A combination of a few things put me out of blogging action for a while:
1. I've gotten lazy.
2. I was catching up on anime I haven't seen. Anime freaks out there should go catch Kanon and Death Note (the anime, not the movie, though I've heard good things about the movie too).
3. I started re-playing this very long-winded turn-based time-consuming ego-feeding empire-building game which took too much time (because I had too much of it currently). It distracted me from one true purpose of having this laptop (which is to blog with)
4. I was on holiday... with my ex... it was really fun hanging out with someone you know well, but you may never know people well enough (I've come to realise that people can change - someone you think you know now won't be the same person you know later). That makes life interesting, but I'm not looking for interesting experiences nowadays. I just want a life. Period. (punctuation notwithstanding)
5. I was suffering from a writer's block of sorts - there were things I wanted to blog about, but I couldn't put them into words.
There was an idea to talk about one oft-cited topic: Love. Or rather the reasons for love. I think that love is based on a primal urge to procreate, and as human beings, we are driven to find love because we want to have sex and to reproduce (from a biological point of view, of course). It just gets complicated that we develop feelings along the way: stupid things going by names such as jealousy, hatred, ecstasy - you know them well.
But then, I thought about the fact that too many people have expounded on this topic already, and what can I add to the people who actually read my blog? (I think my regular readers have reached a number that I can count with both my hands!).
So I shan't discuss love - I don't have it now, and I certainly am hungry for it, though I'm beginning to think it is a function of a biological urge.
There is this post that I wanted to do regarding Singapore Airlines though - I even took notes while the incident was playing out. I was flying out of Changi Airport (Singapore) to Bangkok on an SQ flight (my first in years) and a situation occurred which prevented me from boarding the plane for a long while.
It started with me queueing to check in at Terminal 2's Row 7 check in counter. The first irritating thing is that there is actually a very long queue: it was a rope-lashed snake with 4 bends, which meant one having to navigate an airport push trolley onto people's ankles at least 4 times. One snaky queue feeding something like 12 counters (or positions depending on whose choice of words you chose), of which some were available and some were intermittently closed. I soon found out why there were positions that had to be 'intermittently' closed.
There was actually a lady, not in the usual SIA counter staff garb (the one counter staff wear with the distinctive SQ kebaya pattern for a top and a schoolgirl skirt), standing at the head of the queue directing people to the various counters. She looked authoritative, and she even 'selected' people to skip ahead to the front of the queue, depending on how late they are for their flights. There seemed to be a bias - she seems to move Caucasians ahead of the pack more often than not, but I was probably just being too sensitive. Maybe these ang-mohs just have a thing for checking in late.
Anyhow, this was the situation 2 hours prior to my flight. And I finally got to the counter to check in. I presented my passport, the girl tapped away on the keyboard. I was kept there for something like 5 minutes before being told that a situation had arisen where I might not get a seat on the flight.
Time-out... Now, typically, I think the usual SIA customer will be outraged and suitably angry at this point. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CANNOT PUT ME ON THAT FLIGHT?" might be something I have uttered in utter desperation. With my Outraged Customer Hat on, I might have made a scene or a huge fuss out of the fact that I come 2 hours early to find myself not checked onto the flight. Not impossible yah?
But I am not a usual SIA customer: this is my first SIA flight since I was 10. So I put my
Operations Consultant Hat on instead and decided to find out why she said that.
The reason, oddly enough, actually made sense operationally. SIA is an airline that connects people via Changi airport between people flying out of Europe and Australia going to destinations in Asia (and vice versa, though it was the former case for this situation). A flight out of Sydney coming into Singapore was delayed, and a bunch of the passengers on this particular flight missed their connection in Singapore to other destinations in South-East Asia like Bangkok, Manila and Hanoi.
Knowing that these people are going to miss their scheduled connections, the system did the next best thing it could for them: it put them on the next available SQ flight out to these destinations. One of these next best flight happened to be SQ62 to Bangkok: my flight. All this probably happened even before I showed up at the airport. It made sense then and there to secure the next flight out for these folks, but obviously some things have not been well thought through.
For one thing, the flight was already overbooked - this is a typical airline practice: there is some complicated system to actually calculate yield rates and airlines know that they can overbook an aircraft because there will be cancellations. However, I was flying out on a Hari Raya-Deepavali holiday weekend, which probably screw things up a bit because complex booking algorithms can seldom account for irratic holiday weekend travel patterns.
