zakaj mladina misli da je luka mesec najslabsa mozna izbira?

March 2nd, 2015 § Comments Off § permalink

“the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.”

mladina je pred nekaj tedni objavila cudovito predstavitev najvecjega presenecenja zadnjih volitev, in po pricakovanjih javnosti naslednjega kandidata za odresitelja druzbe. z zanimanjem sem ga prebral, ce drugega ne se povsem strinjam da moramo nehat volit ljudi ki ne zmorejo vec energije da bi bili karizmaticni. t.i. ‘mladi’ ki to niso so vsekakor boljsa izbira, ker delajo za (svojo) prihodnost.

kakorkoli, zelo zelo naklonjen portret se je zakljucil z odstavkom, ki me je izrazito negativno presenetil:

“Luka Mesec je vodja poslanske skupine Združena levica. Živi v Novih Jaršah v enosobnem, podnajemniškem stanovanju. Ko je bil mlad, ni rad hodil po domačih hribih v okolici Železnikov, recimo na Ratitovec, zdaj je drugače, ukvarja se s tekom. Pred dvema letoma je vpisal magistrski študij ekonomije. Rad gleda televizijske serije, Hišo iz kart in Borgijce. Vozi osem let star fiat stilo.”

se pravi da najboljsi kandidat mora biti izjemno skromen, ker to je druga plat postenja? ne vem no, meni se zdi da iz navedenega sledijo samo sledece moznosti:

  1. ali ni se nikoli nic konkretnega probal narest, kar zares tudi potrjuje potret, ki poudarja le teoreticni studij in aktivizem,
  2. ali je povsem nesposoben in mu ni se nic ratalo narest dovolj dobro, da bi resil svoj stanovanjski problem,
  3. ali pa zeli pokazat da nihce od nas ne bi smel met stanovanja ali novega avta, kar  je cisto ok, ceprav nepricakovana izbira glede na to da v sloveniji 90% stanovanj lastniskih, in povprecna starost avta 2 leti.
  4. mogoce pac ni imel te srece, da bi mu starsi lahko kupili stanovaje in obenem mu avto nic ne pomeni in investira v kaj drugega. super, ampak zakaj potem ni to punchline clanka?

zdi se mi da so pri mladini luki naredili bolj medvedjo uslugo s tem portretom.

we need more unemployed people

February 19th, 2015 § Comments Off § permalink

“the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.”

Custard-filled doughnut served by Il Fornaio, ...

Custard-filled doughnut served by Il Fornaio, St Kilda, Victoria, Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

there was the carnival this week on tuesday. there are two things slovenians do for the carnival: we walk around in costumes, and we eat doughnuts.

not everyone wears costumes of course, but everyone does eat doughnuts. even people who never eat them normally have one for the carnival.

now imagine walking into a bakery in the centre of the capital at 750 in the morning which advertises it sells doughnuts on the street already:

  • you: “can i have 3 doughnuts please?”
  • them: “no”
  • you: “???”
  • them: “someone bought all 60 of them”

let me restate some facts before continuing:

  • it’s the carnival, everyone will eat a doughnut
  • it’s the city centre, probably 20.000 people live and work in the immediate vicinity of this bakery
  • it’s the oldest and largest bakery company in the country, it’s a public company employing 1000 people
  • it’s not the first time they were out of stock on that location
  • they are selling doughnuts for 50 cents these days

so what’s wrong in this picture:

  • they are obviously poor at capacity planning. 60 doughnuts in the most crowded part of the country for the whole morning? even if they received some more later in the day it doesn’t really make business sense to miss the window of people going to work
  • the seller when she ran out of doughnuts did not care about the customer expectations at all. she didn’t write ‘sold out’ on the banners outside the store, she didn’t feel sorry at all, she didn’t appear to be yelling at someone ‘in the central’ to send more.

she just said no.

a goddam computer wouldn’t say no in that situation.

not doing those actions is essentially the same as stealing from the company she works for. biting the hand that feeds her. she just doesn’t care if her employer is doing a good or bad job, if it’s making or loosing money, if it’s growing or reducing staff. she probably believes these things have nothing to do with how she works and are all “up to the management”, that same management that proverbially steals from the company as well.

and there’s thousands, tens of thousands of people like that in the services sector. you meet them everywhere.

and in the meantime, there is 125.000 people unemployed in Slovenia.

