An end to the roaming bill nightmare?

Slowly, very slowly we see our cellphones evolving and where phone producers need help from computer producers to innovate their products the phone networks keep on limiting their services to make sure they squeeze every penny out of their customers.

Especially for people that travel a lot calling is very expensive and even if the EU is trying to put some boundaries to this madness you can still expect a huge bill when you take your cellphone abroad.

There seems to be a solution for the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France since the creation of Transatel. The company has one offer for the four countries which should allow you to save plenty of money even though they are not the cheapest. Interesting for managers traveling to these countries regularly I would imagine.

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

Another very interesting talk from a very interesting conference called TED:

…kids will take a chance, if they don’t know they’ll have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong. I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative but what we do know is this: If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original….

On their website there are many more that are meant to inspire creative and innovative minds.

Fleeing brains

I heargrads_smile1d from a lot of people here in France that it is a country where contacts are important: apparently many people get their position trough somebody they know, before somebody more competent. It is obvious that these sometimes even largely incompetent people damage the company they are in. Being part of a culture it damages a country.

Apparently things are not as bad here according to an article in the Dutch paper the Volkskrant that states that in Iatly it has become so bad that most school people feel forced to take their skills to another country where they are more appreciated. (which apparently is almost everywhere) Jacopo Panizza states in the article:

Being smart is not enough in Italy… …it is a place where goofs are best of. Your Master education barely has any value.

The Italian Statistical office states that barely half of all graduates have a job on their own level within three years. Where 43 % of these make more than 1700 euro a month in other European countries this is only 9,2% in Italy.

This by itself doesn’t have to be a problem if they manage to estimate qualities in a different way. Lets be honest there are a lot of incompetent people with a masters diploma and a lot of competent ones without them. But speaking to some Italian students today gave me the same answer. “Italy is not about quality it is only about contacts.” Really depressing that some groups are struggling to innovate these systems to improve them, others seem to be stuck in the middle ages. This would be easy to understand for eastern European countries that are still recovering from communism and the corruption that comes with it. That only recently got to take advantage from organization as the EU. For a country like Italy this should have been peanuts to resolve.

It is hard to imagine how countries like that manage to compete on an international market and how they contribute to this? How are weak judgments like these ever going to allow us to move forwards?

Musical brains

How many times was playing a musical instrument part of the main criteria asked in a job offer? Me I’ve never seen in it in a job offer, nor did I have the question asked at any of my job interviews. Maybe sports, because it is generally perceived as something that says something about your character. It is however less percieved as something that says something about your way of working or solving problems. I’ve always thought it does but while many people agree with me most of them don’t work for a Human Resource department. This is just not how we learn it on the Human resource schools nowadays, is it?

Read more…

How things get done…

Getting Things done by David AllenWhile GTD gives you 6,240,000 hits on Google I had never heard of it. Not until a friend of mine pointed it out to me by saying “This is great to empty your head a bit”. This attracted my attention because I think that my so to say “full head” is one of my biggest problems in life.

  • You know how solutions never come to you at the point when you’re actually working on the problem the solution is for?
  • How out of the 296 good ideas you have in the day you only get to put one a week on paper because of losing focus?
  • And how that same loss of focus makes it impossible to end the day with a conclusion that you actually got to finish some important tasks?

I don’t really believe in solutions in the form of a book but I do think that Getting Things Done by Dave Allen is at least a good push in the back.

Read more…

Why go online?

Threatening fashion, vacations and electronics shops, online shopping has for a while been the biggest fear of shop owners. How to overcome this threat of low prices? And yes, even though low prices used to be the main argument for buying online I’m not sure that this is the case anymore. Here in France we have this dominating Electronics chain and ever since I live here it is the obvious choice for my needs with a plug. Especially since I’m very pro live shopping: I like seeing, toughing, asking, watching and of course being able to take the product with me straight away.

Read more…

Research (mis)interpretation

Is it just me or do more and more researchers misinterprate their own findings? They are not the only ones; apparently so do teachers. One of my teachers that was a marketing specialist from the UK showed us the following example in his course on 360 communication:

A given article states that research points out that on average 14 % of the world population interupt the sexual act for a phone call. To him this meant that the cell phone was becoming more and more important. Not being convinced I asked him what the numbers were before this research… silence…

So than how did he now if it decreased or increased? …silence…

Read more…

The singing music store

wall-small.jpgPassing by a Fnac store on an ordinary Sunday I don’t imagine seeing anything else but big gray closed roll door. This Sunday at the Fnac in Rue de Rennes (close to the Montparnasse train station) was different though: they installed something called a “vitrine audioactive”Lit with a noticeable orange backlight, four CD’s are shown behind the glass and as soon as you tough them the CD starts playing. It made a lot of head turn and most people stopped to give it a go. What a way to promote your products (and your store) outside shopping hours!

Photography museum

Today was the last day of the expositions of (among others) Martine Barrat and Larry Clark in the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie. I was unsure if I would like it because I’m generally picky when it comes to museums. Either way the cold, hotel like, entrance didn’t get me very enthusiastic. Read more…


When I first saw the poster of the Largo Winch movie I thought somebody had made a mistake with the release date:

Largo Winch le film

Apparently this was not at all the case; following their link to the Largo Winch movie blog we see that the release is indeed planned for 17 December 2008. The site contains all sorts of insight on how the movie is made, pictures of the cast, and small interviews with everybody on the set. The goal seems to be to create a buzz then, but I can’t help but wondering if people wouldn’t have forgotten about it by December.