So while pushing delayed passengers on subseqeunt connecting flights made sound business sense, the fact that the flight was OVERBOOKED, and that it was a HOLIDAY WEEKEND meant that there WILL be people actually boarding that flight in Singapore and one cannot discount that they WILL want to get on the flight.
But... Singapore Airlines, well-known for providing the BEST service to customers put their delayed customers on the next flight out nonetheless. So what was the effect of this happening?
You should have seen the scene at Changi Airport Terminal 2 Check in counter Row 7. Customers were told they needed to wait while the front counter staff scramble to get them seats. My bag was checked in: my bag could actually get on the flight while I had to wait for my turn. I sat on the seats next to the check in row, observing other passengers suffering the same fate. Irate ang-mohs are a sight to behold: this lady was frustrated, furious and screaming at one of the supervisors. Quite understandable: this is Singapore Airlines you're talking about, and what level of service is it that you cannot check in someone who's arrived two hours early?
In providing the best possible service for the folks boarding a delayed flight in Sydney, it has made it impossible for the folks boarding a confirmed flight in Singapore. Pretty well thought out for a world class airline, I must say.
Now, let me assume the Front Counter Staff Hat and see the real victim in all of this. I make no bones about the fact that the real victim isn't myself, the customer. The real victim is the Front Counter girl and mine is named Elline (I never found out her last name). It's a good thing I have had an opportunity to work behind a counter myself (A&E, NUH, something from my previous life as an IT consultant) and I understood what she was going through - I think I was the most reasonable customer for her all of that busy morning.
Often, the Front Counter Staff (FCS) have to handle things on two fronts, both of which are beyond her control in the first place. There is the irate customer on the one hand: the FCS has to deal with frustration, irritation and emotions which are generally beyond their level of comprehension. People hate to wait, and having reached the front of a queue, people hate to be told that they have waited for nothing. The FCS needs to be gentle, reassuring and understanding all at a time when they might be screamed at, shouted at and verbally abused. A crying FCS is a typical sight when things in the backroom get out of hand.
And this is where the FCS faces the biggest ordeal: things happen in the backroom which are beyond her control, and which she might have an inkling of an idea about. The FCS is tasked to provide the best possible service and her KPI is measured based on that - customer waiting time, turnaround time, service etc. But her KPI is affected by backroom events such as the one I have mentioned above.
So, the FCS can try to explain the situation to the irate customer, and at best hope that the customer will understand. It is a tough job with a frequently high turnover, but you do develop a thick hide after facing the worst of them. Elline, my SIA FCS of Row 7, was kind enough to explain the situation, checked in my bag, got me to wait patiently while she put up the sign that said 'Position Closed'. She then ran back and forth between some unknown backroom location and the front counter, all in the name of getting me on that flight.
Me? I was thinking a few things while making notes about the ordeal (I was too free, no book to read, no laptop to punch away on). Firstly, I should have just used SIA's Internet Check-in: much easier, no hassle, and my bag can be carried on. Alternatively, I should have gone in as baggage: bags can get on the flight, passengers cannot. It is SIA, I kept repeating to myself, and it has the best service. Yup, to the irate ang mohs it sure does, since their tempers are well on display. I can still picture this supervisor saying "Sorry... sorry" over and over again to customers who complained.
But I guess there are miracles. Half an hour before the plane was to fly, Elline got me onto the flight. But well, it was the last available seat on the plane - all the way at the back, no choice of aisle or window (I got aisle), near the area where the stewardesses prepare the food. I thanked her, asked her for her name - this is so that I can write this post with a name in mind. The FCS are not nameless assistants to your customer experience: they are also human beings.
I ran, boarded and enjoyed the rest of my trip to Bangkok. But I don't think SIA is that good anymore: Does it make sense that providing good service meant bumping up delayed passengers onto a connecting flight, at the expense of kicking off full-paying passengers who are booked on that flight? I'm tempted to assume my CEO of SIA Hat but I think not: its enough that I blogged about it - if they offer me a job, I think I might even try to help think through strategic imperatives to DEAL with it.
They need some serious re-thinking there... Singapore Airlines.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
A combination of a few things put me out of blogging action for a while:
Friday, October 20, 2006
Where: Dubai Airport
What?: Yup. It is like the busiest airport in the Middle East and it shows. Haggard transits lounge around the coffee joint where I'm enjoying the free wifi and (finally) a real iced mocha blended that the French hiss their disapproval at.
Whatcha doing there?: I'm transitting. I hate airports and crowds.
