Category Archives: business

Why Did Quakers Dominate the English Chocolate Business?

The Quakers have been a stubborn lot.

(They) were prohibited from getting academic degrees, so some of the traditional routes to respectable careers — medicine, law — were blocked off. The courses of study weren’t in keeping with Quaker religious standards anyway (“pagan” philosophy, “lascivious” poetry), and as Quakers increasingly engaged in wider English society and “worldly” activities like banking, commerce and retail in the 18th and 19th century, integrating their religious and ethical precepts into their business practices.

So what does that have to do with chocolate?

Chocolate was considered an “innocent trade,” as it was believed to have medicinal purposes and didn’t lead people into evil. Selling chocolate brought enjoyment and good health through the gifts of God’s nature. There was no moral corruption in making a nice cup of cocoa as there was in manufacturing weapons. Quakers went into the chocolate business when it was purely a beverage, developing it into the bar and candy empire that it is today. By the early 20th century, the three top chocolate and confectionary companies in England were Quaker owned and operated.

But things took a more controversial turn in 1899, when Queen Victoria desired to send specially ordered chocolate bars to British troops fighting the Boer War. What happened? And how does that relate to an auction that closes on July 10th?

Read on my friend from the very entertaining History Blog! And enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. while you are at it!


How’s that Decentralization Process Going?

From time to time, I have posted on crypto matters here. Not because I think you want to become crytpo investors or experts. But because I think blockchain technology will become mainstream and we all will be using tokens in one form or another for certain types of activities.

As Bill Mougayar puts it, on the average, we are spending about one hour a day using Facebook. It is a centralized system, and so the rewards for our donating our eyeballs to Facebook stay with Facebook. In a decentralized Facebook, we would be able to share that reward.

Bill is an expert in blockchain business modelling. In Fred Wilson’s link to his video, you get a sense of where we are in developing uses for this technology.  Bottom line — we are still in the very early stages.


The Dawn of the Age of Influencers

Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this some years ago in his book “The Tipping Point”.

Image result for Gladwell Tipping

Here is a core idea —  preferences are often shaped by a few people within groups. They are “influencers” and can “tip the balance” whether a particular item goes “viral”.

This quote from a recent Forbes article about how to be a successful business book writer makes the same point. Want to succeed?

Build relationships with influencers that can help you cross-promote your book.

And how does one do that? Influencers have that status for a reason. They will connect with you if you understand that reason and help them do what they are trying to do. And it pays to understand that dynamic.

So, how many influencers do you work with? And how well do you identify who the influencers are in areas where you work?

Good questions!

Your Package will Arrive in 15 Minutes, Sir

Amazon is a very successful company for a very simple reason. The company sticks to certain beliefs about what people want, and it relentlessly experiments to deliver on those wants, more and more and more

One of those beliefs is that customers always want faster delivery. So Amazon has relentlessly experimented with how to fulfill orders faster. Amazon prime started as an experiment. Drone delivery? Why not? That hasn’t panned out. Now Amazon has rolled out a tracking service, so you know when an Amazon delivery truck is nearing you.

Amazon is no doubt pleased that most people love it!

Givanchy and Collaboration

Hubert de Givenchy had a great go of it. He was renowned as a fashion designer, rich and famous. And now that he has passed on at the ripe old age of 91, we might celebrate his great success.

I like this picture of Givenchy with Audrey Hepburn

Image result for Hubert de Givenchy

I like it because it brings out an important factor in Givenchy’s great success. He became famous because of his great collaborations with celebrities like Audrey Hepburn. She genuinely liked and admired him. This quote brings that out

Her genuine friendship with Givenchy stemmed from his warm, gentleman’s persona and refined elegance, something they shared unequivocally. It’s quite rare this day and age to point out a designer-celebrity ambassador relationship that’s not tied to exclusive dealings and multimillion-dollar contracts.

So sure, Givenchy was a brilliant fashion designer. More important, he was brilliant in creating great collaborations. And this is a more rare feat!


What is Holding Productivity Back?

Roughly speaking, productivity is the amount of economic gain we get from an hour of work. And going back several hundred years, it is staggering how much more productive the average worker is.

But in  recent years, productivity has slowed.  Why? At least one economist thinks that is because we have already gotten all we will get out of the major innovations of the twentieth century. He discounts gains from digital technology. It has not delivered massive gains the way the automobile did.

It is too early to tell if he is right. But one thing does appear to be true. We are still waiting for the digital revolution to translate into massive increases in productivity.

Getting Decentralized – Why it Matters

The ongoing discussion about the relative value or lack of value in the crypto markets has brought us a new concept: decentralization.

Initially, the idea was trotted out as a justification for crypto-currencies themselves. Crypto would be free of centralized government control. That idea appeals to libertarians and other folks who feel that governments cannot be trusted for whatever reason  (for example, corruption).

As it turns out, this is not the main motivation behind decentralization. That motivation has more to do with problems that we experience with centralized platforms like Facebook, Google, etc. Those problems are well described by Chris Dixon. Both users and rd party collaborators get screwed at a certain point in the platform growth cycle.

Decentralizing may offer paths for growing networks that avoid these problems. Let’s see!