risks. I’m not much of a risk taker. As such, although the business world seems exciting, I feel a bit intimidated by the fact that I have to face all these risks once I join this world. Also part of what makes it intimidating for me is that I think that the skill of knowing when to take risks and when not to take risks is not something that can be effectively learned from school or from reading books. Instead, I think that this skill is best learned through experience. This then means that I would have to make a lot of mistakes before I become good at calculating risks.
There have been many times when the CEOs or executives of companies have been humiliated or embarrassed for making the wrong decisions or taking the wrong types of risks for the companies that they led. I shudder to think that it can be me someday, even at a smaller scale. On the other hand, I think that the greatest leaders and business persons are those that fearlessly take risks even when these risks turn out to be detrimental for them or the companies they led. Many of the greatest leaders in the world of business have also been embarrassed or humiliated at some point in either their personal life or their career and yet they’ve all been able to bounce back and become even greater than they used to be. One person who specifically comes to mind is Steve Jobs. I can imagine how embarrassing and humiliating it must have been for him to be fired from his own company and yet that didn’t stop him. He continued to establish his own companies and he eventually became a well known and well respected leader in the whole world. This makes me think that to be good at business, one must be brave enough to follow their guts and stand by their convictions. People like Steve Jobs inspire me.
Another thing that struck me about this chapter is the phrase about not having money will make you unhappy but that having money does NOT necessarily make you happy. This phrase makes me wonder about businesses or companies that seemingly don’t have a stable source of revenue yet continue to thrive. Examples include Wikipedia, Mozilla, and Twitter. These companies – especially Wikipedia and Mozilla – are run by people who are passionate about what they’re doing. They do it for the fun of it and not exactly because they want to become rich. This makes me realize that the purpose of a business is just as important, if not even more important, than the business’ strategy in order for it to succeed. As such, I think that values and ethics play a very important role in determining and maintaining the success of a business.
On the other hand, though, I also find it quite disturbing that running a business involves some form of manipulation and that politics is ever present. I find it hard to reconcile this with my values and my principles, and yet I know that even the greatest business leaders had to perform some form of manipulation in order to get to where they are today. Perhaps the key is in finding the balance between self-interest and ethical behavior. After all, business leaders must still look out for the welfare of their organizations and not just focus on the greater good at all times. Again, I think that this is another skill that can be effectively learned only through experience.
The topics on economics (“Economics”) makes me realize how important a business’ external environment is and how no business is isolated, that is, no business can get away with being concerned only of itself and not having any regard for the environment or society where it operates. This is evident n the 2008 economic crisis where the problems started in the United States but it affected the entire world. It was also seen during this time how the major financial institutions various countries worked together in order to remedy the situation. This goes to show that in the business world, businesses must look out for each other as the negative effects that can happen to one business can eventually resonate in other businesses.
I was also quite fascinated with the happiness indicators and the better life index. This makes me realize that businesses should not only ensure their organization’s financial stability but should also ensure the happiness and well-being of its employees because eventually, the happiness or unhappiness of the people will reflect in the company’s economy. To put it more directly, happy people make for happy workers, which can lead to increased employee morale, increased employee motivation, and increased productivity, all f which eventually lead to an improved economy.
As well, I found the following quote from the PowerPoint slides interesting:
“Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command. It is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of the society, which he has in view. But the study of his own advantage naturally, or rather necessarily, leads him to prefer that employment which is most advantageous to the society.” (“Economics” slide 10)
I’m a strong advocate of self-care and the quotation above goes to show that by looking
out for ourselves and doing what’s best for oneself, one is also doing what’s best for the society.
In this chapter (“Global Business”), I realize how important it is for companies to be able to adapt to different cultures and different customer preferences. I was fascinated with the unique Dunkin’ Donut flavors in Taiwan as well as with the unique McDonald’s food items in various countries. These show why companies like Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s have been very successful. They conduct their market research well and they are creative in finding ways of meeting their international customers’ tastes and preferences. In this age of globalization, the world has become a smaller place and globalized companies have the entire world as their market.