Again?: Ok, I'm leaving France and on my way home. Sorry I didn't write about it.
You're forgiven. Now where are you going?: That's a no brainer. I'm going home to Singapore where my heart is.
Why?: Coz I'm finishing up INSEAD over there, and see more of my parents before I start on my next big adventure.
Which is?: a secret... Ok, I don't really know yet, but I hope it'll be in China. Shanghai specifically.
Good luck to you: Thanks.
Anything else to share?: Yup. I never said this out, but there was also the matter of a death in the family. My grandmother passed away like... 2 weeks back. I've not blogged about it because I think it kinds of give away my identity and stuff (there's another thing I want to blog about... but I'll keep that for later).
Sorry to hear that: I hear that a lot. Thanks anyhow.
Miss her?: Kinda. See, I also want to be home for my family because of that. Like, you never know when you'll see them again, right?
Ditto: Yup. Batt's running low. Next time!
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Short one. I resolved not to rant and rave in the new year. Ranting and Raving is the easier way to blog stuff, but with so many bloggers doing that on a daily basis, the verbal diarrhoea has to end sometime.
Of course, that is for the new year. Until then, I shall R&R until I can clear my system of the frustration within.
Just had a chat with the landlady, and like always, there's her screaming at me, and me screaming at her, and then us having a decent conversation about the state of the house, and her worries, and her latin blood, and her bloody problems with tenants like me, and the bank. Endless woes being a landlady: and I thought it was all about collecting the money and sitting in the sun with a pina colada (not much sun in Fall, so I guess that explains the gloomy mood).
Landladies are a breed all of their own. But I still maintain this: don't do business with her!
I figured that a sufficiently oblique post title will wing it, but on re-reading the above, I don't think it'll make any sense to anyone at all besides myself.
Yes, I'm beside myself with envy and jealousy. These are feelings I hate to have, especially when they're also tinged with a little wrath and lust. The potent combination of all of the above leaves me feeling like shit, which, in some sense of the word, is what I am like right now: feeling a little too shitty.
I guess it started with the McDing (borrowed the phrase from a housemate). Kick ass consulting firm McKinsey has decided that its venerated institution cannot house a degenerate like me. Unfortunately, they also couldn't muster the proper interviewers either: my first interviewer looked more like he came from the set of Lord of the Rings where he played one of the orcs. The questions were fast and furious, and I kept getting interrupted. I suppose that's part of the stress interview bit about it, but I don't appreciate being treated like an idiot (two beady little eyes staring out at me isn't making me like him... and how is he expected to like me when I don't like him? Wrong vibes sent bothways kill any rapport that I was trying to build). The result: dinged.
So began my descent into shithood. It got worse when my landlady decided that she is an amnesiac, and now thinks that a conversation that we have had did not happen, and thereby thinks she is entitled to return my deposit to me when I leave. I explicitly stated to our dear Mrs G.U. that we had an agreement (she even sent me an email as confirmation) that she will pay me, in cash, on certain stated dates way before I leave, the full deposit amount. Mrs G.U. has conveniently decided that my email never happened, and her mode of dealing with problems is to pretend that emails I sent her were never received (especially if they were complaints or demands for deposits to be returned).
So... and here I do something that I shall look back as my one big vengeful act even if it probably wouldn't have much of an impact...
Future students of INSEAD coming to Fontainebleau: Avoid any dealings with the likes of ACM Meuble, the so-called company of our very dear Mrs G.U. (who I shan't name because I don't like to be sued, in France or anywhere else). She is inconsistent in her rent demands. She likes to create artificial charges for certain things and do not show you the bills for them. She thinks that rent can be raised and lowered as and when she feels like it. She maintains horrible accounts. She will bug you to pay for broken utensils or crockery that isn't your fault. She is the bitchy empress of the sleepy little village of VLS.
Oooh. I feel better already.
And as if the shitty times aren't over, I suddenly feel left out from parties and dinners. I think it is a function of a few factors: one, I'm not popular enough; two, I'm not social enough (well, can't help it, my nature); three, I'm not a girl (average looking girls also get invited to dinners, shucks). Getting left out isn't so bad, but when getting left out meant being driven home to sulk while your housemate heads out afterwards to all the cool social gigs make it suck. Yes, getting left out = jealousy + envy and the somewhat sick feeling that getting invited meant everything (socially).
Haha... a case of sour grapes, of course. I'm a sucker for feeling bad about myself, and given the right conditions (3 in fact), I just can't help but start feeling sorry about myself.