But she should get fired, her manager should get fired and his boss as well. Each of them for a different type of negligence.

Bah. All i wanted was a doughnut.

should we finance all good ideas?

February 16th, 2015 § Comments Off § permalink

It seems that Slovenian society doesn’t have an agreement as to what projects should be publicly funded, so there is always pressure for more and more public financing of ‘useful’ projects, while the deficit is growing.

let’s look at the utopian approach first, let’s count how much money should the government disseminate to satisfy everything that the society produces. let’s break it down:

  • we have 2M population.
  • let’s assume that even retired and some underaged people can still participate in projects,
  • let’s assume that importing foreigners is also an option which will compensate for the ones that couldnt participate.
  • let’s also assume, that 10% of the population is capable of coming up with ideas and leading them, and that
  • average size of an ideal project is 10 members.

This means that we will have 200k active projects, which will need capital to pay for 10 member’s living expenses, and the projects’ material and program expenses. let’s say this cost structure is something like:

  • decent salary – $50k per person annually (average across the population)
  • decent baseline annual project budget is $1M (keep in mind, that this now has to include everything that public sector is already covering – from schools and hospitals to EU projects contributions and everything in between)

this means, that if the country wanted to pay for everything, the budget would have to be:

  • 2M people * $50k = $100 billion
  • 200k projects * $1M = $200 billion
  • so total budget would be $300 billion, and average project’s budget would be $1.5M

Slovenian budget is $10 billion, and the total GDP of the country is $50 billion. So this obviously won’t work.

Every time some new project expects public funding, it implicitly expects that if everyone did the same, the society would require $300 billion to function. Every time a new project is publicly demanding public funding, they are broadcasting this expectation into the general public. Every time a new project succeeds with this pressure, it sends the message that the society can afford $300 billion worth of public funding.

I believe it is crucial we form a broad agreement about what to do with this gap between ‘implied expectations’ and reality. We’ll look into that next time.

Updated Breakdown of Slovenian Budget

January 18th, 2015 § Comments Off § permalink

Years ago I did an exercise in reading and presenting a dataset as complex as a national budget. Back in 2012, this included learning a lot, as well as a lot of arm-wrestling with strange PDF’s.

Right after that, our government started publishing the budget in machine-readable formats, so now I could update the page with three more years of data in an hour. Yay for open data!

So anyways, the 2015 Slovenian budget is available in human-readable form, thanks to machine-readable export of accountants-readable original.

It’s still ugly, so take it as a mockup, and send me your ideas for how you wish the budget would be presented.

adria airways

December 4th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

Adria Airways Airbus A320-231 at FRA

Adria Airways Airbus A320-231 at FRA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.”

i had to defend adria’s airplanes again. this happens a lot, against people who find the embraers ‘crap’, not fancy enough, obsolete, not real airplanes. i totally dissagree and tell them everytime that regional planes in USA are far worse, and that i find adrias’ planes cute. that usually shuts their mouths.

there is however a different list of complaints i have after using adria service for several years now. i had to write them up eventually as they don’t go away by themselves…

  • i’ve heard of stories of planes fully boarded, waiting for an hour and a half for the last two checked-in passangers to arrive, before taking off. never happened to anyone i know though. what did happen repeatedly, to me, my investors and friends, was that we were checked into a connection, inbound flight had small delay, adria took off without us, leaving us behind to spend a night in a foreign boring place at their expense. in my mind this positions adria as a service that doesn’t care about me at all, and kills any chance of customer loyalty they might gain in any other way.
  • hand luggage on small planes is an issue, i get that. giving passangers a chance to take hand luggage to the gates, stash it in luggage section, then give it back as they disembark, seems like a reasonable hack to improve service. but, i find it completely insane, to let the whole plane full of people wait in front of open doors of freshly landed plane, while waiting for the handful of hand-luggage is unloaded and prepared for those few who had to give it up. whatever insane regulations require them to keep everyone in the plane, rather than let everyone out while the few wait on their stuff, should have been oposed and overturned by airliners such as adria.
  • i book all my tickets trough a travel agency. yet, somehow, adria got hold of my email and started sending me spam disguised as flight notifications. i didn’t even bother clarifying it, but it sounds like data theft to me.
  • however, even though they clearly have my email and phone numbers, they are not using that for emergency communication. like for instance right now, when my evening flight home from munich was first delayed twice for technical issues, then at midnight rescheduled for midday next day, then delayed again for technical issues, until it was ultimately canceled 22 hours after original scheduled time, and each time we received only scarce information available to the airport staff, that we should wait another hour. and another. and another. i understand it’s hard to coordinate all the parties in such cases, but i’d expect the airliner to at least try to communicate with us what they know.

