Friday, October 31, 2014

My Halloween Costume

Yesterday, a neighbor dropped an invitation to attend a Halloween block party, this evening.

I immediately thought that I would dress into an Ebola aid worker and make an irresistible impression.

But come to think of it, someone is needed at home to distribute candies to trick and treaters, so I'll have no choice but voluntarily quarantine myself.

I have not yet decided if I'll wear my haz-mat suit; it might spook the kids...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Marcel Hirscher and his Marker plate binding...

The Austrian star won Sölden by a large margin and had Ligety not hit a rock, he still wouldn't have been able to beat him. So after the dust settled, the ski press and a few industry insiders began suggesting that Hirscher had indeed switched from his Atomic bindings to Marker and that the different plate might have worked some magic on his two GS runs.
Skiing is 80% mental and the switch might have worked as a placebo or it perhaps kept Marcel's skis steady on an otherwise bumpy course. We'll never know quite for sure unless some serious tests are conducted and if Ligety also switches from his Tyrolia to the “magic” Marker plate.

Without some hard evidence, every comment will remain pure speculation!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mountain bike, gender and right of way...

Those of us who ride a mountain bike know that the uphill biker has right of way. Of course, one has to know the difference between up and down, but suffice to say that when I'm on a trail where it's hard to tell whether it's going uphill or downhill, I just yield, to be on the safe and courteous sides.

I have found that women riders have a hard time grasping that notion. On three occasions, including one just yesterday, I've almost collided with women who were riding down on me at various rates of speed and still expecting me to yield to them.

Is it a problem of spatial orientation that women are known for having, or a deeply rooted expectation that men should be chivalrous and yield to them, no matter what, just because of their gender. I have yet to figure that one out...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Are you what you manage?

Jobs are not created equal. There are management jobs that are almost impossible to pull off, while others are a cakewalk. For example, I remember that during most of the 70s and 80s, Nordica ski boots were the easiest product to sell, to the point that many would say that even if a monkey were in charge of its US distribution, the American sales and marketing company would still do extremely well.

Of course it was the case of “it's the product stupid!” While most competitors were focused on performance and gimmicks, Nordica made boots that felt good on the foot and were always very comfortable. It all changed when Benetton purchased the company in the late 80's. They added skis, bindings, clothing a dubious marketing campaign and all this extra burden managed to screw up the entire brand.

This example goes a long way in demonstrating that if a company has a sound product, with at least one clear advantage, plus a decent organization it can ride the wave of success for a very long time. Of course, those at the head of these exemplary organization will tend to believe they're the very reason for this when in fact the business they think they run, operate in fact on automatic pilot.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some companies are dysfunctional from the get go, either because the founder has no well-grounded common sense, there's no corporate vision, the efforts to grow the organization are sporadic and erratic, or the company is simply in reactive (catch-up) mode.

Acquisitions are always a big danger because they bring foreign, disruptive elements and generally are a huge distraction on a management that is used to run simple, predictable business models, but totally unable to deal with bad surprises, weird challenges and a constant need for repairs...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Why I wake up early...

It's not all the time that I wake up early. I used too though, and a lot when I was a hyper-active executive. Interestingly, I never let business problems or tricky situations prevent me for going to sleep, but they sure did wake me up in a hurry when there were lingering doubts, new ideas bubbling or some unfinished business that needed my immediate attention.

Getting up at 4 am was more routine than exception. These days haven't been different. I'm in a midst of a very interesting and highly mobilizing project that is filled with questions, challenges and twists that keep on surprising me and giving me an early start in the morning. I'd call this “positive stress” and in fact, I still enjoy that form of stimulus very, very much!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A new generation of ski racers

I watched part of the ski races this week-end and my take away is that a new, younger generation is coming of age and that it's good.

Women mature earlier than men and their careers tend to be shorter, but yesterday, both winners (Fenninger and Shiffrin) were 25 and 19, while the the third, Brem was 26. Once unbeatable Maze, now 31 only ranked 22nd...
Today, Hirscher, age 25, showed his clear superiority and even the once-dominant Ligety couldn't have beat him, even if he had not make the mistake (?) of hitting a big rock. Dopfer at 27 is a bit older, but Pinturault at 23 keeps on progressing.

Sure, both Raich (36) and Simoncelli (35) managed to squeeze themselves in the top ten, but they're getting long in the teeth and it might be time for them to think about retirement. Sure good contracts are keeping these athletes going, but it's just a matter of time...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Simple solutions to complex problems

I must like projects and after a big one, like building a home, my current one is creating a cove lighting setup for my daughter's apartment in Washington, D.C.

For a couple of months now, I've been racking my brains to find a solution that is elegant, durable and easy to execute. Thank to the internet, Youtube and a few forums, I have almost narrowed down my options and found a solution that I feel comfortable with. 
Best of all, I've learned so much in the process! Since that job is taking place 2,000 miles from my home and all my tools, I need to get my act together and I plan to write an assembly/manufacturing process to make certain my bases are well covered, something I haven't done for the past 50 years, back in the days I attended the engineering school in Cluses, France.

This should be interesting!