Friday, May 30, 2014

Someone You Can Trust...

"The book salesman should be honored because he brings to our attention the very books we need most and often neglect most"

~ Confucius

I was recently sitting on a plane heading back to the United States from Asia.

There was a man sitting next to me who looked to be a businessman dressed in a suit and tie. 

After some time we struck up a conversation and exchanged the bits and pieces of cordial information... where did you just come from?... where do you live?... what do you do for a living?... are you married?... do you have kids?... when you’re not working what do you like to do?...

The kind of stuff typically bandied about during cocktail parties where you scarcely know anyone there besides the person who invited you.

Idle chitchat with a stranger on an airplane helps to pass the time on a long voyage and might also help you develop new friends and acquaintances.

After some time, the flight attendant came through the aisle passing out landing cards, those forms one must complete upon entering the United States, asking for basic passport information and customs declarations.

In one of the spaces provided, the form asks the question, "occupation"?

Without much thought, I routinely print "sales" on that blank line.

Shortly thereafter, my seatmate happened to glance over at my form and seeing "sales" he asked, "I thought you said that you were the president of your company... at least that’s what your card read".

I looked over at him and replied, "I am the president of OptiFuse, but I like writing down sales because I think of it as a more noble profession."

He then gave me a cynical look that made me feel as though I had been lying to him all along, but that now he had caught me in my own web of deceit.

"Really", I tried hard to explain, "Professional sales people are typically held in the highest esteem at most companies.  Think for moment about your own company, who is responsible for making sure that customer service continues to receive new orders, that manufacturing is kept busy building things, that accounting has clients to bill, and that engineering knows what types of products to create... nothing in business happens until a sale is made!!"

Now don’t get me wrong... there are a lot of non-professional sales people out there in the world.

There are the "used-car" type salesmen, dressed in a clashing jacket and tie, who is long on promises, when you find yourself on his car lot and short on delivering once you’ve left the premises driving car salesmanoff in one of his lemons.  

They are only interested in the quick buck from an unsuspecting buyer.  "Buyer Beware" is their motto and information is good... as long as they are the only ones to have it.  They live by the iron-clad contract, the small print (written of course in their favor) and the quick get-away... which they hope will protect them from the legal disputes which are sure to follow.  These are the swindlers and the thieves of the profession.

The second type of salesperson that often gives sales black marks are those who play upon the uninformed to sell them a variety of products and services that they don’t want or need, but because they are supposedly professionals, they are trusted by their clients.

Stock brokers (I think that they like to be called "wealth managers" these days), insurance agents, doctors, lawyers, accountants, auto mechanics, IT specialists, and a wide variety of other respected professional service providers that have very specialized knowledge, knowledge that is acquired over years of education and practical experience.

Many times their deceptions go unnoticed by their clients who must trust them to look after their best interests.  This might include a doctor, who may get referral fees from pharmaceutical companies for prescribing certain brand medications, an attorney who tells you that you’re getting screwed in your divorce settlement so you should fight to the bitter end in order to create billable hours for them, or the auto mechanic who misdiagnosis car problems causing you to replace parts / systems that never needed replacing in the first place.

In my opinion, these are far worse offenders than the "used-car salesman" in that you probably never really trusted the car salesman in the first place...

These people are your trusted advisors.  You would be willing to buy almost anything that they recommended because you have transferred your trust to them.  Once a person has gained your trust, you have provided them with the combination to your safe.

Now, I am in no way advocating that some or all of your trusted advisors are crooks... and in fact, a great vast majority are indeed worthy of your unadulterated trust... but there are a small few who will spoil the reputation of an entire industry.

A true professional sales person is nothing more than a resource, helping their customers find the best solutions to their problems.

Sometimes the customer’s problem is not well-defined and so the sales person’s first and foremost job is to ask insightful questions in order to understand what the customer wants and/or needs... sometimes even before the customer knows that they need it.

A great doctor will find ways to keep their patients healthy rather than try to find ways to cure their patient’s illnesses.

The same principal applies to sales people.  They are there to help their customers stay healthy... which in my industry means better, faster, and less expensive (OptiFuse’s products are NEVER cheaper than our competitor’s products... but we are often less expensive than they are).

A professional sales person will invest their time and energies trying to solve problems, not make a sale.  They will become a resource for their customers, often sending their customers to other professionals who specialize in solving very specific problems.

Contrary to popular opinion, a professional sales person job is not to sell... it’s to help and assist.

