Monday, December 29, 2014

A Different Philosophy...

Today we have a guest blogger joining us.

Siyamak has a somewhat different perspective... a perspective that I thought that our regular readers would enjoy as the last blog of this year.

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My name is Siyamak Khorrami and I want to share with you some life changing experiences, hoping it might benefit you as much as it has helped me over the last few months.

I was born in Iran just after the revolution deposing the Shah.  As a young man, who was interested more in business than politics, I decided that the future was limited for me in Iran.  So in 1999, I had the opportunity to move from Iran to Mexico while I awaited a student visa to study in the United States.

After two years of waiting, the opportunity finally came as I was able to enroll at USC and after four years of study, I graduated with a degree in international business.

After graduation and at the relatively young age of 23, I was presented with an opportunity to go to China where I headed a large department within a 300 person company.  While in China, I often found myself in meetings with high-level Chinese government officials and key business leaders from Europe and America. 

In addition, to meeting with key customers, I also had the opportunity to preside over dinners and receptions for regulatory agencies such as the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) as well as other members of the biotech community.

Before my 25th birthday, I had lived in four countries, learned four languages fluently, and successfully assimilated into the diverse business cultures of the Middle East, Latin America, China and America.

After my experiences in China, it became apparent to me that the America was indeed the land of opportunity so I left China and landed in California which the intention of starting up a new business venture within the high-tech industry. 

The timing couldn’t have been worse.  The year was 2009, and the United States was embroiled in the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression.  In addition, most of my direct experiences came from the chemical and biotech industries.  The new venture was in the field of computers and telecommunications.

But despite all of the hurdles before us, now five years later, we have now become a regional leader in our field and are looking to expand onto a national platform within the next few years.

From the perspective of a person looking at me from the outside, it appeared as though I have achieved a great deal of success especially for someone as young as myself.   I was a successful entrepreneur, had extensively traveled the world, spoke several languages, and had a rolodex of high-level friends encompassing many different industries.  

However, from inside I was dying a quick death.  Success has a way of enslaving a person with the fear that everything that has been already achieved could be lost as quickly as it came. 

My work days became endless and my nights sleepless as I worked harder and harder to juggle more and more balls.  I regularly worked through the nights and weekends trying my best to overcome the fear of failure while moving my company though a minefield of competitive forces.

When I was in China, I was a high-ranking officer within the company. The people who directly reported to me were at my beckon call and did whatever I ordered them to do at any given time. My concern was not for their welfare but rather whether or not the job was being done. My subordinates didn’t necessarily like me and I didn’t really care. 

The environment was very toxic on several levels.

I love the people of China, but there is inherently little or no trust between management and labor, within different departments, and even within departments.

Loyalties of most people within the company were tested often and due to incumbent politics, it was hard to find a trusting team of people to work with.  I found it increasingly hard to trust members of my own team and often found them working against the best interests of the team.

Dealing with government officials was another great challenge to overcome.

Every day, I met with people who appeared to be a helpful friend when in reality; they were actually working against you.  It seemed that everyone only cared about working in their own interest and honesty was non-existent.

When I started my company, I made it my mission to create a different type of culture.   I wanted to build a team who worked together to achieve common goals.  I wanted a company that was transparent and transformative.

Unfortunately, I also wanted to quickly find success for me and my new company. 

My business goals soon became incongruent and my relationships with my employees, friends and family began to suffer in my quest for success. 

From the outside everything looked good but on the inside I felt empty.

In a quest to change my path, I thought about a book that a college friend had given to me some 10 years ago.  The book is called Zhuan Falun and introduces the reader to a spiritual practice called Falum Gong. 

For years, the book remained on my bookshelf unread.  My friend had told me a little about the basic principles of the book but I didn’t see any need to incorporate those principles into my own life.  At the time, my interests were based solely on material success, not any spiritual awakenings.

But after achieving a certain level of material success, I felt empty, alone, and a general feeling of unhappiness.

One day, I remembered this book and sat down to finally read it.

Inside the book, I found some profound principles that touched my heart and made me rethink of many of my past behaviors.

