Listen To: From Silicon Valley to Asia and Back Again, Part 2

In this episode, I continued my conversation with Dave Donars, chief of research at Cardwell Beach, sharing observations I made on a recent trip to Asia and how they changed my thinking about marketing, branding, and the power of money. We also finish up our discussion of Facebook as a social utility and dive into recent events around the world. Take a listen below.

Podcast Transcription

Dave: Hi, welcome to the Cardwell Beach podcast. My name is Dave Donars. I’m the chief of research at Cardwell Beach.
Brian: And my name is Brian Erickson, I’m the chief marketing officer at Cardwell Beach.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to Air Quotes. Welcome back to part two of our discussion on how travel changes our perspectives on marketing, branding, and business as well as the conversation on news in the headlines. Thanks for listening.
Dave: When we talk about things like Snapchat, are they going to fall under the same weight of expectations that Facebook has as it becomes more used, as it becomes something more of your personal routine? Is there actual weight given to it?
Brian: What about YouTube?
Dave: That’s a great example.
Brian: Because I feel like YouTube is of similar scale to Facebook, would you say? I mean, it’s got to be. I’m sure it’s not–Facebook is just so massive but I think that it’s of similar scale. And I think YouTube has a good brand but I think they’ve grown to a similar scale to Facebook and at the same time kept up that curation a little bit. I think that they’re…
Dave: No, but–yeah, they’ve maintained that ability to curate and to have subcultures grow within it whereas Facebook has lost that.
Brian: Yeah, right. That was the whole thing with like Google Circles or Google Plus. Remember that you could have different circles within it? It just never worked, yeah.
Dave: Google’s never…
Brian: Engineers should not make social networks.
Dave: No. One of the things–as a last thing I want to mention on this is the idea of the movie, “The Social Network” which is Fincher and I thought it was incredible, has such a weird ending to it because it has Jesse Einsberg’s Mark Zuckerberg continually clicking to check to see if his ex-girlfriend has accepted his friend request. It’s like, “Dude, you are–you’re Mark Zuckerberg, you own Facebook. Like why are you on the actual user interface checking it out?” Like obviously you could–you’re much more [inaudible 0:02:44.2] than that and could be behind the scenes. Not that Zuckerberg is creepier than that but like that anyone can be creepier than that. And if you own the whole system, you could be behind the scenes and definitely just like watching all the stuff she’s doing on Facebook. There’s such a weak ending to that movie so, yeah, The Social Network. Speaking of things that could be relaxing like watching a movie or something like that, recently you did some traveling.
Brian: And I didn’t check email. Yeah, so I went to Asia for the first time, that was incredible. I mean, it was so different in so many ways. I mean, it was incredible to just see all the differences you think with the internet and all the information that we have that–a lot of the differences when you’re traveling would be very apparent. But there are still things that just don’t make it across that are completely new which is great. I hope that never changes.
Dave: Wait, dive into that more. Like what are some of those?
Brian: So, I mean, there were a number of them. So I spent some time in Thailand, most of the time in Thailand was in Bangkok, in Chiang Mai and that was a totally different experience from the time I spent the following week in Tokyo. One of the things that just was inescapable if you were to transact it anyway was just bargaining and the just different way of transacting when everything you do is negotiable.
Dave: I think what’s strange to me–and China is definitely like that too and Vietnam and Laos, it’s common in the region. But even in Eastern Europe, in Western Africa, same thing in South America, bargaining is like such a bigger part of the culture. Yeah, it’s just the way that everything is. I mean, I think in East Asia, it’s maybe the most of it outside of Korea and Japan. But like it is a real thing.
Brian: And it’s like–it becomes a little bit stressful. I would say that I’m…
Dave: Yeah, dude. I want to set a price for something and that’s it and I will accept that set price will also include a few cents of tax which Europeans find insane that they have to like, “What do you mean this is $5 and then there’s extra money involved?” Like it’s a totally dissembling experience.
