Taking advantage of the resources available

What if they paid people to just come up with good ideas.  They don’t have be ideas that make you rich.  They can just be good ideas.  Here’s one.

Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, alternative energy was hot.  Jimmy Carter’s investment tax credits and an energy crisis had created a new booming business.  Everybody was talking solar energy.  At the time, when my Dad wasn’t teaching Current Events in high school, he was selling, talking and living solar energy.

Velva swimming pool parking lot

There was this little town down the road from where we lived in North Dakota called Velva.  They wanted to jump on the bandwagon and heat their new community swimming pool with solar – and not just the sun.  My dad went out to look at the situation and give them a bid.  The problem was, Velva only had about two thousand people and not much of a budget for anything, let alone a solar heated pool.

The consensus was to put several panels on a nearby roof and pump the heat to the pool.  Problem was…that solution cost two to three times more than they had.

Now the pool hadn’t been built yet and the only work done was the excavation for the pool and the parking lot next to it.

What is a solar panel but just a way to collect the sun’s heat a send it where you need it.  What is one of the hottest things we encounter in our daily lives? Asphalt!

My Dad’s solution was to run PVC pipe under the parking lot and circulate the pool water through it it.  No solar panels, just asphalt. Velva got it’s solar heated pool and it was cheap…and under budget.

My Dad didn’t make much off of the sale.  But he should have.

There’s a ton of phrases for this – thinking outside the box, taking the road less traveled, etc.

Find your own parking lot and come up with an idea.  Who knows … maybe you WILL get rich.

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I can be reached on Twitter at @clayforsberg

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Stuff from the “gaping void”

Every day, I write a lot of little things on my pad.  Stuff I find in blogs, stuff I hear from people…well, just stuff.  Every week I go back and put them into “The Brain,” my data base of stuff.

I went to my pad and looked at November 12, 2008 – why, I don’t know.  I saw “gaping void stuff.”  It comes from a great blog – which I have a link to on the right.

The "Gaping Void"

Here we go – paraphrased of course.

1.  markets are conversations

2.  change the world or go home

3. don’t stand out from the crowd … avoid the crowd altogether

4.  allow your age to work with you (more of a rationalization then anything, I think)

5.  good ideas alter the balance of power in relationships – that’s why good ideas are always initially resisted

6.  the more talented somebody is, the less they need props

7.  your sovereignty will inspire far more people than the actual content

Neat, huh.  Thanks, Hugh.

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I can be reached on Twitter at @clayforsberg

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What does customer service mean to you?

All firms think they are “into customer service.”  They’re customer oriented, customer centric or in the words of Pizza Hut, “customer maniacs.”

But are they willing to prove it?

Nineteen years ago, right after the birth of my daughter, my wife and I had an encounter with a new Acura dealership in Pasadena.  Three years previous we had bought a new Acura Integra in Minneapolis when we lived there.

My old car

At the time, Acura was a brand new car company (actually a division of Honda).  Their mantra was superior customer service.  Yea, whatever!

Fast forward to California and Acura Pasadena.  It was Christmas time and the grandparents were ready to fly to California and see their first grand-runt.  Two days before their arrival, our car broke … a bad engine head.  Now, Los Angeles is no place to have no transportation especially when expecting visitors.

We limped our car down the road to the nearest Acura dealership (which happened to be in Pasadena) to hope our world would be spared.  I suppose we could have picked up a rental car, but then the experience for this blog entry would never have happened.

We sat down with the service manager and explained our plight.  After his inspection – things went from not great to bad.  The Integra needed a new head and our warranty had expired 20,000 miles ago (apparently, I drive a lot).  The bill would be a thousand plus and it would take a week to get the parts, due to the holidays.

But then something happened.  The service manager (gosh, I wish I could remember his name) didn’t like the idea that the head went bad.  Regardless of the warranty being expired – a head shouldn’t  just go like that.  Talk is, well talk – and action, well that’s something else.

Here was his solution:

Replacing just one head would knock the engine off balance – all four needed to be replaced.  Since our timetable was NOW, he would pull all four off a brand new car on the lot and put them in ours.  And since … in his opinion, it shouldn’t  have happened in the first place, they would honor the warranty.

Well the general manager, his boss, put the foot down on dismantling his new cars – we ended up getting the heads at no change even though it took a week.  We borrowed a car from a friend for a few days and the grandparents and the grand-runt bonded.

We didn’t buy the car in Pasadena.  We hadn’t even been there before, but their service manager was willing to go … well, as far as he could to prove that Acura had “superior customer service.”

I’ve probably told this story fifty times (i.e. positive word of mouth).

Next time you are in a position to practice “customer service” – do something that will not only surprise them … but YOU also!

If you’re not remarkable to yourself how can you be remarkable to anybody else?

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If you like this … please Tweet it and follow me on Twitter @clayforsberg

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