What’s The Fundamental Quality To Be Succeed In Work, Business and Life

If someone ask this question around, I bet there are answers like “Consistency”, “Knowledge”, “Experience”, “Intuitive”, “Vision”, “Communication”, “Professional”, “Intelligence”, “Creativity”, “Discipline”, “Team Work”, and a lot of other good quality we know of.  But for me, only one single  quality stand out, and that is “Honesty”.

To me, honesty is the testing stone for no matter what work or business you do, big or small, and is the most crucial and fundamental characteristic in getting all that good qualities mentioned on the first paragraph.

People say that a good company should be one that have a good team, a good product and good execution.  It’s very true.  A good team means you have the best person suitable for his roll in the team, a good product means you design it to help solve a big problem or meet the need of a specific crowd, with great attention on the minor details, and offer the best quality of it with the most reasonable price which others need to charge a much higher premium for the same thing.  And good execution means no BS or bureaucratic inside the organization, good ideas are allowed and appreciated, problems can be pointed out and solved, and refactoring on every aspect of the business is on-going.  So you’ll notice, without Honesty to yourself and to your team, to the product and to the execution, you cannot have the good company.

So if you like me, wanted to be succeed in work, business and life, keep asking yourself, may be several times a day, that are you being honesty, to yourself, to the others, and to the work, business and life you are on.  If you are doing a comparison on your product and the competitors’, ask if you are being honesty on the pros and cons you found on all products, are you trying make the others look bad while treating your with bias.  If you are estimating the potential market for your business, ask if you are being honesty on estimating the potential client number and income, could you be too optimistic without data support.  If you are planning to get hold of a new hobby or interests, are you being honesty that you are putting one hour or two each day on learning and working on it.

Be honesty, then you shall succeed.

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What will happen after Tesla open their patent, and should Apple follows?

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Elon Musk’s decision to open Tesla’s patent to all interested parties is undoubtedly the most extraordinary strategic move since Google open source the Android OS.  This move will enable Tesla and the EV ecosystem’s to gain an exponential growth in the coming years.  With the similarity with the smart phone industry, it is reasonable to imagine the following developments:

  1. More small/middle size automobile companies will catch public eye-balls by providing their shiny new products developed based on Tesla’s open patent.
  2. Some major automobile companies that has zero EV today will start offering their own EV in coming few years.
  3. Those major automobile companies that already has its EV will face a question of whether to adopt Tesla’s technology or to continue their own, and after a few struggle they will eventually join the crowd.
  4. Undoubtedly new EV news, leaks, rumors and product launch will be as popular as the new iOS device.
  5. More countries will start enhancing and upgrading their transportation infrastructure system to embrace the electronic car era.
  6. China will be one of the most noticeable country in this change, in both using and providing the EVs.  We shall not be surprised to see one or two or even more Chinese automobile manufacturers announce their extremely low cost EV in the coming years.  And some may claim it is their own invention instead of Tesla’s.
  7. should we go on?!….

 

apple-classic-rainbow-vector-logoSince it’s about patent open/close, and Tesla is as cool as Apple, many ppl naturally relate their move to Apple, and many suggest Apple should do the same.  As a fan of both Apple and Tesla, I understand strongly disagree.  Here’s a few reasons:

  1. As Elon points out in the blog, the EV industry now has a problem of few followers instead of competition.  Apple, on contrary, has too many followers/competitors in their post-PC arena.
  2. Tesla’s open patent will help them gather followers, form a strong force and eventually complete the EV ecosystem.  If Apple opens their patent, they will lost their current high ground and got beat up by the competitors.
  3. Tesla’s core competitiveness comes in their advanced technology.  While Apple’s core competitiveness lies on their excellent integration of art and technology.  Technology itself is not Apple’s greatest strength.  (Not agree?)
  4. Tesla’s case is more like Google open sourcing the Android OS.  They use this move to fight against the old gasoline car industry.  It’s so much like what Google did back in 2010 to fight again Apple’s iPhone.  Apple, however, has no giant to fight, but now being the giant himself.
  5. Furthermore, Apple’s success lies on its close-ecosystem philosophy that to combine hardware and software so can be crafted to one perfect art work.  Openness does not fit it, and it is a lesson-learned by Apple in the early 90s.

In a word, Open or Close, it is a strategy used based on each company’s own situation, and shall not easily follow.

How much margin could a distributor or integrator get?

In the IT industry, or maybe in any industry, you can build a business as a distributor or integrator if you have no own hardware or software product.  But unlike ten or twenty years ago, the living space for these middle-man is getting smaller, and the margin has a trend to zero.

The company I’m working for is a distributor/integrator in IT industry.  In a recent reselling case, we win it because our upper stream distributor is willing to lower their margin down to 2.8%.  In a recent bid, we lost to another system integrator because they could offer the same products at cost (we have the same cost).  Not long ago in another tender, we act as distributor and win the case because the down stream integrator can bid with the cost we offered.

Firstly I wonder such phenomenon only happens in Hong Kong and Macau, as the economic here is not good comparing to the neighboring area such as the mainland China.  But after I raised the question among friends in mainland, I am surprised to find that nearly all of them face the same situation.  Some of their cases are even more extreme, that they can only win a tender with price lower than cost.

There are some obvious reasons that causing this trend (more or less Porter’s Five Forces):

  1. In many companies, the bonus of a sale representative is tight with revenue, not profit.  So to reach their sales target they are more willing to sacrifice company profit for personal bonus;
  2. Some product owners are selling directly to the end customer, getting rid of the channel partners.  In this case the reseller/integrator can only get the same price as their client do;
  3. Some other product owners are selling through many partners in the same region, causing the competition.  The reseller has no option but to conduct price war;
  4. Some product owners simply ignore the partner agreement and bid the same tender with their channel partners.
  5. No matter how the product owner sets their sales scheme, the local distributor can only cooperate as they usually has no right to set price;
  6. Newer and cheaper products comes to the market each year.
  7. More end clients are willing to contact product owner directly, and can get direct support from product owner.

However, no matter what reasons that causing the dilemma of IT distributor and integrator, one key factor remain true: ‘The value you add equals the margin you get’.  Finding a product for a client is no longer a ‘value’.  Your client can easily dig out more than you could.  To hold the business and the profit margin, you need to provide solid service and really help solving client’s problem.  It could come in many way, like localizing a software’s UI, customizing a software feature for different need, adding extra features, connecting it with other products, bundling and integrate several products into one cohesive solution.

But in my view, the life of a distributor/integrator is just getting harder and tougher.  The only good way out is to have your own product.