Brian: Well, I tend to be somebody who enjoys bargaining in the situations where I get to bargain coming up through sales. I think that’s just a natural part of anybody in that type of situation. So you go into that–and you don’t even want to bargain on things because it’s already so cheap and you’re in an area where people could really use the money and you’re just like, “Why do you make me bargain with you?” But what came out of that was interesting to me when–and I went from Thailand to Japan and there was no bargaining. It almost occurred to me that it’s not that there no longer was bargaining, it’s that bargaining changed. And I think there are a couple different stages that market economies go through or at least this is just an initial theory or observation that I had that at the base level, it’s one to one bargaining. You’re just negotiating with somebody who’s directly across from you. I’ll level up, people don’t want to go through that and there’s the set pricing thing as you discussed. But I think we’re entering a new phase where bargaining…
Dave: Stealing, just stealing. The third phase is always everybody stealing.
Brian: Basically but no. It’s algorithmic bargaining. I think it’s something that we’re seeing.
Dave: Oh, yeah, auction.
Brian: Yes.
Dave: Algorithmic auctioning.
Brian: Yes, algorithmic auctioning and essentially it’s the same thing on a one to many scale which I just thought was an interesting observation.
Dave: And so it goes back to–yeah, okay. So that’s what we’re seeing with dynamic pricing models like Uber and anything that has some type of surge pricing. Bars are trying to do it more often now. Bars have always done this though because there’s happy hour which is a lower price and then later on the night, it’s a higher price. People are always–people have always been accepting of dynamic pricing.
Brian: Yeah. But like when food gets a little bit old, like still probably edible, it’s maybe a little gross but it’s still edible.
Dave: Yeah, you’re going to have to eat it now then that will go down a price which to speak of–volumetric sales, just to speak of it, there’s–we should do a whole topic on volumetric sales because the whole thing about when something expires—that is a major mechanism of marketing and sales, less of marketing. But it is a marketing because you have a substance that is totally consumable and buyable for a long period of time but you can put an expiration date on it because you’re worried about slight discoloration, to be off-brand from where it is and the thing. But also if somebody throws out something that they haven’t used and have to go buy a new one, that’s another unit that’s been sold. Anyways, so to go back to dynamic pricing is–I think it’s largely a good thing because I feel untethered from the actual–I hate bargaining. I mean, I really, really detest it.
Brian: It’s super stressful.
Dave: Yeah. Like I’m really–like in every aspect, I never, ever liked bargaining. I have to bargain with my kids. No, I’m kidding. I do not like it. So there’s a removal of that stress because I’ll be told beforehand for instance using Lyft or something–Lyft today–I’ve got two little girls and we really have to get up to daycare and I really have to make some appoints early in the day. But all of that considered, Lyft told me it’s a 75% surge fee right now and I was like, “Yeah, okay, fine. How bad do you need it?” I need this right now. And I think where–it gets tricky because I didn’t have to have that personal one to one bargaining with somebody and I will feel really angry if a driver pulled up and I knew that the route was 20 bucks and he was just like, “Before you get in, I’m going to [inaudible 0:09:45.8] up this by 75% just so you know.” I mean, I would be outraged if a human being did that to me but like I’m okay if some algorithm is doing it. but where I have concerns about from a regulatory nature, what if it’s not the algorithm, what if it’s not based on inventory? If it’s not based on inventory…
Brian: That’s a very good point.
Dave: If it’s based on just like something in my personal behavior where they’re just like, “He needs this right now.” Or if it’s just like looking at how many times I’ve gone to the UI to like try to search for drivers or if it’s just randomly trying to do some segmentation on demographics or something like that, then that is–that should be illegal. There’s no question in my mind. If it’s not…
Brian: And there’s no regulation around that right now, right?
Dave: There’s no regulation around any dynamic pricing in the United States and I believe if it’s around anything besides dayparting or inventory and probably something that two or three things of future Dave will think of as important but really it’s inventory and dayparting. If it’s around anything other than that, I think it should be illegal because I think that that’s just profit. What is it called when…
Brian: Price-fixing? No?
Dave: Price gouging, isn’t that illegal?
Brian: Yeah, like when they just randomly jack the price of gasoline and it has no tether to the market.
Dave: Tethered correlation–yeah. Like that’s the thing, I don’t understand why there’s nobody thinking about price gouging from a perspective of dynamic pricing. I mean, maybe we’re speaking like it’s settled but maybe there are some senators or state senators or maybe there are people who are really concerned about this but I’m surprised that it’s not a bigger issue because price gouging is traditionally illegal. But that’s where traditional models hit a limit versus newer models. I mean, when we look at things like movies, movie studios have to–a movie studio cannot for example buy a chain of movie theaters. So…
Brian: Is that true?
