Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Memorizing the Top 10 Most Valuable Brands

A previous article described how easy it is to memorize a top 10 list using the example of the top 10 companies in the world based on market value.  The article can be seen at How to Memorize a Top 10 List.

This article will show how to memorize the top 10 most valuable brands.

As a refresher, here are the memory links associated with the numbers from 1 to 10.

They are:

1. sun
2. shoe
3. tree
4. door
5. hive
6. sticks
7. heaven
8. skate
9. wine
10. hen

Now, we'll associate these with the top 10 most valuable brands in 2015 as determined by Forbes.

They are:

1. Apple
2. Microsoft
3. Google
4. Coca-Cola
5. IBM
6. McDonald's
7. Samsung
8. Toyota
9. General Electric
10. Facebook

Now, let's make the associations

1. Apple/sun - Imagine the sun shaped as a huge Apple in the sky

2. Microsoft/shoe - Imagine Bill Gates trying on a shoe (with Jerry Seinfeld!)

3. Google/tree - Imagine doing a Google search on your family tree

4. Coca-Cola/door - Imagine a huge Coca-Cola door

5. IBM/hive  - Imagine an IBM computer shaped like a beehive, with bees buzzing around it!

6. McDonald's/stick - Imagine a McDonald's Big Mac or Quarter Pounder on a stick

7. Samsung/heaven - Imagine Samsung Android cellphones in heaven

8. Toyota/skate - Imagine skating around a Toyota vehicle made of ice

9. General Electric/wine - Imagine a GE wine cooler full of vintage wine bottles

10. Facebook/hen - Imagine hens on Facebook!

After you create these images, you'll find it very easy to recite the list from the top or bottom and to instantly recall any number.  Quick, what's number 6?  Stick - McDonald's

With the links, you can substitute other words for the numbers, such as one-gun or eight-gate but any word will do.

Try it.  You'll be amazed at how easy it is!

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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Business Start-Up Lessons Of Some Famous Companies Such As Pez

We all know the origins of modern companies such as Google (formed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin), Microsoft (founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen) or Ford (Henry Ford).

However, there are many older well-known companies which were formed by unorthodox but inspirational methods.  Here's the story of some very famous brands.


Eduard Haas hated smoking with a passion.  He developed PEZ as a peppermint-flavored candy in the 1920's to substitute for cigarettes for smokers in Austria.  Eventually, he traveled to the United States in the 1950's and tried to do the same thing there.  It didn't catch on and failed.  His solution?  Funny heads on top of the Pez dispenser and fruit flavors so that children would clamor for them.  It became a huge success (and the basis for a Seinfeld episode).


If you're an unemployed architect in the 1930's, what do you do?  If your name is Alfred Butts, you can try to invent a game.  He did try but two circumstances delayed its debut: he found a job and his idea was rejected as more intellectual than fun.  In the late 1940's, Butts tried again with a friend and manufactured the game himself.  In a couple of years, Scrabble became a national bestseller selling millions of copies.  Around 30 years later, Trivial Pursuit would follow a similar road to success.  You can read about Trivial Pursuit's success HERE


In the 1890's, 'disposable' items weren't as common as they are now.  Razor blades certainly would be a candidate since most men shave every day and the razors can get pretty dull after a while.  King C. Gillette, a travelling salesman, saw the potential and went to work to perfect a disposable blade.  The concept was simple but making the blade thin enough saw him try and try again hundreds of times.  He succeeded after a few years and Gillette was sold for $57 Billion in 2005.


Frozen dinners, frozen vegetables, frozen fishsticks and other frozen foods are a huge industry and everybody has a freezer stocked with more than just ice cubes.  Charles Birdseye first thought of the idea of commercially-prepared frozen food in the 1910's on an Arctic expedition.  He observed natives in the Arctic preparing caribou meat which had been quick-frozen in the cold and then thawed months later.  The cooked meat still had its original flavor.  The problem was how to duplicate the quick-freezing process in warmer climates where there was no Arctic ice conveniently around.  It took him years but he developed a process that worked and the frozen food industry was born, making him a multi-millionaire by 1929.

Many companies were not formed by a group or committee but rather entrepreneurs who had a brainstorm and saw a public need that could be filled.  Of course, it took years of work to achieve success but their stories are certainly an inspiration for all of us.