It was as if I have been searching for this my whole life and now have found it. Soon I began ingraining these principles into my daily life and business practices.

The book mentions that the universe is built on three main characteristics:
  • Truthfulness 
  • Compassion
  • Tolerance
The followers of Falum Gong believe that we need to always try to incorporate these three basic tenets into our daily lives and in doing so, we begin to live our lives by helping and understanding others.

These principles are on a spectrum and that every day we need to reflect on our thoughts and our actions and continue to improve them.

The way that I have found to incorporate these principles is to continually try to look through the eyes of the people I encounter throughout my life. 

No longer am I concerned with what is best for me but rather I am now solely concerned with what is best for others knowing that if I am able to help others, my own rewards will come back to me in the end.

Before applying these principles, I was under the guise that in everything there was a winner and a loser...and I always wanted to be that winner. 

Since my introduction to Falum Gong, I now know that there can be multiple winners in every situation...that life is more of a win-win than a winner-take-all.

Instead of always thinking about winning and losing, I have been focused more on creating win-win relationships and opportunities in everything I do and with all the people I meet along the way.

I have replaced selfishness, fear and competitiveness with truthfulness, compassion, tolerance and in doing so; I have reintroduced a sense of happiness back into my life.

I still have kept the same drive for my career and our company but now I pay great attention to others as well. I have focused on building an environment that not only will lead to financial success for our team and our investors, but also will help our team members have happy and healthy lifestyle.

As a result, I have been so relaxed over the last few months. Our company environment has changed significantly. I can feel that the team members care about the success of our organization.  

The sleepless nights, anxiety, and fear are all gone.  Finally I have been feeling relaxed and happy inside. My friends and family members can see the results as well.

I am so glad that I came across this ancient spiritual practice and I wanted to share my experience with you today. 

Somehow we get lost in winning and losing while we focus on our own success but there is another way to achieve success without sacrificing our personal fulfillment.

Thank you for letting me tell my story and may the future bring you much success and great joy.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Understanding Money...

"I don’t care too much about money... ’cause money can’t buy me love’ "
                                             ~The Beatles

This past week, I once again found myself traveling outside the country as I needed to venture off to the Far East for an important but quick meeting.

The quick trip meant that I probably would not have much time to adjust to the time difference so I decided early on to take the red-eye flight from Los Angeles and arrive in Taipei very early Monday morning (about 5 am local time).

This plan was great except for one very minor flaw... I had no way of getting to the hotel since I arrived much earlier than the first shuttle of the morning. 

With no other means of transportation, I would need to take a taxi over to the hotel.

This also meant that I would need to exchange some U.S. dollars for Taiwanese dollars to pay the taxi driver... maybe about $20 worth which would be approximately $620 NT at today’s exchange rate.

I was already in the taxi when I began to think about the idea of why there were different currencies in the world and why does the exchange rates change.

It the earliest of civilizations, there was no monetary system.  People basically grew or hunted what they needed to survive.  It was a more or less a socialistic society where each tribe divided the tasks it took to provide basic necessities like food, water, shelter, clothing and security.  There was no need for money because whatever they had... belonged to the entire tribe.

As civilizations grew, it soon became apparent that perhaps one tribe might have an excess of one thing and not enough of another so a trade was conducted whereas one traded something of value for something else of value.

Bartering is somewhat of an inefficient system.  If you had an extra chicken to part with, and you wanted instead some clay pot, you would need to find someone with a clay pot who wanted a chicken otherwise a deal could not be struck.

Around 12,000 BC, civilizations began to use pretty black stones (obsidian) with no real utilitarian use  as a form of early currency. 

People could now trade their chicken to one person for obsidian stones, and then could trade the stones with another person for a clay pot. 

The stones themselves didn’t have much value; it really is about what the stones represented that gave the stone value.

People would mine these stones in the mountains and then introduce them into the monetary system insuring that there would be enough stones to go around as the society began growing.

But after a while, all of the stones were mined so very few new stones were being introduced into the market.

At one time a farmer could trade one chicken and receive 10 stones, but now due to the scarcity of the stones, the farmer might now only receive 5 stones for that same chicken. 