Dave: Yeah. So Miramax or–I can’t think of any of the big studios.
Brian: Sony?
Dave: Those are the only two I can think of right now. But they can’t legally go out and make Miramax theaters that only show Miramax films and it deals with price competition because in your town, you want an independent person making the decision of what the best movies are, not be holding to some corporate distributor but you want that person who own a movie theater to be concerned about what their highest profit margin is. So that’s invincible hand working to a very high level. But then you get into the phone business where AT&T could just have a private contract with unnamed companies MePhone because I can’t say that other word.
Brian: Yeah. For over two years, that–I don’t know how that was okay. If movie theaters can’t do it, I don’t understand why you have–a wireless provider says we will only–we’re the only one who has this specific phone. I’ve never understood that. Shouldn’t you be able to just choose whatever phone make–phone maker as distinct from wireless carrier? And I know it’s much more complicated than just getting reels of film and stuff like that but still, I think that that’s how the world should work. When we move forward with dynamic pricing, it feels like gas stations are things that have been traditionally be hold into price gouging which the supermarkets are, anything that’s critical to us. But also price gouging in terms of I think stuff we see with rental prices. They even have limits on hotel rooms I think in price gouge too. That’s probably a state by state issue. That’s probably not a federal regulation. But we’re seeing none of this imprinted on these new companies. And it’s a legacy that traditional brick and mortar has to hold that these other companies don’t have to and I really think it’s unfair. I’m not saying brick and mortar is a better method. I’m really stating that I think it’s inherently unfair that they’re getting around the way of price gouging. I don’t know.
Dave: No, I definitely agree with that and that was nothing something I had thought about while I was trying to get a metered taxi. So talk about more–talk more about this.
Brian: So one of the most fascinating things for me was when both paper money and brands were completely stripped of their emotion. That hasn’t happened for me in a very long time where you have this cash in your hand and you have no concept of what it can actually buy you. Does that make sense?
Dave: Oh, yeah. It feels like Monopoly money.
Brian: It’s like–yes, exactly. That’s exactly what it feels like and you don’t realize the emotional connection that we have to money both paper and digital until you’re stripped of that. And you have to re-learn it and figure out, “Okay, this is what gets me a bottle of water. This is what gets me lunch for two people.” And you start to reassign some value to it and that’s, at first, independent of the conversion rate. So you’re only doing that relative to the currency itself but you’re not tying that back to what your home currency is for a little bit of time.
Dave: You’re right. You’re not doing that second operation to think about it.
Brian: Yeah. And eventually, you get a feel for that but initially it’s so strange going through that and you forgot that’s a learned behavior or learned feeling that we as kids, we didn’t have that.
Dave: Yeah, that’s crazy.
Brian: The other piece–sorry, go on.
Dave: No, did you find that you were spending more money or less money in that scenario than the normal incredibly spend a lot, binary or something. It’s egregious.
Brian: I mean, it was actually hard to spend any sizable amount of money. Number of bills that we were transacting was through the roof.
Dave: What is it there, what’s the currency called?
Brian: The baht, the Thai baht, B-A-H-T.
Dave: Awesome.
Brian: It is awesome. But it’s–I think one baht is equal to three cents, approximately somewhere in that realm and so you’re getting a bottle of water for five baht so you’re paying 15 cents in the Time Square of Bangkok for a bottle of water, right? It’s kind of like that’s the extremely pricey…
Dave: Can we open up an office there?
Brian: Yeah, kind of, right? I mean…
Dave: Jeez.
Brian: But that whole thing just throws you off and there’s people hustling you on the street trying to get you to buy a suit. At every turn, you’ll always see a 6 foot 7 guy and they’re like, “You need a custom tailor too.” Yeah, so they’re saying it’s a thousand baht for a custom tail suit and you do the math and it’s like 30 bucks.
Dave: Is that really 30 bucks?
Brian: Something like that.
Dave: I mean, seriously, we all need to live in Thailand.