I also agree that globalization not only has economic benefits but has also non-economic benefits. It fosters positive relations among countries and it enables these countries to share their resources.
In addition, another interesting thing about globalization is that now, skills and knowledge in cultural diversity is considered an asset among employees. Many companies now also ensure that they provide cultural diversity trainings in their companies. Indeed, even from our homes, it becomes easier to interact with people from different cultures, thanks to the Internet and particularly through social media websites such as Facebook.
Personally, this phenomenon of globalization has opened my eyes to the great amount of diversity that exists among the different peoples of the world. The ability to interact with people from various cultures, whether in the work or social setting, has exposed me to the differences in cultures, which has in turn enabled me to become more accepting of individual differences. I used to have various notions about people from other cultures just because interacting with them doesn’t happen so frequently. Because of the Internet, however, interacting with people from other cultures has become very common that they no longer seem so different from my next-door neighbors.
This chapter (“Ethics and Social Responsibility”) points out how important ethics is in the successful conduct of a business. There have been many success stories about how a company’s ethical practices reflect in their bottom line. Surely, every company has its own code of ethics. However, I wonder how well they really implement this code of ethics.
I say this because of the many instances of workplace bullying that occur within companies that are left unaddressed and where employees are often left with no recourse but to just leave their jobs. Even when top management is said to espouse good ethics and the company’s core values, the simple rank and file employee is often rendered helpless from the unfair treatment of their immediate supervisors. I have observed that even when the bullied employee tries to air his or her complaints, such complaints often fall on deaf ears. I have realized that when push comes to shove, top management often chooses to protect their own at the expense of the lowly employee. Although companies have no problems displaying ethical behaviors and practices in their business processes, which are visible to their stakeholders, it seems that the same level of enthusiasm and effort at implementing ethical practices is not exerted in internal relations or internal issues. This then makes me wonder whether these so-called ethical practices and codes of ethics are just for show.
With regards to social responsibility, this again makes me realize how businesses do not operate in isolation and how they affect and are affected by the community where they operate. As such, it is only right that they care for this community in the same manner that neighbors would look out for each other. Moreover, I believe in karma and I believe that social responsibility not only benefits the communities where businesses operate but that it also benefits the companies themselves. Not only does it enable the company to develop a good image or reputation and promote its brand, it also enables the company to gain the trust of its customers. Moreover, such good deeds can inspire the employees, leading to an increased employee morale; and thus, increased productivity.
In addition, I agree with what President Obama said in one of his State of the Nation Addresses where he said that we don’t have to choose between growing our economy and protecting our environment. For so long, it seems that the environment’s destruction has been seen as an expected side effect of industrialization, one that cannot be avoided if we want to progress. However, I think that technology has become so advanced that if they can develop machines or equipment that can increase production yet increase environmental destruction then surely they can also develop machines and equipment that are environment friendly but that do not compromise a company’s profitability.
Finally, there have been so many nonprofit organizations, government agencies, celebrities, and politicians who advocate for “going green.” Even companies now try to change their practices and processes in order to make them environment friendly. However, in the end, I think that the most effective way to really care for the environment is for us to individually use environment friendly products and practice energy conservation and other environment-friendly habits. After all, no matter how much advocates call for change, if their messages fall on deaf ears then all their efforts will be in vain. Moreover, we cannot just rely on companies to promote environment-friendly practices. After all, we spend more time outside the workplace. As such, our awareness of [the environment should not stop once we step out of the workplace.
Forming a business is often a difficult and complicated process, especially when partnering with other people I have seen so many personal relationships that have been broke due to problems that occur in business partnerships. As such, I have sort of made it a rule never to go into business with someone I have a close relationship with. I think that if I were to partner with someone for a business endeavor then I’d rather do so with someone I’m not close to. It’s easier to be objective with people who are strictly business partners. In contrast, being partners with family or close friends can make it hard to be objective because of the fear that we might hurt the other person’s feelings. However, being too subjective and emotional would be detrimental.
