Getting to Yes

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Getting to Yes by Robert Fisher and William Ury completely changed how I look at negotiations. Typically we think of negotiating like haggling at a flea market both sides begin with a false impossible request and they where each other down till they will reach a midpoint.

Getting to Yes opened my eyes to Principled Negotiation which separates the people from the positions and use tried-and-true principles to show the people you’re working with why you want what you want can find solutions the benefit all. So negotiation isn’t a battle of the wills, but we’ll rather a way to look at situations and base decisions on solid principles.

I got the audiobook on CD and played it in my car. I enjoy the narrators deep authoritative voice which reminded me of someone like Charlton Heston. His voice made some of that more humorous negotiation examples hilarious.

The book is methodical and would help anyone whether you’re negotiating a business contract, International peace, a salary, or a car purchase. It has help for people who have harmonious relationships or people dealing with toxic personalities. It’s a book I can see referring back to again and again. I was ready to apply these principles last week, but my supervisor forgot we were going to talk about a job offer that’s been on the table a few weeks. Maybe tomorrow.

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Death by China

I’m watching this timely documentary now. You can watch the entire film here. I’ll review it soon.

Martin Sheen narrates.

Bunker Labs

On Friday I got to go on a TechTrip with the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and one of the stops was Chicago’s incubator 1871. 1871 offers space and programs for start ups. One of its members is an organization called Bunker Labs that serves veterans who want to become entrepreneurs.

What a great organization!

Word of the Week

In my Project Management class, I ran across this term.

Parkinson’s Law – the time it takes to complete a task will grow to the amount of time available. This supports the idea that if you want something done, ask a busy person.

It also explains how if I take one class a semester, my time is filled and I could never dream of taking two, yet some students do manage.

You can read about its history in The Economist’s archive.

Bad Service with Apple

In the past I’ve had good to very good customer service with Apple Computer, but not tonight.

My MacBook Pro has been running very slow for a year. Yes, a year. I think it’s picked up a bug or some malware I can’t see in China. Over there there’s really nothing I can do. Today I made an appointment using my Apple computer on their site using their system.

The only appointments in Northbrook were in the evening, which is an inconvenience. The other location Skokie had no appointments till Friday. I booked a slot and went about my day running errands and visiting my aunt.

Tonight it was raining, but I drove to the mall hoping to return with a speedier computer.

When I arrived there was a line of four people waiting to check in. Alright. I was surprised because in high end businesses customers aren’t supposed to wait especially when three employees are talking with two customers. Yep, three. A man entered the store after me and asked one of them for help and he was told he should get in the line. One of the Apple employees pulled out his phone and seemed to try to start a second line, but he couldn’t. That’s a glitch.

When it was my turn I gave the clerk my name and appointment time. She couldn’t see the my appointment. She said she only had one appointment at 7:45. She then said I should check my phone to see if the appointment’s there. It irks me that they assume everyone has an iPhone. I don’t want to be that embedded with anyone company, though I know a lot of people have iPhones.

So next I was dispatched to find evidence of the appointment. I took my computer to the side table and tried to look for an email confirming the appointment. The frustrating thing is it takes so long for my computer to boot up, hence the visit to Apple on a rainy night. I really had hoped to have gotten to explain the urgency of my visit and get an appointment since only one person was booked for 7:45. Surely more than one technician is working tonight.

The clerk did come by to ask if I found the confirmation, but when I replied no I was still waiting for their computer to boot up she told me to use their computer and walked off uninterested in helping. She sensed my mood was souring and didn’t want to deal with me.

Finally, I got into my inbox and didn’t see a confirmation. I am busy all day tomorrow but could come back, but not in the evening. I found the clerk who was milling about and explained the situation. She was adamant that she could not accommodate me and wasn’t interested in hearing about my case. It seems to me that if you’re representing a high end company as a customer service clerk, you should have an interest in the customers and their pathetic stories and computer woes. Well, I’m not in Japan any more so of course they don’t. Maybe I should have found an Apple store in Osaka.

I worked in customer service for a clothing store that never treated people the way I was treated. All the associates had to wait till the last customer left the store even if that meant 20 of us hung out an extra hour. We’d have been taken to task if we showed the smallest sign of annoyance — even when it’s justified. Now clothing isn’t a computer, in fact it’s not as essential since anyone who shopped at Mark Shale had loads of clothes at home. I doubt my problem would have taken all that much time, but it would have meant the world to me if they had customer-oriented clerk at the door.

I just bought an Apple Time Capsule to back up my data. It’s due to arrive tomorrow and cost $300. It’s going right back to the store. I like their products but they cost an awful lot more than PCs. Financially, I’d be better off with a different brand and this one clerk’s inability and disinterest in helping is leading me away from the brand.

I guess car repair can be as frustrating, but boy have dealerships upped their service in the last few years. I know I could call in for help, but I want someone to see the screen, not for an operator to ask me if I see X or Y and tell me where to click next when I can’t see X or Y.

Some semblance of caring would have gone a long way to keep a customer loyal.

Miniso

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Miniso shops started popping up around Jinan last spring. They have a bright upbeat look that beckoned me inside. At first I just walked around trying to figure out what the store was. They have gadgets for computers like earphones, cleaners, and chargers. They have snack foods, dishes, clocks, toys, make up, skin care products, shoes, socks and more. Best of all most items cost 10 rmb or about $1.60. Plenty of others are 15 or 20 rmb ($2.50 – 3.30 more or less).

The shops look a lot like the Japanese clothing store Uniqlo with their white decor with red signs and their cheerful, multi-lingual announcements. A lot of the packages say “Miniso Japan” so I thought the company was Japanese. I soon became a regular shopper as the quality seemed good and the prices were great. It was a way to reconnect with Japan. Why pay $10 and up for toner when you can get it for $1.60? Why pay $11 for a neck pillow for my flight home when I can get one just as good for $2.50? Why buy a new bag for toiletries for probably $10 when you can get one that’s just as cute and functional for $2.50?

Then my students informed me that Miniso is a Chinese chain that apes a Japanese look, certainly inspired by Uniqlo. Their packaging had Japanese labels with Chinese ones pasted over them just as all imported products do. I felt quite hoodwinked, swindled. How dare you, Miniso. I wanted to make sure so I went to the Miniso website and figured out it is Chinese. They’ve got thousands of shops throughout China and just a couple in Tokyo and no where else in Japan. A Japanese company would certainly have stores in Osaka or Hiroshima before they’d open one in Jinan.

For quite sometime I stopped going to Miniso, but now I have gone back. I won’t by their skincare or food because if they’ll be deceptive with their origins, why wouldn’t they use inferior, untested ingredients in make up or cleansers? I no longer feel as good about shopping at Miniso, which is a shame. It’s rather pathetic that they want to appear as if they’re from Japan. I understand the idea about distancing a brand from China, but isn’t it sad that China has such a reputation for schlock that it has to?

Victorian Trade Cards

Miami Univ Flickr Commons Governess

Miami Univ Flickr Commons Governess

While working on a group project for my Digital Library class, I’ve stumbled across Miami University’s Flickr Commons collection of Victorian Trade Cards. Trade cards were first used in France and England in the 17th century to distribute to customers. They became more elaborate in time and later evolved to collectibles. The first baseball trading cards were actually trade cards made by tobacco companies.

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Miami University has shared over 1,000 trade card images on Flickr Commons.

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