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The things that keep you coming back

posted in Marketing on August 7th, 2007

In today’s (commercial) world, everyone seems to be focused on one thing and one thing only: money. Many companies forget that without customers, they would not be where they are right now and yet, some companies still believe they can treat their customers the way they want.

Normally, this kind of post would turn into a rant, but I think it is important to point out those companies that actually care about their customers and will do (just about) everything to keep you coming back:

First up is QH Networks. I came across them while looking for some professional help on getting a new Operating System installed on my server. Since I value my data and like to be kept in the loop, I bombarded one of their employees with a myriad of questions during the whole project. I had special requirements and special circumstances, yet they did not give up on me and move on to the next, probably more profitable client. By doing so, they earned my respect and I will most certainly come back when I am in need of their services again.

Next stop is Proporta.com. I initially came across them in 2003, while looking for some accessories for my Pocket PC and while I am not ordering from them every other week, they are always the first site that I check. The reason for that is simple: their employees are very responsive and in the rare case that your order cannot be shipped out the same day, they will try to, and actually do, their level best to keep you happy as a customer. It is not so much the reparations they are willing to make but their concern for you as a customer. Granted, said concern is probably based on the fact that they want to keep you as a customer, but still, they care, while others do not. And besides that, Proporta.com includes a selection of English Breakfast Tea with every order, a small gesture, yes, but one I like a lot.

Both of these companies work harder to keep you as a customer than most other companies you will ever come across. It may be related to their respective area of operations, which are more niche than your ordinary brick and mortar store or it may be related to the fact that their employees actually give a damn. Either way, it works out very nicely for the consumer.

The Reason I do this

posted in personal stuff on August 4th, 2007

Sometimes, people ask me why I devote time to blogging, after all, it is one of those pastimes you do not earn much ‘cred with on the streets. Which, obviously is not entirely correct, but that is not the point.

The reason I do this is simple, I like to share my thoughts with the world, and occasionally, the world replies and tells me heartwarming things like this:

The reason I do this

If this is not one of the best reasons to do this, then I would not know what is. Thanks, Josh.

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On Human Nature

posted in Media on July 19th, 2007

I just came across a clip on YouTube that I felt was worth posting about. The clip has been viewed close to 500,000 times already and as always, this kind of attention also attracts those that try to take the high road by claiming that they would never do the things depicted in the video.

Now, before you get any wrong ideas about the clip, rest assured, its mostly safe for work. There’s no nudity or anything, in fact - its nothing more than a visualization of human nature:

Paul Robinett, director and producer of the clip is taping his son, who has been trying to bury himself under the sand, when all of a sudden, Robinett spots a trio of young women:

Now, beautiful women on a beautiful beach aren’t that uncommon these days, so what’s the fuss about you might wonder? Well, instead of stopping the tape or focusing on his son again, Robinett keeps taping the women, in order to point out that his actions (watching them) aren’t all that bad, considering that the trio is doing exactly the same, namely watching a handsome lifeguard and even having the guts of walking in front of the lifeguard in order to take a few pictures with him standing in the background.

So, I am wondering, how is it that it is acceptable for women to watch men and yet, at the same time, it is socially unacceptable for men to watch women?

As expected, this video gathered quite a few responses, with some of them complaining about the content of the video and others congratulating Robinett for being courageous enough to post this kind of clip on YouTube.

My take on this video is simple: Robinett has a point and a very good one at that. It is simply human nature to seek out the more attractive members of a society and there is nothing wrong with that and even more, that is nothing to feel guilty about.

Robinett does not portray these women as sex objects in any way, he only shows the viewer that females do not differ from males as much as socially accepted values would lead us to believe.

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The ties that bind and the ties that don’t

posted in Media, personal stuff on April 15th, 2007

I just finished reading a book called “Mijn Leven met Tikker” (Living with Tikker), a very interesting story about trust, bonding, love, respect and the pain that eventually follows all of this. I’ve been a dog owner for 14 years, until my dog died during the winter of 2004 and at times, Tikker’s story feels like the story of my own dog, Timmy.