The true sales person should know their products and/or services inside and out... they should be aware of the many applications where they can and can’t be used... all they need to find out is more about their customer and their customer’s specific products or services.

A professional sales person doesn’t sit in front of a client rattling off specs... but rather they should be asking questions... lots of them!!

The professional sales person doesn’t think about how a sale will help them earn a commission... but rather how the customer can use their product or service to make money for themselves.

I am proud to call myself a professional sales person... more so than calling myself a company president or entrepreneur...

...because I enjoy the trust placed in me by my customers to help them when they need it the most... and in the end... that’s what business is all about...

Thank you for enduring support of OptiFuse where we work hard each day to earn your trust and help to solve your problems...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bounded Only By Imagination...

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" 

~ Arthur C. Clarke

As a self-admitted propeller-head, new technology fascinates me.

Gadgets like low flying commercial drones, robotics, 3-D printers, and the Oculus Rift are just a few of the new technologies that will ultimately change the lives of millions (if not billions) of people on this place we call earth.

Now many of you may already have some familiarity with unmanned aircraft (drones), robots and/or 3-D printers as there has 
amazon dronesbeen quite a bit of news coverage concerning these high-tech products over the last five years or so. 

We hear about Amazon wanting to bypass UPS or the postal service to make 1-hour deliveries using their own fleet of helicopter delivery drones... we hear about spy drones (yes Big Brother is indeed watching)... there are other uses more civilized such as being able to follow herds of wildlife - protecting them from poachers or fertilizing crops at a close distance of a few feet rather than the current method of aerial crop dusting - dropping chemicals from a plane.

Robotics and artificial intelligence are turning manufacturing facilities into virtually unmanned factories.  These robots are the real threat to manufacturing jobs around the world... not sweat-shop facilities of third-world countries.  

Unlike people, robots don’t need food, housing, coffee breaks or overtime pay.  They just continue churning out parts every hour of every day... holidays included.

Relatively low-cost (around $1500), 3-D printers are being employed today providing ultra-customized product creation and quick-turn prototyping (for more information on 3-D printing click HERE).

Now whereas many people have some basic information about the above new products, very few people have actually heard of Oculus VR. 

Oculus VR is a company started by Brendan Iribe and Palmer Luckey in Irvine, CA in 2012 (no... not all really cool companies were founded in Silicon Valley).  OculusOculus VR’s product is the Oculus Rift, a head-mounted display used in immersive Virtual Reality (VR).

Following a demonstration of a prototype of the Rift in June of 2012, the company was able to raise $2.5M through a Kickstarter campaign in only 36 hours with the money being used to help fully develop their product.

The Oculus Rift allows users to become totally immersed in a simulated 360 degree, 3-D environment.  Look to the right and you see a scene to your right... look behind you and see what is behind you... look down and you see a virtual floor.

A stereo THX sound-system provides high-quality audio to the user.

Never has anything like this been done before - other than in multi-million dollar simulators such as those used to train military pilots.

The Oculus Rift is currently selling to game and content developers for a suggested price of $300.

In March of 2014, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook announced that it had acquired Oculus VR for the sum of 2 BILLION dollars. 

From conceptual prototype to $2B in less than 2 years..!!

So what the heck does Facebook want with Oculus?... Facebook isn’t a hardware or game developing company...

No... Facebook is a "shared experience" company.

Over one billion people now have a Facebook account; with the average time logged into their account being just over 37 minutes per day (since I log onto my Facebook account about 5 minutes a month... I’m sure I take that average way down).

People post their experiences, whereabouts, likes, and cute photos of their children and pets on Facebook.  

Some folks use Facebook to share their most treasured experiences with all 1,500 of their closest friends... many of them whom they’re never actually met or seen now for 30 years (well... if you’re like me that is).

Now imagine that instead of posting your experiences with your friends... you now have the opportunity to whitewater raft down Lava Falls on the Colorado River... sitting next to your very best friends... experiencing the thrill-ride of your life as waves crash into the boat with the thunderous roar of the rapids droning all around.

With Oculus Rift, you are now sharing the raft with your close friends, your children, the cast of Ocean’s 11 with Matt Damon pushing George Clooney into an on-coming wave while Brad Pitts laughs... all in virtual reality of 3-D...

As you drift in the calm waters below the falls... you look back at the scene behind you as another raft enters the rapids... a silhouette of a bald-eagle is screeching above you as you try to shield your eyes from the glaring sun...

The experience was so exciting... you do it again... and again... this time with different friends and the cast Mad Men.

