The choices they make

I learned something important last month: Corporate America has a long, long way to go before it can ever claim that it treats women fairly.

I work for a firm that is consistently ranked amongst the best firms to work at for women and minorities. What a crock of shit.

Taco Land:

I work for Company X’s internal consulting group. We get to work on some pretty cool assignments for the CEO and is army of SVPs. I get paid well, my hours aren’t awful, and I rarely feel like I have a gun to my head—–it’s a very different feeling when compared to my time at Bulge Bracket Bank.

Now, everyone knows that I’m trying to get into the multicultural strategy/marketing space. I think that working in Latin America for a little bit can build my credibility in the US Hispanic space, so that’s why everyone thought I’d be a perfect fit for the upcoming assignment in Taco Land (a Latam country, but since I can’t give any details I’ll just call it Taco Land).

The Taco Land project sounds phenomenal: Design the country strategy for every product and division for the next three years. Unbelievable experience.

What I have to offer: Cultural relevancy given that I grew up in a Central American family. Spanish fluency. Sick family and professional connections in Taco Land. An eye for new trends in Latam (proven in past work). Etc. Etc. Etc. Perfect for the job.

Unfortunately, they structured the travel schedule as follows: 2 weeks in Taco Land, 4 days back, repeat for 4 months. In other words, I’d be in NYC for 8/36 days. That’s bullshit. I very politely told them that “this is an amazing opportunity that I would love to contribute to, if they are more flexible on the travel demands.” They said no, so I declined the project and am getting the stink eye at work.

My group emphasizes work life balance when recruiting for new talent. The group is literally 75% female. Every single person in this group cold have but work first and taken a job with McKinsey or Bain or BCG, but chose instead to work at a place that supposedly respected their work life balance. Yet, not one woman over the age of 24 volunteered for this position and very few men of any age volunteered either.

They made a decision to stack someone other than the best player for the job when they structured the project this way. They made a decision that prevented other members of the team from volunteering for this project.

Yet I’m viewed as the bad one who left the team high and dry…that’s not fair. They made a decision too….


I have another great story but this post is getting long…I’ll save it for another day.


May 21, 2010, 11:25
Filed under: Market Trends, Politics, Social Trends

I’m angry at BP. Very angry.

“Finders Keeper” Kindergarden rule costs Apple billions; Steve Job cries in the corner.

Steve Jobs needs to get a grip of himself.   According to this article, Jobs pressured and then gave Gizmoto the cold shoulder after they posted pictures of the new iPhone.  Hasn’t Jobs ever heard of the age-old playground rule:  “finders keepers, losers weepers?”

It turns out some sore losers in California lobbied for a law that requires the finders of lost goods valued over $100 to turn the items over to the police.  The man who found the iPhone at the bar didn’t exactly do this, and now he’s in trouble. Okay, I get it, he broke a law that no one has ever heard of…but,What’s the big fuss about?

Apple says this snafu has cost it millions of dollars since consumers won’t buy the old iPhone now that they know a new one is coming.  WHO didn’t know that a new iPhone was coming out in June?  I went to an AT&T store before the scandal because I needed to replace my phone. When I asked the store manager point blank “are you guys getting a new iPhone,” he answered “we know we have to reserve tons of shelf space for a new unnamed product…the last 4 times that’s happened, it’s for a new iPhone.”  I am no sleuth, so I’m sure others figured out Apple planned on launching a new iPhone this summer too.

Moreover, the news may have delayed some people from making an iPhone purchase. Sure. But what does it matter if the sales figures will contribute to the same fiscal year? Won’t the delayed purchases just push up the sales of the new iPhone?

Apple also claims that the press-leak may give its competitors an upper hand. Really?  Competitors can reverse engineer the current iPhones out in the market, yet they haven’t really created a compelling substitution option. Why would that change all of a sudden?

Fourth: come on. This is fantastic press. Stop complaining.

Democrats need to take Marketing 101

I am about to graduate from business school with a degree in marketing.  Now, many of you “financier” MBAers may look down on my marketing degree, but it is actually quite useful once you realize that every institution on earth needs to do one thing to survive: Sell.

The Catholic Church needs to sell its ideology, Goldman Sachs needs to sell its financial services, and Banana Republic needs to sell clothes.    The rest of this post will assume that the Democratic party (and all political parties in general) need to sell ideas to gain support and votes.

There is one crucial framework that marketing 101 that the Democrats are only recently getting wind of:  STP, which stands for segmenting, targeting and positioning.  Any institution worth its salt knows which consumer segments exist in its market, then  it does its homework to identify target  “customers” that are most likely to buy its goods, finally the institution develops a position that will appeal to its target customer.  Duh.

The #1 mistake that rookie institutions make is that they ignore STP and try to be all things for all people.  That is exactly what the Democrats have done for too long. Perhaps we should define the Dems as being cautious liberals or are they quirky conservatives? I’m not sure. I don’t think anyone is sure, and that is exactly why the Dems are having an identity crisis at the moment.