This also meant that the person with 10 stones could now trade for 2 chickens (at 5 stones each).  So the miners now had twice the purchasing power than before.

After some time, a new source of stones was discovered and stones became overly plentiful... now stones were everywhere.  Since there was an overabundance of stones with very little demand, now the farmers demanded 20 stones for each chicken.

As societies grew, some people decided that chicken farming might not be right them... so they decided instead to trade their labor directly for stones for which they could use to trade for basic necessities.

Additionally, there were other societies that had no access to shiny black stones, so they began mining shiny metal such as gold, silver, tin and bronze and melting the metals into coins with different denominations (something that couldn’t be done with rocks).

As long as the community used their own currency to trade, then there were not any problems... but after some time, people from neighboring places wanted trade between themselves... but there was an inherent issue... one society used black rocks to define value whereas the other society used bronze coins.

The issue was solved going back to the essence of the initial exchange.  If 1 chicken was worth 10 black rocks in one place and 1 bronze coin in another place then 10 black rocks must equal 1 bronze coin.

This is the basic worldwide monetary system in a nutshell...

Different countries issue a national currency controlled by that country’s central bank in which the holders of this money can use to exchange for goods and services. 

The exchange rate between different currencies is dependent upon how much money the government of a particular country actually creates and the internal value of that money within the given country.

Now enter a new form of currency called digital currency or sometimes Bitcoinreferred to as "crypto currency".  There are several types of digital currency but the most popular appears to be Bitcoin.

Unlike other types of currency, Bitcoin (as well as other digital currencies) is not issued by a central bank of a sovereign government but rather by a decentralized computer network. 

Like in the ancient times with black rocks and bronze used for coins, Bitcoins are mined by highly sophisticated computer networks solving highly complex problems.  The reward of a successful miner for solving a problem is 25 Bitcoins.

The Bitcoins are then traded for merchandise in the same way a farmer would trade a chicken for black rocks.  Bitcoin can also be traded in open exchanges for other hard currencies such as U.S. dollars, euros, Japanese yen or Mexican pesos.

The difference between Bitcoin and other hard currencies is that Bitcoin is only digital whereas with other hard money can be minted or printed in the form of coins and paper money.

However, one needs to realize that most of the hard money in the world is also in a digital form such as checks and bank account balances.

When we get paid from our employer, that employer pays us in the form of a check that we deposit into a bank.  Later we can exchange a part or all of that balance into a hard currency, such as using an ATM, or we can transfer a part of our balance to others, as when we write check or wire transfer money... the balance sits in our accounts.

Bitcoin works in much the same way except that instead of keeping your money in a centralized banking system (such as what we have here in the U.S. or in other countries), Bitcoin is a ledger balance that is kept in a digital wallet that is duplicated by a vast network of synchronized computers (the synchronization is a part of the problems solved by the Bitcoin miners as referenced above).

Since there is no centralized banking system, there are no banking fees to pay in keeping or transferring your money, which makes Bitcoin very attractive to individuals residing in places where high banking fees are regularly charged.

More and more businesses are accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment including Amazon, Expedia, Target, Victoria’s Secret and CVS as more and more people turn to digital currency instead of using traditional banks and their high fees.

The world in which we live in is rapidly changing, but the basic principles of trade remain the same. 

People work hard to add some value by creating products or selling services.  They then trade those products and services for other products and services using a currency system as the means for easier transactions.

Everything else is just speculation... and I’ll leave that for Wall Street and another day...

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we give you the greatest value for your money.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Traditional Innovation...

"Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memories, tradition, and myth frame our response"
                           ~ Arthur M. Schlesinger
As I was driving through my neighborhood this past week, I noticed that I didn’t see many houses with Christmas light strung along the eaves.  

Oh sure, there were some people who went "all-out", decorating their houses, lawns, and windows with lights, Lightsinflatable Santas, and manger scenes... but for the most part the neighborhood seemed to me, a little less "lit" this holiday season.

This passing thought about exterior lighting then started an avalanche of other thoughts in my head as it related to holiday traditions.