There was once a world where we believe that the best that we could hope for was the perspective a Kodak Instamatic camera taking a static picture with one aperture setting...

Loaded the camera with a film cartridge... snapped on a flash cube... looked through the viewfinder... and clicked a photo... .it was so easy... or at least we thought it was...
Then came digital cameras, which revolutionized photo-taking as we know it... soon we no longer worried about being old photo storelimited to 24 exposures on a roll of film that needed to be developed in a lab in as little as one day (plus the time it took to drive to the Fotomat).

Now we take pictures in as much time as it takes to point your phone and shoot... we eliminate the "red-eye" and within seconds we are sharing our "selfies" on our Facebook page for the world to see.

This is the world we now live in...

Now I’m not sure if you gave any thought, as I was describing our Colorado River adventure, as to how this movie will actually be photographed...

How exactly will a movie director actually film this scene? 

This is 360 degree filming... no crew off to one side... no lighting fixtures... no microphone booms.

In giving the idea some thought... I suppose that a movie maker could do the filming in several takes with a camera pointed in different directions on each successive take...

... but now instead... imagine a small drone... being navigated down Lava falls via a computer robotic piloting system... mounted with 12 very small customized cameras... with special one-of-a-kind camera mounts perhaps molded from a 3-D printer set up in some remote site...

This is the world we live in today (or will shortly)...

No longer are we limited to a world found only in our viewfinder or limited by 24 exposures...

... the world today is limitless only bounded by our imaginations.

Unfortunately this is scary business to some people... those who long for the simple days of yesteryear... and their Instamatic...

The ones who will survive and ultimately thrive are those who embrace the new technology and think up fresh new ways to employ the tools that were formerly unavailable to most of us...

If you were a movie maker... exactly how would you film in this new medium and what experience would you like to share with others?

Just some food for thought as we enjoy our long weekend ahead...

Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we are constantly trying to find new ways to apply new technology to solve new problems... 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Your Place in History...

"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past"

~ Thomas Jefferson

"I can’t wait to take you to the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel", my host excitedly told me, "it’s the place where the Singapore Sling was invented and is very famous".

A few hours later we were seated in a darkly lit bar that reminded me of a typical dark wood lobby bar in many high-end resHotel Barort hotels scattered across the world.   

The floors were made of mosaic tiles, with the debris of peanut shells scattered about (patrons are encouraged to discard the used shells on the floors to perhaps add to the ambiance and lore of the establishment). 

Although the bar was air-conditioned, the room felt a bit stuffy as the outside doors remained open allowing the humid air of typical Singapore spring evenings to enter and linger among the guests.

The bar’s customers were predominately western with just a few locals mingled in, seemingly acting as hosts to their international clientele who didn’t want to leave Singapore without sampling its most famous locale.

As I sat there drinking my $23 Singapore Sling, I couldn’t help but think that this infamous watering hole must have been the brainchild of some marketing guru of the last century... perhaps romanced by newspapermen and authors who had nothing better to do than to waste their days and nights away drinking in a dark bar.

After some time and several stories, the Long Bar has become the "can’t miss" attraction of Singapore... although there are probably thousands of other bars around the world that are indistinguishable from this particular place... especially after a few drinks... well... perhaps I suppose other than the discarded peanut shells on the floor.  

I have had similar experiences with other can’t miss attractions around the world.

While visiting the Louvre museum in Paris a few years ago, there was a queue several hundred meters long in order to get a brief glimpse of the Mona Lisa while other spectacular masterpieces went virtually unnoticed by the general public.
Waiting to ride on the famous cable cars in San Francisco will cost you several hours of your life although there are many faster and less expensive alternative transportation to take you to Fisherman’s Wharf.

The Empire State Building in New York City is no longer the tallest structure in the world... and in fact... is not even the tallest structure in New York... yet there are millions of visitors each year who pay the equivalent of the annual wage of a worker in Ghana to ride the elevator to the top.

These landmarks attractions are able to charge the public steep prices due to the incredible demand by the public. 

So what is the reason for this demand?

Well... for openers... there is a great history associated with these attractions... they have been around for decades... if not centuries.  The passage of time has subsequently allowed more visitors to actually experience these sites, who will in turn tell their friends what they have seen and encourage them to also visit these sites if and when they are able.

Can you imagine visiting San Francisco for the first time and not riding the Cable Cars or going to Paris and visiting the Louvre and not seeing the Mona Lisa? 

