Free Form Friday: The REAL Keys To Success



(1) To distort: To make something appear different than it is

He distorted the benefits to make them seem better than they really are.

(2) To work out: To have a good result

Unfortunately, the campaign didn’t work out and we had to start again.

(3) To reproduce: To copy, create the same thing again

I love the product, but it just costs too much to reproduce. We need to lower our costs to be successful.



1. For success, what’s more important than passion?

a. A creative idea

b. Good goals

c. A good business plan

2. Why is a system more important than a goal?

a. Goals have no value

b. Systems create good results

c. It’s difficult to succeed at reaching goals

3. For luck, what does it mean to keep your hand raised until its your turn?

a. You need to just wait for luck to come to you

b. Luck doesn’t always happen, so just work hard

c. Keep going and after time you’ll get lucky

7 ________________________

Free Form Friday


dilbert By Jeremy Schaar

Scott Adams has recently written a book and you can read a chapter from that book here. There’s also a video interview.

What does it take to be successful? Often people will say “follow your passion” and “set good goals.” But according Scott Adams–the creator of the popular comic Dilbert–those things are exactly true.

In today’s lesson, you’ll learn about Scott Adam’s ideas on how to be successful. You’ll prepare yourself to read a longer article on the topic. You’ll also learn some important vocabulary. He has three ideas in the article. Here they are:

First Idea: Passion isn’t so important He writes that “it’s easy to be passionate about things that are working out, and that distorts our impression of the importance of passion.”

What he means is that when things work well, we get excited. But if things don’t work, then we aren’t excited. So, it seems like passion creates the success, but actually “Success caused passion more than passion caused success.”

He gives the example of a loan officer. He says his old boss told him to give loans to people with good spreadsheets and a desire to work hard.

Second Idea: Have a system instead of a goal

In the video, he says “Goals are OK, but what you need more than goals is a system, a process.” This means you should think about how to be successful more than what success really means for you. Don’t say, “I’m going to make a million dollars.” Instead, say “I’m going to write a new program every month for one year.” You should then hope that one of those programs will make you a million dollars.

The example he gives is losing weight. You don’t want to say “I’m going to lose 10kg.” Instead, you should say “I’m going to eat better and exercise more.”

It’s more important to have a system because then you’ll be doing the things that lead to success. Anyway, you can’t achieve your goals without a way to get to them.

Third Idea: Keep going and you’ll get lucky.

Scott feels that luck is very important for success. However, we don’t get lucky all the time. Instead, we should have a system that makes it more likely that we’ll get lucky. He writes, “The universe has plenty of luck to go around; you just need to keep your hand raised until it’s your turn.”

In his case, he continued trying to create something of value that would be easy to reproduce. After many failures, he “got lucky” with his comic strip Dilbert.

What do you think? As always, if you have any questions, please post them on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

And, by the way, if you have trouble understanding, send me a message. We teach lots of students Business English and I’m sure we could help you too!


Answers To Today’s Questions

C, B, C


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Supply Chain Wednesday: S&OP



(1) Backlog: Too much of something

We have a backlog of steel frames. It’s a waste of space and money. What happened?

(2) To control: To make sure something is at the right level

Inventory levels are carefully controlled. If they get too high, we lose money. If they get too low, we can be short of what we need.

(3) Planning horizon: A horizon is the farthest you can see. It comes from the earth. The horizon is the place where you can’t see further, the place where the sun sets.

Our planning horizon is four quarters. Beyond that, it’s more strategic plans than a careful process.



1. What does it mean to create a production plan in the context of sales?

a. Sales and production influence each other

b. Sales influences the production plan

c. The production plan influences sales

2. What is an especially nice benefit of S&OP?

a. Everyone sees how their decisions influence the company’s other departments

b. Everyone sees how planning influences finance

c. Everyone sees how they can contribute to financial decisions

3. What’s the tone of “we need to involve marketing in this”?

a. Friendly

b. Direct

c. Worried

7 ________________________



Monthly_S&OP_ProcessBy Jeremy Schaar

Today on the blog you’ll learn about S&OP. You’ll also learn about some great links for further study. Finally, you’ll learn some real life expressions that you can use on the job.


S&OP means Sales and Operation Planning. What does it mean? Basically, a company decides how much they want to sell and how much they need to produce. S&OP is a process companies use to decide their manufacturing output and other activities in the context of the sales plan. Manufacturing output can also be called production plan. It decides production rates, controls inventories, and deals with backlogs. And everything should be done without too much hiring or firing. The planning horizon for the process is how far into the future the plan goes. To create a plan, companies use information from many departments: marketing, manufacturing, finance, etc.