Traditions like decorating Christmas trees, hanging stockings in front of the fireplace, roasting chestnuts, singing Christmas carols and opening presents on Christmas morning have stayed with us for decades... if not centuries.

We keep these traditions because they are an integral part of our fond memories of our youth.  They make us think of simpler days as children when we had no responsibilities and everything was larger than life... and as parents we hope to instill that same wonderment in the lives of our children.

It was a magical time where we still believed that Santa left toys under the tree and that he ate the cookies and milk that we left beside the fireplace.

Traditions are a special way to connect with your own family, clan or tribe.  They hold special meaning for those who experience them year after year.

The memories turn into lore which is retold over and over through the generations.  It becomes our family’s nostalgia and a part of our history.

Family traditions are not only for Christmas.

My mother still sings a special song to each of her kids and grandchildren on their birthday... even though her oldest children are now in their 50’s.  Yes it’s silly... but it is our family tradition and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Many of the companies or organizations we work for also have certain traditions.

Holiday parties, summer picnics, Monday morning sales meetings and celebrations after strong sales months are traditions that have permeated the corporate world for decades... although in the work place we call our traditions "precedence".

In my position at OptiFuse, I have the opportunity to visit many different companies... suppliers and vendors alike.  

Many times my visits (especially on an initial visit) will include a tour of their facilities or manufacturing floor.

Having a high level of curiosity, I will often ask a series of questions of my tour host, specifically asking why something is being done in a particular fashion or what is the reason for doing something in a certain way.

My questions, many times, are answered with the same response...

...because we’ve always done it that way... it’s our way of doing it... it is our tradition... it is our history...

If tradition is the way we’ve always done something, then innovation is the polar opposite of tradition.

Innovation is doing something that has never been done before.  It is constantly changing products, processes, and systems by taking them into uncharted waters or creating art on a blank canvas.

Sometimes innovation enters the workplace because the technology behind the traditional way of doing something simply is too old to be supported any longer.

At OptiFuse, this is the case with our current phone system.  We are now looking at new state-of-the-art phone systems to replace our old system (which has work just fine for many years now) but is so old that we are now unable to get replacement parts. 

For us, we’d rather keep what we know and what had worked for us rather than explore new and better ways  to make and receive phone calls... but now that decision is being forced upon us.

There are many other examples of this same thinking... just in our own company.

A company may spend years perfecting a great system that absolutely works for them.  They live by the old adage, "if it isn’t broken... we don’t need to fix it".

But as any modern business leader will tell you, if you’re not innovating... then you’re dying.

A company needs to continually update its products, services, and processes otherwise they will quickly fall behind in the race to innovate.

How long should we stick to what is working or when should we transition into a new methodology or technology?

It’s an age old question... one frankly that I really don’t have a good answer for.

One might argue that it really depends on the industry as to whether or not tradition or innovation wins out.

However, one needs to look no further than the travel industry.  

The travel and tourism market is estimated to be $1.4T (yes... trillion) including transportation, lodging, food, entertainment.  This market segment represents 9% of the world’s GNP.

Until the last 5 years, very little innovation has occurred in the industry as a whole... sure commercial airlines were introduced in the 1940’s... greatly shortening the time it took to get from one place to another... but other than that... innovations have been far and few between...

Today, a few upstart technology companies are turning the travel industry on its head.

Companies like Airbnb and Uber/Lyft/Sidecar are creating utter havoc in the once very traditional and stable environs of the hotel and taxi businesses.

Unlike a regular hotel, Airbnb doesn’t own any of its own rooms.  Airbnb provides a service that links people who have an extra bed with those people looking to rent a bed (or room or house or tree house or castle).

Airbnb is currently booking more than 200,000 rooms each and every day in more than 100 countries and expects to double that number by the end of 2015.   It’s no wonder that the large hotel chains are lobbying the government hard to try and stop Airbnb from taking away their customers.  It has revolutionized the industry. 

Lyft (and other similar companies) offer the same types of service as Airbnb - only with car rides instead of hotel rooms.  People have been frustrated with the level of service provided by taxis for years but have not had an alternative service until recently.

These new upstart companies have turned the travel industry upside down by offering the services, aided by technology, that people have yearned for ages (now if there can only be a new alternative to the airlines... only in my dreams).

