Porno Vending Machine

Porno Vending MachineWhile in North America we have 24/7 paper-bag porno shops, in Japan they have the type of street vending machines we’re used to grabbing a can of coke from. Inside the Interesting 16 box is a nice selection of, um, adult materials and if that form of media strikes your fancy, all’s you have to do is pop your driver’s license in the slot on the right to verify you’re of legal age. Do people actually do this during the day?


The New York Times website posted an interesting article this morning discussing the remarkable innovations in product packaging over the past few years.  Due largely to product commoditization, environmental awareness on the parts of both producers and consumers, the rise of the internet and infinite cable channels, and the short attention span of this generation of young people, marketers are being forced to become more and more creative in packaging products. 

We all know that the volume of information and amount of advertising vying for our attention everyday is way, way to much to process.  The average amount of time a product maintained the same packaging as late as the 1990s was 7 years; 10 years later the average is only 2 years because customers are constantly searching for “what’s new”.

If you are to walk through the aisles of your local grocery store today, you would probably notice that products that have maintained their exterior packaging designs for years and years have suddenly revamped their respective images to become completely different.  Unilever’s Suave shampoo bottles recently underwent a transformation for the first time in 25 years, Axe shower gel is now shaped like a video game joystick, and Coors Light cans now employ thermochromatic ink in it labeling so the color of the mountains on the label become blue as the temperature of the can decreases.


Eye Catching Designs On Bottles Of Mountain Dew (excerpted from New York Times Website, photo by Lars Klove) 


 In the next few years we may see Pepsi cans that emit a blast of pleasant odor or potentially water spray when we open them.  But the most disturbing image of creative packaging the article highlighted is computer chips and tiny speakers being implanted into packaging so the product can talk to customers!

That’s right.  Apparently some companies are currently experimenting with technologies that will allow companies to cross-promote their products.  The article used the example of a customer picking up a block of cheese which is simultaneously saying to the customer, “I go well with Triscuits”.  I think I would find this difficult to adapt to.  As Tracy Lovatt, director for behavioral planning at BBDO North America, an advertising agency in the Omnicom Group points out, “walking down a row in a supermarket and every package is screaming at you, it sounds like a terrifying, disgusting experience”.  I second that!

What does all of this tell us?  In the Conceptual Age, we can count on the commoditization of pretty much anything and everything out there.  No matter how innovative a product may be, it’s almost a guarantee that someone else will either copy it or improve on it to grab a share of your market.  That is why “design” is such a talked about concept these days.  It is also the reason behind the Heath Brothers’ (of Made To Stick fame) 105% rule.  They believe that any product or experience that is not at least 5% better than the norm is not worth talking about, meaning missing out on the miracles of word-of-mouth marketing.  So, this weekend add a little innovation to all of your activities, see how creative you can get.  A little exercising the “design” center in your brain is much needed if you plan to enter the world of business today and in the future!

Back on July 19 I highlighted the amazing work of William Kamkwamba in his small village in Malawi.  Unable to afford schooling after age 14, William perservered and created a windmill adapted from a model in a library book that originally powered 4 lightbulbs and 2 radios in his families small hut.  Things have developed since then and William spoke at the TED conference in Arusha, Tanzania a couple months back and started a blog.  For those interested in this remarkable story, here is the link to the interview.


If you’re a fan of personal productivity/life skills blogs, LifeRemix has formed a network of bloggers/blogs such as Tim Ferriss, Dumb Little Man, Zen Habits, and No Impact Man that culminates in a tickertape-like site of original and useful productivity postings. 

Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Work Week” which just hit #1 on the New York Times Best Seller’s List has an interesting posting today aptly named, “How Does a Bestseller Happen? A Case Study in Hitting #1 on the New York Times“.

The August long weekend in Canada is traditionally the last long weekend of summer to be spent camping.  Even though the weather tends to be fairly nice during the September long, for Canadians the mood has changed and we feel winter’s fury approaching.  That is why I’ve been camping this weekend and things have been pretty quiet.

Coming home this evening and going through my emails and feed reader brought to an extremely interesting, though possibly impractical on a large scale, example of sustainable urban design.

