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Aliens, God, and Tom Cruise

Media is an interesting beast. Tom Cruise made this statement when asked if he believed in aliens – “Yes, of course. Are you really so arrogant as to believe we are alone in this universe?” Everyone now feels a new awakening to the possibilities because they do not want to be perceived as arrogant. He receives no criticism and the article I read didn’t even mention his practice of Scientology.
However, if a member of a mainstream religion like a Baptist, Methodist, or Catholic said “Are you so arrogant as to believe you’re the highest power in the universe?” he would be labeled a religious nut, extremist, or insane. So I guess it’s perfectly normal to believe in all-powerful aliens named Xenu who deposited frozen aliens around Earth’s volcanoes 75 million years ago, but having faith in an unseen hand greater than any of us is wacko. Hmmm…. Sounds like the inmates are running the asylum to me.
Tom – if you paid $360,000 to learn about Xenu, you were ripped off. You should ask for a refund.

Bearish on the Nasdaq

The Wall Street Journal reports that short interest on the Nasdaq market has continued to climb this year – it’s been falling on the New York Stock Exchange. What does this mean? Simply that investors feel a downturn is coming, at least for many stocks traded on Nasdaq. I’m guessing that $60 a barrel oil probably has something to do with it, although I don’t quite see the connection on the surface.
Oh well – it’s not going to change my game plan at all. I’m a buy and hold type of investor. I ask myself “If I were to look at Company X today, would I feel like it’s a good investment at its current price?” If I answer No – I sell. Sometimes I buy more.
Case in point – I bought Brown Shoe Company (NYSE:BWS) in the upper 30s last year. Some bad news dropped it into the upper 20s. I felt like it was such a good investment at that price, I bought a bunch more. Now we’re back in the upper 30s (time to ask myself that question again, huh?).
Don’t ignore general sentiments – just don’t let them rule your life, either.
One other important thing to note is that we’re closing in on the end of fiscal year ’05 for a lot of mutual funds. This means there may be a lot of volatility in the marketplace this week as mutual fund managers reshift their holdings so that their end of year reports reflect portfolios that match the investment objectives set forth in their prospectuses. It’s all about the window dressing. So batten down the hatches and resist temptation to move unless you see a great bargain out there.

Being Market-Oriented

My wife is market oriented. She has led the development and now implementation of a new document management system (based on Domino, I might add) in her company. She now has the task that will make it or break it – training. Here’s a snippet of the email she just sent me:

It’s amazing what happens when you start asking questions and talking to different departments. I am going to be able to get everybody who attends my class one credit of internal training time courtesy of HR. As you know, we are all required to get a minimum of 28 hours of training each year.

When you share ideas and problems amongst departments, you can develop solutions to your customers’ problems that may even create delight. Even if your customer is a fellow employee, as in Tammy’s case.
So what would the opposite situation be? It would be product orientation. If she maintained the view that training for her product is important simply because the product itself was important, she would probably have a difficult time eliciting attendance to the sessions. By working with HR to gain training credits, she has created value for the trainees. And at the same time she’s created value for herself – the more people that are properly trained, the greater the likelihood of a successful implementation.
I’m so proud to be her husband.

Marketers and Blogs

There has been a lot of talk this week about the effect of blogging on the marketplace. I’ve argued that you’ve got to Get Free Advice From Your Customers wherever you can and Hear the Voice of the Customer as much as possible. However, an article in AdWeek and this one in the Wall Street Journal indicate to me that marketers are willing to remove their human intelligence from the equation and rely more on the technology they (or their PR companies) possess.
I posted in the comments over at Ed Brill’s site today about the opportunity for IBM to get in touch with the market through blogs. It’s sad to say that this loose and distributed community (I’m talking about the blogosphere as a whole) was probably doomed from the start. As we turn over the reins to technology and PR companies to seek out information, surely we’re not far away from paying to have them post propaganda in what will seem like grass-roots blogs (like mine!). Heck, according to Media Post, Microsoft is already attempting to hire paid bloggers.

Fewer Roundtrips to the Server

Gary Potter points us to an open source project Sabre has opened up called Rico. Rico currently consists of a couple of javascript libraries that enable drag&drop functionality, some cool effects, and some interesting routines that access server data without requiring a round-trip (post to server then reload of the same page with updated data). The technology is all Ajax – asynchronous javascript and XML, so all my friends, whether in java, .net, or domino, can take advantage of it.
Check out the demos and see what inspires you.
And remember:
Round-trips to Hawaii – Good
Round-trips to the server – Bad