… i fly enough to know that adria is no worse than any other airline really. but being a small company in a small country sounds like it might be an opportunity to be better, if only they tried harder.

oh, and in case someone relevant reads this – if there is any way i can help, i will.

sizing slovenian markets, everything is 10M potential

December 1st, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

lots of entrepreneurs in slovenia want to work with slovenian market first. nothing wrong with that, as long as you do your homework. marketing and go-to-market in slovenia must be very different than it would be in a larger society.

most important excersise of the go-to-market is always the sizing. and sizing a small market is particularly tricky – usually at least one of the important numbers is large enough to give you some slack, but in slovenia you must be careful.

i use a rule of thumb to quickly asses two variables:

  1. number of potential customers that would be interested in the given product / service; based on how many people are receptive of the problem the product / service is solving
  2. appropriate / expected pricing of the product / service, which is essentially what the disposable income of the population is – how much can your target customers spend without causing themselves existential threat

in slovenia, i believe that we have rule of tens.

for luxury items, this means:

  • 1000 people can afford to spend 10.000 eur
  • 100 people can spend 100.000 eur
  • 10 people can spend 1M eur

and for everyone else:

  • 10.000 people can spend 1.000 eur
  • 100.000 people can spend 100 eur
  • 1M people can spend 10 eur

so you have to know your potential appeal with the product, and then cross check with the pricing you had in mind, to see if your customers can afford it at all.

then you take those targets, and start devising detailed operational plan of activities that will get your product / service in front of those exact 10/100/1000/10.000/100.000/1M people.

and then you can come raise funds to execute the plan. ;)

sushi spotting

November 27th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

“the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.”

how awesome, we have sushi truck in slovenia!

every wednesday it goes from maribor to piran and dispaches sushi that customers have ordered a day in advance.
great idea, poor execution imho. let me explain why:

  • slovenia is a mediterranean country. fresh fish comes from piran, and i don’t accept any excuse not to switch the direction of the truck. sorry.
  • customers have to remember to order a day before, and i’ve heard many friends complain on wednesday at lunch time that they again forgot to do that. one of them exclaimed: “i’d pay them more if they just reminded me on tuesday!”
  • people working in creative industries in ljubljana traditionally go for hodok on wednesdays. nothing you can do here :)

i think it’s great that they started doing this, but in a normal market economy, these points would be huge weaknesses that would immediatelly create competition that would try to leverage doing it right, through better product and better marketing.

in slovenia however, we have 200k unemployed who can’t be bothered to think about such everyday details.

job creation

November 24th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

“the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.”

under our office is a parking lot. or better put, it is a long and narrow courtyard, used to park cars in two rows. it’s great, because it reduces costs for some of our colleagues who drive to work, and makes it easier for the visitors to find us.

however, it has a downside – since cars and in two long rows of five cars, inevitably everyone who parks here has to get up several times per day to move their car because the car before them need to get out. annoying, but doesn’t surprise anyone.
i believe there are three lessons to be learned here:

  1. we, the company, should have hired someone as a valley, to move those cars around. the valley could even park more cars in empty lots around the office, not just on the courtyard, because she would have all day to optimize the positions. maybe that valley could even do other useful things, like change lightbulbs (which is currently often needed and done by the COO) and such. we, the company, are behaving pretty idiotic not to that, but unfortunately the employees are not in favor of the idea either – slovenians are not used to trusting the keys of the car to a stranger. so i pick my battles and not create a possible job.
  2. but! if we were in america, we’d have someone knocking on our door every day, offering their vallet services, convincing us that they should get this job. and maybe we would give it a try and give them the job for a while! and maybe this person would then be encouraged and go find more lots like this, and hire more of their unemployed friends jobs. maybe they would even scale up into a services company for flexible workforce. who knows, but the point is, that of all 200k unemployed in slovenia, i have never ever heard of a case of creative job hunt. it takes two to tango.
  3. however, the real truth is, that quite possibly legislation forbids us from creating such a job position. quite sure there is regulation about work safety, property insurance, outdoor work conditions, flexible work schedules, that we would need to plow through before even doing an experiment. in this country, it’s simply easier to not create jobs.