It reminds me of the story I once heard about a drill bit salesman.  The drill bit salesman erroneously thought that he was selling drill bits to his customers... but his customers weren’t really buying drill bits... they were buying holes... and the moment a new technology came along that provided a better way of making holes... he would be out of a job.

Traditions might be good for families and friends during the holidays, but in business, innovation is paramount and without it all businesses will eventually perish.

We need to continue looking at the things we do and strive to make improvements in ourselves and everything we do...

...only then will we prepare ourselves for the road ahead...
Thank you for your continued support of OptiFuse where we encourage people and companies alike to make innovation the new tradition.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Season of Giving...

"It’s not how much we give... but rather how much love we put into the gift of giving"
                                       ~ Mother Teresa

I suppose it all started with "Black Friday".

Retailers, solely interested in having people start their Christmas shopping early in a way to boost end-of-the-year profits, devised a clever scheme to coerce people to start the buying season off with bang.

Here’s the winning formula marketers concocted: 
  • Find a day when people aren’t typically working
  • Offer a few select "door-busting" items at a loss
  • These loss-leaders then create an incredible demand for those limited sale items
  • The demand causes people to wait all-night to earn the opportunity to buy these loss-leaders
  • The people waiting in line become "news" on a typically slow news day
  • The media attention feeds the frenzy causing greater demand
It was perfect... and everyone benefited...

Stores were happy... marketers were happy... credit card companies were happy... the media was happy... oh and shoppers were happy... well they were happy if they happened to get one of the great bargains being offered...

And even if people didn’t get there in time for the big bargains... they were still getting all their holiday shopping done early as the stores rarely closed (if at all) during the entire 3-day weekend in order to keep up with the buying demand.

...but the malls were crowded with people... no parking... long lines at the check-out... misbehaving children... misbehaving adults... Thanksgiving day hangovers...

Who needs all that hassle?...

...but what to do?

Marketers, once again, to the rescue...

They began telling us... "hey guys... you don’t need to spend all of your time waiting in lines and fighting the crowds at the malls... we’ll offer you those same great in-store deals online... you can now shop from your comfortable sofa without having to deal with the crowds of the malls... and if you don’t have high-speed internet at your house... you can just wait until Monday and shop on your employer’s Internet connection".

Let’s call this "Cyber Monday"...

So this past Monday, millions of people rummaged through their e-mail inboxes to find exclusive coupon codes being offered by their favorite online retailer... and bought and bought and bought... in fact... this past Monday people collectively purchased more merchandise online than any previous day ever recorded.

Retailers and shoppers alike were once again happy during this season of giving...

As it turns out... gift giving isn’t reserved for items under a Christmas tree...

The end of the year also signals a time for charitable giving.

In 2013, according to statistics compiled by, Americans donated $335.2 billion to charitable organizations (those sanctioned with an IRS section 503 (c)(3) status).  

71.9% of those donations came from individual donors.  Individual bequests (8.2%), foundations (14.6%), and corporations (5.3%) make up the balance of all charitable donations.

The other interesting thing is that 41.6% of all charitable giving occurs in December... perhaps because people are in a giving spirit or perhaps it’s a consequence of end-of-the-year tax-planning...

All this emptying of wallets at the malls and online seems to have caught the attention of the non-profit charities.

So this past Tuesday, my e-mail box was stuffed with pleas from worthy charities and not-so-worthy charities in an attempt to get me to support "Donor Tuesday".

I have to admit... this was the first year I have actually been solicited under the guise of Donor Tuesday so I’m not sure if it’s a sustainable trend yet... and I’m still unsure if I like the idea or not...

What all the e-mail solicitations did do, however, is make me cognizant of just how many charities and foundations that there are... and to try and examine the merits of charitable giving...

I believe that charitable giving is essential in a civilized society for a variety of reason and rationales.  