Brian: I haven’t worn it. It was–it’s really weird. I mean, a lot of things were really weird but one of the most–and this was a small retail store front that was like the size of a closet that was all glass on a busy street in Bangkok so you’re trying on the suit and you’re naked in this place that doesn’t have a dressing room. And it’s like on the streets, you’re doing it really fast and they’re holding up a towel and it was just–it was very strange so I didn’t try on the full suit. But it was pretty nice. I mean, it was a suit for 30 bucks or 40 bucks, or 50, whatever came out to.
Dave: $27.90 for a suit…
Brian: I got up upsold. I got upsold. I think ended up spending around 60 bucks. They threw in some shirts and some ties and whatnot.
Dave: But I mean, that’s different though. Now you’re talking about additional shirts and ties.
Brian: I got four shirts, two ties.
Dave: And a custom made suit.
Brian: And a custom made suit.
Dave: For $60.
Brian: Yes, correct. But when you’re in the moment, when you’re sitting there like, oh, it going to be 900 baht versus 850 baht, you’re like, “No way. That’s a rip off.” And so you lose that and when you step back and you look at it objectively which is very difficult because you’re in this high pressure negotiating situation and I’m standing there with my wife, we were both trying to shoot each other looks. I give this okay, we’re going to get killed. Yeah, we’re getting killed during the suit–but yeah, it’s just–it really shows you the emotional attachment we assign to money and how that can easily be reassigned. Well, and I think that that’s where it ties to–that’s why I find negotiations incredibly uncomfortable. I’m largely comfortable in almost all situations but my God, negotiation are not–that is not a–there is some type of very personal thing about money and negotiation that I really don’t want to deal with whereas I feel like you got that for $60 but Dave in Thailand would have spent like $18,000 over that same period of time. It would have just been like–I’ve always had that experience where it feels like funny money. I don’t want to negotiate with you. I was in Vietnam for most of the summer once and it’s constant negotiations and you do get a little bit better at it. but I was just always at this–you almost don’t want to get good at it. You don’t want to get good at it because it’s like…
Dave: It’s mean.
Brian: Yeah, exactly.
Dave: It’s so mean like…
Brian: I’m saving 40 cents on this and you’re going to feed your family for a month. I mean, not to be patronizing about it but what–really, it doesn’t matter to us how much–and I think that that’s where it is is they have certain cost where they know that they–that this is where it is. And anything that they could do…
Dave: Up all profit.
Brian: And it’s massive amount of profit, and good for them. That’s what they should be doing.
Dave: Well, I mean, so, yeah. I mean, what they should be–what–it’s sad that they have to be in that position. And that’s where I don’t like negotiation is I’m having to make some decision.
Brian: Right. I’m having to make decisions about where the person who is the competition essentially is coming from or where they come from is and that, I’m not comfortable with. I’m not comfortable with that in business. I’m not comfortable about that with personal life. I just don’t like negotiations. But when it is more price competition where it’s just like this is what place x charges. This is what place y charges. I will go through and find the deal or find out what actually is the quality and stuff like that. That’s what I’m comfortable but also that’s where we’re acculturated.
That’s very true. So just something that tied to the de-emotionalizing of paper money was when you’re completely unfamiliar with the brands that you’re surrounded with and especially when they’re in a language that you can’t even decipher. I mean, Thai is…
Well, I mean just visually, looks like similar to Sanskrit which I have no capability to discern at all. And Japanese, I mean I can’t even begin to tell you anything about that. So that was–especially in Tokyo where you’re just in this massive city with all this bright lights that–you’re from New York and you–we–being from New York are familiar with that type of environment and you know that these are all advertisements all around you and they mean nothing to you. It’s fascinating. And you–that’s when you really realize all the work that we do in branding and advertising does work. It does do something to you when you see something that you’re familiar with. And you only realize that when it’s taken away and you’re staring at something that means so much to somebody else and just means nothing to you. It’s really fascinating. That’s when you realize that we–there’s no question that we are emotionally attached to brands on a subconscious level, on a conscious level and everything in between. So another thing that was cool about not speaking or reading any Japanese or Thai was user interface. So…
Yeah, no. It’s like it really strips away everything but the essentials of user interface design and so many things in Japan are vending machine based or kiosk based and they’re not in English. So you’re just forced–it’s like you versus the designer and trying to get what you want. And we went to a couple arcades and any time we’re eating at a ramen restaurant or even many times in sushi restaurant, you have to use a vending machine to order a little ticket that you then give at your table when you sit down. It’s just incredible. There were some–I specifically remember this one arcade game involved Yoshi, we’re just trying to place some arcade games. It’s a big thing there in the electric town. And I was able to completely seamlessly go through the tutorial, understand exactly what I was supposed to do at each stage and play as if it had been in English. The interface was designed so well.