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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Business Startup Lessons from the Success of Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit is a game that just about everyone has played at least once in their lives.  More than 100 million copies have been sold throughout the world in more than 15 languages.  Revenue since the game was introduced has measured in the billions of dollars.

However, this game was not created in the offices of gaming giants such as Parker Brothers or Hasbro.  It was created by two friends who had to live together in the same house due to financial difficulties.  They even had to pay for food at times by returning empty beer bottles.  With hard work and a total belief in their idea, they created a runaway success in the world of board games, a very hard field in which to get established.

Everyone is familiar with Trivial Pursuit but what are some lessons can be learned about success?

Billion-Dollar Business Ideas Can Come From Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime

Trivial Pursuit founders Chris Haney and Scott Abbott worked as a newspaper photo editor and sportswriter respectively.  They came up with the idea of a trivia game in 1979 while playing Scrabble over beer.  The layout for the game was written on a bar napkin and then first built with construction paper and a box made of cardboard.

How was Scrabble an inspiration?  They were avid players but kept losing tiles, which meant that they had to keep buying copies of Scrabble as replacements.  They were talking about how much they had spent on board games in their lives and figured "There has to be money to be made in this field."

Thus, what Time magazine called "the biggest phenomenon in game history" was started by two men, one of them a high-school dropout, over Scrabble and beer.  It shows you don't need a committee in a company boardroom of a huge corporation to come up with a multi-million dollar business idea.

Listen To Outside Sources For Advice, Even Family

Haney and Abbott came up with 'Six Thousand Questions' as the title for the game, based on the number of questions it would contain.  They eventually came up with "Trivia Pursuit" but Chris Haney's wife suggest adding an 'l' and renaming it 'Trivial Pursuit'.  A minor change, perhaps, but it became the name known to millions.

Chris' brother John was also brought into the team along with his friend, Ed Werner.  With Ed Werner's legal and finance background, he became an important member in terms of setting up a corporation, arranging financing and other business matters.  This allowed to others to focus on the game itself.

Ideas Need Hard Work To Become Successful

The concept for Trivial Pursuit, in hindsight, was a no-brainer.  A board game where people test their knowledge over fun facts in categories such as Arts and Sports was a great idea for a fun night, especially in the days before internet and advanced computer games.

However, the problems facing the founders were:

1) they had no money themselves to finance the idea and had zero background in the board game industry
2) banks weren't interested in lending any money
3) the board game field itself had dozens of popular games already such as Scrabble, Battleship, Clue, Monopoly, Risk and Life with gaming companies receiving hundreds of new proposals all the time

4) they had to gather together 6,000 good trivia questions

How did they go from an game idea in December 1979 to 20 million copies sold in 1984?

They raised approximately$40,000 from 32 small investors.  These investors included friends, family, colleagues and anyone else who was willing to take a chance.  The 18 year-old artist who designed the logo even traded in his fee for a share (it turned out to be a very lucrative trade-off!).

They went to gaming trade shows in the guise of reporters and learned everything they could about the industry.  Ironically enough, they had little success themselves when they went to these trade shows with their own game.

The 6,000 trivia questions were written and researched on a trip to Spain where Haney and Abbott figured that they would be far enough from any distractions to accomplish the task.  This was done with any many reference books as they could pack as this was the pre-internet era.

Do Whatever It Takes to Get Your Idea Out There

The first copies of Trivial Pursuit cost $75 to make and had to sell for $15 to be competitive.  Of course, this was no way to sustain a business so the point was to get the game out there and expose it to as many people as possible.

The main selling feature was the gameplay itself.  Once people played, they were hooked.  They had free gameplaying sessions in bars and in parks and wherever people gathered.  They sent copies of the game out to celebrities and even received thank-you notes from famous actors such as Gregory Peck.  Even if they weren't able to be picked up at trade shows, the buzz eventually caught the notice of the established companies.  It was like selling a new food product - get as many people to sample as possible!

Trivial Pursuit became a world-wide sensation but it had very humble origins and succeeded because of the hard work and inspiration of its founders.

If you ever have a great idea about a new product, think of how the founders of Trivial Pursuit followed through with their own idea despite having no experience in the field and no money and no access to all of the online resources we have today.  Be persistent and believe in yourself.  You may even see your product referenced on the #1 TV show in the country one day!

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