Monday, December 28, 2009

Looking for something new to read? Check out the recently released list of 2009 Page Turners the recommendations of the Economist magazine (
It’s a lovely list arranged by categories including History, Fiction, Science, Technology, and even books by the Economist staff members.
Whatever your interest it’s here and presents a change from the New York Times ( best seller list. My first choice to add to my Kindle? It's Richard Wrangham's "Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human." What's your first choice?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cash not plastic

As I waited at the bagel shop on a recent Sunday morning I saw two people turned away without the bagels for their Sunday morning brunch because all they had was plastic (credit cards, debit cards) – no cash. No crisp dollars or coins clinking around in a pocket to make a purchase in a place that only deals in cash.

Watching their surprised expressions, hesitation while they tried to figure out what to do next reminded me again of the importance of having some currency on you at all times. This is true especially if you are traveling in a country that is not yours.

For the people in the bagel shop this Sunday morning finding cash was as simple as getting to the nearest ATM something they were likely to be able to locate quickly. But in a city new to you, a place where the language may not be yours, finding that ATM may not be easy. Need a snack, a taxi, a coffee? Likely, you’ll need old-fashioned cash.

Don’t be surprised. Be smart, be safe, hide some cash in your wallet if you must and when plastic doesn’t work - you will still be able to buy what you need. Don't miss your bagels for Sunday brunch.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Quality Is?

According to Isabelle Peuch, founder and creative director of Jamin Puech the Parisian accessories brand ( people around the world view quality differently. She knows from experience. Their handbags and other accessories are designed in Paris and manufactured in France, India, Vietnam and countries in Africa.

Their bags and accessories are sold in their stores in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Madrid, and London as well as in department stores in major cities.

In a presentation this summer Isabelle talked about their focus on quality and their efforts to insure that their standards were met no matter where the bags (or elements of them) are manufactured. As they expanded they discovered that it wasn’t enough to explain they wanted “highest quality” because that had different meanings depending on the location. Rather than complain when quality wasn’t up to their standards they decided to take another approach. They elected to teach their definition of quality. By providing examples, demonstrating techniques they were able to build a shared definition to insure the quality of their product. Patient and creative.

It’s a lesson for all of us. We may use the same word but the meaning may be different. People see things differently. You have to ask yourself – what’s their understanding? What defines quality? Being on time? Knowing that answers vary is the first step in building a common understanding, a way to work effectively together.