OINKs, DINKs, and WOOFs
During my musings about who thrives in the contemporary economic landscape, I was reminded of several acronyms. I've isolated these 3 as a few of the top categories that generally succeed, financially speaking. Not surprisingly, those who are more career-oriented instead of family oriented generally fair better than those who have children. OINKs= One Income No Kids; DINKs= Dual Income No Kids; WOOFs= Well-Off Old Farts (the latter of which I altered slightly to make myself chuckle).
My generation has been plagued by a job force that is often underqualified and overpaid, but by virtue of being the first to arrive on the scene, are able to enjoy lucrative jobs that offer healthcare, dental, retirement, etc… In an effort to appear less cynical, I will offer up my own mother as an example. She had no education other than high school. She was a computer analyst or some such thing for the Illinois Department of Corrections for 25 years. The funny thing about this is that she lacks computer skills. My mother enjoyed a paycheck of around 42,000/year and retired at the age of 48.
In contrast to her success, I know multiple people with master's degrees that can't claim a salary that high with that kind of job security. Having a post-baccalaureate degree has become relatively cliché and doesn't yield the financial stability that it once did. I've known law school graduates that have had to tend bar for 3 years before procuring a job. I even had a professor with a PhD from Ohio State tell me that she currently makes 53,000/year as a professor at a university and went up against 198 other applicants with backgrounds from Yale, Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford. The only other job offer she received was from a school in St. Louis which offered a laughable 38,000/year. Until the present job climate changes for the better, I will harbor a great deal of contempt for the hiring practices of old, and the longevity of the baby boomers.
Perception is Key
His head is directly in the center of the picture, you can see his ear, followed by his body to the right. Once you've found it – you will always see it. Your brain cannot unlearn what it has already seen. It makes a lasting impression on how you now perceive the picture.
So what does this say about our perceptions of other experiences in the world? For one, this clearly means that initially, our eyes have the ability to see things without our brain having the ability to perceive what the image is telling us (especially if what is encountered is unfamiliar) – and once we are able to make a perception, it is difficult for our brain to unlearn this new found impression. Are things always what they seem, or can we repurpose what was once perceived as a jumbled mess, into useful information once we understand it?
As a psychology major, sensation and perception were my two favorite subjects of study. They were my main focus once I really delved into my program (as well as conditioning and learning). All topics that have become ever more relevant as I explore the field of advertising and human relations. Perception is the key. You've heard the saying 'you never get a second chance at a first impression', but what influences that first “impression”? What is the impression based upon? Well, it's primarily based on how we have perceived a situation; how the interaction has impressed itself upon our brain through our eyes, ears, nose, skin, and mouth I suppose… (might as well include all senses here). Or can it be something else entirely? Would you be willing to admit that preconceived notions have an overwhelming effect on how we perceive our world around us, enabling or disabling our impressions of what we experience? Deep, isn't it…?
So, what does this mean for our industry? Well, it means everything. The way people perceive certain interactions affects the consumer, the client, the agency, the vendors… and the list goes on! If you see a billboard, and the image does not immediately appeal to you, do you even bother reading what it has to say? Sure you saw the sign, but did it make its impression? A bad one maybe… but that's it. What about those hilarious commercials we see on TV, the ones you can't, for the life of you, remember what they were advertising… All your brain received from that visual stimulation was “funny”. Lest we forget to mention the most important of all… human interaction. Email is taking over, and have you noticed how the written word can seem so much more biting than the spoken word… Why is that?
You can't control how things are going to be perceived, that's the brain's job. But, you do have the ability to control your responses, decide the relevance of your perception, the context and respond accordingly… And, when working in this industry, the goal is to please the client and catch the consumer, it's best to understand that you have perceptual influence, and knowing how to influence perception is the key determining factor in the road to success.
The Misconception With Auto Dealerships
Throughout my life, I've exposed myself to many career opportunities. In my early 20's, I decided to try my hand at selling cars. The good news is that the training was first rate, and the business practices employed by my dealership, in a purely ETHICAL sense, were right in line with my own set of moral values. The bad news, at least for the dealership that invested in me, was that I was not cut out for auto sales. Now that I'm in a place in my life where I can captivate the masses with the power of the written word, I feel this is an appropriate time to dispel a couple myths.
1. Those salesmen that approach you at a big dealership are likely new to the trade or at least new to the dealership. Veteran sales personnel make a great deal of their sales on repeat business and new people take walk-ups. Statistics show that 33% of people who purchase a car will go back to the last place they bought if they were reasonably satisfied. Don't be intimidated by those that approach you. Some of them may be just as nervous as you.