As they say, “Business is business.” However, our loved ones tend to take things personally even if what we say is in the context of the business. Also, if I were to partner with someone who is strictly a business partner then I wouldn’t have any difficulty severing the relationship should problems arise, especially if it concerns unethical behavior. However, if I really must partner with a loved one then I’ll make sure to have all agreements formally documented and to have a lawyer take care of all the legal matters. This way, there will be a third party who can still provide an objective perspective on things in the event that conflicts arise. With a third party mediating, such problems may not have to damage the personal relationship.
This chapter (“Management, Leadership and Organizations”) stresses the importance that managers play in an organization. I read somewhere that immediate supervisors are tithe leading reason for people quitting their jobs. Indeed, I think managers have the capability of either inspiring or demoralizing their subordinates. I’ve found that with good management. People are more willing to endure tough working conditions. However, no amount of intrinsic or extrinsic rewards will make employees happy if management is poor. Even if top management does an outstanding job of leading and inspiring the company and its employees, if the immediate superior fail to emulate the values being promoted by the company then this immediate superior’s subordinates are unlikely to be unhappy with their jobs and would tend to lose their faith and trust in top management. In this way, I think that the immediate superiors serve as the company’s and top management’s representatives to the employees. As such, top management should be more vigilant in ensuring that the company’s department managers are able to represent the company and its values well. Top management should consider the company employees as their customers, with the department managers acting as top management’s sales representatives. As such, top management should ensure that the department managers are able to cater well to the needs of their customers, the employees, and that they behave in ways that truly espouse the company’s values.
I then think that managers face many challenges. They have to be able to strike a balance between technical proficiency and people skills. Technical proficiency enables the manager to be skilled and knowledgeable with the tasks that his or her subordinates perform. This enables him or her to assist or mentor his or her subordinates on their tasks. This also enables him or her to gain his or her subordinates’ respect. However, people skills are just as important because these determine the kind of relationship that the manager forms with his or her subordinates, which can also either inspire or demoralize these subordinates.
There are times, though, when some managers have better people skills than technical proficiency and where the subordinates tend to be more technically proficient than the manager. In this case, I’ve seen managers who have felt insecure of their subordinates’ technical proficiency and their own lack of such. However, I don’t think that managers should ever feel insecure of their subordinates because there’s a reason why they are the managers and their subordinates are not. They must realize that they have skill sets and knowledge that their subordinates don’t and that the expectations of them are different from the expectations of their subordinates. I think that this insecurity becomes the source of conflict between many managers and their subordinates. However, the fact is that managers are just humans, too, and that they can’t be good at everything. In this regard, I think that managers would do better to be supportive of their top performing subordinates instead of considering them as their nemesis.
Several things struck me in this chapter (“Motivation and Human Resource Management”). One is the importance of intrinsic rewards in employee motivation, that is, it is even more important than extrinsic rewards. As an example, I’ve encountered people who have well-compensating jobs but still end up leaving their jobs because they were already bored, that is, they have been doing the same thing for the entirety of their employment in the company. On the other hand, there are people whose salaries never increase and yet still stay in their jobs. This makes me wonder, though, whether they are really happy and motivated at their jobs or are just hesitant to leave for fear that they won’t find a better opportunity.
At any rate, though, I think that the responsibility of motivating employees should not lie solely on managers. I think that the employees themselves should ensure that they work in jobs that they really like and are passionate about. Understandably, many people settle for any kind of job due to the difficult economy. However, there are also people who work at jobs that pay well even when they don’t really like the job. Although their job might need their financial and physiological needs, they aren’t likely to last in their job because it’s not something that they enjoy doing, which can eventually lead them to getting burned out.
