Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Open invite to the cycling industry;

Guitar Ted recently had a little post on his site about the fact that many members of the cycling industry read his site and even interact from time to time. Overall, it's been a good experience to him.

Here at Kool-Aid, we experience the very same thing. We routinely get visits from Raliegh, Specialized, Pacific Cycle (Schwinn, GT, Mongoose, Dyno, Murray, Roadmaster), KHS, Trek, SRAM, Shimano, numerous retailers and other industry companies, many overseas (lots of folks in Taiwan and the UK). Hopefully that means that we are saying relevant things and not just serving as a thorn in people's sides. (Not that the thorn role isn't still part of the plan.)

The sad-to-me thing is that almost none of these visitors has felt compelled or comfortable enough to comment using their names and company affiliations. Some folks have commented freely and I thank you and applaud you. Why more people don't simply amazes me. Why are we paranoid about saying who we are? This site is not a company site with a single agenda, but a place where people who are interested in or, involved in the industry can come for entertainment or enlightenment. The goal of this site, aside from being a little silly from time to time, is to be a relevant source of information and discussion.

With that in mind, here is my invitation (or challenge for those of you who are the competitive types); feel free to "be who you are" and leave comments with your real identity- rather than your Clark Kent identity. Nobody here is going to attack anybody, even the guy/ gal from yesterday who thinks we use too much "borning-ness".

I really believe that the bike industry is too scared of openness and transparency. We have created a culture of fear and worry that everybody is trying to steal our ideas, products, customers, etc. That is the number one reason why I sought to create this site as a collective effort with divergent personalities and perspectives. That way we have a bunch of unique voices and not just me and my potentially biased perspective. I do believe that we can all just get along.

So, Cycling Industry, please continue to come here and visit this site. Please continue to comment on posts and offer your opinions or thoughts. The more voices in the discussion, the better and more useful. If the industry is going to survive, we need more collaboration and less fear.

I'm not scared- are you?

Tim Jackson
Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser

Posted by Tim Jackson at 8:16 PM

13 Comments

  1. Anonymous Phil posted at 4:26 AM  
    It's a funny industry we're in, and it appears much the same here in OZ

    Is it too harsh to call it fear and loathing? A consequence of being a small industry perhaps?

    Everyone knows everyone else, many of us do the rounds in the industry. I've been in inside sales, a road warrior, a large shop manager and around again only to return to retail as a hardworking floor guy using what I know to punch out a lot of product.

    Observations? A lot of bike guys don't go online regularly, heck I get the impression a lot of bike guys just don't read, and I'm talking about some major guys (this is a deliberate provacation BTW).

    A lot of Australians feel shy about making their opinions known, afraid of being caught out, so they adopt the adage of keeping their mouths shut lest they be thought a fool.

    Me? I'm past that, and I'll continue to make an arse of myself, filled as I am with a thousand different opinions on any single subject.

    Of course that's what it takes sometimes, the ability to make a fool of yourself (it's a vastly underrated skill BTW), plus blogging and commenting sometimes rewards that skill. Of course it also helps to be a genuinely open person without fear and someone seriously interested in what others have to teach......and happy to be proven wrong. God knows I have no monopoly on anything.

    But really I think it's because the nature of debate in public life has been destroyed by a media and PR industry that rewards confrontation, spin, sound bites, talking points and staying on message rather than the genuine discussion and conversation that used to be the hallmark of mature societies - it's this has turned folks off debate - and that's the root of the fear factor.

    Hope this also stirs a few to comment.
  2. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 8:32 AM  
    Hello Mr. Jackson,

    My name is Chris Hornung and my company makes the best darned bicycles in the industry. Maxi or whoever you work for -- junk. Geos -- trash. Lightspeedo -- give me a break. Come to me for cutting edge technology and the best prices in the most innovative products with great distribution at quality retailers in almost every city in America. I'd talk about hiring you, Mr. Jackson, but who needs marketing when you're the industry leader?

    We combine the best of American ingenuity, Canadian corporate ethics, Chinese manufacturing, and the Arkansas good ol' boy network to bring our customers the best bicycle possible.

    Sincerely,

    Chris Hornung
    CH/rm
  3. Blogger Tim Jackson- Masi Guy posted at 8:50 AM  
    from what I can tell, the "Chris Hornung" appears to be bogus, but I am hoping it isn't. Why? Because a funny comment like that would make Chris one of my new favorite people in the cycling industry. I'm hoping like heck that this is real!

    Phil- your comments are all very true for the US industry as well. It is a small industry and that amount of incestous behavior and inbreeding does create a certain level of fear/ paranoia.

    Hopefully that will change and we can have the open and honest dialogs many of us are so hopeful to see.
  4. Blogger Donna Tocci posted at 4:16 PM  
    There might be a couple of things going on. People may enjoy reading the site and check in, but haven't found the right post yet to comment on; their opinion hasn't been strong enough one way or the other. That's ok because when they do comment it is going to be very profound! Right?

    Or, they are nervous. Not of us, per se, but of the blogosphere, in general. Not everyone is as savvy as you, Tim. Typing a comment and owning up to it for the very first time is very intimidating! This I know! It's not like standing around at Interbike with 5 people, it's the whole entire industry...heck, the whole world potentially (yes, I like to think we are seen by millions..ha).

    It's bosses, reps, customers, dealers and other colleagues. Maybe even your next door neighbor who you've never really talked to. YIKES! When all of that goes through your head, you stop by, read and move on.