The author, who was the actual owner of the dog, shares his impressions about living with a canine. The book talks about how hard it can be to teach a dog to do certain things but also goes into detail about how rewarding it is to face the challenge about raising a non-human being. The story goes on to talk about eventually illnesses many dogs acquire in the last years of their lives and how this dog had to cope with it. Some scenes are described in such vivid detail that I actually had the feeling that I was standing right there with the dog and his handler and experiencing the whole thing first-hand.

Humans often think that canines are incapable of showing high-level emotions but in fact, canines are very capable of displaying their mood. My dog, like Tikker, became self-conscious when he discovered that he couldn’t do certain things anymore, he didn’t want me to see how weak he had become, probably even began to question if I till loved him.

That, simply, is how dogs are, most of them will stick by you for the duration of their life, if you let them. If you manhandle them, they will hold a grudge for some time, but eventually give you another chance, at least, that’s what I’ve been hearing. Can’t imagine manhandling my dog (or any other benign for that matter).

All in all, the book is very interesting and if you are able to read Dutch, I’d highly recommend reading this book. It’s a very interesting story and if you ever had a dog, you will most certainly be able to understand the hardships the author had to and has to endure, now that his dog is gone.

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distorted perception

posted in College, personal stuff on March 7th, 2007

People are being influenced by their surroundings. In order to not alienate yourself from the people that you love, you’ll most probably try to fit in. Sure, some try harder than others, but all do try. That is my opinion anyway.

Most of the times, the better you fit in in your surroundings, the more success you will achieve, sometimes though, your environment can be damaging to you, your health or your future.

I was thinking about this yesterday and started analyzing the comments I received from various people in my life, people who know me or like to think that they know me. Some of them, in my opinion, are more qualified than others to “judge” me, some are entirely unfit to comment on anything.

About a year ago, someone I was spending a lot of time with at the time, claimed that I’m way too childish for my age. She deemed my behavior inappropriate and basically recommended me to “grow up a little”.

Naturally, after being with someone for three years, those claims aren’t just thoughts that were spat out in a heated discussion, but are something that managed to manifest itself over time.

Then, a few months later, when college began again, I had my second meeting with the mentor that was assigned to me. Her thoughts about me collided totally with what I’ve been told earlier. She thought of me as “way too business-focussed”, bordering the “uptight”.

It’s funny when you think about it. A person you’ve known for about three hours at the time (that is, two meetings of 90 minutes each) thinks she is qualified to judge you and your actions.

Now, I’m not saying that her opinion should be dismissed, after all, she may or may not have studied psychology and thus may very well be capable of evaluating a student’s actions and provide feedback based upon that.

On the other hand though, you have to understand where people are coming from. The first person had a personal interest in the issue. She would benefit if I’d change. The second person, according to my opinion, just tried to force her views on me. She wouldn’t gain anything if I’d become less “uptight”, other than personal gratification.

The other day, I was talking to two other people. The first one, a person I’ve been working with for 18 months now, called me a “friggin’ rockstar” and outlined how he deemed my mindset totally appropriate for the things I am trying to achieve.

He also shared some personal experience with me about how people in his (professional) environment told him to slow down, be less uptight and relax more. In his opinion, those that lack focus will always try to slow you down, not for your own best will, but because they perceive you as a threat. According to him, if you would slow down, it would give those people a chance to catch up with you, on a professional level and you’d be less competitive.

The way I see it, I have to strongly agree with his assessment. I know that I’m focussed and can be too focussed in times when said focus is needed. That however, doesn’t mean that I lack perspective. Most of all the actions I have taken in the last years are geared towards one objective: finishing college and gaining a skill set that will make me competitive on the market I am going to work on.

I see students in my college who are, technically speaking, able to achieve a lot, maybe more than me, but they don’t try to. Some of them just don’t care about being successful, some of them just lack the needed focus.

In essence, it comes down to the following: If people in your environment tell you to slow down, take where they are coming from into consideration. Don’t just do it because you value them, think about yourself first.

They may be able to distort your perception, but as long as you enable yourself to put some perspective to it, you should be able to distinguish those that are telling you to slow down so they can gain an advantage on you and those who are genuinely worried about you and your workload.

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