Monthly Archives: August 2012

How Utility Companies Are Working with Supermarkets to Get You a Better Deal

What a great way to partner. Utility companies are now working with supermarkets; we can soon buy an electricity plan along with our organic lettuce, sustainably farmed fish, and fair trade coffee.

As we progress in life, it’s important to see fresh ways we can take advantage of services or partner. Deregulation brings opportunity.

The essential takeaway is that buying behavior of all kinds will be combined and strengthened. It affords us more opportunities to save time and money. Yet we also should be aware that it gives reams of information to retailers. Our lives become more efficient and intertwined, yet less private.

Check out this excerpt from the article, “Selling Electricity Over the Counter” in the Wall Street Journal. It’s interesting to see this innovation taking place in Australia, the U.K. and the United States. Tell me what you think: Would you buy a plan and gain discounts, while losing privacy?

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Wall Street Journal article:

Utilities around the globe are teaming up with retailers such as Marks & Spencer Group PLC in Britain, Coles Supermarkets in Australia and Best Buy Co. in the U.S. to sell energy and related products directly to consumers.

Retailers see a growing market in energy-conscious consumers who now shop for everything from power suppliers and energy-efficient appliances to solar panels, insulation and home-energy-management systems.

As more utilities have been forced to compete in deregulated markets, establishing alliances with retailers has helped them build customer loyalty and reduce customer churn.

Reliant has teamed up in Texas with electronics and appliance retailer Best Buy, in whose stores the utility now markets electricity plans and free home-energy monitors that help customers figure out how they can reduce their electricity consumption and save money. Similarly, Constellation, owned by Chicago-based power generator Exelon Corp., is experimenting with selling electricity plans through Best Buy stores in Illinois.

In Britain, Marks & Spencer, whose department stores feature staples from socks to scones, is selling natural gas and electricity from SSE PLC, one of the U.K.’s big six energy suppliers. Marks & Spencer also offers insulation and solar panels and provides advice on energy-efficient appliances.

In Australia, utility AGL Energy Ltd. in April linked up with Coles Supermarkets, a unit of Wesfarmers Ltd., via the Coles customer-loyalty program Flybuys. The program gives AGL residential customers rewards points for discounts on Coles purchases…Points can be used for purchases at Coles.

Harvard Business Review Demonstrates: People Who Dream Can Achieve More Successful Results in Real Life

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, there was an incredible result related to dreams vs. “real practice.” It was found that those who dream can make a difference in their daily life.

For example, people who practice in real life increase their success rate by 15 percent. Yet those who dreamed also had an impact by 8 percent — even though they didn’t practice in real life. Those who did nothing  saw a 5.5 percent increase.  Those who failed to dream, and therefore could not experience playing, reduced their efficiency by 2.5%.

The article brings up an interesting point. Does that mean that we can make our stomach muscles stronger by dreaming about them? They actually conclude that it can. Daily practice is a must for continual improvement, yet a dream can still have some influence.

For me, the big take-away is not so much about dreaming, but it’s about the powers of our thoughts: what we think, what we believe, can strongly impact what we experience in our day-to-day lives. Join me in thinking more optimistically each moment. Onwards we go!

The Beauty of Waiting in Decision Making

Excerpt from Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy

“…good time managers are comfortable pausing for as long as necessary before they act, even in the face of the most pressing decisions. Some seem to slow down time. For the best decision-makers, as for the best tennis players.   Hitting a tennis ball is a paradoxical act. On one hand, it is a largely unconscious physical reaction. It has to be, given the speed of the ball…the difficulty arises in the second stage of the service return.

Delay alone can turn a good decision into a bad one, or vice versa. Delay also helps in our personal decisions…we are often better off delaying our judgments about people as long as possible.

Most of us also make investment decisions too quickly. Instead, we should emulate Warren Buffett. When asked how long he will delay before buying a stock, he responds, ‘indefinitely’.  Buffett likens buying stocks to hitting a baseball–except without the strikes. ‘I call investing the greatest business in the world because you never have to swing,’ he says. ‘You stand at the plate. The pitcher throws you General Motors at 47. US Steel at 39… All day you wait for the pitch you like; then when the fielders are asleep, you step up and hit it.’ “

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Every day, we make a multitude of decisions.  Studies show that we make on average more than 600 decisions per day.  Sometimes it is cereal or eggs for breakfast, khakis or a suit for work, two or six items for a meeting agenda, public or private school for your child, which countries your company needs to enter into next, or whether we should eat the extra mini-snickers bar in the kitchen.   So whether you are a professional tennis player, a manager, father or mother,  an investor — we all have  to contemplate the importance of waiting in decision making.

Delay is never good for delay’s sake.  And we certainly don’t want to head into paralysis analysis or ruminating over a topic.

Yet patient, educated thoughtfulness is a wonderful lens to have in most areas of life.    We want to know our topic or expertise, be considerate, and then move forward with the rapidness of a tennis player, to meet the ball right on the spot.

Frank Partnoy is the author of F.I.A.S.C.O., Infectious Greed, The Match King, and – most recently – WAIT: The Art and Science of Delay. Formerly an investment banker at Morgan Stanley and a practicing corporate lawyer, he is one of the world’s leading experts on market regulation and is a frequent commentator for the Financial Times, the New York Times, NPR, and CBS’s 60 Minutes. Partnoy is a graduate of Yale Law School and is the George E. Barrett Professor of Law and Finance and the founding director of the Center for Corporate and Securities Law at the University of San Diego.  (Bio from http://www.frankpartnoy.com)

How Abraham Lincoln’s “Point to Point” Leadership Resolved Our Country’s Greatest Issues

Abraham Lincoln faced so many, many challenges.  And yet he related to James G. Blaine, a United States Representative and later Senator and Secretary of State, that he listened in the moment.  Drawing from some of our frontiersmen, he stated:

“The pilots on our Western rivers steer from point to point as they call it–setting the course of the boat no farther than they can see; and that is all I propose to myself in this great problem.”

That’s how Abraham Lincoln resolved the numerous challenges he faced during the Civil War.  Struggles abounded: challenging battles, generals who needed to be replaced, and divisions in his own political party.

Our President Lincoln had to mend an entire country.  It seems he was pretty successful using “Point to Point” as his mindset.  Instead of thinking we can figure out everything in a 2, 5, or 10 year plan, perhaps staying in the moment, being kind, listening and true, and following our inner voice, will lead us to gentle victory as well.

Basketball Feet: Staying On Your Toes for the Next Move in Social Media

Any good Basketball Player knows you have to do your best to forecast, but you can’t always know where the ball is going. That’s why you stay on you feet, and specifically your toes.

So I told my team to stay on their feet regarding Social Media. Basketball feet. You’re ready, on your toes, watching for that next move.

And so it is with Social Media. Algorithms change. Search results adapt. New criteria come in; others are wiped out. A social media site’s goal is to make search results legitimate, authentic and helpful. So should UniversalGiving’s listings be: true, helpful, inspiring.

No good basketball player drives toward the right hand side of the basket every single time. No great athlete ever takes a three point shot every single play.

Social Media sites won’t stay the same. They move it up, they change it up and make it better — and so should we.