Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Hi readers. I am on a little break here, involved with a few creative assignments. Actually, working on so many topics at one time, I've got my own tiny Internet in my head! I'll be back in about a week, perhaps earlier. While I'm gone, why not check out a few interesting FREE reads?

The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki - a manifesto I recommended to my students of entrepreneurship. Pretty interesting. It emphasises the prototyping approach to get going. I've decided to include prototyping as a compulsory part of my next "hands-on" entrepreneurship class.
How to be Creative by Hugh MacLeod - dispelling a fat load of myths about creativity. A shocking, provocative, but real-life welcome to the world of creativity in advertising. Warning: Real Life, dead ahead!
Start Talking Ideas - Want to Make Your Mark on the world? Want to do something? Check this site out if you have an idea that you want to bring to life.

I am off for now. Just a little something else: How woulld you like to be the designer for a branded line of t-shirts, given the chance?

Just think wishful, no economics, no real-life. It's a wish survey. Leave a comment or mail.

Oh yes, anonymous comments are allowed once again. And the site's licensed under a Creative Commons Deed now. More later. Salam for now!

Really missing me? Here's the email: nextbyramla AT gmail DOT com
P.S. As a way of giving more time to things that really matter (me, my family, my faith), I am practicing spending fewer time online, especially on emails. I'm scheduling weekly time for email responses. It may be slower, but it also much better and thoughtful!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Small is the new big

Can a small firm pose serious threat to a large one? A reader disagreed with the idea that Nestlé Pakistan could face competition from Cottage Foods - a small, unknown new entrant. What Cottage Foods eventually does is something I am not privy to. But I sure think that even in Pakistan, which by no means is a very developed economy/nation, consumerism basics in the urban centers are similar to the basics the world over. And so are the opportunities.

Whatever the scale or type of an economy, certain things about human psyche always hold true, which is why small and medium enterpises thrive side-by-side with the large giants. And one day, they can grow in to major challenges. The stories of the local Pakistani food and beverage companies such as Haleeb and Tapal with their runaway success testify this. They didn't start out as big as Unilever or Nestlé, but today, they are a force to reckon with.

Besides, Pakistan has a highly associative culture. So the cornerstone / small, huggable company has a chance to be a preferred product provider. In fact, with the rising consumerism in Pakistan that brings with it a dissociative culture, the best form of a company would be a middle-of-the-path enterprise with the elegance of a large corporation (on delivery of promise and branding) and warm lovability of a corner dhaba.

Tom Peters think a small corporation stands a big chance in its niche. Here's his list of "musts" for the "little guy." Or gal. Underdog Marketing by TEC International suggests this:

  1. Define the market
  2. Differentiate until your drop &
  3. Dominate your segment

Of course, Pakistan is not a place where a copy&paste strategy will work as is. But the basic principles of organized marketing will apply to most markets. At any rate, it doesn't hurt to be loved by the customer!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The thinking tummy

Instinct. Gut feel. Something that all business schools don't teach, but should. The Trump University newsletter [vol 8/ Go With Your Gut] says:

We all have instincts. The important thing is to know how to use them. You may have superb academic credentials, but if you don’t use your instincts you might have a hard time getting to and staying at the top. Knowing how to use your instincts is one of those gray areas that remain... [Read more...]

Email: nextbyramla AT

Cut it short and just KISS!

Your Elevator Pitch Heard of the KISS principle of oral communication? No, don't pout and poise the lips just yet, it's a short-hand for Keep It Short and Simple. Personally, I prefer the more cheeky version: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

I bumped into Your Elevator Pitch by chance, and it turned out to be a great resource for my Entrepreneurship class! The idea is neat: Can you summarize and pitch your business idea clearly, and communicate in the time that it takes to make an elevator ride? If not, you may need to understand your own business before presenting it.

The site intro says:

An "elevator pitch" is a quick and concise way to communicate who you are, what you're trying to do and why you do it better. It's much more than a mission statement, it's understanding your business in a way that gets people excited and thinking.

I used the idea in the class today: I asked the students who are making group business plans to give an elevator pitch about their offer. The idea was, if the elevator pitch sounds okay, we have something solid on hand. I have made the elevator pitch the starting point of the class biz plans.

What happened next? The correlation between a good pitch and a plausible business idea was clear. Pitches that raised the most comments, "It's vague!" "What are you trying to say?" didn't have a sound business idea. The idea's bubble burst as questions pointed in.

One pitch about a telecom product created quite a buzz. The idea raised questions about the legality and technical aspects of the product. There was incredulous suspicion in the air, and some of the people, me included, just didn't get the idea until we played 20 questions. As questions and discussions pounded in, it was clear that the biz plan and the marketing plan will have to focus on the product part and educate the consumer about the tech part first.

One Pakistani telco comapny, GoCDMA, could learn from this. The product hasn't worked, and the marketers complain that the customer doesn't get it. Ahan!

For more help on elevator pitches, see sister site: Only 30 Floors

Email: nextbyramla AT

Friday, July 15, 2005

Burning to find answers?

Burning Questions is a premier global business gathering where... leading executives and management thought leaders... explore the latest research and emerging best practices that will give... practical insights for steering [an] organization toward a more productive and profitable future.