If you didn’t do these things, then what would you tell your friends after all... that you actually went exploring on your own and found some incredible things to do and to look at beyond those things found in every tourist book ever written?

The things that are well known aren’t necessarily the best things... they just happen to be the best known things... the safe things... the place where the average person wants to exist... average things for average people... (and yes... I do consider myself average since I have now had a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel, to the top of the Empire State Building, ridden the cable cars in San Francisco and have stood in line to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris).

The phenomenon of group think is not limited to tourist attractions, art, and libations at some old bar.  This same idea applies to technology, IPOs, and Christmas toys... as well as hundreds of items and services.

Is it strange to you as it is to me as to why people line up for days to purchase the newest Apple product?... even though there are several competing products in the market that actually have better specifications and performance...

How many people bought shares of Facebook during its IPO just because they are addicted to posting every thought that they ever had on their Facebook update page?

Which toy will become the rage of Christmas this year... selling out quickly... while creating a secondary gray-market in order to buy your children the one toy that they can’t be without... if only because everyone else in their class is getting one?

Business models based on hype are generally unsustainable... although... I don’t believe that the Mona Lisa will lose any its sex appeal in the next century or two...

For the rest of us... it is highly unlikely that our businesses will go viral any time soon (if your sole business model is getting plugged by Oprah or winning the lottery... there is a very slim possibility that your business will actually succeed). 

There are those who will strike it rich... being in the right place at the right time... with the right product... at the right price... just out of sheer luck...

Why the Mona Lisa or Google?... why not Domenico Ghirlandaio (a Leonardo De Vinci contemporary and classmate - with perhaps a better artistic skill set according to certain art scholars) or Webcrawler (one of the first and maybe best search engine of the Internet at the time)?

Why were they the lucky ones?... and can it happen to the rest of us?

Growing our businesses are usually the result of years of hard work and dedication... building it one customer at a time... doing the mundane... but doing it slightly better than everyone else... day in and day out... year after year...

Even with all the hard work and effort... we can still fail through no fault of our own... as markets turn and new technologies make our products and/or services obsolete...

...but we need to keep going in spite of the odds because the only sure way to fail is to give up trying... 
For every company, artist, writer, idea that becomes an overnight success worth billions of dollars... there are thousands of others whose names we hardly recognize... working hard to forge their own place in history... creating a name that someone will talk about for years to come...

Maybe that next name is yours...  

Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where 30 years from now we hope to be an overnight success...

Friday, May 9, 2014

Putting it in Reverse...

"Give me three hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first two hours sharpening the axe"

~ Abraham Lincoln 

Every so often my wife and I will host a dinner party, inviting a few friends to our house to gather and eat.  Dinner PartyAfter dinner, a couple of invited friends and I will adjourn to the backyard or perhaps the living room, in the wintertime, to play some acoustic music together, reliving our youth by entertaining the groupies among us (otherwise known as our wives).

These memorable evenings are fueled by tasty food, fine wine, and lots of laughter (mostly laughing at ourselves for being so ridiculous).

While the final outcome of the evening’s events is typically a full stomach, a lot of laughter and a bunch of shared memories for the guests and myself, the actual planning for the evening is rarely the result of an impromptu gathering of friends but rather a carefully orchestrated series of decisions, planning and execution... starting from the desired outcome to the many steps along the way.

In planning an event like this, typically I find myself preparing from the end of the event and work myself back to the present instead of the perhaps more natural way of doing things... beginning with step one and moving forward.

The very first thing I may want to consider is, who exactly do I want to invite to my little soiree.  This is a very important decision.  Not all of my friends play nice together.  There are those who might drink a bit too much as well as other considerations. 

It is important to me, in order to make the evening a success, to arrange the guest list in a way that will leave all my friends with a lasting positive memory and wanting to come back again soon... that is my desired outcome. 

Therefore trying to predict what those memories will be before the event occurs, while difficult, is not impossible based on my knowledge of my friends’ expectations and normal behaviors.  It’s also important to me to assemble the right mix of musicians, who enjoy similar musical tastes and play a variety of instruments (there is nothing worse than assembling a "band" consisting of 4 drummers).

Once the projected results are firmly embedded in my head, it is easy to assemble a guest list that will help me to meet my objectives.  Now that the list is completed, personal invitations will be sent to the potential guests several weeks in advance to ensure that they will be free for the evening. 

The next major decision will be that of the location for our musical venue... indoors or outdoors.
Outdoors, under the stars at night with candles, fresh air, and perfect acoustics for music make for a truly enchanted evening.  However, a cold damp evening would most likely make my guests uncomfortable taking their attentions away from the music and ambiance and focusing it solely upon the uncomfortable chill of the night.