I’ll drive my STP point home with a simple analogy: clothing retail.   Sears was once the King of Retail. No retailer on earth sold as much to as many customers as Sears.  They grew and tried to be all things to all people.  Sears started selling clothes, then appliances, then eye glasses and car repair services. Sears even had a pest control service at one point in time.  This strategy seemed to work until more sophisticated retailers joined the party and focused on a specific segment then targeted them with a unique market offering/position.

If you look at the following chart as the spectrum of needs retail customers look for, you can safely place Sears smack dab in the middle.  There they are, trying to be all things to all people.  Competitors entered and made sure to meet specific customer needs.  Sears found itself straddling the market and was unable to fully meet the needs of their customers.  I mean, why would you shop at Sears and try to find something you like if you could find exactly what you want at the other stores? They lost share. They’ve lost sales. They are in trouble.

The Democrats lost Massachusetts because they “Pulled a Sears.”  They are straddling voters and coming out empty because they can’t fully satisfy the liberals nor can they compete with Republicans who are doing a better job of satisfying the conservatives.   The Democrats need to do some serious STP analysis.

Segment:  All voters ages 18+

Target:  Start with all voters that are not conservatives and then get much more specific than that.

Position: The political party best suited to accomplish _________________  (meet a need that the target audience wants met)

  • Stabilize the economy
  • Create incentives that help new industries (and jobs) develop so that the US remains competitive in the future
  • Restructure public services so that constituents receive higher value at lower costs (i.e. Health Care, Social Security, etc)
  • Etc, Etc, Etc

The point is that they need to define a position and try to execute a few things very well and not trying to solve all problems under the sky.

I must end this post by congratulating President Obama for having the cojones to tell the party exactly what my favorite Marketing 101 professor told us:  Focus, Specialize and Act Decisively.

President Obama recently said ““I think the natural political instinct is to tread lightly, keep your head down and to play it safe…don’t play safe.”  He’s right. The Dems cannot afford to play it safe, they need to focus and be unquestionably Democrat in rhetoric and action.

February 12, 2009, 11:25
Filed under: Market Trends, Politics, Social Trends

This video of Ms. Henrietta Hughes’ question to President Obama breaks my heart. It absolutely breaks my heart.  Here I am, complaining…..when there are individuals like her that are homeless, have nowhere to sleep or bathe.

This video puts things into perspective.

There are naysayers out there claiming that this was staghed.  One commentor said:

“How does a 61-year-old homeless woman who’s living in a pickup truck with her son JUST HAPPEN to get a ticket so she can VERY PUBLICALLY ask Prez. Obama for a HOUSE? Anyone? Who pushes her up on stage? She’s right at the front of the crowd. Did she just happen to get a seat there?” asked reader Erik E.

This recession HAS led to an increase in unemployment and HAS resulted in more homelessness. This woman must be desperate. I think it’s highly plausible that she waited in line, pushed her way to the front of the stage, and made sure she had a chance to ask her question.

Have a little compassion because it’s sad to see some of you be so cynical.

Nation Building I
January 18, 2009, 11:25
Filed under: Politics, Social Trends

Something that I love about the United States is its ability to nation build.  It’s amazing how a country this large, this heterogenous, and this new can find enough common ground to create one national identity.

The recent plane crash in the Hudson river is a perfect example. Through the easily accessible medium that is the internet, hundreds of millions of Americans viewed the crash pictures, videos and testimonial.  For many, the pictures of the crash awakened memories of 9/11. This was a positive juxtaposition to that tragedy. We like happy endings.

The most potent effect of the crash so far is the honor this one nation bestowed on this one individual:  Captain Chesley Sullenberger .

The entire front page focused on him most of yesterday. Now, there are facebook groups dedicated to him, tv shows clamoring to interview him, etc. 

This one heroic event has created a national memory that we can all stand behind, reminding us that we are part of a nation where miracle stories like this can happen.

Obama—What Will Change?
June 6, 2008, 11:25
Filed under: Politics, Social Trends | Tags:

We need to understand the status-quo and identify problems in our society before anyone can determine what/how things will change should Obama be elected.

  • Economy
  • Threat of terrorism—by extension, the war in Iraq
  • Racism and inequality
  • ?
  • ?
  • ?
  • There are probably millions of problems, with thousands of subproblems.

We need to understand the nature of each problem. Does racism lead to inequality? Does inequality dampen the economy? Does a  war in Iraq inhibit or promote acts of terrorism in the United States? Does an act of terrorism have the ability to crush the US Economy

We need to rank these items and figure out their hierarchy. Do most people prefer to fix the economy or fix the war in Iraq? Fix the economy or alleviate inequality?

It’s tough. It’s almost too tough to do even though I’m sure there are think tanks all around the country that exist for the sole purpose of identifying and then solving problems. I have some ideas too…but I need to think them through.

In a nutshell, I think that Obama is not your typical candidate. I think that he has a unique perspective by virtue of his background.  I think that this unique perspective will shock the political status-quo and present the United States with a once in a life time chance (chance…this is probability so that means that results are not guaranteed) to change the greater good, change the status quo.

History has taught us that the top of the status quo usually fears change. History has also shown us that, more often than not,  change is good for society.

I want to define what needs to be changed and then figure out if Obama is in a position to produce that change. Posts to follow.