So more to come then?

Wanted: A 300 euro miracle worker

Salary has never been my main interest in a job but if a company is not willing to pay me more than 300 Euros, I assume that they are looking for somebody that doesn’t bring more than 300 euros worth of additional value into the company.

Yes I know that I’m not a professional yet, and that the learning process I am in costs a lot of money to a company (If you’re lucky to find a company, willing to give you that attention) But from what I’m hearing (from interns, teachers and professionals) it is quite simply a fact that most of the 300 euro companies are just taking advantage of their interns. Meaning a lot of work, but not much of a challenge, let alone a decent learning experience.

And quite frankly, how can it be any other way? A company that fixed the salary above 1000 will not be likely to accept just anything: they expect a lot from their intern. A company that doesn’t fix an income seems to want to base the salary on the person, which doesn’t seem like a bad idea either. But if a company fixes an income at 300 euro I tend to think that they do not care who comes in for as long as he’s cheap. I guess you would only settle for that at the point that you don’t think that you can do any better, you got refused by all the other companies offering higher salaries, or you were just too late finding anything…

So where is the interest for a company to put salaries that low? I would say to get the jobs done that nobody wants to do.

Me, I’m mainly looking for a company where I can put my qualities into action to help the company advance. In return I expect a company to supply me with sufficient challenges so that I can have I variable day of work in which I can expend my knowledge (and as a result my qualities) which places me and my employer in an everlasting win-win situation.

So where do I talk about money? Nowhere! Why? Because there is simply no way that you can find a company that complies with the above that is unreasonable about your salary

Update: I found an internship in february of this year, and in the whole search I only got confirmed what I wrote.

IT humor

It is not generally the place where I post funny things. For this post I will make the exception though. Besides it is not just funny but also very, very meaningful…Project describing

Marketing in the Metro

A perfect example that marketing is everywhere crossed my path in the Paris metroline number 8 this morning in the form of a homeless person. Read more…

Lying Marketers

I came across this video of Seth Godin in which I think he made some interesting points.


In the Netherlands the attention drawing factor of billboards is being discussed once again. The conflict is an obvious one: a billboard is made to attract attention and politicians want drivers to keep their attention on the road. Read more…

My first project : The French stereotype disaster

Just coming back for lunch I meet a colleague of mine back at school: we were done eating and ready to go back to the work we stopped more than an hour ago. This one team member meant that another 4 were missing. By calling them I would only find out that they had spend the last hour searching for a restaurant that could not be found.

It would take another 2 hours of waiting to find out that the colleague that had been blocking any form of decision making had gone home because of an headache. Another one had to go home because of bla bla bla bla bla and so only two of them came back apologizing for being late. Finally it took us half an hour to divide tasks and wrap the whole thing up. This means three hours of waiting for something that took half an hour.

I always believe that you should prevent stereotypes so for the moment I will not draw any harsh conclusions. Secondly I have heard the stories before so I knew more or less what I was getting into. Thirdly I feel kind of like a guest coming to any country so I feel a certain adaptability can be expected.

This doesn’t mean that I do not fear my future in France right now. However it does mean that I will never ever accept working like this again.

The exclusive mass

The general tendency of western economies and the companies in it seems to be up. An obvious thing: a company doesn’t mind if profits are a bit lower for one year, stockholders generally are because they want most of their money. But how are “exclusive” brands supposed to cope with that? Since everybody nowadays wants to be different aren’t we faced with a problem? Read more…

How about brand identity?

Today I finished a book that I bought last year in the book store Carturesti in Bucharest.

“Designing Brand Identity” by Alina Wheeler. I don’t have the feeling that this is a very common subject among marketeers, but it is surely not unimportant either. This book really gives some nice insight on how brand identities are, and can be, constructed. Very accessible and very interesting for both professionals and students.

My Romania project to an end…

I just finished my Marketing plan for my Romanian DIY store. I’m quite satisfied with the results of the project so far and the results that we made in the store. Either way it is for sure that both the store and the country it is in still have a long way to go.

My project will probably be dominated by the differences with the western companies, the difficulties of finding good personnel, the corruption and how hard it is to make use of the enormous potential the country has.

I do consider myself open to other cultures and I learned a lot from the Romanian culture mostly about a lot of values that we lost in the west. Still I am as western as it gets; never will I forget the relief I felt upon crossing the Romanian border (after we collected some money to pass the customs without checking of course). A feeling of safety and security that I couldn’t find in Romania.

Either way I cannot wait to come back here, even if it was just for the challenge…

Making money on the border

I’m back in my cramped bus trying to read a bit when we approach the border. In line for the Romanian Customs a guy jumps up starting to speak Romanian to the passengers. I don’t understand but people start giving him money, even so he doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that some people, including me, don’t give him anything. I think he has a bit more that 100 euros when he stops talking and walks out of the bus.

I lose sight of the moneyguy and look at the bus in front of us; all the passengers are out of the bus and on the sidewalk with their open bags in front of them and big douaniers shouting at them like they’re at war. I had spent two hours on that sidewalk in the cold coming into Romania, I kind of asumed having to go through the same this time.

At that point the moneyguy comes back in to the bus, we pass the bus in front of us, the barrier opens and we drive into Hungary. One thing is for sure; as a Romanian douanier low wage standards are not your problem.