 Two grad students at MIT, James Graham and Thaddeus Jusczyk, both M. Arch candidates have come up with an interesting way of converting mechanical energy to electrical energy.  Called the “Crowd Farm“, the pair have developed a system of subflooring consisting of blocks that depress slightly under the pressure of human footsteps and by slipping against one another, generate power through the principle of the dynamo, a device that converts the energy of motion into that of an electric current.  This could, they believe, effectively utilize human movement in creating renewable energy.


Thaddeus Jusczyk and James Graham

Although similar flooring systems have been developed already, the students believe that the “Crowd Farm” can potentially “redefine urban space by adding a sense of fluidity and encouraging people to activate spaces with their movement”.

I’ve been working on a blog posting relating to one of my recent reads, “Teacher As Servant: A Parable“, penned by Robert Greenleaf, the same Robert Greenleaf of the Greenleaf Center For Servant-Leadership.  I’ve written it and rewritten it a few times now trying to get it just right.  I can’t, so I’m going to just freely type as the thoughts come right now following the principle of KISS: keep it simple stupid.

Why have I tried to write this posting numerous times you might ask?  Well, as a Christian the concept of servant leadership is important to me.  Christians looks to Jesus Christ as the ultimate example of leadership in action but as most of us know, he is a very different type of leader from the typical CEO or prime minister/president we see in this day and time.  He was before anything else a servant.  Now I won’t go on all day from a Christian point of view; I just wanted to show where my interest stems from. 

To try and derive all of the meaning found in the book and summarize it in a short blog posting is impossible, for me anyways, so I’m just going to write and trust that my true feelings and intended message will make its way onto the computer screen.

“Teacher As Servant” though a fictional work is based on true events.  Our protaganist, Martin Hedeggar, tells of his experiences at Jefferson House (also known as Hammarskjold House), his home during his post-secondary years and its effects on him in his business career in the years following.  Jefferson House is the embodiment of a set of ideas, namely servant leadership, that should be taught on every university and college campus.  In my opinion, anyone entering the business field should have required courses in servant leadership.  In fact there are some programs in servant leadership at select universities.  At Viterbo University in Wisconsin, you can now earn your Master of Arts in Servant Leadership.  As far as I know this is the only master’s program available at the moment.

Anyways, beware of the tangent.  Jefferson House was, to put it simply, a group of people living together on a university campus, headed by a housemaster named Mr. Billings, that aimed to learn how to be of service to society.  Or how to succeed at a leadership role while maintaining servant qualities, mainly those regarding empowerment and empathy.  Now my aim is not to write a book review here although I do recommend reading this one.  The insights and meaning packed into this piece of fiction will most likely require you to read the book a couple of times or at the very least take notes.  I just want to talk about an idea put forth in the book that is new to me but very relevant to my own life at the moment.

In discussing growth, one of the books characters introduces the concept of “entheos”.  Entheos, which come from the same background as the word enthusiasm, is defined as “the power actuating one who is inspired” or the “essence that makes a constructive life possible”.  The character tries to build a concept of growth around this word by giving some indicators that entheos is either growing or not.  He begins with some indicators that are not reliable as evidence of the growth of entheos.  It is important to keep in mind that entheos “does not come in response to external incentives” and we can not “will it”.  The only thing that we can will is the search for it.  So what are the six unreliable indicators?

  • status or marital success-our reaching for success often destroys what is truly important
  • social success-we often move toward those who we are comfortable around and don’t challenge us
  • doing all that is expected of one self-only you know what should be expected of you
  • family success-“family may be taking more out of the wider community than contributing”
  • relative peace and quiet-you’ve closed yourself off to the possibilities
  • busyness-apparently “beneath the surface of much action there is the drive to avoid the implications of growth”.

These are the unreliable indicators.  Notice that these would be the indicators we as human beings, in the developed world at least, would tend to look at as evidence of growth, happiness and success.  Now what about the valid indicators?