Once the guests and venue are decided... then attention can be directed to the menu and task to our guests with their individual contributions (no one like to come empty-handed... so it’s best to give out assignments as not to double up on one item while being short of others).

With the menu planned... then a backwards timetable is constructed...

Midnight - everyone goes home with great memories
9:00pm - start playing music
8:45pm - set up instruments
8:30pm - clean up dinner
7:30pm - start dinner
6:00pm - guests arrive - wine and appetizers
5:30pm - put lasagna into the oven / dress for dinner
4:30pm - prepare lasagna
2:00pm - clean and straighten house / set up backyard venue
Noon - go shopping for dinner ingredients
One week prior - send reminder email to guests with an assignment of what to bring
Three weeks prior - send a handwritten invitation.

A successful and memorable dinner party leaves very little to chance and involves a lot of forethought.

Imagine the same evening... this time... waiting until the last minute... trying to call several friends to join us at our house about 4pm on the day of the event.  Scrambling to buy some prepared food to bring home and spoon out of cartons... ending up with the wrong musicians who play similar instruments or enjoy playing dissimilar types of music (country or blues versus classic-rock perhaps)...

What type of experience would the guests go away with at the end of the night as opposed to the well-orchestrated night with lots of planning and effort? 

Now it might work out just fine... (especially if there is a lot of good wine flowing freely during the evening)... but it is really too much left to chance as well as a bunch of last-minute hysterics and herculean efforts to pull it all together...

So now instead of a dinner party...

I want you to think of the last large scale marketing project your company engaged in... perhaps it was a new e-commerce website with a major launch strategy.

Were the final results of the projects agreed upon prior to starting the project or did the leaders of the project just start working on the various design elements?

The first and foremost critical question that needs to be asked before any organization begins any major project is, "what are the actual and measureable results that they hope to achieve at the end this project?"

Perhaps some critical questions that need to be asked up front for the new website project might be:
  • Why do we need a new website at all? (hint:  "just because everyone else is doing it" or "because our site is tired" is not the correct answer here)
  • Who are the people who might use the site and why?
  • Will they typically be using a mobile device (smart phone) to visit our site or will they be using a large screen computing device?... these are two very different designs
  • What critical information do we need to provide our potential customers who use the new site?
  • What path will our website provide to our customers so they can easily navigate to find this critical information?
  • How easy will it be for customers to actually buy something from us? (a few directed steps or a gauntlet of dead-ends)
Answering the questions above (as well as perhaps, another 100 or so, less important questions) will have a serious impact on defining the success or failure of your project.

Many times, our seemingly worthwhile projects will end up failing because we haven’t done a good enough job in defining our desired outcome and/or results.

Sure, the project may still succeed at some level by sheer chance, herculean efforts, or by needlessly throwing lots of resources (time and money) into the project...

...but that’s not an intelligent design... it a dinner party serving 10 people... or a new e-commerce site serving millions of people...

I want to leave you with one additional thought today...

Take just a moment to think about your own life.. might it change...

...if you gave consideration to everything you wanted to achieve and/or accomplish by the time you reached the end... just work your way backwards to today... would you do anything differently?

Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we hope to see you in our future...

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Land of Opportunity...

Today is the first Friday of the month... so time for another guest blogger to join us...
Siyamak Khorrami is an entrepreneur and the president of Sky River IT.  

I have known Siyamak for about 5 years.  He offers so much insight that I often seek out his opinion although he is beyond 20 years my junior.

I am proud to call Siyamak my friend and mentor.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently"

~Henry Ford

As a foreign born, permanent U.S. resident, I have been given a keyholeunique opportunity to see the world in a slightly different way than most native citizens.

I was born and raised in Iran.  When I was only 17, I moved to Mexico City to work with an international trading company.  A few years later, a new position with a start-up life science company took me to Beijing, China where I was given the opportunity to help build a company from the ground up.  After 5 years in China, my journey has taken me to San Diego where I now own and operate an IT service company.

Having spent several years in living in various metropolises throughout the world, I believe that I can offer a different perspective with regards to world business.

So much has been written recently about how the United States is losing its edge in innovation and the development of new ideas. However, I can say without reservation that this is simply not true. 

The United States is the undeniable leader in technological advancement and will continue to stand above the rest in terms of innovation for many years still to come.