Dave: Like a Kia Direction.
Brian: Yeah, exactly. And there were times where I couldn’t even order my food because I was just like, “Well, whatever comes out is going to be what I get and maybe I’m going to get sick or maybe I’m not.”
Dave: Underwear. And just like that, I have to eat this now.
Brian: Yeah, I have to eat this now. But it really shows you the value of good user interface and user experience design, even packaging and labeling. So, oh my God, so all sorts of weird drinks in the vending machines. The vending machines obviously have some famousness to them in Japan and there are just like 25 drinks that you’ve never seen. You pretty much get that there’s always one tea which is the one that I was going for but we branch out a little bit. There was a corn beverage that we tried that was a little disturbing but we wanted something different but not too different. We saw this drink that was in a brown label with a black liquid that had a black bean on it. Now I say black bean but it’s a coffee bean. So we get the drink and we open it up excepting iced coffee and it didn’t say black bean beverage. Now that is I think a packaging and labeling fail because they really should have made that look more like a black bean and less like a coffee bean. So that’s just another observation in how–it’s really important to focus on that stuff.
Dave: Yeah, I think the–but I think the two that you’re hitting on are super related because I think user interface is packaging, right?
Brian: Yeah, it is.
Dave: It is the packaging of the content in a digital face and I don’t want to demean it because it is more meaningful than that. But also like packaging is super important. You feel–honestly inside you’re body, I’m not screwing around, you feel different when you’re drinking a bottle of beer from a mug or from a bottle itself or from a plastic cup. I know it’s not exactly packaging but it is the container. That is not the experience, it should taste the same but it doesn’t in your brain.
Brian: I mean, why did–beer companies for the longest time also–Breweries create their own glass that was to accompany their specific beers, right? I mean, because that affects the perception of the taste and the packaging. Let’s see, just a couple other quick things here. Oh, so another thing that I felt was interesting was in Thailand more so than Japan but in both. The beer companies all also produce bottled water and I was trying to figure this out. It’s like just–because they have clean water and I kind of ended up that it was a brand thing, that it’s preserved that they have a good supply of water, they’re able to brew alcohol and beer specifically which I thought was interesting. All of the beer companies also had a bottled water line that was readily available everywhere.
Dave: I wonder if they did any of that from a regulatory perspective allow, because…
Brian: Well, I mean, you look at it like Coke and Pepsi, right? And the thing was that it was branded the same as the beer company. So they could have had it under a different name, right? What’s–Coke has Dasani, is that right? And Pepsi has Aquafina.
Dave: But you’d be making a comparison of like MillerWater or something like that.
Brian: It was like Miller beer and MillerWater versus Miller beer and Aquafina, right? Why would they brand them the same? What was the association?
Dave: I think that they would do it in the United States?
Brian: You think they would?
Dave: Yeah.
Brian: I mean, why doesn’t Coke have Coke water?
Dave: Because that–just sounds disgusting.
Brian: Bud Light water doesn’t sound–I mean…
Dave: Bud Light water is the Bud Light of Bud Light water.
Brian: You don’t think that they would do it in this country…
Dave: I don’t think they would.
Brian: …if they were allowed to?
Dave: I don’t think they would.
Brian: Guinness water.
Dave: The stout of water.
Which was the best water?
Brian: Which was the best water? Probably Chang, Chang water was the best. It’s also my favorite beer. I wonder if there’s any correlation there.
Dave: I think there is. Water should be largely chemically identical.
Brian: Yeah.
Dave: Our perception of water taste–do you ever see that Penn & Teller show?
Brian: Yeah.
Dave: And do you ever see the bottle of water–or this show was called “Bullshit,” right?
Brian: Uh-hmm.
Dave: It’s on Showtime?
Brian: Yes, I believe so.