Another thing that struck me was the Hawthorne effect, which stated that people act differently when they know they are being studied. In a way, this explains the importance of performance appraisals. Because employees know that their performance is being observed and evaluated, they try to be conscious of their performance and act accordingly. However, in companies that don’t have effective appraisal systems then employees can be expected to take their jobs for granted. I think this is evident in many government agencies where employees feel that their performance does not make much difference, that is, they would still get to keep their jobs anyway, so they tend to take their performance for granted. In addition, there is a notion among government employees that the poor performers are the ones being rewarded due to their connections and this further corrodes employees’ job performance.
The Hawthorne effect presents some irony, though, when it comes to micromanagement versus macromanagement. If the Hawthorne effect were to be applied then it should be the case that employees would perform better when they are being micromanaged. However, as many studies show, employees perform better when they are given more autonomy in the workplace.
According Maslow’s theory, needs that have already been met do not motivate. This makes me wonder how really good companies still manage to motivate their employees if they already provide their employees with good compensation, benefits, perks, and the like. How can the company’s human resource department create new needs that they can satisfy and that will motivate the employees? In this regard, I think that the only way that companies can continue to satisfy “new needs” of the employees is to address their intrinsic needs. They can do this by constantly providing their employees with meaningful tasks, new challenges, and opportunities for advancement. This is one area that I think Google excels in and that makes them a great company. They are able to address their employees’ intrinsic needs by allowing them to work on projects that they are interested in, whether these projects are initiated by the company or are initiated by the employees themselves. I think that this “strategy” for motivating employees is brilliant because it ensures that the employees are working on things that they like. At the same time, it removes the burden of coming up with creative ways to motivate the employees on the part of the company human resource staff. This would also be consistent with Herzberg’s assertion that job content factors are the most important to workers.
Moreover, while intrinsic rewards in the form of new goals or new challenges do motivate employees, I agree that such goals or challenges should be attainable. This reminds of playing video games. As long as I know that I am capable of finishing the current level and advancing to the next level then I am excited to play the game. However, when I reach the point where I feel stumped and can’t seem to move on to the next level then I tend to lose interest in the game. I think that this analogy can be applied in the workplace, that is, as long as the employees feel that they can “advance to the next level” or become qualified to handle more challenging tasks then they would be eager to perform their tasks. However, if they feel that their tasks are too difficult and that they cannot successfully complete it then they tend to lose interest. Unlike in a video game, though, where no one can assist the player in moving to the next level, employees have their managers and colleagues to offer them assistance. In this regard, I think that it is important for managers to create a supportive environment in the workplace where employees help each other and are not only concerned with their self interests. Moreover, managers should be capable and willing to provide their employees with the mentorship and coaching that would enable these employees to “move to the next level.”
In the same regard, I think that it’s important for managers to provide their employees with honest feedback even if this can be a little hard to take on the employee’s part. In the end, honest feedback will be more helpful for the employee than constantly stroking this employee’s ego. This is often the case when managers becomes too close to a certain employee or when they consider this employee a favorite that they don’t want to offend this employee’s feelings. However, bad performance cannot be covered up as it will be noticed by other members of the organization. As such, the negative feedback that’s going around is bound to reach the employee anyway and may make him or her feel even worse or more embarrassed than if he or she heard it directly from his or her manager.
Finally, another challenge faced by managers is the management of their employees’ generational differences. It would be quite easy for a manager to adjust their management style to suit the generational characteristics of their employees if their employees come from the same generation. However, it becomes difficult if the employees come from different generations. While a manager can surely adjust his or her management style when interacting individually with his or her subordinates, it can be quite difficult to address these individual differences when it comes to group initiatives. For example, when a manager is trying to come up with a team building activity, what may be fun for millenials may not be fun for baby boomers and vice versa. As such, it can be challenging for the manager to find a common ground.
