Saturday, December 31, 2005

Speed Kills on the Web!


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Speed Kills on the Web!

Author: Lee Traupel

I only have to point to the 555 plus failed .com companies (according to Web Mergers) as the poster children of the "speed at any cost" business mantra that clearly doesn't work. And these were companies who burnt through significant amounts of capital (in the millions, tens of millions or hundreds of millions in many cases) while they were rushing to get to market.

Do you wonder why every time you talk to someone he or she seems to be in such a hurry that they don't really have time to talk with you? But if you want to work with them, you have to try and converse on the phone as a first step, or even worse, setup some type of a face-to-face meeting. What's going on? Why aren't we all slowing the pace down so we can focus on business processes that are based upon viable models? Especially in these economic times where relationships and processes are critical to ongoing success and/or survival!

I think we are experiencing some type of a .com hangover effect. Everyone was in such a hurry during the heady GBF ("get big fast") .com days ... trying to do the "land grab" while "driving an "online brand" that would lead to a quick "exit strategy" ... that they forgot to really define a viable business model that included development of tangible goods and services for real customers.

I still come into contact with many people that act like they've been hard wired to a double espresso. They aren't sure what they are doing or where they are going, but they want to do everything in a hurry! It seems like many are still trying to build a business the same way they did during the last two years, when fundamentals and many niceties of business went out the window, while greed became the order of the day.

We are telling our clients speed can and does kill on the web. It's time to slow down and think strategically about what they want to do and then build marketing campaigns and processes that convey tangible value to their market demographics (read customers!).

Here are some fundamental marketing rules for living life in the slow (but safe) lane:

1. Ensure all marketing collateral (web and offline) are in synch. Invest sufficient time and resources to ensure there are no discrepancies between them to build a cohesive brand that effectively communicates what you do.

2. Take time to really evaluate business opportunities. Don't just blast through relationships, meetings or assessments. Many times you can build viable partnerships by sitting down and taking a hard look at how third parties complement your business and vice versa.

3. Use the web for what's it's really meant for - as a highway for communications and commerce. It's not the "saving grace" its been touted to be by many companies; 87% of Internet users today utilize the web to research goods and services.

4. Make time to look at your competitors, whether they are across the road or on the other side of the world. The web has created a commerce model where a competitor is just a click away. So carefully analyze what your competitors are doing.

5. Communicate with your customers and partners. It doesn't do much good to build a beautiful web site that does not make it easy for people to contact your company. I've seen hundreds of web sites the last year that don't have e-mail contacts or phone numbers listed prominently. Take/make time to build a site that lets people communicate with you.

6. Hire people with some gray hairs. They may not flash the latest PDA at you or wear the latest trendy clothes, but many of them have years of experience building companies slowly and carefully, by paying attention to business fundamentals. I've got nothing against youth, but it seems like many over 40-somethings got left by the wayside in the .com mania and to the detriment of many companies.

7. Think small when you're building a business. The billion dollar days are gone with last year's PR hyperbole. I get no royalties from E.F. Shumacher, but I really think his "Small is Beautiful As if People Mattered" is a wonderful book and the forward is done by Paul Hawken, a brilliant serial entrepreneur, well known for his landmark PBS (Public Broadcasting Service for global readers) series on "Growing a Business" that inspired many of us to take the entrepreneurial plunge.

About The Author

Lee Traupel has 20 plus years of business development and marketing experience - he is the founder of Intelective Communications, Inc., a results-driven marketing services company providing proprietary services to clients encompassing startups to public companies.


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Polish cooking (Operatic bigos, also known as hunters� stew )


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Polish cooking (Operatic bigos, also known as hunters� stew )

Author: Lechu

Operatic bigos, also known as hunters� stew

An outstanding meal
Is bigos, because it is composed of vegetables.
One takes shredded sour kraut
Which according to a proverb, is mouthwatering
Cooked in a pot, where it embraces
The best, carefully selected pieces of meat.
And it is cooked, until fully relieved
Of its juices that spill over. (�)

Bigos was kept in pots. It�s hard to describe in words
its wonderful taste, color, and marvelous flavor.

No other dish was awarded the unmistakable honor of being featured in our National Poem, �Thaddeus� by Adam Mickiewicz.

Understandably, at each Polish home bigos is served frequently. While at most homes women are in charge of cooking, men often take pride to make bigos. Maybe because it is believed to be even stronger in its properties than the famous �Spanish fly�? Maybe our readers will share their stories on bigos with us?

We have our own secret recipes, and are skeptical about the quality and taste of bigos served at other people�s parties. And when we say that �somebody made bigos� we mean this person screwed things up.

In old times bigos was stored in the cold for weeks. In the pre-McDonalds era bigos fed travelers on their lengthy trips. At the end of a hunt bigos was a must. The most known varieties of bigos are called rascal�s, hunter�s and Lithuanian. Now we will learn from Alexandra (Ola) how to make an operatic version of bigos. The recipe is unique. So is its author.

Ola, the mezzo-soprano, is sharing her busy time between forensic studies and operatic performances. Between these performances she always finds time to prepare bigos. She feels that the meat is critical, since its variety in bigos provides her voice with its outstanding strength. It is also believed that the cabbage is also important, since it allows Ola to reach the high �C� note. �C� comes from the �C�abbage, of course.

Let�s go back to our operatic bigos. Take a large pot, really large since bigos has a tendency to spill over. Add the following to the pot:

- meats, any amount, but typically around one pound each, of cubed pork and beef, floured, peppered and fried until golden. When available any game meat may also be added;
- one pound of sliced Polish sausage;
- three pounds of sour kraut (liquid discarded), briefly fried;
- one head of white cabbage, shredded;
- three sliced, golden fried onions;
- two cups of water;
- two small cans of tomato sauce;
- salt, pepper, allspice, bay leaves.

Cook slowly, mix frequently, for at least three hours. From time to time add some red wine, to replenish water that evaporated.

Typically, for each glass of added wine, the cook drinks two glasses. Under these conditions after a while we are ready to start singing operatic arias. Traditionally, sopranos sing an aria from �Halka�, by Polish composer, Stanislaw Moniuszko: �In the morning sun�� Mezzo-sopranos, like Ola, often choose the aria of Hedwig, from �The Haunted Manor� by the same composer, �I am running, and listening to the forests�� Since there are no bigos� arias available for altos, they are entitled to some extra wine instead. Tenors are known for their preferences for the aria �La donna e mobile�� from �Rigoletto� by Giuseppe Verdi, baritones prefer the polonaise aria from �The Haunted Manor� by Moniuszko � �One of my daughters, who will give her heart��, while the basses are recommended not to sing while cooking, since very low voices are known to turn bigos sour. If after completing of several arias, the bigos is still not ready we may invite other family members, friends or household pets to practice dances from (preferably) Polish operas. Dogs are known to enjoy mazurkas, while cats definitely prefer polonaises. Birds do not enjoy dancing. If we have any household birds, we may consider them as a delicious addition to our bigos, enriching its flavor.

While the bigos is cooking, we are stirring it from time to time, singing and dancing, but after a while we may feel tired of this operatic cooking. That means that the process of operatic bigos making is complete. The next day, when the bigos in our large pot has cooled down, and we are recovering from a hangover, it is time to transfer it to big jars, and keep refrigerated for at least two days. Bigos may be reheated several times. While bigos matures in the cold, we have time to expand our operatic repertoire to be ready to make another batch of operatic bigos.

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