Charitable giving however isn’t limited to direct monetary support.  There are several ways to help support charities that are also incredibly important such as: 
  • Offering to donate time and manpower on a regular basis such as volunteering to coach youth sports teams, visiting the elderly, delivering meals to those unable to leave their homes, helping veterans, or being an adult leader in civic organizations such as scouting or Big Brothers / Big Sisters.
  • Joining a service organization such as Kiwanis, Rotary, Lion’s, Junior League, or Optimists.
  • Pitching in during a time of crisis with disaster relief efforts such as the Red Cross.
  • Donating unused or unwanted items to the Salvation Army, AmVets, or Goodwill.
  • Donating blood to the local blood bank.
  • Volunteering on a building project such as Habitat for Humanity or an urban garden.
There are literally thousands of different charities that would welcome your time and efforts.

But sometimes it’s just easier to donate money rather than time...

The key to donating a sum of money to a charity is to do a small amount of research before giving.

As it turns out... many charitable organizations are "charitable" in name only with most of the money going to fund-raising activities, administration and/or salaries to paid staff members.

Some of the worst offenders operate under names that are intended to pull at our heart-strings...

Names like Kid’s Wish Foundation... Cancer Fund of America... National Veterans Service Fund... and Project Cure litter the list of the 50 worst charities (click here to see the entire list)...

These organizations hire professional solicitors to raise 10’s of millions of dollars, with a large majority of the money being kept by the fund raisers.  Of the 50 worst offenders, some 70% of the money collected went to fund raising activities and another 27% went to overhead cost leaving just 3% that actually went into the hands of the people that the charity was supposed to help.

The good news is... that for every badly-run, non-profit organization... there are 25 others that are doing great things with our donations... helping those who need it the most.

My wife and I, have several local charities that we support each year donating both time and money to help those making a difference in our community.

In addition, OptiFuse is also a supporter of several national and international charities.

We are proud to support the Arthritis Foundation, Cancer for College, Charity: Water, and Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Fontieres).

The true meaning of the holidays is to spread a bit of joy to those who are a bit less fortunate than ourselves... but sometimes this message is hard to hear as the noise from marketers grows louder each year...

Now is the time to rejoice and find peace... by bringing a little ray of happiness into the lives of others this Holiday Season...

Thank you for your continued support of OptiFuse.  It is through your continued patronage that allows us to give freely to deserving charities... to make the world a slightly better place.

May this holiday season bring safety and sanity, peace and joy, and love to you and all yours...  

Monday, December 1, 2014

You Can't Scale People

"When growing up, Christmas was always about me... then later, I enjoyed giving, so it was about you... Thanksgiving, however, has always been about us."
                                          ~ Rosecrans Baldwin

Last weekend I had the opportunity to meet up with some friends to watch a play at a local theater. 

I hadn’t seen these particular friends for some time so we decided to begin our evening by having dinner at a nearby small restaurant called "The Everything" to catch up and socialize a bit before the show.

Having made reservations, we were quickly seated and given a menu. 

I had never eaten at this restaurant, but what amazed me was the sheer breadth of the menu.  There were at least ten pages of different items and combinations available to the restaurant’s patrons.  This restaurant was aptly named as it seemed to offer everything.

After a short time, our waiter came over to our table to take drink orders and present the specials of the day.

He then rattled off another ten items the chef was preparing especially for that night’s clientele.

As I sat there trying to come to some sort of decision, I wondered about the actual quality of the meals being offered... with "everything" on the menu... can the chef actually cook "anything" well... or were there just a lot of mediocre dishes?

When I questioned our server as to why there were so many dishes, he replied that this restaurant was located very near to the convention center which brought in a wide variety of people. The owner, looking to satisfy everyone’s individual tastes, thought it was best to have a little something of everything on the menu.

"Our restaurant can cater to a large audience of potential customers, especially if they go out in groups.  No longer would the group need to decide on Italian, Japanese, Thai or any other specific type of cuisine.  We have it all under one roof", he said with a boast.

I thought to myself, that it was certainly an original hook, but I still thought back to the inefficiencies that must exist at this restaurant... needing to stock and prepare so many different types of foods.

In the end, I ordered one of the "special" dishes ... which, in fact, was pretty ordinary and not very special at all...

In stark contrast to this restaurant, there is a very successful regional fast-food hamburger restaurant that has been in business since 1948 called "In-N-Out".  