Eventually, these things don't matter, but it kind of rankles whenever feelings of this sort bubbles to the surface. It's not possible to prevent oneself from feeling it. Hopefully, other things and events in the long run will smooth out the short term ill feelings that nestle within oneself.
After all, I am myself: my definition of my self-worth isn't in the number of invitations I got.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
... and right after typing in the title, I started having dirty thoughts about 'bird in hand' and 'in the bush'. Ack... my state of mind these days.
So anyhow, the topic of the day (as is the topic of anyday with some of the serious-minded-career types at INSEAD) is about the job search. The economics behind the job search plays out like the proverbial 'bird in hand' (give me a moment while I stifle the urge to think masturbatory thoughts):
1. You send out job applications by the truckloads.
2. Actually, this is step 0, but I'm lazy. You think about 3 factors when considering the jobs you apply for and use these like filters: Geography, Function, Category. With Geography (not the O-level subject you're thinking) you consider whether or not you want to work in a familiar environment, or somewhere exotic and new. Like Europe. Or London, which, apparently to some, is NOT Europe.
Then you think about the Category (my choice of word for this): do you want to work in Finance and Banking and not have a life? Or do you want to work in Consulting and not have a life? Or do you want to work in industry and curse the other guys for taking the better paying jobs? Tough questions to answer indeed.
Of course, there is Function to consider: which area of work? HR? Sales? Line Management (as opposed to managing dots which are 'infinite')?
Career Services advise that you don't change more than 2 of the above 3 dimensions with your career switch. I think that's bollocks: you should challenge yourself to do all 3 and leave me with the competitive advantage. :)
3. So, after sending out the applications, you sit, wait and twiddle thumbs. Very soon, one of two things happen:
a) you get an email or phone call telling you to come for an interview. Hooray!
b) you get an email (never a phone call at this stage, mind you) telling you politely to f*** off. A 'ding'. Here's an example of a ding I got (name of company removed to protect myself from potentially harmful repercussions):
Dear Greyscalefuzz,That one's from an industry company. Here's one from a management consultancy:
Thank you very much for your interest in MyKickAssCompany.
Following careful consideration of your CV, we regret that we are unable to identify roles that would be a good fit between your skills and our needs at the current time. If you have no objections, we will like to retain your resume in our database, and get in touch with you should there be other opportunities in the future.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish you success in your MBA studies and all the best for your future endeavours.
Dear Greyscalefuzz,This one is a personal fave for the sheer pomposity of it:
Thank you for your interest in Talkalot Consulting Company.
Our worldwide recruiting committees have reviewed the information you sent us. We are impressed with your excellent track record and your demonstrated abilities. However, as we regularly receive a large number of applications, we are forced to make decisions on candidates based on written applications.
We regret that we cannot offer you a personal interview at this time.
We do appreciate your interest in TCC and wish you every success in finding a rewarding and challenging position.
Dear Mr Greyscalefuzz,
Thank you very much for sending MyConsultingCompany your curriculum vitae. We have reviewed it with interest, and it is clear that you have achieved significant academic performance and professional experience.
The standard of all the applicants from INSEAD and other top international MBA programs this year has been extraordinarily high, and we have been forced to apply a very severe set of criteria.
I regret to have to inform you that, despite your high level of achievement, we have decided not to proceed at this stage with the recruiting process.
We would like to suggest that you keep us informed of your professional moves, so that we may discuss further potential opportunities of working together at a future date.
We would like to thank you for your interest in MyConsultingCompany, and to wish you the very best for the remainder of your time at INSEAD, and for your career choices.
4. At this stage, I'm going to briefly summarise what happens: you go interview for the first round, sit and wait some more, then step 3 repeats itself (i.e. 'hooray' or 'ding'). Then there's 2nd round, and any number of stupid rounds these recruiters would like to have. At the end of it all, you either end up with a job, or you do not.
And here I go into complain mode once again: say you have a job already (bird in hand, snigger snigger), and you think to yourself 'Hmm, I like this job very much, but I kind of want to know what else there is out there that I can grab'. So you send out more job apps, keep your holing recruiter fan waiting, and, because of your stellar CV manage to get more job interviews. And you ace them. And you then end up with two fistfuls of job offers.
Then what? What's the point of feeding your ego that way? Come on: there are guys out there with mouths to feed (ok, I exaggerate), but you DON'T need to apply and reap that many. You can do with what you REALLY want, and isn't that a lot more satisfying for you? And can you actually face the fact that you're depriving both the company, and another considered applicant, a position through your own selfish actions?
