March 31, 2006
    TAP rhymes with CRAP: coincidence?


I was actually not going to write anything else apart from CRAP. CRAP, CRAP CRAP. But that would be too easy so here goes.

TAP (subsidised or not - one of many questions) was never considered a great airline but it's what we had at a time when European airlines lagged in quality when compared to their Far Eastern, Middle Eastern, Asiatic, Australian and North American counterparts. Let's not dwell on the past and jump straight into now time.

When most airlines have struggled to remain afloat whilst constantly innovating and renovating and reinventing TAP has actually made a concertive effort to be just BAD. When a company gets it this wrong it's got to be a strategy to be the worst airline. I'm not against TAP - I am fed up with being treated badly and then spending my time writing to mindless idiots that reply with standard letters.

I was checking in to a Lisbon-Porto flight for a meeting with our main client who has offices in the north of Portugal. As I handed over my Business ticket to the expressionless TAP representative, to my surprise was informed of the fact that I was on standby in Economy!?! As I explained the lack of reasonableness in this I was met with the "what's on the screen overrides everything else policy blah blah blah". In the meantime Economy standby ticket holders were upgraded to Business. "But I have a business ticket - confirmed". "I'm sorry but that's not what I have". FCUK! I thought.

Whilst I come to terms with the fact that I am on standby in Economy with a Business ticket, a gentleman strolled up casually. He was confident - obviously not a seasoned TAP flyer. He explained that he had purchased his ticket over the phone using his visa card. "Can I have the receipt please..." I don't need to explain the remainder of the episode - It just got worst.

So I'm Mad that they don't switch the air on when you are on the tarmac, blare out classical music to distortion level, don't perform maintenance (have they ever been stuck on a Lisbon-Newark flight where the seat doesn't move an inch), never give out any information when the flights are delayed and best of all, last week when flights were cancelled owing to French Traffic Control strikes, they left their passengers (clients, brand advocates, etc.) to fend for themselves without accommodation or food. Their justification on the evening news was that as they were not responsible for the strikes in France they didn't feel obliged (obliged!!) to compensate (compensate!!!) their clients (clients!?!).

Does anyone know where TAP clients can leave their suggestions. Better still, has anyone ever had a problem resolved? I'm open to being converted - just show me the light. In the meantime I'll continue to write "NO TAP FLIGHTS" in all my e-mails to my travel agent.

Posted by Nuno Machado Lopes in customer (dis)service ,my thoughts
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March 30, 2006
    job vacancy: bullshit eliminator

No Bullshit Please Every company should have a resident Bullshit eliminator. His/her sole responsibility should be to eradicate all bullshit at every level in every process, role and aspect of the business. It should not be a middle management (if that level still exists in the company!) function but yes a boardroom seat because if there's bullshit everywhere, there must be a fair share at the board level.

So what type of bullshits are there? Well to my surprise when I googled "bullshit defined" I was amazed at how extensive this term has been debated. To bullshit or not to bullshit. Is that the question? Well, not quite. It's not a matter of whether you are bullshitting a person (verb) but more along the lines of the amount of bullshit in our day to day (noun).

If by chance this has aroused your curiosity as to the definition of bullshitting, I suggest you take a look at Timothy Noah's definition. I'm more interested in the bullshit noun part. Harry G. Frankfurt, a retired professor of philosophy at Princeton, took the bold step of defining bullshit in his book On Bullshit as not so much the end product but more the process by which it is created.

So this is where we are now in our search for the Bullshit eliminator.

Last week I came across a typical situation begging for the services of the BE. A distinguished agency (don't want to get anyone into trouble so we can refer to the agency as a Scottish Container) was working, on behalf of their client, on a design piece for an event that we are organizing. In order to speed things up I had a look and helped them to ensure the information was complete. "Now get onto the designers" I exclaimed, confident that we were back on schedule. "I can't" he sheepishly replied "I have to ask "Traffic" to coordinate [communicate/order whatever] with the creative department. Well that's got to work! Designers and accounts don't talk - they have a... yes you guessed it... a translator. They obviously never played the game where you whisper an idea round several people and then laugh at the final interpretation.