    That first step is a doozy. But, folks, I'm here to tell you that nobody was as nervous as I was the first time I attached my name to a comment and hit 'send'. Oy! The panic that set in for the first few minutes....I would have done anything to take it back right away.....and then...nothing...the world didn't end. About a year later I'm here to tell you that blogging can be fun, if you let it. C'mon, give it a try.
  5. Blogger Guitar Ted posted at 8:00 PM  
    Donna raises a great point here. It's intimidating to get in on the discussion. Maybe you do not have great writing skills, or they are dormant. Maybe you are afraid of someone in your company might see it. You know, blogs are looked on rather suspiciously by some CEO's and company heads. I think I recall that even you, Tim, were slightly fearful of what your superiors might say when you first revealed your blog to them. Correct?

    I've posted here before about my boss and his suspicious, cynical view of my blog. Here is another story that illustrates the "fear factor" out there.

    We had a rep in the store recently, showing us the finer points of the lines he carries. He was talking to us about some distribution changes amongst some of the companies he reps for, which he said was not really for public consumption. OK, my blog deals mostly with matters of endurance racing and 29"er bikes- his lines do not-keep that in mind. My boss then pipes up and says, "You know that he (referring to me) has a blog and if you don't want that spread all over the internet, you'd better tell him!" (!!!)

    Yeah, so I get this attitude once in awhile, as if I'm the corporate snitch or some such thing! So, it's got to be an attitude that is affecting posts, or the lack there of, by corporate reps, employees, and heads of companies. There is that nice little wall they like to hang out behind, and apparently, it's a strange, fearfull world beyond those walls for them.
  6. Anonymous Bryan posted at 11:51 AM  
    I read this blog just about everyday and even though I may relate to a topic, I dont offer up a comment unless I feel i have something valuable to contribute.

    I am thrilled to say, as a partner in a start-up company who learns something new everyday, I have found some really good topics and feedback from this blog. Also, Tim has been a real genuine guy welcoming my direct email to him with my ideas for topics I would like to see.

    Thanks Tim and thanks everyone for being so receptive!
  7. Anonymous Jessi "Bitch Kittie" Pacetti posted at 6:20 AM  
    Hi Fellow Industry Geeks -
    I'll list my affiliation right here right now. I started a business with Bob Roll and now I take care of his website, book him in your shops and keep his money safe.
    I can't get enough of this site. Thanks to Donna Tocci (my new best friend) for introducing me to this one.
    As for the no-posting issue, I know that my friends who live in corporate America, both in and out of the cycling industry, are wary about posting things because these days The Man can get you down because of someting you've posted. Damn the man. This industry is small and I think these people are out there - they just don't want you to know about it.
    I think we need to remember. We work in a fun industry. Just smile and be nice and everyone wins. That's what Bob and I say all the time.
  8. Blogger Tim Jackson- Masi Guy posted at 12:03 PM  
    What a great dialog this has spurred! Cool!

    All of the points mentioned are totally understandable. Fear, apprehension, nervousness, etc. Totally true and easily understandable.

    Here is my greater point though, since each of these concerns were ones I had to personally overcome as well, is this; let's break down the walls and barriers and get all warm and fuzzy, touchy-feely. Let's prove that there isn't a reason to be afraid because there really isn't. Yes, I know that some folks will always have to be anonymous or use a pseudonym because they have big bad corporate overlords sniffing out their every action. Totally understand. Over time though, if we continue to work on proving those folks wrong, we'll eventually make some great strides to improve the situation.

    Here's the deal people; it is my sincere belief that creating a more open and honest dialog will improve the entire industry. An open forum to discuss thoughts and share ideas will lead to a healthier industry for us all.

    Ok, now let's all huddle around the campfire and sing Kumbaya...
  9. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 6:25 AM  
    i have commented a few times here but i suppose the thing holding me back is that for reasons beyond the krews control, the posting is just too irregular and not enough (maybe until now) thought provoking commentary has been happening.

    i read a lot of blogs from the likes of this, godin, kawasaki, peters, marketing genius, fat cyclist, and a bunch of other advertising and marketing related.

    the stuff that gets people commenting AND using their real identities is quality analysis and thougth provoking blog entries.

    and this is not a go at the krew as we are all super busy and blogging right just takes too much time!
  10. Blogger the Velo Fello posted at 8:03 AM  
    I've been visiting ever since about post number 2, and enjoyed the majority of items raised / discussions continued.

    With regards to posting; I have just one simple objection - this is a public blog, anyone both trade related or not can join and read our comments and thoughts.

    IMHO this is not a good thing; perhaps like BikeBiz there should be a log-in and privacy screen. Maybe then we can all join in without fear of our comments going out into the trully public domain.

    Krien
    Product & Brand Manager @ Vario Bikes - France
  11. Anonymous Phil posted at 3:45 PM  
    Krien, what you propose is the antithesis of blogging. You're either in it or you're not.

    Openess and transparency is the essence of blogging.

    It should also include comment and ideas from the very folks who keep us employed....our customers and other stakeholders who share an interest in cycling and the industry.

    I'll ask, what are you afraid of?

    That consumers and anyone who would like to know end up with a bit more knowledge of our industry? I see that as a good thing.

    Are those within the industry keepers of some sort of secret, like the druids of old? I think not, most switched on folks outside our small industry have a pretty good understanding of cost structures, marketing, production, design, manufacturing etc. because many of them are involved in those things in some capacity themselves.

    For example, If I sell a bicycle to someone working in the motorcycle'automotive industry I know for a fact he's got a pretty good appreciation of our industry and it's parameters. The same with those familiar with retailing.

    There are very few secrets any longer.
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