Mar 17 2011

the one for one model [day 295]

Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes, was a keynote speaker this year at SXSW.  Not only was it incredible to hear his story, but just to hear the magnitude of positive change his company has created in the world.  Here’s the best part.  Blake made this statement at the end of his talk.

“From this day forward, TOMS is no longer a shoe company. It’s a one-for-one company.  Our next step is meeting those needs around the world.”

Yes, TOMS is now a one-for-one company.  In June, they’re launching their next product.  You buy one, somebody in need gets one.  It’s a for profit model, and an extremely successful one.  I have to say here that I would love to go out and buy a pair of TOMS shoes.  With my one year of no retail shopping, unfortunately that’s not an option.  If I buy them used, a person in need will not get a new pair of shoes, however, even in the secondary market, good can still be done.

  • If I get them at a thrift store, that money goes to charity.
  • If I wear them, I’m marketing TOMS and this one-for-one model.
  • If I buy them used, paying less than retail, I’ve saved money that I can donate to one of my favorite charities.

How else can we apply the 1-for-1 model?

I’ve been pondering this question for a few days now.  I don’t know how anyone can hear the TOMS story and not wonder how we can all be a part of it.  TOMS is obviously onto something here.  I have a few ideas of how this could be applied in other ways to benefit TOMorrow.   Continue reading


Dec 10 2010

Oprah's favorite things or advertising by the big O? [day 197]

Oprah always has her list of favorite things at Christmas time and gives them away to her viewers or audience.  A lot of this feels like advertising, although she has a few things to say about each of these and why she likes them.  Unfortunately that doesn’t rules out paid advertising.  If Oprah mentions you or your product, you’re an instant success.  When I worked for Barnes and Noble 15 years ago, we would have to order 100+ of any title she mentioned on her show.  She has a lot of power to make a difference.

I pulled up her list several weeks ago for my blog, but decided to pull it up this morning while I write this post.  Surprise!  Oprah has added over 10 new items to her favorite things.  Among the new items?  An iPad, Scrabble for the iPad, glittery Uggs and Coach bags.  I had every intention of believing she actual uses these things, likes them and then features them on her show.  Clearly this is not the case, this is yet another creative, and very expensive, advertising vehicle.  Why do I think that?  The answer is in the iPad…

Apple iPad. Read the blurb under the photo.  She says, “Words cannot describe what I feel for this magnificent device.  I really think it’s the best invention of the century so far.”  She continues on with, “Thanks to my iPad, I now read about four newspapers a day.  I write my column for O magazine way before the deadline because I love writing on it so much.”  Really Oprah?  If that’s true, why is it late making your list of favorite things?  Could it be that Apple contacted you to market this magnificent device?  If they did and you accepted it, good for you and good for Apple.  It’s a win-win for Applrah.  What I have a problem with is lying.  If Oprah really uses this and it’s one of her favorite things, then why is it late on the list?  This is advertising, plain and simple.  She writes on it way before her deadlines, yet this is a recent favorite things addition?  It doesn’t add up Oprah.  Maybe you should stop playing Scrabble on your treadmill and find a truth-in-advertising app.  It’s okay to advertise, it’s okay to say you like stuff you don’t use often, but don’t act like you can’t live without it and that you do things with it you clearly don’t do.

Now, let me take the direction I planned with this post.  I had planned to talk about a few of her items, then my next post will be Jody’s favorite things.  So I think I’ll go to the Apple store and see if they’ll sponsor me?  In the mean time, take a look at a few other Oprah 2010 items.

kiva.org. I started with Kiva because this is a great thing to do for Christmas gifts.  For $25 you can help someone from anywhere in the world fund their small business.  This is a great gift for many reasons.  It helps people in need, it allows you to help them, the person receiving the gift doesn’t collect a bunch of stuff they don’t need and you can see who you’re helping.  Once that money has helped someone, you can choose for that money to go out again to help another project or person.  Groupon.com is doing a matching program too!  This will be on Jody’s favorite things as well.

Hope by Philosophy. Oprah has been using this moisturizer for over 10 years.  Again, this was a late addition, so i took 10 years and 2 months for her to decide to make it a favorite?  Nope, I think it was a late addition, because it features a picture of a “certain little girl from Mississippi.”  I wonder who that could be?  Good thing she decided they’re a favorite or this company would be investing in some 3M stickers with some other not-so-certain kid from Montana.  If Hope really costs $38 for 2 ounces, it’s no wonder there’s a lack of hope in our culture.  My philosophy?  I can’t afford hope, although this topical type hope might be easier than the psychological hope.

Nikon D3100 SLR camera. I’ve been using Nikon cameras since the early 80’s.  My first Nikon was an 8008 film camera.  I have to admit, I’m more into electronics than clothing or girly stuff.  Whether you’re buying a camera, a tv, a sweater or a necklace, just make sure is something that will be liked and used, not something to add to the pile of stuff you or your loved one doesn’t use.

Baker’s edge baking pans. Here’s something Oprah really does like, as it was on the original list and she’s always talking about dieting.  First of all, this pan would be a diet for me, as I like the inside pieces of lasagna and cakes, not the crusty outside stuff.  It comes with Ghirardelli brownie mix too, which is a little funny since she’s also featuring a book, A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson.  A contradiction?  Yes Oprah, it is.

My point in featuring Oprah is that she’s sold out to the money making.  Anything will be on her favorites list if the company supports her.  What are your favorites and why?  Don’t sell out to culture or anything else people are selling unless you believe in it.


Aug 22 2010

solar panel dilemma [day 87]

I had a great idea!  Solar panels on my house.  They have some great tax incentives, and with the energy savings, that has to be a great plan, right?

I called to get some pricing and to see if my home is a good candidate.  I wasn’t sure if it would be since I have many trees.  The guy on the phone was a huge help.  He asked me some questions about the size of my house and my current energy usage.  He seemed surprised when I told him.  Apparently I use a lot less than other people with the same size house.  Some of that is probably due to my large trees.  He pulled up my house on Google maps, and it felt a little big brotherish when he asked if I had a trampoline and described my property perfectly.  Turns out I have a spot and am a good candidate.

Sit down.  The price for the basic system starts at $23,000.00.  I thought maybe he said it wrong.  I was thinking $10,000.00 maybe?  After tax credits and rebates, my out of pocket would still be over $11,000.00.  Ouch.  Way more than I can afford.  It would also be a while before it paid for itself.  Not to mention I will need a new roof in the next few years and it’s $1500.00 to move them and put them back.  Double ouch.

I did hear the technology is changing rapidly and these might be more affordable in a few years.  Maybe I should get a windmill instead?  I haven’t priced those yet.  And I don’t have an HOA.  If I did, that would require a new blog on how many days before I’m kicked out.  :)


Aug 12 2010

green & clean plan [day 77]

I guess you could call it shopping.  I shopped around for renewable energy plans and solar energy systems over the past two weeks.  Here’s what I found.

My utility provider is Stream Energy.  My one year contract was up last month, so I decided to shop around.  Price was not my driving factor, it’s renewable energy.  Not partial, but 100% renewable.  After comparing the hundreds of providers on powertochoose.org, I found that Stream has a 100% renewable plan.  Since I was already with them, switching was easy to do.

Does your provider offer a renewable energy plan? If so, consider switching.  If you’re a current customer, and in a contract, in most cases they will switch you to a different plan with no penalties.

Now the CoServ thing…

I’m still at a loss of how an area that has been deregulated can have a power company like CoServ where people don’t get to choose.  Their prices are higher (during peak times) and people with this company are stuck with them.  I talked to several people that have CoServ, some like it, some don’t and some just don’t care.  So CoServ calls themselves a co-op, and I guess that stands for ‘no choice’.  Here’s some dialogue I found on the web about this issue:

Customer #1: Electricity has been deregulated in Texas. For some reason, co-ops like Coserv do not have to comply with this law. This seems not only unfair to me but also somehow illegal. Can the city do something to help out its citizens/taxpayers?

