Why synergy is a horrible word

In making presentations to investors, many CEOs try to justify a proposed merger or acquisition by saying it is “synergistic” or that the combination will result in “synergies”. When professional investors hear any version of this magic word, they usually sell the stock. Why ? because if the CEO had a good reason for the merger, such as reducing costs or acquiring patents, he would have said so. By invoking “synergies,” the CEO is signalling that he or she does not have a clear reason for doing the deal and is just trying to put a positive spin on a poorly understood transaction.

(Source unknown — some business book)


Making the consumers do the work

Wages for Facebook may seem outlandish, but companies increasingly reduce labor costs by transferring the labor costs to consumers in self-checkout grocery lines, as well as in the building of IKEA furniture, whereas the consumer does the work for free.

Nicole Shippen, Decolonizing Time

Except the fucking machine in cvs MALFUNCTIONED the last time I bought condoms and tampons…

I would push back by saying that consumers want to do it themselves sometimes. The process of building your own furniture can be part of the thrill, like playing with Lego. Even for people who do not enjoy building furniture, they do so willingly – knowing that it is part of a trade-off for convenience or price.

As for self-checkout counters, we don’t really want to buy the service of a cashier anyway. We just want to buy the goods from the grocery store. It’s irrelevant to consumers whether they checked it out themselves or someone checked it out for them. The faster and more convenient one is preferred. And for those who prefer cashiers, there’s always the option of going to the cashier.

The strange thing is in Singapore where the “self-checkout” cashiers are accompanied by a store attendant to make sure you know how to use it and maybe not steal stuff. Perhaps its part of a teething process.

Harley Davidson’s Unique Selling Proposition

Seated next to the head of marketing for Harley Davidson Motorcycles, I asked the gentleman why Harley was the premium brand in the world of motorcycles, year after year. He responded:

We allow overweight middle-aged white guys to dress up in leather on the weekends and ride a Harley through small towns and villages scaring the hell out of locals.

That is about as succinct a description of a unique selling proposition as I have ever heard.


(Source unknown – but hey the writer is quoting some guy anyway).



Obese people paying more for seats

A relatively new form of price premium to a particular group is new rules for “people of size” levied by Texas-based no-frills flier Southwest Airlines. Customers who are too fat to lower the seat armrest are required to pay for a second seat. The rules state clearly that two obese people travelling together may not share an extra seat – each must pay their own surcharge. A detailed advice section on the Southwest website warns customers that airports tend to be public places and advises large customers to avoid embarrassment by buying two seats just in case — the second seat will be refunded if they are able to lower the armrest on the plane!

Tony Cram, Smarter Pricing


Lol “people of size”. I have always toyed with such a proposal, but never thought that an airline would actually implement it. Not sure if this is outdated though.

I like Southwest Airlines. They are innovative, accommodating, and value-for-money.

This is quite smart – on the grounds that there are fewer morbidly obese people than non-obese people. You may lose some obese customers, but this will appeal to the larger market who has some sense of fairness (not to mention fear of ending up next to an obese person for a long-haul flight).

Then again, they are based in Texas – and might lose more market share than we expect.

Where did writing come from?

The Sumerian city of Uruk was one of the world’s earliest large cities. Its active commercial trade created an unprecedented volume of business trasactions, and Sumerian merchants required an accounting system for keeping track of the day’s inventory and receipts; this was the birth of writing. Here, liberal arts majors may need to set their romantic notions aside. The first forms of writing emerged not for art, literature, or love, not for spiritual or liturgical purposes, but for business – all literature could be said to originate from sales receipts (sorry). With the growth of trade, cities, and writing, people soon discovered architecture, government, and the other refinements of being that collectively add up to what we think of as civilisation.

Daniel Levitin, The Organized Mind


I love the line on liberal arts majors. As someone once said (in a different context), “this thing here is like a liberal arts major — it doesn’t matter.”