1. Take a free perk
2. Start charging for it
3. Repeat step 2 for years
4. Develop a new, high-profit margin business
5. Attach perk from step 1 to new business in step 4
6. Advertise originally-free perk as a new, added benefit to the new business and pray that potential customers are forgetful and intrigued, instead of furious and insulted.
Today, 8 hours before attending a show I purchased through Goldstar, they sent a transportation alert warning me of potential commuting problems:
Regarding your tickets to “American Idiot” on Thu, June 14, 2012 at 8:00pm, we have just been informed that the West Oakland BART Station experienced a fire adjacent to the tracks earlier today that shut down the station. BART hopes to be single tracking through the Transbay tunnel by 5pm this afternoon. Please check www.bart.gov for updated schedule information or consider using alternate transportation to get to the theatre this evening.
We hope you enjoy the show!Sincerely,
Goldstar Customer Service
That’s some thoughtful customer service. On the surface, it’s just an alert, but it really served three purposes:
Battling a stranger is one thing. Battling someone you look up to is an entirely different matter:
It’s been an amazing two years but it’s finally time for me to say goodbye. I’m taking off tomorrow and the notion of leaving you has been as been as surreal as coming.
From stepping off the plane to learning how to navigate your transit lines; from teaching English to your engineers to teaching breakdancing to your children; from visiting your sites to showing visitors around your cities; from surviving inaka to surviving the earthquake.
You’ve taught me more about the world and also about myself. I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done. April 6th 2009 through March 25th, 2011 marks a life-changing journey that I’ll never forget.
It’s been real.
In the world of project management, one of the initial processes is called “Identify Stakeholders” which essentially means to “identify all of the people who are somehow related to the project.“.
When I accepted the job as an English teacher in Japan, I thought of our contracts as projects with two stakeholders: ALT’s/(Foreign) English teachers and students. Over the course of my 2 years, I learned that not only are there more, but that we also have different priorities, stakes and interests:
Just like in project management, ALT contracts also come with their own stakeholder balancing act. Though there’s overlap, it’d be impossible for such a diverse set of interests to not also occasionally bump and collide. It was easy to get wrapped up in my own priorities or focus on just one or 2 other stakeholders. But with so many connected parts, and because I came into contact with all of them on a regular basis, it was important to rememeber that each one had their own vested interest in it all.
An ActiveRecord haiku on relationships:
I belongs_to you
But you has_many others
Usually, when you sign up on a website and have a generated password emailed to you, it’s a very hard-to-guess sequence of random strings strung together. It’s gibberish, but it’s relatively secure.
Upon receiving the initial email, I had to do a double take on:
“Your password: CuddlyFrog839″
Heh. Really? Cuddly Frog?
So I signed up again, this time getting:
“Your password: HugeGiraffe830″
Heh. Huge Giraffe.
Afterward, I continued to the site with a smile on my face.
While not as secure as randomly generated gibberish, the passwords still weren’t easy to guess. But in return for that trade-off, they got a new user browsing their site in good cheer and associating that feeling with them. I’m sure they can live with that.
This sign is posted above toilets in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building‘s observatory bathrooms:
And just like that, a thousand words are spoken.
The other day, I opened VLC’s Media Player and chuckled:
Their cone icon was wearing a Santa Claus hat!
It’s nothing too crazy, but it was cool to see them letting their personality show during the holiday season. They have an awesome, open source player that can render damn near any type of media file you throw at them, but little touches like this still make it that much more of a pleasure to use.