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  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:20 am on September 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: armless nursing chair, Bertil Torekull, , car door factory, Christmas, Economy of Sweden, , , , Ingvar, , , ST├śR,   

    Leading By Design: The Ikea Story 

    Based on exclusive interviews with the legendary founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, Leading by Design tells the inside story of Kamprad’s humble roots and of the visionary concepts and innovative strategies that turned a small, Swedish mail-order company into a worldwide commercial giant.

    When in 1943 at age seventeen Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA, he had no way of knowing that IKEA would come to represent dedication to quality, a distinct design style, and convenience to the harried modern consumer. Today, more than 195 million people worldwide frequent his 150 stores in thirty countries, and almost 100 million catalogs are printed each year.

    As the grandson of German immigrants who went to Sweden in search of a better life, Ingvar Kamprad grew up on a farm in a rural village. But he was no farmer. Early in his life, he discovered his natural affinity for business. From cigarette lighters and fish to Christmas cards and pens, young Ingvar devoted himself to importing and selling anything he thought he could make a profit on. Furniture was just one item in a long and fairly undistinguished list’until, in an effort to best his main competitor, he took a chance on an armless nursing chair he called Ruth. It quickly sold out. Adding a coffee table and then a sofa bed and then a chandelier, Kamprad was astonished by how quickly the merchandise moved.

    The rest is business history. In Leading by Design, Bertil Torekull, a well-known Swedish journalist, reveals the genius and the secrets behind IKEA’s extraordinary success. With candor and detail, he offers insights into Kamprad’s cutting-edge management strategies, his enthusiasm to embrace innovative methods (such as producing ready-to-assemble merchandise and using a car door factory to produce affordable products with universal appeal), and the tools he used to grow the IKEA brand into a veritable industry unto itself.

    More than a standard business history Leading by Design captures the essence of Kamprad himself. It is a testament to the inspiration, the ideas, and the innovations that make a good business great.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 11:45 am on February 3, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Big Sky Balloons & Searchlights, , , Christmas, , , Labour relations, Mike O'Connor, , , , owner, Plainfield, , , Trade union   

    Hey Hey, Ho Ho. One Zero Zero One, Zero! 

    Unions in New York City are masters of psychological warfare. When they set up a giant blow-up rat (seasonally decked in Christmas tree lights) in front of your business and start singing union songs and chanting chants, well, it’s not a pleasant experience.

    The chants are catchy. Here’s my favorite one:

    We are the Union, we are the Union
    Mighty, mighty Union – mighty mighty Union
    Everywhere we go – everywhere we go,
    People want to know – people want to know
    Who we are – who we are
    So we tell them – so we tell them

    I culled this great quote from an article at Fastcompany.com:

    “Twelve years ago, Mike O’Connor, owner of Big Sky Balloons & Searchlights in Plainfield, Illinois, created the first rat at the request of a union member in nearby Chicago. Said the union man of O’Connor’s first sketch: “It’s not mean enough.” O’Connor added bigger fangs and a pink belly with “festering nipples.” “I love it,” the man said. So did other unions. Today, Big Sky sells between 100 and 200 rats a year–even though it is a nonunion shop itself.”

    Bigger fangs. Check.

    “Festering nipples.” Check.

    The rat is all over the city. Sean of Dust and Rust blog caught one in front of a Duane Reade.

    If you decide to organize, I guess you can buy your own over here.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 10:20 am on December 15, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Christmas, E-meter, e-meters, Hearst Tower, , Ryugyong Hotel, Scientology, Scientology beliefs and practices, Xenu   

    I Dream of Xenu 

    Here’s the dream I had last night.

    Scientologists asked me and my dad to help with a gigantic unfinished skyscraper that looked like a cross of the Ryugyong Hotel and the Hearst Tower. We tried to install some floor tiles somewhere close to the top, but could not locate the right equipment. My dad left, and I asked permission to look around and take some pictures (which I surprisingly got).

    A helpful scientologist took me to one of the finished floors closer to the bottom and showed me a computer terminal that allowed you to do all your Christmas shopping without leaving the tower. I was very impressed with the user interface and the choice of products. The Church employs a huge amount of people, so it can buy in bulk; also many scientologists are computer programmers – my guide explained.

    We wandered the halls for a little while, I played around with e-meters, and then my guide started digging up a floor in some hallway. He unearthed a body of a man dressed in superhero uniform of some kind, and proceeded to break off a toe from it. He explained that many people were buried in the floors of the tower, and that this in fact was the _original_ Xenu. My galactic-overlord-grave-robbing guide was planning to sell the toe to pay for auditing.

    The whole thing ended badly – alarms sounded, I left, but did not rat out Xenu’s grave robber. Later, they accused me of stealing Xenu’s toe.

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