Here’s a great link to see a few real world S&OP charts.

Note two things. First, Enchange divides the processes between demand and supply. Second, everything influences everything else. This is key. S&OP is wonderful because it forces everyone in the company to consider all the parts. They’ll see how their decisions affect different parts of the company. For example, demand for a product influences finance decisions, but so does the actual production. It’s a big circle with everything influencing everything else.

For a successful S&OP, check out John Westerveld’s blog post at Kinaxis. He writes about six key elements.

1. Executive Commitment and involvement

2. S&OP is used to run the business

3. Accurate S&OP data

4. Solutions – not just problems

5. Scenario driven

6. Run effective meetings and keep meticulous minutes

On The Job

“ I am responsible for preparing our divisional S&OP plans.”

Use this sentence to describe your job. It’s a good one to use at a conference where you’re meeting new people.

“Our major suppliers and customers need to be a big part of the S&OP process.

Here I wrote “major suppliers and customers”, but it could be anyone you think needs to be part of the process. This is a strong, clear sentence. It’s not polite, but it is very direct and people will listen if you speak like this.

Got questions or comments? How about practicing some new vocabulary and posting your thoughts on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter?


Answers To Today’s Questions

B, A, B


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Business Strategy Monday: Amazon’s Strategy



(1) Pillar: Something that supports, an important and basic part

The pillars of the economy are manufacturing, retail, and finance.

(2) Liquid Asset: Cash and other assets that can quickly become cash

Liquid assets are very important in acquisitions because they can be used to buy stock.

(3) On behalf of someone: For someone

All of our actions need to be on behalf of the customer. They can’t be for someone else.



1. Jeff Bezos says “your margin is my opportunity.” Let’s say you’re selling something for $5 and it costs you $3 to make it. What will Amazon’s price be?

a. $1

b. $2

c. $3

2. How does Amazon innovate?

a. By thinking about low prices

b. By thinking about the customer

c. By thinking about margin

3. What does it mean for something to be an article of faith?

a. You just believe it. You don’t worry about evidence

b. You worry about it before anything else

c. You believe it and try to make others follow you

7 ________________________



By Jeremy Schaar

In today’s lesson you’ll learn about Amazon’s strategy. You’ll study a few quotes from Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos. You’ll learn some vocabulary and some strategy theory.

A Quick Overview of Amazon’s Strategy

Amazon is the world’s most important online retailer. In ten years, they might just replace WalMart as the world’s biggest retailer. Their strategy has two pillars. First is to keep prices low. Second is to always focus on helping the customer. They constantly invest in new facilities and technology. They don’t worry at all about having cash on hand. Many people focus on Amazon’s net income which is always close to zero, but cash is just one asset. Non-liquid assets are growing at a remarkable rate.

Explore more AMZN Data at Wikinvest

Here are some great quotes from Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos:

Commitment to Low Prices

“There are two kinds of companies: Those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less. We will be the second.”

“Your margin is my opportunity.”

“We’ve done price elasticity studies, and the answer is always that we should raise prices. We don’t do that, because we believe — and we have to take this as an article of faith — that by keeping our prices very, very low, we earn trust with customers over time, and that that actually does maximize free cash flow over the long term.”

Staying Customer Focused

“We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards. That becomes the touchstone for how we invent.”

“If you’re long-term oriented, customer interests and shareholder interests are aligned.”

“When [competitors are] in the shower in the morning, they’re thinking about how they’re going to get ahead of one of their top competitors. Here in the shower, we’re thinking about how we are going to invent something on behalf of a customer.”

Got questions or comments? How about practicing some new vocabulary and posting your thoughts on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter?


Answers To Today’s Questions

C, B, A


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Business Strategy Monday: Microsoft’s New Strategy



(1) Implication: Things that become true because of something else.

The implications for an improving economy are probably more jobs and higher profits.

(2) To make a case for something: To argue something is true.

We made our case for expanding into Japan, now we need to see if they’ll accept our proposal.

(3) Default device: The device people will use when they’re unsure or don’t get to make a choice

The default device for calling people is still the phone, but it might become the computer.



1. What is Microsoft’s new strategy?

a. To make the best hardware in the world

b. To make the best software in the world

c. To make the software and hardware for their devices really good

2. What does it mean to leverage a relationship?

a. To use an existing relationship to do something else

b. To expand the relationship you have with someone

c. To begin a new partnership

3. How might Microsoft leverage its corporate relationships?

a. To sell tablets to corporations

b. To make tablets more entertaining

c. To sell tablets to the public

7 ________________________



Cartoon by

By Jeremy Schaar

In the previous two lessons, you learned what Microsoft’s strategy was and how it has changed. Today, you’ll learn about the implications for Microsoft’s strategy.

To quickly review, Microsoft’s previous strategy was to only sell software. Everyone wanted the same software, so they could charge high prices and everyone would pay. They didn’t make hardware because all the hardware was basically the same. It was a commodity and not very profitable.

Things changed for two reasons. First, hardware isn’t a commodity anymore. For example, there are significant differences between an iPhone and a Galaxy Note. Second, Google now gives away Android for free.

Therefore, Microsoft is now trying to copy Apple and make the best software/hardware bundle. They hope people will buy their devices because their hardware and software are so good.

Will this work?

It will be hard. Apple and Samsung are already great. But here’s a case for how Microsoft succeeds.

First, note that most people use their tablets for entertainment–not for work. Apple and Samsung understand this, so their tablets are designed for games and web browsing more than productivity. They don’t really try to sell tablets to corporations. The Microsoft tablet is different. Microsoft emphasizes that you can multitask with it, you can use Microsoft Office, and it has a nice stand and keyboard.

Imagine that the Microsoft tablet therefore becomes the default device for businesses. In fact, Microsoft is still very profitable because of its corporate accounts. (Many people download illegal versions of Microsoft Windows, but corporations still pay.) Microsoft can leverage those existing relationships to sell their tablets. Then, when office workers are all using their tablets, they’ll be able to expand to the general public.

With the strategy decided, it becomes a question of B2B marketing. It will be fascinating to watch how well Microsoft succeeds.

Got questions or comments? How about practicing some new vocabulary and posting your thoughts on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter?


Answers To Today’s Questions

C, A, A


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Supply Chain Wednesday: Visualization



(1) A bit: A little

I’m a bit hungry. Let’s eat a snack.

(2) Nerve: The self-confidence to do something

I don’t have the nerve to ask my boss for a raise. I wish I was more brave.

(3) Metric: A way to measure something

The primary metric is sales numbers, but customer satisfaction surveys are also important.



1. Why is it a good idea to visualize your ideas?

a. They’ll be easier to understand

b. It gives you nerve

c. Both A and B

2. How can the Sherpa application help you?

a. You can perform better at meetings with better data

b. You can find metrics

c. You can visualize various metrics

3. Which sentence might you say to your boss?

a. We can do that, but here’s the impact.

b. If you do that, it will have a bad impact.

c. Show me a chart that lets me see the impact.

7 ________________________



1000 words By Jeremy Schaar

Today on the blog you’ll learn what it means to visualize ideas. You’ll also get some help understanding a cool blog. Finally, you’ll learn some real life expressions that you can use on the job.


To visualize an idea just means to create a picture that presents an idea. I might say that Company A sells oranges and apples to Company B, which uses all the apples for itself and sells half the organges to consumers and half to Company C. Or, I could visualize this idea like this:

visualized fruit


Over at, Lora Cecere talks about the need to visualize ideas.

Her discussion is in the context of “chutzpah”. Chutzpah means nerve. And nerve means the self-confidence to say or do something.

She says that at S&OP meetings, the commercial team will sometimes makes a crazy request. They use visualization software (Llamasoft’s mobile Sherpa application), to show the impacts in pictures. Everyone at the meeting can quickly see an image that shows metrics such as financials, logistics, service, sustainability, and risk.

Sentence You Can Use On The Job

“We can do that, but here is the impact.”

This is a friendly sentence. You’re letting the other person make the decision and just giving them the information. It’s a good sentence to use with your boss or another decision maker.

“This is all a bit complicated. Let’s take a look at a visual representation of this data.”

This is a good sentence for a presentation. After you’ve explained something in words, you can show a picture to make your ideas clear.

“Please find a way to visualize this. We need it to be clearer.”

This sentence is a strong sentence from a boss. You can request that your team make the information cleared by using some image or graph.

Got questions or comments? How about practicing some new vocabulary and posting your thoughts on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter?


Answers To Today’s Questions

A, C, A


You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

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