in slovenia however, we have 200k unemployed and 200k public servants who can’t be bothered to think about such everyday details.

the clash of generations

November 17th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

“the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.”

i work with a lot of startups and startup organizations in slovenia and abroad. not long ago, a group of entrepreneurs even visited the president, who wants to help.
we were a diverse group, and first surprise was, that each of us had completelly different set of operational challenges that made it hard for him to develop their startup in slovenia and thus create more jobs.

  • some were having hard time raising funding from foreign investors because our legislation is exotic, continental, written in slovene, not simple for business and because not a single global law firm has presence in slovenia.
  • some where having hard time getting bank loans, not because their business plan would be shady, but for procedural reasons like not having 3 or 5 years of balance sheets to provide – because the startup is younger than that of course
  • some weren’t receiving responses from government institutions responsible for their fields when they asked for clarifications on legislation, increasing the risks of operating the business
  • most are having problems employing foreign high-skilled workers, because getting the visa is lengthy, because immigration office doesn’t speak anything but slovene, and because work taxes are so high, that workers receive less net salary than anywhere else in europe
  • some struggle because they want to issue stock options to employees, a concept that doesn’t exist in our system and thus requires a lot of improvisation, and where tax implications are not clear at all
  • some serial entrepreneurs complain that the capital they made in the past and paid capital gains tax for, should they reinvest it into new business, that will create new jobs, will get taxed again. and again. and again.

this is an example list of ‘small’ issues that we identified, and while it looks huge and diverse set of problems, everything boils down to two fundamental facts:

  1. previous generation and it’s institutions, that are currently leading the society, do not understand specifics and differences of our generation’s institutions. all those problems are essentially simple misunderstandings, that would improve if we talked more about them.
  2. but we don’t need them to understand, it’s easier to just move away. young ambitious person in a globalized world can choose from hundreds of work environments with different characteristics, and all these ecosystems are essentially on the market for talented entrepreneurs to come and make societies better. Slovenia doesn’t act as if it’s in the market for young people.

these two facts combined result in unprecedented void between the leading and the coming, which has no rational reason to cure. it’s unprecedented, because only now the borders are gone and people and businesses are more free to move around then every. young people have no rational reason to stick around in an environment that calls them “the lost generation”, their energy is more efficiently spent elsewhere.

new york is a fabulous example of government that extended their hand and proactively works with new generations to form policies to make new york better for them. and when i say proactively, i mean all the f**ing time. one month after i moved to new york five years ago, i received a call from the NYCEDC, asking when could their head visit me for a chat on my experience with establishing the business there and how they can help. i told him many things, including that for a european the streets feel dirty. the director of a public agency was performing a on-the-site customer interview, not because i am so important, but because that’s what he does – he knows the people who will shape the future of the city better than anyone else.

in slovenia however, we have 200k public servants who can’t be bothered to think about such everyday details. and we have 20k people who left because they weren’t heard when it was time.

general disclaimer

November 10th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

i noticed that i often get ideas to write on this blog, but after thinking about them i realize that they might be misrepresented and thus decide not to write them. i’d hate it if this blog was the reason for any particular person or company to be misunderstood and damaged, but at the same time, i feel that each not published thought is lost opportunity for me and for the readers. so i’ve decided to write up a general disclaimer, that will be part of every provocative blog posts i publish in the future. i hope it will manage to frame my context well enough, to prevent readers from jumping to conclusions and judgements. here is the wording i’m thinking about, and i would very much welcome any improvements or feedback.

the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.

i hope this will relieve me from worrying too much, and to start writing more aggressive and controversial pieces, that will stir the conversations more. not because i would want to convince anyone of my points, but because i feel that not enough people are contributing to public debates, which gives unfair advantage to media and politicians and trolls. so bear with me, specially when you disagree.

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