Lesson Four: Design Counts (not Price)

…..cont’d from

Lesson One: Why Social Media Experts are Idiots

Lesson Two: Do Not Listen To Customers

Lesson Three: The Biggest Challenges Beget the Best Work

Lesson Four: Design Counts (not Price) People do care about Design. Mr. Kawasaki believes that it is about the “skin” of the product and not the algorithm. He learned this at Apple. Put simply, looks matter. Apple product owners have a sense of emotional pride from being an Apple product owner. They believe in the value of beautiful products.

This sense of emotional pride also reminds me of the luxury market. Think Mercedes Benz, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, etc….People buy luxury products because it provides a sense of status and equips them with emotional pride. Some would argue that a Toyota runs just as well as a Mercedes, or even better. Some would argue that a $100 handbag functions just as well as a $5000 handbag. So why do people make such purchases when the function is clearly met with a less expensive alternative? Emotional pride. People buy what they want, not what they need. Such high-end purchasers also believe that a luxury product delivers a superior quality compared to a non-luxury product. Price is not important to luxury consumers because they will pay for the Best, or the perception of the Best.

So off to a semi-tangent here…..Consider this photo below of a designer handbag I took from the December 2011 issue of Vogue. On a purely design level, some may consider it attractive, beautiful, cool, awesome, etc…..Others may consider it…..well, ugly. Why would I want a handbag with holes? Why would I want a handbag with these vulgar logos emblazoned all over it? But that’s not the point. These Brands such as Apple (for technology) and Louis V. (for luxury) have become the arbiters of good taste and the authorities for cool in their respective niches. So the irony is that consumers may initially be drawn to a universally accepted “beautiful product”, but the Brands evolve into tastemakers which tell the consumer what they need to buy. They also develop the power to declare what is desirable.

So back to Lesson Four. Design trumps Price. Looks matter. Beautiful products beget emotional pride. Emotion wins. Don’t forget what it means to be authentically human.


2012: The Art of Serendipity

There are no coincidences or accidents. Just serendipity. Serendipity is hard to define but I think you’ll know it when it happens. It’s when something pleasant or even magical happens to you when you least expect it. From the day I found a home in San Francisco to the very end of Twenty Eleven, I have been blessed by serendipitous events. I was led to my current residence by the kindness of a stranger in Huntington Park who has also become my neighbor, and I celebrated New Year’s Eve with absolutely no plans except a somewhat random decision to head to the Fillmore District near the Western Addition neighborhood. And after finding a parking spot in less than a couple of minutes (serendipitous parking karma on NYE!) and venturing not more than half of a block, we spotted a place that looked stylish and appropriate for the evening:

1300 on Fillmore

      ‘Happy New Year !’

The restaurant/lounge presented a good vibe and friendly staff. The atmosphere felt more like rat pack supper club or swanky jazz club, rather than the sleek San Francisco affair that one would envision with the trendy SOMA set.  After pleasant conversation with new friends and some dancing we rang in the new year with the proverbial champagne and sparkly disposable accessories. It was a good night. I would like to return to try out their dinner menu, or for drinks after a performance at Yoshi’s.

It was a beautiful celebration. Very serendipitous. How many times have you experienced that space in time when things just work for the best without trying? I look forward to many more moments of serendipity in 2012. Planning can be good but perhaps life can become more interesting when you stop figuring out the details. Try living differently in 2012. Stop being such a control freak.

San Francisco Style ~ Forever Young

San Francisco Style ~ Forever Young

#df11, Angela Ahrendts & the Game Changing Question

I was fortunate to attend the Dreamforce 2011  (#df11) conference last week right here in San Francisco. It was exciting to hear the keynotes by Marc Benioff, Eric Schmidt and Angela Ahrendts. I’m not a technologist but technology and social media are so RELEVANT I thought it wouldn’t hurt to hear what the industry’s leading visionaries were thinking.  Ms. Ahrendts is the CEO of Burberry, that fabulous and iconic English luxury brand. She is also American from the Midwest. So just imagine a woman born and raised in Indiana who landed at a global fashion powerhouse and was invited to speak at perhaps the world’s biggest technology conference of the year. So what’s the connection between a high fashion luxury brand and social enterprise? Ms. Ahrendts and (no doubt) Mr. Benioff are betting real big on the value of social media to connect with customers.  It’s beyond embracing and integrating Facebook and Twitter into your business model, it’s more like a Declaration that this is the new Reality. Adapt or Die.

As a big fan of luxury brands, fashion and social media I was intrigued that Ms. Ahrendts was very passionate about this idea of the customer’s “journey” in the context of the social enterprise. I decided to dig deeper. I found the transcript from a commencement speech  she made at her alma mater last year and she shared her thoughts about the big “game changing question.” Do you know what your Core Purpose in life is? What is your fundamental reason for existence? Can you clearly articulate this? At the end of the day it’s about character and core values. Perhaps her Midwestern roots speaks to that.

Burberry’s Core Purpose is: “to Protect, Explore and Inspire.” Walt Disney’s is “to make people happy.” What is your Core Purpose?

Here is the link to her address: