88% of New Year Resolutions Fail; Paypal’s is no exception!

Are corporate vision statements very similar to New Year resolutions?

This WSJ article by Jonah Lehrer about personal New Year resolutions is quite insightful.

I think this is relevant for organizations also.  I recently looked at Paypal’s vision statement and got a chuckle out of it 🙂

“PayPal is creating a better shopping experience from start to finish, no matter what’s being bought, how it’s being paid for, or where it’s being sold.”

Few random observations about Paypal’s vision statements.

  • Is this an accurate description of the company’s true capabilities and aspirations?
  • Perhaps, as companies become large they start believing that they can solve every problem. Shopping experience is a very broad canvass. People shop for groceries in a mom and pop store to aviation repair parts. How can you get into every purchase transaction and “make it better (3%)”?
  • Will employees and customer care about a long convoluted vision that is impractical? My recent experience disputing a vendor services showed me that Paypal customer service team  clearly understand what they are allowed to do to ‘create a better shopping’ experience for customers like me that made the mistake of purchasing intangible goods!
  • Guy Kawasaki’s advice on keeping these statements to 3 or 4 words is a great advice! It takes true business insights to distill it to a short phrase. Additional advantage is that using fewer words could potentially lower the risk of errors. Do founders of successful companies outsource the job of writing vision statements to fancy big-5 consultants after they cross the billion $ milestones?!
  • What else could Paypal use as the vision statement..

– Follow the money

– Puncture the money pipeline carefully

– Lube the structured transactions

– Create a trusted market place

– Make buying worry-free

Would love to hear your thoughts! What is your company’s vision? Is it relevant to you and your customers?


Paypal based phishing scam

I received this spam message today! Phishing scam perpetrators are prying on customer dispute concerns to make unsuspecting Paypal users to divulge their login details. I wonder what Paypal is doing about this!

“Resolution of case #PP-094-486-857-123
Transaction ID: 891627735I55G2NBZ
Our records indicate that you never responded to requests for additional information about this claim. We hope you review the attached file and solve the situation amicably.
For more details please see on the page View all details
Protection Services Department
PayPal does not tolerate fraud or illegal activities. Your complaint has been noted in the record of the PayPal user you reported. If we find this user has violated our policies, we will investigate and take appropriate action. If this occurs, you may be contacted in the future about the status of this complaint.
To make sure future transactions proceed smoothly, we suggest you visit the PayPal site and click the Security Center link located at the top of any page. There you will find tips on how to avoid fraudulent sellers in the “Fraud Prevention Tips for Buyers” section.
Please do not reply to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and you will not receive a response. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account and click the Help link in the top right corner of any PayPal page.
Copyright © 1999-2013 PayPal. All rights reserved.

Link in the phishing message above point to “http://u.to/tcJRBA”

Paypal is bad for small businesses

If you are using Paypal to pay your vendors, think again!

I have been using paypal over the last six years and had developed an implicit level of trust – that this is a safe platform to transact. My recent experience was an eye opener.

I hired an India video developer (http://www.govideotoday.com/sam) to create a 1 min video for our small business. The team did not deliver on any of their promises while we patiently worked through the issues. To make things worse, GoVideo team started demanding additional monies to complete the fixed bid project. I lost my patience and decided to cancel the project and requested paypal to resolve the issue.

Paypal’s response to my dispute request was..
“Unfortunately, we are denying your claim because your purchase was for a virtual, digital, or intangible item, which is not covered under PayPal Purchase Protection. We only cover claims involving physical items that can be shipped and tracked.”

I even spoke to a sympathetic customer support person. He understood what the issue was and said he will look into the issue, but nothing useful has come out.

So what is paypal’s role? How does my real experience jive with their corporate VISION?!
“PayPal is creating a better shopping experience from start to finish, no matter what’s being bought, how it’s being paid for, or where it’s being sold.”?

I bought from GoVideo and lost my hard earned dollars. Paypal makes it easy for poor service providers to swindle money from unsuspecting small business owners?!

A Short Journey Through “The Mind Maps”

During a recent visit to the book rental place, I picked up “The Mind Map Book” by Tony Buzan. Well, I had a reason for picking up this book. I am learning music and it is extremely challenging for me to memorize random notes. So, I was looking for some tips on how to improve my aging memory cells 🙂
Tony Buzan highlights several interesting facts related to the brain and its structure.  The structure of the nerve cell especially the tree like branches of that (dendrites from Greek δένδρον déndron, “tree”) radiate around the nuclear area of the cell. From this he has a made a leap of faith that our memory and thought processes should look like the dendrites!
So, despite being skeptical about Buzan’s hypothesis, I decided to experience “the Mind Maps”.


Warm Up..

Yes, I went through an exercise in the book to my son’s amusement. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch your dad sit with a bunch of crayons and sheets of paper!
My Happiness Mind Map

Yes, you can mind map your feelings..Go Buzan!

The Phone Number Challenge!

I decided to test my new found technique against my teenager’s younger dendrons! We decided to memorize his new phone number..Brute short term memory vs “the Mind Map”.
After giving ourselves the same amount of time to memorize, we tested ourselves, few hours later and the next morning. I actually remembered the number (got one number wrong first but quickly recapped the map to get it right). My son did it too and he was declared the “winner” since I had one digit wrong. However, I truly felt like a winner! I have challenged by these phone numbers for more than two decades now. For the first time, I confidently recalled the number few hours later and the next day. My phone number Mind map actually worked!!
  • Used associations to existing things
  • Made it funny
  • Included sounds Ohh for zero

New Home Requirement Gathering Session

We are in the middle planning for our new home. We wanted to list all the stuff we needed in our future home before we meeting the architect. We had done a short list and it was already getting little stressful. Armed with this new technique of mind map, I convinced my wife to give mind map a try. We armed ourselves with a large white sheet and crayons, pencils and pens! We ended up with the picture below (“the house map!”) after about 30 minutes.
New Home Requirement Gathering Mind Map

New Home Requirement Gathering Mind Map – Let the creative juices flow without judgmental road blocks!

  • We did not argue or make judgmental remarks during the entire process!
  • It felt good..Both of us felt like we did a good first draft
  • It will grow with further inputs from kids and others
  • We are planning to use it during our discussion with the architect

The Fiasco

After 204 pages and some real successes, I tried putting the Mind Map to work for my music lesson..To memorize a Carnatic classical varnam in the raga Nata Kuranji! Other than helping me memorize the parts of a varnam, it has been useless!
Varnam in Nata Kuranji

My mind map of Varnam in Nata Kuranji

  • It did not help for any section of the varnam (pallavi, anu pallavi, chitte swara, charana or yethu gade)
  • Sounds perhaps need a different technique
  • What might work for the sounds or video?
  • Is there a way to modify this amateur mind map of varnam to something that would actually help?