City official: I apologize for your frustrations with CoServ Electric. The City does not have jurisdiction over which utility companies opt in or out of deregulation and it is not illegal for them to not be involved in deregulation. Your first action should be to file a formal written complaint with CoServ and send copy to the City to my attention. The next step is to file a formal written complaint with the Public Utility Commission who oversees electricity in Texas. To file a complaint with the PUC you can access their website here. The following information is from the website www.powertochoose.org.

Electric cooperatives and city-owned utilities may decide whether their customers will have a choice of Retail Electric Providers. Customers should contact their electric cooperative for more information.

The City does not oversee or control which electric provider the developer contracts with. However, if the subdivision is not a gated community, and the City accepts the subdivision phase it becomes public right of way. Once there is public right of way established any other utility can operate in the right of ways.

Customer #2: I live in an area of Frisco that is co-op. Thus, I do not have a choice of utility providers.  Will this issue change in the near future? If not, is there a legal course that I could follow to obtain the “freedom to choose”?   It would seem that there would be legal grounds for me to have the same rights as other citizens of Frisco have when choosing a utility provider.

City official: You are correct that CoServ Electric is organized and recognized by the State of Texas as a co-op utility company. Several years ago when the Texas Legislature deregulated retail electric, they specifically allowed co-ops to make the choice to “opt-in” to deregulation, or continue doing business as they always have – that being controlled by an elected Board of Directors. While the City of Frisco has taken the position that all utility customers in Frisco should have the same ability to access competition, the Legislature has not yet made any changes to the law.

The City of Frisco has no jurisdiction or authority over whether or not COServ opts into deregulation. It is an issue that would need to come from the CoServ Board of Directors. Additionally, Texas Legislature could change the law to force co-ops into deregulation by a certain date.

Okay, so what I’m hearing here is that with the right legal jargon, fancy wording, typical politics and ridiculous laws, you can pretty much do whatever you want to? Seriously?  You’re free to choose… but not everywhere.   I could spend all day on this, but it’s not the point, just a frustration.  I welcome any comments on this.  I think everyone should have a right to choose, not just real estate developers and the public that happens to not fall under the co-op.  I have the freedom to shop for power, shouldn’t everyone?


Aug 2 2010

energy [day 66]

I’m power cleaning my house and working all weekend, so not much time to even think about shopping… not that I would if I had time though.  It takes a lot of motivation and energy to clean the house.  Having less stuff does make it easier, as there’s less stuff to pick up.  Unfortunately that doesn’t make the dust bunnies go away.  While cleaning my house, I was thinking about energy.  Not the kind it takes to clean, but my energy company.  I’m using Stream, which has saved me a lot of money, but is not renewable energy.

I decided to start researching power companies and find one with 100% renewable energy.  ‘Shopping’ for power is completely overwhelming.  There’s so many to choose from and so much fine print, and don’t get me started on the feedback and comments about these companies.  My big questions:

  • Are the 100% renewable really 100% renewable energy?
  • Which company has the best pricing, but is also doing this for the right reasons?
  • How can I find the right one without having to read fine print for hours?

I asked a few people at work about their power providers.  Interestingly, in a energy-deregulated society where you should be able to choose your provider, I found that several people don’t have a choice.  They have CoServ and are not allowed to choose.  I was told this is because it’s a co-op.  Figures someone found a way around the ‘choice’ option.  Some were happy with it, others, not so much.  I would like to research it a bit more and see how they’re pulling this off.  When I looked up the pricing, they are substantially higher priced than many advertised providers.  Energy monopoly?  Energy cult?  Energy prison?  Okay, I’ll stop.  I have enough of my own research to do without picking on CoServ (right now).

I’m open to any comments or suggestions.  :)