Sunday, September 15, 2013

Our "Why" at ZTEC Instruments

Simon Sinek's book "Start With Why" argues that we are driven by "why". Decision-making is emotional and we use reason to justify our emotional decisions. Sinek supports his theory with a biological argument that decision-making is centered in the limbic system at the core of the human brain. The limbic brain is the most primal part of the brain and is responsible for emotion, behavior & long-term memory. Language and reason occur in the more developed part of the brain called the neocortex. We use reason to justify and rationalize our emotional decisions, but all decisions are based upon emotion.

Great companies start with a "why", and this "why" emotionally connects with customers and workers alike. We purchase products that resonate with our identity and values. We purchase products from companies that are aligned with our beliefs. Sinek states "People do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it." In regards to work, we all want to be part of something greater than ourselves. If you hire people who believe what you believe, work takes on true meaning and purpose. An organization aligned in its "why" provides the passion and drive to accomplish great things.

And, this is our "why" at  ZTEC Instruments.  We believe in individual contribution, contribution to our customers, to our industry, to our community, and especially contribution to the professional development of a superior workforce. We believe that a talented and highly-motivated group of people can change the world. We have the passion and drive to do extraordinary things. How we do this is through rapid and focused innovation. What we do is manufacture wireless test equipment.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Is Albuquerque a Great Place to Live?

Not long ago while traveling, when I told some people who I had just met that I live in Albuquerque, one of them responded with the knee-jerk response "Albuquerque is a pit." At the time, I was startled because I could not reconcile his opinion with the city that I love. I believe that Albuquerque, with its cultural diversity, its long history, its awe-inspiring landscapes, its access to numerous outdoor activities, its down-to-earth people, and what is arguably the best climate anywhere, is one of the most desirable places for my family and me to live. After some introspection, I realize that much of the world may not see my city in this same way, and I further realize that there are aspects that need vast improvement.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Is Inflation Truly Low?

Today while I was grocery shopping, I had a startling revelation. The price of milk, of apples, of beer, of a head of lettuce, of just about everything in my cart seemed to be twice the price that it was a just few years ago. I grant you that this is anecdotal and not hard data, but it got me thinking.

I went to the US Government Bureau of Labor Statistics website which lists historical inflation rates as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). So far in 2013, CPI is running at annual rate of 1.8%. CPI was 1.7% in 2012, spiked up to 3.0% in 2011, and was again down at 1.5% in 2010. 2009 was 2.7%, and in 2008 we had a paltry 0.1% inflation. Over the past 5 years, total inflation was 9%. How can this be? Just about everything that I buy on a regular basis is noticeably up more than 9%. Think about it: the price of food, the price of gasoline, my phone bill, my medical insurance, the cost of air travel, my utility bill, everything is up significantly over the past few years. I cannot think of one thing that I purchase on a regular basis that is more economical today than it was in 2008.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

How Big Companies Lose Their Way

I recently refinanced my home with a large bank, one that is publicly announcing that it wants to grow its market share to 40%. This lender currently controls 1 in 3 U.S. mortgages, and states that this is a result of doing a better job than its rivals. If my refinance experience is an example of doing a better job, this bank is sorely mistaken. This nationwide bank treated me as if they were doing me a favor by accepting my business, and either through neglect or bad faith, at three different times tried to extract thousands of dollars in additional fees. This episode demonstrates how a large organization can lose its way and cause its own downfall.

This leading nationwide mortgage lender attempted to raise fees at the very end of a 90-day refinance process, hoping that either I would not notice or would be so far along that I would cave in. I found out about the fee changes from the legal disclosure documents in the last days before closing. Three times, I was verbally assured that their original fee structure would be honored and then later received written documentation to the contrary. Each time, I had to make numerous phone calls to confront and resolve the undisclosed fee changes.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What Government Can Learn From A Startup

While our government continues to struggle with dysfunction and  ineffectiveness, the private sector is slowly and steadily rebuilding the economy and jobs that were destroyed when the real-estate bubble burst in 2008. The contrast is striking as I consider how we, as a startup company, have dealt with the challenges of the past 4 years, compared to the self-imposed struggles of the federal government. While we have accomplished more with less, the government continues to stagnate even as it consumes 27% more of our limited resources (U.S. government spending has grown from $3.0T to $3.8T between 2008 and 2012).