Dave: So like more than a decade ago, they did the bottle of water one where they–where literally in some fancy restaurant, they were giving people flights of bottled water. So they come out with these fancy glasses but they were just saying there’s a menu and people could choose with all this–it was just wine, right, and all this different stuff. And then it was just–you’d see a line, right? The camera would just go right back and they’re just pouring the exact same water into–from the garden hose because it’s totally safe water. in the United States, it’s totally safe to drink any form of water that comes out of a faucet anywhere in the United States except for West Virginia. Don’t drink water in West Virginia.
Brian: That’s actually true.
Dave: Or they’re that fire that never ends. Don’t drink water near that–but other than that, it’s really safe do drink water. And people would perceive it very differently based on what they’re being told by the menu or being told by Air Quotes because it was just for water, that’s–they’re all connected. But it was your favorite beer so it was your favorite–it became my favorite water as a result.
Brian: Don’t you think–but don’t you think as a kid maybe, your favorite water becomes your favorite beer when you get can get of age?
Another interesting thing that I noticed more in Thailand than Japan was that brands that we perceive as low level in the United States like let’s say McDonald’s or Burger King as a none premium brand were clearly marketed as premium brands in Thailand. The pricing was extreme compared to all of the other food. You were paying probably–I would bet probably the same price you would pay here in dollars there, which was probably five times to ten times more expensive than the next closest food that you could get. And the signs on the outside all said imported, everything imported. Nothing was created here. It was just so interesting. The same exact brand, I mean it look exactly the same but the way that it came off was so different.
Dave: We are touting that nothing is being produced in this country. The food miles on your food is going to be like 8,000 miles for a slice of cheese.
Yeah. I remember KFC being a–Yum! brand is bigger in Asia. Did you notice that as well?
Brian: No.
Dave: What was big?
Brian: Like American branch?
Dave: Yeah.
Brian: McDonald’s was everywhere. Burger King was probably the biggest.
Dave: Burger King?
Brian: Burger King, yeah. There were many Burger Kings.
Dave: Is it the same menu or was it a super fancy menu that would…
Brian: I think it was the same. I didn’t pay as much attention to that. I saw a salmon–a fried salmon sandwich in Thailand. I didn’t see anything localized really in Japan.
Dave: What about–so just are their restaurants different?
Brian: They’re very homogenous so–in both areas. I mean, in Thailand…
Dave: But are they different from the US?
Brian: In what sense?
Dave: Like going to a Burger King here is not a high level experience.
Brian: No. No, I don’t think it was any different. It didn’t appear to be any different from the US.
Dave: Wow.
Brian: But I think just that experience is foreign and commands a premium for that reason.
Dave: Why do you think it was so premium, because it was American, because it was foreign?
Brian: Yeah, I do. I think that played into it quite a bit. Especially in Japan, I mean it was more premium in Thailand but you could clearly see in Japan anything American was like, “Oh my God, American? That’s awesome.” Which is a surprising reception being that a lot of places globally, you feel like we don’t get the love.
Dave: It’s interesting to think about food in terms of being the most personal thing, right? We’ve talked about this, taste doesn’t share with the senses. It is not a shared experience in any way. But food has such a dominating force for being something with memory and some of those other elements that I think it’s–did you find yourself craving American style food during your trip at all?
Brian: Yeah, there was this one little area particularly in Bangkok that we call the American checkpoint where it was like a Starbucks, Burger King, and like this American-ish restaurant and sometimes–because–as I was just saying, the food overall is very homogenous across–most of Bangkok is all Thai food and there’s the occasional India restaurant and it’s the same 10 items on the menu at every restaurant.
Dave: Do they have Chinese?
Brian: They’re in Chinatown. You had to go specifically to Chinatown for that but they did have Chinese restaurants. A lot of shark’s fin which is a little disturbing.
Dave: Yeah, that’s disturbing.
Brian: Yeah. But, yeah, you do find yourself like, “Okay, I just need a little bit of a break from this.”
Dave: So, I mean, while you were traveling, the attacks in Paris happened.
Brian: Yes.
Dave: So, I mean, given the time difference, it was around–it must have been the middle of the night for you guys. So you must’ve woken up to the news.