Ah, my rants and raves. So there: the bird in hand is definitely nice. Those two in the bush are good too, and of course you should go for them if they are the right kind (and the bird in your hand isn't). But be a content person - too many birds can only mean too much bird shit, and shit in your face is bad for the skin.
Monday, October 02, 2006
This is strange: I'm supposed to be really busy this period, but I've actually found time to blog more.
Earlier this year, it felt like a good week when I managed to write something, anything, at all. Then when it took two weeks, I didn't feel bad either, because I was genuinely tied up and I actually gave more thought to what I wrote.
This time around though, I'm not thinking that much anymore: I just wrote what I felt and whenever I felt like it. Reading some of that output though hasn't been satisfying: I think I thought I have been thinking less. In fact, I think I've been plagiarising a whole lot more.
And that's what I think I want to talk about: My Plagiarism.
Most written work are derivative in nature: they originated out of one source or another. For example, you will find that most themes have their roots in the Bible, whether intentional or not. Brother kills brother? Read Genesis for the story of Caine and Abel. Small guy beats the odds and thrashes big guy? David and Goliath. There is little in terms of thematic structure or plot that hasn't been written about before.
As an aside, I once wrote sometime back about how it was viewed that all stories take one of two forms. To reiterate, the two forms are: "A man goes on a journey" and "A stranger rides into town". It is too much of a stretch of generalisation to apply such a cookie cutter approach to stories. Using the idea of themes instead of plotlines (which is what man-journey and stranger-town fall into) should be the better way to go.
So why am I coming to this topic then? See, I'm beginning to see that this blog lacks a solid thematic structure: it is trying to be everything and nothing at the same time. I thought giving it the name of greyscalefuzz (used to use that nick in IRC chats I think) was appropriate: generally, it was kind of grey and fuzzy what I thought I wanted to blog about.
The theme? To call it a log of my personal thoughts and happenings seem to fall short in describing it. It's not really about my personal thoughts: it is sometimes about the thoughts of others, and my interpretation of something else I've read or heard or seen. It's rarely my idea or my thought - hence the derivation-driven quality of it.
And it certainly doesn't record much of what's happening (though, of late, I seem to be dumping some of the frustration I've felt at school). I don't meticulously bore people or myself with what's happening in my life. If you really want to know, I woke up this morning, feeling hungover without having drunk anything, brushed my teeth, spent my morning with Ron walking through the flea market, etc etc. Oh yes, come to think of it, if I wrote about Ron's life though, it DEFINITELY will be an interesting blog, but alas, I can't live his life (as he so succintly reminds me everytime, I haven't quite sufficiently screwed myself up enough).
So... the theme again? How about calling it a photoblog? Somehow that doesn't work either. I don't take photos often enough. And I only really start snapping when I'm on little trips overseas, either by myself or with others, but I tended to be more prolific whenever I went on trips by myself. I like some of the photos I've taken, but silly Shutterstock kept rejecting my batch submissions. See, you have to send in 10 photos, and have at least 7 of acceptable quality. Everytime I submitted (twice), only 6 passed their selection criteria. There were even photos which passed through the first time, but not the second (and here I wonder why). So alas, my photos aren't quite stock-photo quality, and I can't call this a photoblog much (not enough photos, no camwhore here I'm afraid).
Food blog? Forget about it. I'm the last thing to being a foodie: I just eat what's on the table. There are four words in my food vocabulary and they are Sour, Sweet, Bitter and Spicy. For one thing, I think Ms X has given up on educating me about the intricacies of French food and the fine dining experience. Food in front of me, I eat. Only care that it is something I've eaten before and it doesn't smell too strongly of garlic. Menu in French? Ok, point here, give me that (of course it helps when I can recognise words like Oeuf, Pomme de Terre, Poisson etc). Oh, okay French-idiots, it's Egg, Potato and Fish respectively.
How about theming this a blog expounding on political ideals and ambitions? Denounce Lee Kwan Yew! Singapore's an autocratic country! Enlightened Despot! Benign Dictatorship! The PAP sucks and all that crap!
Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha.
I'm just not interested I suppose. I think its fine and all to discuss politics, especially in the arena of the blogging world, given the freedom of expression. But I sometimes don't really care: this little island will take its time to change, and no blogger or other person for that fact can complain enough, write childish Today articles enough, denounce the government from unheard-of American universities enough, hold ineffective demonstrations enough, and a whole lot of other enoughs to accelerate the pace of change in Singapore. It just takes time, and you can already see that it will get there. So patience: the course of politics is not for you or me to alter.