I’ve had a manager in a previous whom I liked and whose management style worked for me. However, I could never understand why my teammates seemed to dislike her management style. I could see nothing wrong with her style; rather, I thought that my teammates were being unreasonable with regards to their expectations of our managers. Only with this course’s discussion on generational differences do I finally realize what the problem was. I realized that my teammates were from a different generation than me and this led them to have different management preferences from me. Unfortunately, my manager didn‘t seem aware of this either. She failed to recognize the generational differences in her subordinates’ work expectations, which led them to becoming hostile towards her.
Although marketing is an exciting and interesting field (“Marketing: Introduction, Products, Pricing“), I can’t help feeling uncomfortable with certain marketing strategies. I can’t help questioning the ethics behind some marketing strategies and I can’t help feeling some form of manipulation is necessary to successfully conduct marketing initiatives. As an example, which I saw on TV, some stores put the products that people buy the most at the back of the store and puts the less saleable ones at the front. According to the show I watched, stores do this to entice customers to buy the less saleable products even when they don’t need them. In this case, if companies really care about providing customers with what they need then manipulating them to buy eve the things that they do not need would seem unethical to me. Another example is when items can be purchased at 0% interest on the customer’s credit card. These entice customers to buy these items because they believe that they are really getting a good deal with the 0% interest rate on their credit card. However, the truth is that banks have already added the interest to the item’s price. As such, I find this practice quite deceptive. Still, another form of marketing practice that I find deceptive is when products that are advertised on TV or in print look different from the actual product. An example would be burgers and sandwiches, which seem to be bigger and have more filling on the advertisements than in the actual products. Although some customers are gutsy enough to complain about the discrepancy, most just leave them as they are. However, I think that this would be unfair for these customers and that it will just encourage the companies to continue with such practice.
Also, I think that it’s quite manipulative of companies to be releasing new models of their products and creating so much hype about it in order to make customers buy these new models when there really isn’t much difference between the new and the previous models. Although it’s understandable that companies need to do this – that is, constantly come up with new products – in order to survive, I can’t help feeling that they’re also manipulating and taking advantage of the consumers. Especially in these times of economic difficulties, I think it’s quite unconscientious of companies to be selling products to customers and making it seem like these new products are really different and much better than the previous model of the product.
As well, although I think that it is a good initiative that companies try to learn as much as they can about their consumers in order to better serve them, I think that a “side effect” to this is the privacy of consumers being compromised. I find it quite disconcerting that once you fill up a coupon for a certain store or company, the information you’ve provided will likely end up in the hands of another store or company. Although the US considers much of the said information public in that they are available in public records, it can become annoying when companies’ sales representatives or telemarketers bother customers about purchasing a product even when the customers have clearly indicated that they are not interested. Moreover, such initiatives often cause disruptions in the customers’ activities. As such, although this strategy can boost the sales of companies, I wonder if this does them more damage than good.
Still, when popular celebrities endorse certain products, I can’t help wondering if these celebrities really use the products they are endorsing. As such, I can’t help feeling that this is another form of manipulation.
On a more positive note, though, I really admire people who have the guts to come up with unique products or ideas that seem ridiculous at first but that prove to be viable in the end. An example is the cable TV channel for dogs. When I first heard about it, I thought it was ridiculous and that no one in their right mind would subscribe to a channel that shows nothing except dogs. Fast forward to several months later and I would be surprised that many people, especially pet owners, actually like and subscribe to this new channel. This makes me realize that in order to be great in business, one should not be afraid to innovate and to be different, even if it means being perceived as weird. After all, many of the products we use now stated with people thinking they were weird.
Finally, I realized the importance of pricing in achieving business success. The Chinese especially come to mind. Many Chinese businessmen are successful even when their products sell very cheaply and even when they have small profit margins. This teaches me that large profit margins don’t necessarily lead to success.
