Early this month, while vacationing in the US, my family and I watched Absinthe at Caesars Palace Hotel and O at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. It does seem like an odd choice of combination of shows but it was interesting for the comparisons and contrast of themes we experienced.  We watched Absinthe because it was recommended by people online and we watched O because my wife Chiqui and I wanted our children to see what we consider the best Cirque du Soleil show, having watched it the first time some ten years ago. 

O is a production of Cirque du Soleil, the group of street performers who banded together with the vision of seeing the world and became Canada’s best known talent group. 

A look into their business model would show how Cirque differentiated and created a new market space.  Before Cirque du Soleil, circuses used animals like elephants, tigers and monkeys to attract audiences. They ignored the cry of animal lovers whom they branded as whiners and troublemakers for holding placards and mini rallies, instead of trying to remedy their (non-customer) pain points.

Without animals, a significant sixty percent of total cost of a circus can be removed because there is no need for tons of food, insurance, trainers and real estate space for instance.  Cirque du Soleil took advantage of this by creating a new idea — a circus with acrobats but without animals, where the novelty of having animals in the show was replaced by lights, sound, script and choreography. 

“O” was a special show of Cirque du Soleil as it created a production number one notch higher than their usual shows via creating a pool at the center of the stage of Bellagio Hotel.  This meant that the competency needed was not just of acrobats but acrobatic swimmers. The price charged by Cirque du Soleil is many times what regular circuses would charge and it is almost always full house. Read more

Many thanks to those who bought The WE Entrepreneur book (co-authored with Mansmith CEO, Chiqui Escareal-Go).  For several months now, it is the no. 1 book on entrepreneurship at National Book Store as readers appreciate the 10 building blocks to entrepreneurial authenticity. 

Reinforcing the market acceptance of The WE Entrepreneur and in celebration of both Mansmith and Fielders, Inc.’s 20th anniversary as well as my 25th anniversary as an entrepreneur, a social enterprise was launched last October 8, 2010, focusing on the educational and developmental needs of small and medium scale (SME) entrepreneurs, with unwavering support from Inquirer, BusinessWorld, Entrepreneur magazine, Go Negosyo, Malayan Insurance and the Abenson and Waltermart group, with many more institutional supports expected to come in as of press time.

A quick and practical four-question research gave us interesting insights about entrepreneurial education.  Some of the responses we gathered ranged from existing entrepreneurial courses to be too long, too technical and too expensive, to being too academic.  This led us to the formulation of a new training company for SME entrepreneurs called “Day 8 Business Academy, Inc.” and with this came a game changing four-point manifesto with the acronym 4Fs representing Freedom, Face, Frugality and Facilitation. The name Day 8 came from a biblical inspiration of new beginnings while the number 8 symbolizes prosperity for many businessmen. Read more

Questions on the future of the print industry and how it can withstand the onslaught of the digital revolution abound during these times. How does one reach the twitter or instagram generation who are highly visual and have short attention spans? How does one rise above the clutter of the media out there trying to sell you something, whether these are billboards along EDSA or TV ads during your favorite game show?

There seems to be a bit of a “skirmish” when it comes to online versus print journalism where online is described as lazy, or even sometimes irresponsible journalism while print might be called the “real deal” but not fast enough, too bulky or even Jurassic. During these times when information is so easily accessible (and free), both the print and online efforts must have a very clear value proposition for a very clear target market.

And lest one still believes that the print and online industries have different markets, here is one case that actually bridged both – recently, Tricia Gosingtian, known as a photographer/blogger together with Summit Media, collaborated to produce a book entitled “Tricia Gosingtian’s 150 Style Essentials for Every Girl” and according to National Bookstore, this book broke sales records of launch day sales by a local author despite the weekday launch schedule. Followers, fans, friends, and family came to support this effort which brought together the online and print worlds into one book. (Full disclosure: Tricia is my daughter.)

A pioneer in blogging while still studying in college, first about photography then on fashion and then on travel, Tricia’s blog (http://blog.triciagosingtian.com)has continuously evolved to express her various interests and talents. Since she is the brand, and her blog is her vehicle for self-expression, this evolution is natural, organic and can even be described as “painless”. I feel it is this core that has sustained her in her field. Read more

Could service in an airlines’ economy class be far better than those in business class of other airlines—where pilots and flight personnel are so caring they operate as one solid team with the management, each team respecting each other’s differences? Could this be a standard that will trigger a new meaning in the dictionary associating the people of that airlines’ host country to extraordinary caring people?  Could that be our very own airlines?

But first let me cite how learning from other industries can benefit a company or even a country. Apple’s legendary founder, Steve Jobs, included different font designs in the first Mac programs based on the calligraphy class he took in 1972 when he was at Reed College.  Rob McEwan, CEO of Goldcorp Canada, got the idea of publicly posting information about his mine site from the Linus open source operating system while he was taking a course at MIT.  This innovative procurement method led to billions of new gold discovery with help from over a thousand international geologists and scientists who were not even known to them prior to the public post.  The late Dr. G. Ventakaswamy, founder of Aravind Eye Hospital of India,studied McDonald’s in order to implement their assembly line concept which allowed one doctor to operate on 50 patients a day with only two assistants, part of his vision of preventing unnecessary blindness in a country with over 12 million blind people. 

There is wisdom in studying other industries and finding the next practices instead of falling in love with best practices within your industry, which could result in core rigidity when one becomes obsessed with being the best and most modern player in the world of status quo.  Consider the pharmaceutical industry which only created a negative 0.3 value between 2000 to 2007 (source: BCG).  Using the same pharmaceutical marketing mix that pharmaceutical executives are used to, a reflection is needed whether long experience in pharmaceutical industry is actually a plus or has become a hindrance to radical new thinking called business model innovation.
But how does one innovate by learning from other industries? Let us cite some possibilities. Read more

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