For more than 65 years, they have offered the public the exact same menu: 
  • Hamburgers
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Double Cheeseburgers (Double Double)
  • French Fries
  • Shakes (was added to the menu in 1975)
  • Sodas
The owners of this restaurant chain decided a long time ago that they wanted to offer only a few items, but prepare those items extremely well.

They only serve 100% beef hamburger on a freshly baked bun, with real American cheese, freshly sliced tomatoes and hand leafed lettuce.  Their French fries are hand cut in the store only a few minutes ahead of frying and are fried in 100% vegetable oil.  Their shakes are made with 100% real ice cream.  

If you stop by any In-N-Out restaurant close to mealtime... you’ll most likely find a line out the door.

They don’t offer turkey or bacon burgers, chicken or fish sandwiches, tacos, cross-cut fries, a breakfast menu or desserts.

They know that their menu doesn’t appeal to everyone...

They only do a few things but they do those things extraordinarily well... and you can’t argue with their success as they prepare to open their 300th restaurant sometime next year...

So herein lays the classic debate... do you do a few things really well... or do you do a lot of things in order to serve a greater audience.

I believe that the answer lies in the idea of scalability.

Does adding more... products... services... customers... bandwidth... or seats on your airplane dilute the customers’ experience with a company and its brand?

In some cases, having more users actually increases the value of the brand...

This is the case of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other types of social media... as well as companies like AirBnB and Uber.  If there wasn’t anyone using the network... then the network is useless.  In this case the company needs additional users to actually make the network actually work... the bigger the network... the more opportunities there are to connect.

Other businesses are also scalable. 

A writer or recording artist does the exactly same amount of work to create something regardless if one copy or a million copies are sold. Adding more users does nothing to diminish the quality of the product.

The same thing is true of certain e-commerce sites such as Amazon or E-Bay.  It takes very little additional effort to add another product to the existing infrastructure.  Adding more products doesn’t dilute the customer’s experience but probably enhances it as there is a greater offering to choose from.

Some businesses though are simply not scalable.

Adding more customers only dilutes the service to those using the service...

This might be the situation with a small service provider such as your accountant or attorney, where if they acquire too many clients, your personal attention from these service providers gets diluted and you no longer have access to them as you perhaps once did.

Many airlines have significantly reduced the legroom once offered in order to add more rows of seats, and thus diluting even further their customers’ experience (as if airline travel could possibly sink any lower).  Airplanes simply don’t scale very well...

My friend Jack Daly is a sales consultant and public speaker.  He is the best at what he does so his current and new clients want to hire him to do more and more speaking... so much so... that his calendar is now booked a full year in advance.  

He understands that if he tries to add more speaking engagements, he will not have enough time to properly prepare for each one... diluting his performance... and cheapening the experience of his clients.

Jack has simply run out of time... regardless of the growing demand for it...

He simply can’t add anymore... so at some point... he learned that he needed to start turning business away... (which just kills him when he thinks of how hard he has worked to build his successful business over the course of 40 years... )

Turning people away is just not in his DNA... but he also realizes that if he doesn’t do this... everyone will get less in the end.

Which brings me to people...

We, as human beings, are simply not scalable (although many will try)... we have a finite amount of resources that we can offer...

I currently have 515 "friends" on Facebook, 2,496 "contacts" on LinkedIn and 9,097 Twitter "followers"... so there are simply not enough minutes in the day to have any real connection with most of these people... yet every day I receive more invitations to connect...

I see more and more of their "updates"... and more and more family photos and videos of cats doing stupid things...

Unfortunately real friendships are not simply not scalable...

I want dearly to spend time with everyone I know but it’s an impossible task... and I feel a certain amount of guilt knowing that I am not doing a better job keeping up...

...but in the end... those close friends I do maintain relationships with and I are grateful for the quality time we do get to spend together...

Spending time together always seems to create laughter and joy and the want to do it again really soon.

Great friends and the experiences we share are certainly some of the things I’m thankful for today...

What is it that you are thankful for?

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we understand that our product offering is scalable but the relationships we have with our customers isn’t.