Burning Questions is where forward looking business people discuss, debate, and ultimately set the strategic agenda for the months and years ahead. {Read More...}

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Can Pottermania be potted up?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth book in the wizarding saga, goes on sale worldwide at 0001 BST [British Standard Time] on Saturday. UK book chain Waterstone's says it is expecting about 300,000 to queue at its stores for the late night opening on Friday. {Read More}

Meanwhile, doubts prevail about the magic of Harry - has he been overcommercialized? In the latest newsletter, Ann Handley declared that the Pottermania was limited to the spell of the story itself. The merchandise didn't have the magic of the word. There are others who wonder if the Harry Potter charm itself is wearing off? The BBC lets the public wonder.

That said, the core Potter brand (ah, them lovely books!) shows limited signs of wearing off. Publishers expect 2 million books to vanish in a day.

From the blogosphere: The Leaky Cauldron, the most popular Harry Potter blog on Google search list, is maintaining a countdown clock accurate up-to-the-second and some excellent news about the upcoming release.

Is Harry Potter just a brand with a craze following (it just seems to be a must-have book series) or is it a lovemark, adored for the spell it creates?

London blasts and the blogosphere

What's terrorism? How should the new world deal with it? Quite an argument going on here ( on the London blasts.

There was another dimension to the blasts: the power of the individual as a media source. The BBC and Guardian received images caught by viewers on cell phones and digital cameras. The blogosphere was full of personal accounts of survivors. Blogs instantly reported the news (courtesy tp wire service). The BBC invited a survivor blogging about her ordeal, survival and coping - and she's keeping a survivor's diary at the BBC News website.

The world of news has changed for good with blogging, T-mobiles/t-zones, and the high level of interactivity between the newsmakers, reporters, and the public.

What will the role of the journalist be in the new world of media, when we can get the news straight from the source??

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Nestle PK has competition in health food...

Just spotted a new line of milk food products by Cottage Foods. While I reached for the Nestle fruit yogurt (my substitute for ice cream) in a grocery shop fridge, I found the Cottage Foods Low-fat/ regular yogurts lined up right next to Neslte.

The type-face and the design is good-looking - not the typical Pakistani. (Seems to be a direct life from some American/European style design template). The line of products (cheese, pasteurized milk, yogurt, raita) nods to the growing trend of health foods.

I am glad to see a local health food brand come up. This will give Nestle Pakistan a run for their money.

Re: the website. I don't understand why the customers have to register for delivery through email. This still isn't how B2C business is done in Pakistan. There should be a 0900 number for home delivery registration and a toll-free 0800 for customer quesries and feedback. Cool interface, but I could do without the ultra-rapid scrolling on info pages.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Whole World Thinking - the third way

Left hemisphere of the brain ll Western hemisphere of Earth;
Right hemisphere of the brain ll Eastern hemisphere of Earth;
Whole-Brain Thinking ll Whole-World Thinking!!

It occured to me while I was thinking about the balanced, whole brain thinking, and this discussion on has prompted me to finally blog this idea:

I was teaching Right Brain thinking and mind maps to my students of entrepreneurship when I had an epiphany: the optimal thinking and intelligence is WHOLE BRAIN THINKING. If you look at the WORLD, and its two hemispeheres are macrocosmic enlargements of our brains - the left/ Western hemisphere is logical, precise, analytical, individualistic, masculine. The right/ Eastern hemisphere is holistic, intuitive, interdependent, creative, feminine.

The optimal thinking is the whole brain thinking. The optimal Way is the WHOLE WORLD WAY. The one that balances the yin and the yang. The East and the West. Our Way and Their Way. It takes the best of both and creates a common ground. And it accomodates both of "the others." It's very much like a male-female interaction taking place to create a family. Both are different. By co-depending and understanding, a man and a woman create a harmonious relationship while still remaining themselves. Think Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

I am also working on a manifesto, The Religious Corporate Leader. And that is perhaps what really inspired the Whole World Thinking idea. For this manifesto, I have used not just religious theories, but also the knowledge of chaos theory, lessons from The Art of War, Seven Habits, theories of Leonardo da Vinci, current business literature and what not. That it all effortlessly blended in together made me wonder if there is really a way in which apparantly distinct and conflicting knowledge can be brought together? Is there a way in which the whole world can think together to produce a better, third way of thinking, just as the two sides of the brain can think as a whole to arrive at optimal solutions?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Wannado City

The blurb says: At Wannado City, kids can be whatever they want to be – right now. From paleontologist to news reporter, to everything in between, kids try out tons of grown-up jobs in the first indoor city just their size. They can operate on a patient, cook up a pizza or even solve a crime.

This is amazing. Be what you wanna be! DO what you wanna do! The ultimate realistic-fantasy of all human beings: get a taste of what it's like to do what you want to do with real objects and playmates.

Kids play out their fantasies in style by role-playing with imaginery objects and imaginary settings (and in my kiddie days, there were sometimes massive disputes on setting the scene and even assigning gender roles). But in Wannado City, brainchild of Mexican-born entrepreneur Luis Javier Laresgoiti, kids roleplay in real-life settings and carry out virtually real tasks. He got the idea for this experiential park when he watched his own daughter play with his telephone.

This park is not only experiential, which is the big idea of today's business world, but Luis also has the colorful designation of Chief Creative Officer. Certainly the kind of designations that should get a seat in the Board of Directors of today's organizations. Use them, or lose them! [And if they "should not" get a seat, they "will" get a seat.]

The next thing I'd like to see is a Wannado Park for adults! Or a kiddie-style amusement park for the adults. For a loooong time, the kids' play pens in McDonald's have been making me think of this. No more boring old gardens (ala the Karachi Safari Park) for adult amusement! I WANNA DO some thing! :)