Originally Posted on Blog.com June 18, 2014
By MARSHALL BARNES, R&D Eng Copyright June 18th, 2014 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Recently I was reading a blog post by Reuven Gorsht that made me scream – THAT’S WHY I CREATED PARANOVATION!”. It had two of the worst things that drives the innovation misinformation promotion gravy train – a faux witty title and then completely misleading content. It also was about one of my favorite subjects – competition in the business world. Titled, Why are we still so Focused On Beating The Competition?, I knew immediately that it was going to be some feel good B.S. because the answer is simple – if you don’t stay aware of what your competition is doing, they’re going to beat you. Depending on who they are, they may even kick your ass and stomp you down and grind you into the ground. I know, because, as you can read in my second post here, I faced such a prospect when I was in my early 20s but, being inspired by the Rebellion from Star Wars (as well as years of reading about miitary conflicts as a child) my associates and I used our creative ingenuity to strike back and in two years, kicked their ass right out of our field. In other words, they picked a fight, but we ended it.
So now Reuven’s blog post is about how Amazon.com founder, Jeff Bezos, isn’t focused on the competition. Allegedly, Bezos is giving some show and tell/”this is what your friend’s daddy does for a job” talk at his kid’s elementary school. He tells this class that the people who succeed at Amazon are the “explorers and pioneers” and those that fail are the ones focused on “killing our competition”. On its face, I knew this statement was just so much malarkey that I immediately jumped on debunking it. I simply did a search for “Amazon.com vs”, that’s it. If Jeff Bezos really said that, then he’s lying. Here’s the proof – http://www.business-management-degree.net/features/amazon-vs-netflix/ and more :
Amazon is constantly AT WAR with someone, justified or not. That means warriors at Amazon must be doing quite well – regardless of who they might be. Read the opening paragraphs of this story http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2014/06/amazon-hachette-antitrust-backfire just to see how Amazon likes to “push publishers around”. I know for a fact that there is a dirty little rumor among book stores that if Amazon doesn’t like you, that your web site will start having problems. I know someone that that happened to. Here’s a story that mentions Amazon’s plans for “world domination” and the ruthless way it targets neighborhood book stores – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2013/08/08/politics-and-prose-owners-blast-bezos. I can’t say for certain that Amazon targets book retailer’s web sites and I can’t substantiate any accusations against Amazon in that regard, but that’s not the point. The point is that that is the perception among many mom and pop retailers who have no real reason to deliberately make things up.
Now Amazon is at war with Google over delivery drones and Apple over tablets – http://www.cnet.com/videos/its-amazon-vs-google-in-the-delivery-drone-wars/. The idea that Jeff Bezos doesn’t care about beating the competition is B.S. The fact that this allegedly came out at an elementary school means it should have been taken with a grain of salt – conflict is non-PC at schools these days. The fact that Reuven missed this obvious fact, was totally clueless about Amazon’s well publicized history of conflicts, and felt that he should write this blog post without the slightest bit of fact checking, just brings into sharp focus what I’ve been saying about the innovation promotion industry – there’s so much misinformation that it is actually threatening business – not helping it.
Here is Jeff Bezos in an interview admitting that he does pay attention to the competition, but I want you to notice how he nuances it:
You see, Jeff makes it sound like he concentrates on improving costumer experience, that it’s all about the customer. Guess what? That’s a competitive tactic. In fact, it actually pretty passive aggressive. But we can see from the story links that that’s not all of what Amazon does. Amazon is very focused on the competition and competing against them. My first awareness about that was the war between Amazon and Barnes and Noble (no relationship to me) over ebook readers. It was a rather dispassionate observation, on my part, as I wasn’t interested in e-readers and I still don’t own one, but I always like to monitor the development of new innovations, nonetheless. I might not want one, but as a writer and publisher, I wanted to know how the e-readers would effect the book market and at what point I should include e-books among the options from which my material could be chosen.
To put it another way, in my war with OSO, my focus was on serving the customer as well – with better pricing, more innovative technology solutions, and an expanding range of services. But there was no mistake, we were at war with OSO, and they with us. They used their connections with a local columnist to keep us out of his section of the local main paper. I countered with getting publicity in other sections and also in other local papers. I put to good use what I had learned from Shep Gordan and especially, Tony DeFries when I was thirteen. I also got TV news coverage and interview programs on both TV and radio. In fact, my promotional skills got so sharp I even learned how to use the bad weather closing announcements to promote me. How you may ask? When bad weather, especially winter snow, caused school and business closings, I called to have them announce that the Marshall Barnes rock video shoot for that day was canceled. Yeah. Everyone listening knew I was supposed to shoot a video that day and it just added to the name recognition and prestige, even though it was just a publicity stunt, a take off of a trick I learned from Shep Gordon. The funny thing is that on some of those days, we were shooting scenes for other projects because of the snow. When I landed us a four hour interview on one of the big local radio stations, I had flyers made-up and dispersed in key areas of the city, but I reserved one which I personally taped to the front door of OSO, knowing full well that they would see it first thing in the morning. I was smearing our growing successes in their face – it was a psy-op, but hey, that’s the way I roll when someone starts a fight that is completely unwarranted and thinks they’re going to win it. But at least I’m honest about it, unlike Bezos. Here’s his latest attempt to “beat the competition”:
You see, the basis behind Bezos’ B.S. is that Amazon started off as a discount, online book seller, but that wasn’t enough. Bezos wanted to expand into other areas. The keyword here is “expand”. When other groups, from gangs to countries, do that, it’s call “invade”. When businesses do it, it’s called “compete”, in this case it’s not even competing for market share, it’s competing for market share in a market that they weren’t even a part of. That’s an invasion. That’s market penetration. Amazon was not in the smart phone business, but now there are, with Bezos deliberately choosing to compete with other phone manufacturers. He is invading their territory, their ‘turf’ when he doesn’t have to. So when he says he’s not about beating the competition, he’s lying.
The rest of the article is just an exercise in semantics.
So, am I being too harsh in saying that Jeff Bezos is full of it and that Reuven Gorscht was too stupid to recognize it? No. Bezos is pushing this misrepresented hype about what Amazon is really all about and Gorscht, who’s suppose to be this thought leader, turned Bezos’ bull into an entire concept piece and then expected his readers to buy it, hook line and sinker. Those that did, and who try to incorporate that into their thinking, are setting themselves up to be beaten by any competition that comes along and thinks they’re vulnerable, like Bezos does. Hell, it might be Bezos himself after them next! In that regard, Gorscht has done his readers a major disservice and that, my dear readers, is really stupid…
P.S. Oh, and as an after thought, here are some links that I stumbled across after I originally wrote this post. What are they about? How Jeff Bezos is actually PARANOID about his competition. Now do you realize why Gorscht’s article was just so much B.S.?