Thursday, February 19, 2009

O Bamada

Here's what the Huffington Post blog looks like at 6am this morning.



It's traditional that new American Presidents visit Canada for their first trip abroad. It's close. We speak the same language. You can be back in time for dinner.

Yesterday I posted comments from the Globe story on Air Canada. Reading comments is fun. Here's some of the great insight from posters to this story:

What is with these headlines?

Sorry, but I really don't consider Canada a "foreign" country per se. Yes, I know it is, but it kind of isn't. It's more an extension of states with their own government.


You gotta love Americans!

At least some of them understand us.

Canadians make better lovers.

Geez, we don't make anything here in the states any more.

They certainly have a lot more beaver.


Fortunately, there are some Canadians around to get to the truly important issues.
I'll bet you Obama stops in at a Tim Hortons for a coffee.
If you are lucky, he'll bring you back one.
It's the best.


Hey. Have a nice visit, eh!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Out of Touch in the Boardroom

You just knew this story was going to get a bad reaction: 'Air Canada pins hopes on service'. From today's Globe and Mail.

I checked the date. It's not April Fool's Day.

Then I checked the comments section of the story. 170 and still growing (the Globe has a nasty habit of shutting down comments on juicy topics - who knows how long this one will stay open). In the first 50 comments, one person actually suggested AC isn't the worst airline in the world....then ended with 'go Westjet go'.

As a modest AC fan, even I had to admit that if this is AC's plan to avoid their second bankruptcy in a few years - they're done.

How does a management group get so out of touch over so many years? Westjet - their prime competition has made their name on service. As AC's market share declines, Westjet's (and Porter's) continues to grow.

One has to wonder what management was thinking. Maybe they thought it didn't matter?

Pardon the pun, but crap just doesn't fly.

It never did.

But today with on-line rating systems, comment sections, travel advisory sites, blogs and Facebook death is swift, obvious and brutal. I got stuck in a Westjet scew-up a while ago and participated with other passengers in berating their service site from our Blackberries - WHILE WE WERE STILL IN LINE (I even got a response)!

The other day I saw an airport rating site. You don't want to know what the word in the air is about YYZ.

So, poor Air Canada. It seems unlikely that years of creating a bad reputation will be undone in time to save them (although if they're looking for some clues Jeff Jarvis' Dell service story would be a good place to start). It's too bad.

It's not like a Westjet monopoly is a terrific outcome.

For a sampling of some heartfelt thought on AC, check some of these out:

You do NOT have a superior product. Start with a big bowl of reality soup and then talk to reporters. You airline is overrun with mediocre people doing a sub-par job. Deal with it.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.......Service? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.... Really? Service?

Arrogant SOB's huh?

GO WESTJET!!!

'Air Canada reported Friday that it lost $1-billion last year.'

“It is small comfort that our loss was the result of factors outside of our control – soaring oil prices, foreign exchange losses due to a drop in the Canadian dollar, and the slowing economy,” Mr. Brewer said.'

Yet.... under those same conditions, Westjet was profitable. Strange isn't it. Those condtions weren't under Westjet's control, yet they made money... hmm.....

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Breath of Fresh Air


Yesterday's visit to the Toronto Auto Show had a surreal feel to it.

The crowds.

The GM workers picketing outside complaining about...what were they complaining about?

The Cadillac Escalade - all $90,000 of it - wrapped in some 'designed for the environment' packaging.

The goofy GM stage announcer promoting the 'new GM'. This is a company that is what?...less than a week away from declaring bankruptcy? That will certainly be new.

The $40,000+ price tags on anything larger than a Smart car.

The blatant use of the environment as a marketing ploy.

The almost complete lack of anything new, creative, practical, fun, safe, environmental...or whatever. As someone with me said....'they were cars'. Almost....

Tucked on the second level of the Rogers Center (why don't they just call it the Skydome?) was a cool display by a company called Electro Wheels.

Disguised as 'scooters', these electric bicycles have everything going for them. Get this - because they are 'bicycles' - NO INSURANCE AND NO LICENSE. Electric, SO NO GAS. Ride them anywhere LEGALLY THAT A BICYCLE GOES. Lease one for the summer FOR $600. Buy one FOR $1200.

Other than the significant risk of getting killed by someone driving an environmentally friendly Escalade, I got the distinct sense of a company and a product that is going places.

Josh, the very knowledgeable sales rep pointed out that although Electo Wheels are everything a tree-hugger would crave, it's not what sells them. What sells them is the no cost and the fun. He kept saying "get one and I guarantee it won't stay in the garage".

Sounds like a gas.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

How to Use Twitter

I signed up for Twitter a couple of months ago and have to admit the experiment failed. But...I didn't put much effort into it.

This video is long - but helpful with good examples. Twitter isn't going away.

Friday, February 13, 2009

What Would Google Do?

I just happened to be on-line searching two Sundays ago when Google was struck by the 'this site may harm your computer' glitch for every site it listed - an annoyance that lasted an hour.

It was at that time that I realized how dependent, I and probably most of the civilized world have become on Google.

For my intelligence.

I'm not exaggerating. It was a sickening feeling.

First because it's clear this kind of dependence is high risk. What if something really did happen to Google? How stupid would we all become?

Second, because in an instant I realized I my overall capability had been seriously degraded. I couldn't even find my way around my home city anymore. Getting stupider was way too easy.

According to stats, Google gets over 70% of all internet search queries. Yahoo, it's closest competitor gets around 19%. That's domination.

Jeff Jarvis, proud blogger who single-handedly (mostly according to him and seemingly true) brought Dell to its customer service knees has an interesting book out called 'What Would Google Do?' As Jarvis says, he's attempted to reverse engineer what Google does and apply the learning to other businesses.

So, here are we are confronted with the reality that 70% of all the knowledge outside our brains is fed to us through one (large) firehose - faced with that, what would Google do?

I have no idea.

What they did do was fix the issue fast, blame someone inside (good that it wasn't some malicious/potential-to-be-very-famous hacker) and move on quickly.

What I did, was check out Yahoo for the first time in about 5 years...and couldn't find what I was looking for.

There's one small irony though that this illustrates. Jarvis touches on it in his book and it hasn't been lost on others. It's ironic how Google - thanks to its huge success enabling the small; the decentralized; the collaborative - has itself become the ginormous, centralized, and singly capable entity capable of doing what it does.

It's time for the next Google.