2. The purchase of a brand new automobile does NOT make the dealership a ton of money. The sale of a new car will often only fetch a profit of 1,000-1,500 dollars. The money is made in USED car sales and in AUTOMOTIVE SERVICE (which segues beautifully into my next point).
3. The service side is the backbone of any auto dealership. Right now, there is a big problem in the industry and all of the oil changes and brake jobs are getting lost to quick lube businesses and tire centers. Part of the reason? Tire centers and quick lube businesses ADVERTISE their ability to make auto repairs whereas dealerships tend to advertise only the inventory they currently have, which would make your commercial obsolete fairly quickly.
The Price of Freedom (part 2 of 2)
We as Americans spend more money than any other nation, hands down, when it comes to national defense.In fiscal year 2008, the United States spent 941.4 billion dollars on national defense (Takahashi, 2008). As someone who served in our nation’s military and used NALCOMIS (Naval Aviation Logistics Command Managed Information System) on a daily basis for four years, let me assure you that your tax dollars spent on defense are not being spent responsibly. Aircraft squadrons would routinely have M9 status, which meant that they were out of money. This usually happened a month before the new fiscal year in October. You see, a squadron is allocated a budget, and if you’re a savvy commanding officer, you will use your budget in its entirety. If you fail to do so, your budget is forever reduced to the amount you used that year and the remaining amount is reclaimed by the government to reallocate. Therefore, you have CO’s squandering money at every turn; buying personnel new flight jackets, washing jets more frequently, extra fuel for training maneuvers, new computers. While I’m on the subject of new computers, did I mention that the military gets new Dell computers every two years? After mentioning all that, I cannot fail to mention the largest, glaring money pit that the military has, and I’m sad to say, it’s labor costs. You see, there’s a great deal of job security for people who work in the military, you can make mistakes and screw up your whole career, and you don’t get fired, you get reprimanded. The US military is a great place for young, unskilled people to learn a trade and better themselves, and some do, but some don’t. For every hard working, dedicated, patriotic, service member, you have a dozen people in there, just playing on the computer, avoiding work, collecting a paycheck. If you’re well-connected and easy to get along with, you can even get promoted following that model.
I know there is some shock value to what I said. America’s military and its personnel has often been an off-limits, taboo thing to discuss. Rest assured, steps are being taken to further the training in economic responsibility throughout the military. A great deal of money has been spent to ensure that programs like Lean Logic, Six Sigma, and Airspeed are incorporated into training. However, that’s also the problem. You can’t afford to send every service member to a class; usually the mandatory number is 10 percent of a given command. I was one of those people that were sent to these classes (because I reflected well upon the command). Instead of sending them all to class, material is printed off of the computer and disseminated. Everyone gathers in their chairs and spends one hour reading aloud to one another, pretending to be interested in the material. It’s one of the great fallacies that America’s military receives some kind of world-class training because I’ve been in multiple commands and it’s all handled in this fashion. Again, this is a prime example of wasted labor and wasted time. People don’t understand that in the military, it’s very similar to a regular 9 to 5 job. It’s a very good living. I wish I still got paid so well. For an 18 year old with no discernible skill set, it’s a fantastic opportunity to make 18,000 to 42,000 dollars per year depending on whether or not you qualify for BAH. What does one have to do to make such an impressive leap in pay? Simply get married or have a child, and a lot of them do just that. It’s a flaw in the system and it’s often exploited.
Efficiency is Key
The message I really want to convey in this blog, is KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GOOD AT and CAPITALIZE on it. Typically what we enjoy doing is something we excel in doing. America, for instance has long been trending toward a service economy from a manufacturing economy. Some people get a little disheartened that nothing is made in the USA anymore, but I'm here to tell you, FEAR NOT. If you're not outsourcing your manufacturing, you may not be taking full advantage of this highly competitive global market. First, consider the success of your business. If your business thrives, you can employ more people, thus creating jobs for Americans. These employees of yours will not be manufacturing anymore like the days of old, BUT you can focus on web development, marketing, logistics, etc… The USA no longer enjoys a comparative advantage in manufacturing (largely due to high labor costs and high overhead costs). This doesn't mean, you can't take full advantage of the global market.
Let us assume that you're an aspiring clothing designer. It would be in your best interest to design locally, while manufacturing your garments in a poorer country where they will be happy to receive the work, and have the skilled labor to carry out your order. These less developed nations have a comparative advantage in the manufacture of textiles. Once you receive your high quality shipment of fashionable clothing, you can market your product, set up a distribution center, and sell your product. As you can see, the goal doesn't need to be made in America, it needs to be SOLD in America.