While these chapters (“Marketing: Distribution and Promotion”) talk about the various ways by which products and services are being distributed and promote, I can’t help wondering if the day will come when the role of the intermediaries will be reduced significantly because of the Internet and other forms of technology. As it is now, people no longer need to go to the physical stores in order to purchase the items they need. They no longer need to interact with sales persons or agents in order to make purchases online. With people becoming busier and busier. I wonder if the time will come when people can even have product samples sent to their homes instead of them going to the physical store in order to see how a product actually looks like upon which they base their decision to purchase or not. Alternatively, will time come when virtual reality technology will be used to enhance consumers’ online shopping experience? Even with online shopping now being available to consumers, many still go to the physical stores for the experience of being able to touch and see the actual products. However, with virtual reality or other similar technologies, will it become possible for consumers to get the same experience from their own homes. If this becomes possible, would it eliminate the need for intermediaries altogether? Would this enable manufacturers to directly interact with the consumers?
In this regard, I think that intermediaries can make themselves valuable by providing human customer service that cannot be replicated by any technology. Consumers would still naturally be more comfortable with talking to a real live person than talking to a computer. As such, it is important for these intermediaries to continue to improve on the customer service that they provide.
With regards to advertising, I think that companies should be more conscientious of how they advertise their products. Although their main goal is to sell a product, they should realize that they also inadvertently influence the mindsets and lifestyles of their consumers with their advertisements. As such, I think that companies should be more conscious of the kinds of messages that they send their consumers. For example, advertisements portray skinny girls as sexy, which make young girls think that their body image is that important. Advertisements also influence people’s lifestyles in that all the advertisements on technology gadgets make people feel that they are uncool if they have only one gadget. They somehow feel pressured to be like the people they see in the ads who sport the latest fashion, have the latest gadgets, and drive the coolest cars. In effect, their failure to emulate these personas they see on TV or in print make them less fulfilled and happy with themselves. As such, although it is true that companies do need to sell their products, it is perhaps better for them to present their products in a more realistic light or to use other creative ways to present their products in a way that would still make them memorable for consumers without necessarily influencing their mindsets or their lifestyles. As an example, many of the Superbowl ads are brilliant in that they keep the viewers interested and entertained and yet they still mainly focus on the product and not on the consumer.
The phrase “any publicity is good publicity” or “there is no such thing as bad publicity” also strike me as ironic. Companies try so hard to fix their image or reputation, which may have been tarnished by bad publicity and yet this bad publicity can also boost their sales or at least get people talking about them, which mean free advertisements for them. It’s also ironic that competitors try to say negative things about each other or how brand haters try to say derogatory things about a certain brand in n effort to make people stop buying these products. However, these sometimes have the opposite effect in that they become even more curious about the brand. By making so much noise against the other brand, these detractors end up doing more good than damage to the other brand. In this regard, if someone wants to say something negative about another brand then the most effective way to do this would be to find a formal venue for airing their complaints, objectively providing their criticisms, and then keeping quiet. Constantly talking about it will just make the other brand more popular and it can also make the detractor lose their credibility.
Finally, I think that social media websites are a great way for companies to advertise their products. These sites facilitate advertising through word of mouth and consumers tend to lend more credibility to their friends’ feedback about a product than to anything that an advertisement may say about a product. However, I think that some viral marketing initiatives are deceptive in that if customers are getting paid to say good things about a product then this defeats the purpose of consumers going to social websites for product websites for product feedback. Such viral marketing strategies give consumers the notion that the customers promoting the product have really used the product when they probably have not.
“Economics.” n.d. Microsoft Power Point file.
“Ethics and Social Responsibility.” n.d. Microsoft Power Point file.
“Forms of Business Ownership.” n.d. Microsoft Power Point file.
“Global Business.” n.d. Microsoft Power Point file.
“Introduction.” n.d. Microsoft Power Point file.
“Management, Leadership and Organizations.” n.d. Microsoft Power Point file.
“Marketing: Distribution and Promotion.” n.d. Microsoft Power Point file.
“Marketing: Introduction, Products, Pricing. “n.d. Microsoft Power Point file.
“Motivation and Human Resource Management.” n.d. Microsoft Power Point file.