Brian: Yeah. We didn’t–as I mentioned, I disconnected during that time so I didn’t–I wasn’t checking my phone at all. And we really were sightseeing and so didn’t turn on the TV. So we didn’t come across it until many hours later if not a day or so later on just a TV that was on. But again, it was in Japanese at that point and so we didn’t really fully get what was going on. And it wasn’t really broadcast in the same way from what I heard as it was broadcast here. I actually was walking down the block coming from the airport going up to my apartment and my wife bumped into somebody that she had known who was actually in Paris at the time of the attacks and had just gotten back. And…
Dave: Wow.
Brian: Yeah.
Dave: Can you talk about that a little?
Brian: Yeah. And so…
Dave: That scene a little bit.
Brian: So neither of us had been in the States when this happened. She obviously is much closer to it and was much more aware of it but she said that the French style of reporting is dramatically different from the American style of reporting and it almost was a bigger deal here from the media perspective than it was there that it was just a camera with the backdrop of the physical location and them reporting the facts and that was it. Whereas here, it’s like, “Oh, let me talk to the victim’s mother and show videos of her growing up as a child and sensationalizing it and tying it…” I hate to say dramatizing it more so in the media here was her perception. I don’t know, that’s just one person’s perspective.
Dave: I had missed probably by minutes a lot of what was going on and had to go pick up my daughters. The daycare–I had one of my older daughters with me so we just had no realization of it. And one of the interesting things that–I was totally unaware that this had happened because I was only looking at little bedtime stuff, got the girls down for sleep. And I was looking at flights–not flights. Actually, there was a few hotels that I have saved for looking over a trip around New Years, right? So there’s a few cities that I had saved on Expedia. And what was really interesting to me that night was I was unaware that the attacks had happened because I was just on the app itself. The New York Times, I had seen one or two updates come through. I had seen it from one or two other things but for whatever reason didn’t really focus in them too much like Stitcher gave an update as well. But what was interesting was I go into Expedia and I saw the hotel room rates for–and this ties back to dynamic pricing, for Paris had gone through the roof.
Brian: Really?
Dave: So I think there was–here’s the hypothesis, there was a lot of news organizations that were probably getting flights, okay? And they’re probably is, under algorithm, probably some social searching, some other stuff they’re doing with trend board analysis and trying to make it as real time as possible. Paris being such a big deal at that point, I literally think–and maybe it wasn’t Expedia so we don’t get in any legal troubles. It would have been one of the travel aggregators. I literally think they surged price to the tragedy.
Brian: Wow.
Dave: Yeah. I mean, they didn’t mean to.
Brian: It was not intentional.
Dave: It was not intentional.
Brian: Yeah.
Dave: But because the flights weren’t actually going up in price but it was the hotel rooms which the mechanism is weird because the hotel rooms we’re looking at is around New Years, right? So that–I mean, it’s just so crazy that was one of the outputs of it. I–anyone who caught that glitch, who had any personal connection to that tragedy, I think that that brand has permanently burned that forever.
Brian: Yeah.
Dave: I mean, if you’re flying in to see relatives or any…
Brian: Oh my God, yeah.
Dave: Right? So we want to walk carefully with this but I think one of the things we have to be cognizant of is that–the sad fact is I don’t think that this is the last event like this that will ever occur. I mean, this is the–all of this is done under the moniker of terrorism because it was a very big deal here in the United States and even with our French client, even when calling them in Paris and stuff, checking on them and making sure people are okay. But even just the introductory conversation about it, you have to address it. You have to say something and say, “I hope you’re okay. I hope your family is okay.” But they are–the French are being very quick to brush it off, this is–let’s just move forward. And that I think is a great approach because the thing is is that terrorism is about scaring you, it’s about stopping you, it’s about changing your behavior. If you just continue to do the same thing, they’ve lost. And I mean, this was by actual definition a strike of terrorism. They weren’t going–they could have killed a lot more people in Syria or something like that but they wanted the attention. They wanted all of this press. And I don’t know, I think that there’s some very strong elements about this that here–and this is…ISIS really wants to–they’re an apocalyptic death cult and they really want the world to end. I mean, you know what their end goal is, right? They want to fight the armies of Rome in some random town in Syria or Turkey or somewhere. And then Jesus comes back and the resurrection happens. ISIS is fighting for the return of Jesus.
Brian: Is that real?