Ah, I digress again. Ok, let's call this the 'Ah, But I Digress...' blog. Shit, doesn't that make a cool name for a blog? Oh, and speaking of names, have I told you about how I came to call this blog 'Greyscalefuzz'? I've not? Must have been busy, and sure as hell, this week was really loaded: I had to send another ton of applications, sift through my dings, go to Markstrat classes...
Yup. I can definitely do that with my blog: Digress. But that's as good as saying that I cannot focus on this blog, and to no small extent, that is very true. I don't focus.
And I think that's why I have friends who read this: they find something they like somehow.
Focus. I once dated someone who wrote a little poem to the Straits Times about concentrating and focusing. The thing is, we didn't go out for very long: in fact, it was more like 2-3 dates and then I never saw her again. Some things just didn't feel right about it, and I was distracted with things at my university at that time.
So it was with some surprise when I read the little poem in the Straits Times and I remembered her. I didn't try to get in touch, nor made any attempt to find out how to.
I think there are people in life that you just lose touch with, and when given the chance to, you don't quite bother to make the effort to catch up. For, after all, what can you say that is going to make any difference in what you did? (okay, so I didn't call, but here I am now!)
There were times when I passed an old NS friend or other on the street and the face became instantly recognisable. But I never did initiate any form of contact: I always recall the bad things about any relationship where I don't stay in touch, and my NS days weren't exactly the glorious fantasy that is Army Daze (for one thing, I was in the Navy).
So what of it? Lose touch forever? Rather that than an awkward smile and nervous laughter: I always laughed too loudly - it's very unlike myself.
Lose touch forever.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
It's not what you think.
The game: MarkStrat *
The Baby: SITH. Again, it's not what you think. SITH was the brand that I was the brand manager for (among other brands) and I named it, nurtured it, and am now watching it die. (sobs) MarkStrat brands follow some naming convention that restricted the first two letters for our firm's brands to SI, so I thought SITH would make a somewhat sinister dark horse brand to challenge some incumbents in another segment. (sorry... lotsa marketing speak there - ask me what it means sometime).
The game started off real fine: you are one firm, fighting five other firms in a marketing battle to the death. You decide what new products to introduce into the market, whether to break into the new innovative product space (read: Blue Ocean) or duke it out in the arena of endless despair (i.e. current product space a.k.a. Red Ocean). You also decide how much R&D (dirty word... dirty, dirty word) you want to do. You also have to decide how many salesmen to hire and fire and how much advertising you want to do. You think about what your stupid finicky customers want, what they think of your product, and whether you freaking care about it. All because you want to position your product at the right time, the right place, to meet their requirements (or they freaking don't buy those damn things!).
It is exhilarating when you're at the top of the game.
It is exasperating when you're not, and guess where my group went today.
Yup. Bottom of the food chain. From being top dog, we ended up being gutter guppies. What the heck happened???
The group kind of malfunctioned: no system to our plans, no system to our approach, no one process to rule them all. So, like the headless chickens of lore, we ran around spewing half-baked MBA marketing-speak by the bloody gushfuls, pretending like we're the best marketing strategists any firm out there can hire.
Well look where we are now folks. "How now, brown cow???" ARGH...
Ok, there is hope: the game is just half over and there're more rounds to play. Being the constructive nice person that I am (when I'm not being an explosive opinionated jerk), I'm going to work at actually fully understanding the tricks of the simulation. The trick about it all is that it IS just a simulation. The scary thing though is that it is quite close to being like the real world and that frightens me: the thought that the real world can seriously be modeled.
I guess the deal with MarkStrat is this: play it like it is a game, because that's what we do with real life anyhow. Treat it like a game and you won't be afraid to take risks. Play it like a pro and managing risks becomes part and parcel of your existence (ah... but the oh-so-clever finance gurus will say that you should make that decision only after using your risks to VALUE your options... but that's another story).
So lesson learnt: keep it real, keep it sane; it's just a simulation.
(and damned if I can't beat it)
* Here's the brief explanation: MarkStrat is a marketing simulation developed by 2 INSEAD professors using mathematical models based on a theoretical marketing foundation. It is used to learn strategic marketing concepts such as brand portfolio strategy or segmentation and position strategy, as well as operational marketing.
-- MarkStrat Online Student Handbook