When you get involved in trying to help your hometown football team, in my case the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, you get many questions.
From gratitude for helping keep the team in business, to questions about when will the team win its next championship. But the ones I never anticipated were questions about world trade and modern business economics, and: why aren’t the hats the team sells made in the town the team plays in, ie made in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada?
My initial reaction was you gotta be kidding me - doesn’t everyone know why people in China or Bangladesh need those low wage jobs more than we do? But then the penny dropped - in a complex modern society we all specialize. Some of us learn more about world trade than others, and some learn more about html5 Internet programming. That doesn’t make one of us better or smarter than the other, just more knowledgeable about some things while others have greater expertise in other things.
Which is similar to a trade economics concept called “comparative advantage” but please look to the experts for a better explanation than I am able to provide here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage
My ancestors used to make cotton textiles in Hamilton back in the first half of the last century. Today the addresses of their cotton textile mills are condos and shopping malls and the cotton textiles are made in Mexico and India. Wondering whatever happened to my great grandparents’ factory I have been forced to learn a thing or two about global trade, and here’s why most of the Tiger-Cats merchandise is made in lower cost locations:
The obvious answer is that a factory worker earns less in China. But that misses the point. The point is Canadians earn more. The better question is why is the work of Canadians worth more to the world than the same amount of effort by a hard working factory worker in Bangladesh or China?
The answer is not that the Canadians do the work better - the answer is, on average, Canadians do more valuable work. For example the Ticats’ sister company MRX, www.mrx.ca, employs a couple of dozen software engineers, architects, and customer service reps. They have very high skilled jobs creating websites that educate and entertain millions of Canadians and Internet users around the world. The websites built and maintained by MRX are accessible via the latest smartphones. While none of those smartphones are made in North America the bulk of the value in those phones was created and stays in North America.
Blackberry or Apple will sell you a smart phone for a few hundred dollars. Yet the cost of manufacturing that smart phone is only a few dozen dollars. The reason for the difference is most of the cost of that smart phone is in the very high value (and well paid jobs) researching and designing those technologies. When you buy an Apple Iphone the bulk of the money you pay goes to Silicon Valley California, not Taiwan or China. Which is one of the reasons why California has an enviably high-standard of living and can afford world class universities of the standard of Stanford University. Where, on an unrelated note, Ticat #95, Brian Bulcke played his college football. ;-)
Coming back to Tiger-Cat haberdashery - the worker who sews a Ticat hat, just sews one hat for one Canadian consumer. Most of the cost (ie the value) in creating that hat is in the design and marketing of the hat, ie most of the value of creating the hat is produced and stays in Hamilton. Only the part of the hat that the Chinese factory can do better than we can do (the sewing) is done in China.
So next time you put on your Ticat jersey or hat, or toss your CFL football in your backyard, take pride in the fact that most of the money you invested in your hat, jersey or football stays right here in Hamilton *and* take pride in the fact that you’ve also done your bit to help a developing world worker feed her family, or educate his kids.
And while you ponder this, be grateful you live in an economy that produces jetliners, advanced communications technologies, and sophisticated Internet solutions, and does not rely on low-paid jobs weaving cotton textiles or sewing hats for our standard of living.
A part of my extensive collection of Ticat hats.
Becoming increasingly optimistic about the future of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Football Club as the New Stadium rises on the site of the 1930’s Civic Stadium, and the 1950’s Ivor Wynne Stadium:
For those new to the story: I got involved with my home town Canadian Football League team when it fell into bankruptcy in 2003. After working hard at improving all aspects of the team, from fan experience to football personnel, resulting in significant improvements in revenue in all categories - we were still having challenges making the team work as a financially viable business.
So I took the time to sit down with a wide range of Hamilton Football historians from former league commissioners to former owners, including my 90 year old Uncle Bill, a member of the team’s board of directors in the 50’s and 60’s. Only to learn the last time the team had earned a profit was some forty years earlier.
Now, or to be specific: a year from now, with a new league Broadcast deal, and a very exciting new stadium, the future financial stability of the team in Hamilton looks very bright.
I have discovered, in twenty years of moving around the ball park,
that the knowledge of the game is usually in inverse proportion to
the price of the seats.
Bill Veeck, Chicago White Sox owner
Sometimes it’s no-one’s fault, things just didn’t work out.
Sadly, I have to announce today that I’m divorcing Twitter @bobyoung from @caretakerbob. I tried to stay united for the sake of my sanity, but have finally come to terms with reality.
The interesting lesson here is while for many people a single twitter account can work despite their varied interests, for others those interests are so unrelated they become distractions for their followers.
Most of those who share my enthusiasm for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (www.ticats.ca) do not have as much interest in my passion for technology and the future of content (www.lulu.com). While my friends who share my interest in the future of technology don’t generally care much for Canadian football,
So as of this afternoon, @caretakerbob will be exclusively focused on all things Canadian Football related, and @bobyoung will focus on technology, the future of content publishing on the Internet.
Of course this does not mean that I don’t have friends who share both interests and if you are one of them just follow both @bobyoung and @caretakerbob.
(The timing of this divorce is being driven by tonight (June 13, ‘12) being the unofficial opening of the Canadian Football league season, with a 7pm pre-season game between the Tiger-Cats and the Toronto Argonauts, about which I will be tweeting sufficiently frequently my tech friends will be tempted to hit the un-follow button.)
Tips to make your book stand out, from the U Publish panel at BEA -
Recorded last week at uPublishU, the day-long self-publishing pre-conference program of BookExpo. Featuring Jenny Pedroza, co-founder of the Writers Coffee Shop; Mark Coker, Founder, Smashwords; Sandra (Sandy) Poirier-Diaz, President, Smith Publicity, Incorporated; and Bob Young, CEO & Founder, Lulu.com.
This panel’s industry insiders know how to ensure that a book will stand out in the dynamic world of self-publishing and they shared with CCC’s Chris Kenneally their insights on what every self-publisher needs to know about the secrets of the editing process; the art of cover design; the tricks of the publicity trade; and how to create and find winning sales ideas.
8 Rules for Creating a Passionate Work Culture -
A great article on hiring the right people and nurturing their talents to create a passionate work culture that will last.
Ok, so it is a little early in the season to start celebrating, given the season does not start for another month and three weeks (but who is counting), but for the first time in a decade the bookies are taking the Tiger-Cats seriously:
We (those of us against NC Amendment One change to the state Constitution) were beaten badly last night. We can only assume most of our fellow North Carolinians saw it as a poll on the idea that marriage is a good thing, as opposed to what it was, namely an attempt to withhold the right to marry from others. Whatever you think of the definition of marriage, Constitutions are for protecting the rights of minorities, not for withholding rights from minorities. While I normally respect the result of democratic elections, not in this case.
If you agree please join the effort to have this mistake repealed:
It is sometimes hard to tell which are the chickens and which are the eggs when considering Tolerance, Freedom, Education, and Economic Prosperity. Although looking at the history of the most successful economies it is obvious that the most creative societies are the most successful over the long term. And the most creative ones (whether by accident or design) are the best educated, most free, and most tolerant of new ideas and of change.
Fred Wilson, a brilliant VC in NYC, weighs in: