as cool, insane and awesome once I tell them the story :
b-25 bomber desk picture
This is a piece of tail section from a B-25 bomber that has been stripped back, glass added and turned into a desk. That’s pretty cool.

So there’s lesson 1: You can make anything remarkable… even a humble desk.

But the real lesson here for anyone who sells anything is how and why you might pay $15,000 for that desk…

Published in: on November 13, 2005 at 11:46 am Comments (3)

The biggest book in the world

Damn big book
You’re looking at the biggest book in the world, 44 inches x 60 inches (1m x 1.5m roughly) and it weighs 60kg. And just because it sells on for $15,000 doesn’t mean that you can’t make one.

Think about this for a minute. You’re a photographer, you have a decent camera and you want to sell your photos. Every photographer is framing their prints for sale, some – wait for it – print on canvas *gasp*, but you decide to sell your prints in a book so big it needs a truck to deliver it and an easel to display it… do you think you might stand out from the crowd? Would your book be remarkable?

Let’s see how this can be done and discover how big printer companies like Epson are dropping the ball with their marketing

Published in: on November 9, 2005 at 10:00 am Comments (1)
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