Posted by Nuno Machado Lopes in my thoughts
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March 29, 2006
    guerilla marketing is alive & well


Posted by Nuno Machado Lopes in smart marketing
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March 28, 2006
    lost In translation

Sometimes it's fast, sometimes it's slow. Sometimes it doesn't work at all.

so simple, so true, so honest...

source: Lost in Translation insert a phrase to translate

Posted by Nuno Machado Lopes in bits & bobs
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March 27, 2006
    mental exercise

"Some people take no mental exercise apart from jumping to conclusions."
Harold Acton [1904-1994]

Who? Although he was a historian, philanthropist, and patron, Harold Acton's true vocation was that of an aesthete with a mission to shock the narrow-minded. I didn't know who he was either - just seemed like a great quote.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- important is it to read? We have become accustomed to standardised comments and opinions which unfortunately are outdated, based on little fact or adulterated beliefs that with time have withered into something very different - one of them is the importance of knowledge.

Information is power. Information leads to profit. Reading is therefore one of the most powerful tools we possess in the search for excellence.

I laughed out loud (lol) when I heard the statistics of the number of books read yearly. Professionals on average read 6-10 books per year Report.pdf [384KB]* [in Portugal]! My smugness quickly disappeared as I came to terms with my contribution to those statistics - to further worsen this I was actually buying books - just not reading them. They looked great on my bookshelf and it showed promise and intention. 

Having overcome the denial stage I moved on to the justification - I didn't have time to read all the books. The solution was simple. I calculated that I spent 2-3 hours per day alone in my car and that instead of listening to background music I could buy the books in Audio format. I get through a book every two weeks now and feel like I'm on a continuous advanced life/business course that is shaping the way I think and behave. Its helping me understand why what I do works and most of the time doesn't work. Its just a simple solution that can bring immense benefits especially if you can take the time to think of how all this applies to your service/product.

* APEL study - Reading Habits 2005

By the way - did you know this useful fact?

-Are men who read more attractive?

Men who read stand a better chance of attracting women according to a study. Women claim they are more likely to be seduced by a well- hung read man.

85% of women questioned in a NOP survey for the publisher Penguin said they would be more attracted to a man who talked about literature. But women would be inclined to judge men by the type of books they read. On this rating, reading Harry Potter scored very badly.

(The Times, 7 June 2004)

Posted by Nuno Machado Lopes in my thoughts
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March 24, 2006
    why blog now?

I was asked today why I had decided to blog and why only now. Simple really, I never felt that I had anything worthwhile to comment on - I mean really worthwhile - something that you can take away and apply or discard completely. The simplicity of the Blog concept is just that - an organised and standard way of expressing what we feel strongly about.

Why now? Well in the last year I have participated in many marketing seminars in the States and have learnt more about business and about myself than in the last ten years. Today's marketing and business textbooks should be Seth Godin's Purple Cow, Martin Lindstrom's Brand Sense, Adrian Slywotzky's The Art of Profitability, etc. No longer do we set our 3 yr and 5 yr objectives - 5 weeks is usually too long (not to be confused with short, medium and long term strategy). No longer can we continue to use phrases such as it's 10 times more expensive to gain new customers than to keep them - baring in mind that we have high profit customers, low profit customers and far too many high loss customers! So why the hell keep them?

So I'm no Seth Godin so you wont (yet I hope) find some revolutionary new concept or way of thinking. Some will however be in the same situation as me which is through understanding how Microsoft, Wall Mart, Starbucks, Virgin, Enron, to name a few, rise and fall we can begin to understand our own local market and more importantly our role in that same market.

I started to change when I went to the States and found everyone there so positive, optimistic, enthusiastic and conscious of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats - it was January 2002 New York - after 911 if they could still have this approach then how could we in Portugal be so negative, cynical and unproductive? How could I get so caught up in this way of thinking? Why couldn't I be different and stay different?

Make a list of all the successful entrepreneurs in Portugal and you will find that they are in fact true believers, exceptional visionaries, smart thinkers, highly charged, team builders, tough managers, totally committed, brave and meticulous planners - no order intended.

And finally why in English when I am fluent in Portuguese? Not what you are thinking... try writing the previous paragraph in Portuguese - then you'll understand... hardly inspiring - "...where's the juice?" [Anthony Robbins].

Feel free to comment, ring me, e-mail me - I just want to understand, apply and share. Its what Blogging is for me - I hope to learn from you too.

If this all sounds too corny I suggest you start with Anthony Robbins - 10 Days to Change Your Life
Too sceptical to even go there? Hear a preview
Still not convinced? You really do need help... or... are in fact who I want to be one day.

Posted by Nuno Machado Lopes in my thoughts
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