Dave: Really–yeah. That’s really, really, really, really, really what they’re fighting for. So wrapping our brain around that, what they were doing was a tool to gain more recruits, to get more attraction in the media, to stay ever present. If the first rule of branding is alienating people then they–that is an organization…
Brian: They’re alienating people.
Dave: Yeah, so they’re obeying the rules of branding and marketing very well. And beyond shock value, it’s just–it is something that we are ever present of. This is just randomized chaos and that is horrific and I’m not minimizing that. But the important thing is to not go down to that level, obviously security and all those other things but like to behaviorally change your whole life because this event happened is literally the outcome that they want. That is absolutely what they want. And as long as we can just keep moving forward–not brush our shoulders off or something, some minimization of human life being taken away for no reason, I think that that’s a positive thing, how it’s being approached.
Brian: Yeah, I guess…
Dave: Can we wrap up on some corrections?
Brian: Wrap up on some corrections? Cool, yup. Lighten it up.
Dave: Yeah. Speaking of lights, the last time we talked about light and color. So help me here. There’s incandescent and then on the high end, there’s the new LED bulbs. What’s the one that’s in between?
Brian: Compact fluorescent?
Dave: Compact fluorescents. I think I’ve changed my opinion on that. The color on that is horrible, horrible.
Brian: Those are horrible.
Dave: They’re horrible. They’re like an abomination.
Brian: Yeah, that’s–those are the ones that people didn’t like.
Dave: Yeah, they’re horrible. I recent–so this one came about–because after we talked about this, I had a big light bulb go out. And my apartment doesn’t get a lot of sunlight and especially in the winter now. I wanted to rev it up. So I went and got the big, big fluorescent lights, compact fluorescents and the color, it just…
Brian: It’s bad.
Dave: It’s really bad.
Brian: It’s bad.
Dave: But the LEDs are not bad.
Brian: No, but they’re super expensive. They are really unbelievably expensive. The compact fluorescents are also not going down in cost very…
Dave: No, they’re not. And plus those have mercury in them. So do they still have–I think…
Brian: Yeah, they do.
Dave: …they had to take the mercury out.
Brian: No, I’m pretty sure they still have mercury in them. I think they have to have mercury. Of course, I could be wrong.
Dave: The LEDs do not have mercury in them. So also I saw some of them, they are Wi-Fi connected because I must have been searching for something and got a group on or something the next day which would have been a better idea. They’re Wi-Fi connected and they–it connects to an app on your phone and you can choose it seems like thousands of colors you have to go with, so you can just be tweaking it although that itself will be disorienting. So I do want to say that although there is no natural light bulb light, definitely some light is more pleasant than others and I was wrong to address it that way. Also I want to say that when you talked about the Tesla, T-boning a Tesla, I definitely drop the ball on talking about that Larry David Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where he’s very upset that the other Prius driver won’t acknowledge him. I felt that that was…
So I’m going to cheat on immediate recommendation and go towards utility which ties back to our earlier part of the conversation. The app I probably use the most and I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of hours logged here is Stitcher. It’s a way that you can listen to podcasts. They have some functionality for live radio although it’s not very good and it’s been degrading for a little while. And TuneIn is a very good one for that. But I think Stitcher is much better than using iTunes because I like the user interface and because I like the elements of content curation. Stitcher like I’m saying referencing earlier when I was totally ignoring all the announcements about what was happening in Paris, Stitcher was always the first, first to give any of those announcements, when somebody dies, when a big event like Paris happens, something like that. Stitcher beats by a few seconds like the Times and whatever else, whatever other app. It is remarkable. I like it in terms of usability because it’s very easy. You can download stuff and say that–so that it goes there but you can manage it and control it so it doesn’t eat up too much space. You can develop playlists, different type of little list for–if you want to listen to different things where you can say that–also you can go back and archive–look at the archive of different episodes which is pretty remarkable. It’s just much nicer in terms of interface but there’s an element of it where the user interface is great. But where they do a very good job is curation. They make recommendations. There’s something called the front page so it’d be like little news, snippets based on your prior listening recommendations and also just the shows you are listening to. And that just as a playlist itself is pretty remarkable and it’s being regenerated every 12 hours or so. That to me I think is a high level of curation. So cheers to Stitcher.
Brian: Cheers to Stitcher.
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