There are many reasons for my conclusions, but I would like to offer just a few areas that differentiate the United States from other places around the globe.

1)  Government Impeding Business

From my experiences around the world, I have found national and local laws to be extremely vague and difficult to follow.  It is to the point where it is nearly impossible to operate effectively in most developing countries.

Because the laws are so complex and arbitrary, companies working abroad regularly break laws sometimes unknowingly, other times with full intention.  The successful company is forced to negotiate, on an individual basis, with local and national government officials to run interference or help mitigate potential adverse legal interpretations by enforcement officials. 

Your success is directly tied to your relationship with these government officials.  If you have "assistance" from the government, your path is protected.  Conversely, if you do not have strong government ties, you are under the constant harassment of enforcement agencies.

Your applications for permits are always seemingly "lost" or delayed, your factories are under constant inspection by officials who find dubious infractions, and your workers are often harassed and threatened.

Many of these hardships can be traced back to your competitors who may have long-standing local government relationships and who would rather that you were no longer in business (at least in their local market).

As an entrepreneur, it matters very little whether or not you work hard, have good ideas, or can serve market needs.  Your success is strictly tied to your government relationships... which will cost you much, if not all, of your potential profits.  

In places like China, India, and Mexico... it’s matter very little as to what you know but rather who you know.

Here in United States, even though people constantly complain about government red-tape and regulations, there are a known set of laws and a proven court system.  

As an entrepreneur, you can easily start a company and compete with established companies and if you are following the law you can easily succeed.

Instead of worrying about nurturing your government relationships, you can spend your resources, energies, and money on focusing on innovation and improvement of your products / services.

2)  The Fear of Failure

In China and many developing countries personal reputation and close relationships are paramount for social acceptance and maintaining good standing within their communities.

Most people have been raised within a system where failure is fatal (sometimes figuratively... sometimes literally).  Because of the culture of failure avoidance, people will always look to save face and will never admit that they have made a wrong decision or an error in judgment.

When you are scared of failing because failing cost so much, in terms of financial and social capital, you won’t take risks, you won’t make decisions, and you won’t think outside the box.

Therefore, creativity, innovation, and risk are regularly discouraged by financial backers and management.  New ideas are risky and can’t be tolerated.  The less risk the better... but the less risky approach will never be "cutting edge" where innovation mostly occurs.

Here in the United States, failing and learning from your mistakes has been ingrained into the culture.

The American people are quick to give those who have shown remorse second, third or more chances for redemption.  We often see public figures making mistakes... even as far as committing serious crimes. Yet, once they announce to the public they know they have made a mistake and they have learned from it, the public is open to embracing them again.

Many venture capitalists in the U.S. won’t invest their money in a management team that hasn’t had some level of failure in the past.  They believe that the entrepreneur who fails and isn’t afraid to get back up and try again is worth investing in.  They have had their "comeuppance" and are now more focused than ever to learn from their past mistakes to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

When people are not afraid of failing they are open to new ideas and ways of doing things.

3)  Top Down Leadership

Most countries of the world are governed from a privileged ruling class.  This varies from place to place from a complete and total dictatorship (China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba) to that of a ruling oligopoly elected under the guise of free democracy but only open to a select few (Russia, India, Venezuela, Mexico).  

People who live in these places are used to being told what and what not to do from the highest levels.  The rules are never to be questioned.  When the leader makes a decision, it is presumed right by everyone, even if the decision is wrong.    

This is the culture... what the people know to be true.

Every day this same idea permeates into business where all the decisions come from the top of the organization.  The idea of a management team is a foreign concept because decisions are never made as a team but rather as an individual at the top.  Subordinates see their job as a reinforcement of the leader’s decisions, never questioning or offer alternative opinions.

Contrast this management style with that of the most successful companies in the U.S. where many of the best ideas come from the people on the front lines.  Creativity and new ideas come from those talking directly with customers or those spending their time in a laboratory.  These are the people who are the closest to the problems.

Whereas the boss still makes decisions, he/she is assisted by a team that has no problem advocating different opinions or strategies.

Places like China are indeed slowly changing, but too much change threatens the current status quo which is being held tightly by those with the power to do so.  It will require several generations to see significant changes in attitudes and cultural paradigms.

The United States, even with all its problems, is still the land of opportunity for all it can offer in terms of entrepreneurial freedoms and a culture of risk-taking, management teams, and bottoms up innovation.

Sure... it’s not perfect, but from the viewpoint of somebody who has seen the alternatives, it is still the best in the world...
Siyamak Khorrami