Sweating for Fun and Profit

Greetings.  It has been six days without power and air conditioning at home and the office and we're really beginning to sweat.  Six days in which the temperature has ranged from 98 to 104 degrees.  And all because of a freak storm with a highly unusual scientific name that seemed to catch everyone by surprise.  Even Ella, our trusty canine family member, is beginning to "sweat like a dog" which is no small feat given that dogs don't actually sweat.  Fortunately, I'm not panting like a dog yet–but when I do you'll be the second to know.  And that could happen any day now given the less-than stellar track record of Pepco, our electric utility.  In fact, I can say with almost total certainty, after multiple calls to their outsourced help desk located in some distant part of America where the weather is probably cool and pleasant, that I have no idea when our power will be restored.  Though their best estimate is Sunday at 11:00 p.m. which would mean nine days without power, air conditioning and many of the other creature comforts that we tend to take for granted.

But rather than get even more overheated by writing about life in the territory of our nation's poorest performing electric company, the one that paid its CEO $18 million last year (no doubt as a reward for poor performance), I thought it might be fun to talk about science and the science of sweating–because as we all know one person's energy meltdown is another person's business opportunity.  

As it turns out, up to 20% of Americans–and presumably people in other countries around the globe–experience a condition that is known as axillary hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating.  It's a condition that affects them even when the temperature isn't 100 degrees and they have a more competent utility company than Pepco.  And it's also a condition that has attracted the attention of some very thoughtful scientific and entrepreneurial minds.  At the top of the list are the folks are Miramar Labs who have figured out a way to use microwave technology to eliminate excessive underarm sweat.  And you thought that microwave technology could only be used in the fields of radar, telecommunications, energy development and cancer treatment.

But now, for a mere $3,000–which is roughly my annual bill from Pepco–you can render your electric utility obsolete through a simple and slightly painful procedure that literally zaps the sweat right out of you by eliminating your sweat glands.  A procedure that sounds totally natural (not exactly), has been approved by the FDA and probably won't win the Nobel Prize for Medicine.


We win in business and in life when we don't sweat the things we can't control.  Or when we figure out how to help people to stop sweating completely.

Cheers and stay cool!  

Just as Good

Greetings.  All of us in business today face the challenge of getting customers to buy our products, services, and solutions.  And to do this, we have to figure out a way to stand out from the pack.  To be better or more valuable to customers and potential customers than all of our competitors.  But is it possible to be better, or more valuable, by simply being the same?  This intriguing question was raised during the latest "Snowmageddon" here in D.C. when several hundred thousand homes across the area lost power and their happy tenants scrambled to figure out how to keep warm and manage the essentials of everyday living.  And as our local utility, Pepco, tried to figure out how to restore power after once again being poorly prepared for an annual occurrence affectionately known as winter.

But the real topic of today's post is portable energy and more specifically batteries–the things made by the folks at Duracell, Energizer, Rayovac, and other companies whose offerings were now prominently displayed on a table at our local hardware store.  And as I reached for several packages of Energizers, my personal favorites, I noticed a curious claim on the packages of Rayovacs which read:




A claim that smacked of:  "Take that you annoying rabbit" (as in the well-branded Energizer Bunny)!

Our product is just as good as yours and that's why customers should buy it! Though I now realize that their product is also somewhat cheaper…which means that you get a few extra batteries for your money.  No, it's not any better.  But that's just fine for the folks at Rayovac, who can't seem to figure out how to just be better and failing that have decided that being just as good is their best strategy.  A strategy that apparently condemns them to being cheaper forever unless they can figure out some other way to add value and increase market share.

(HINT: Why not try product or customer experience innovation?)

And being cheaper is a predicament you don't want to be in if you don't have to. That is unless your business model enables you to produce your offerings much less expensively than your competitors.  Or you're selling to government agencies or large corporations who are explicitly looking for the lowest responsible bidder. But even then, you owe it to both yourself and your customer to make your service, solution, or product stand out from the herd.  After all, there's a way bigger upside to having offerings that are better and that help customers achieve a better and more valuable result.

So as you begin the week ahead, take a few moments to think about whether or not your company or organization is just as good as its competitors or if you really are better in ways that matter to those you serve.


We win in business and in life when we challenge ourselves to be the best at something that really matters.  And when we believe that being "just as good" is never good enough.