  • a concurrent satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the status quo-you are not so unhappy with your current situation that it has a negative bearing on your life, but there is ample incentive to continue to grow
  • a concurrent feeling of broadening responsibility and centering down-simply put, expanding your horizons while at the same time having a growing awareness of “that one thing” you will do with your life
  • a growing sense of purpose in whatever one does-“What am I trying to do?” becomes the persistent question as you move from activity to activity, and from day to day.  Personally, I try to think of Victor Frankl’s finding purpose for his life while incarcerated in a Nazi concentration camp as I move from day to day.  This seems to make those activities I just can’t seem to find a purpose in seem like a piece of cake.
  • changing patterns and depths of one’s interests-newer, deeper interests begin to replace those of old
  • moving toward a minimum of difference between the outside and inside images of the self-we all wear masks to some extent, but gradually we become more transparent and authentic no matter where we happen to be
  • conscious of the good use of time and unhappy with the waste of time-distractions are everywhere in our society.  I often wonder about the economic effects of social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.  Think of all of the good you could be doing in the world when you sit down in the evening and watch your 3+ hours of CSI, Without A Trace, and American/Canadian Idol.
  • a growing sense of achieving one’s basic personal goals through one’s work-that popular saying, “the grass is green on the other side” is apparently not true.  Remember Victor Frankl and your should be able to find purpose and achievement in whatever you do, even as an industrial butcher
  • a growing sense of unity in all aspects of life-job, family, church, recreation, etc., tend to meld together.  Activities that impinge on what you deem important tend to be discarded.  Recently, before I read the book, I had a conversation with a person who would be a worthy role model for most young people these days.  I iterated that I really felt I needed to work toward finding this unity in my life and the person told me it couldn’t be done.  I disagreed with him, but it was nice to see a like-minded point of view put into writing.
  • a developing view of people-all people are to be trusted, valued, and most importantly, loved.
  • an intuitive feeling of oneness, of wholeness, of rightness-this doesn’t mean you get comfortable and become complacent, it just means you feel your are moving in the right direction.

As a Christian I can find alot of the fundamental tenets of my faith in this list of growth indicators.  Interestingly, this list does not come from a Christian and the person who gave this book to me to read is not a Christian, yet they actually depict these qualities better than most Christians I know, including myself.  Servant leadership is not something that is Christian, it is completely and totally human.  Once you find these indicators start to ring true in your life, you are on the right path no matter what your belief system.

I wrote this posting because this book really touched me in a deeply personal way.  It contained so many ideas relevant to me personally and those ideas would be of great benefit to any human being on the face of this planet.  If the whole population of planet Earth each lived to serve others this world would be a much better place.  I encourage any readers to read up on the concept of servant leadership and apply it wherever you are in life.  Family, business, and church are all places where it can be effective.

Since this is a business blog, I would encourage anyone with a leadership position in business today or in the future learn everything they can about servant leadership and apply it.  I feel it will be something that will catch on in the management field in the next little while.  Not as a bubble, fad, or trend, but a style of management that will be necessary to succeed in the Conceptual Age.

So far, on my little journey into the blogosphere here, I’ve enjoyed highlighting businesses, business models, people, etc. that have an innovative bent.  I’ve also discussed in the past my hopes of completing my business program with a narrative, interactive, multimedia-based (I’m going to have to work on narrowing those descriptives down to something more malleable) business plan. 

The New York Times reported today that Sean Combs, aka Diddy, P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, is looking to recruit a new personal assistant.  He is rumored to be a rather demanding boss judging by the NY Times article.  If you like the idea of being yelled at and holding his umbrella, it may be your type of job.  The interesting slant to this that makes it worthy of the Conceptual Age is the fact that Diddy is not accepting resumes.  Not paper ones anyways.

Diddy has uploaded a video on YouTube alerting cyberspace he is looking for a new assistant.  He is not accepting resumes, but rather maximum 3 minute video clips describing what makes you the right person for the job, to be uploaded onto YouTube.  Viewers will pick the finalists, and Combs will pick the winner.

It would be of interest to those considering applying for the job that Diddy’s last personal assistant, Fonzworth Bentley, used his position to land a recording deal, endorsements, and launch his own line of umbrellas!

I’m starting to see more and more evidence that my idea of a multimedia narrative business plan will be something that we may see more of in the future and likely we will see more employers asking for videoclips to be attached to resumes to give them a more personal quality.

Check out Combs’ video below: