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Business books obsess about the competition. Coke versus Pepsi. General Motors versus Ford. United Airlines versus its own customers – sorry, I couldn’t resist saying that.

But is your competition really the problem? Your competition could be neutral, or even helpful. Your real problem might be customers deciding not to buy from anyone.

I discuss these questions in my latest business strategy video:

Many businesses are hostile – or at best uncaring – towards their customers. Why, and is it good strategy?

Here is my video about this:

There are advantages to using your outside lawyer as a confidential advisor, and not just for legal issues. Also, do it right and nobody can ever find out what you and your business lawyer talked about.

Here is a video about this:




In business, even the idea that things will stay the same is just an assumption: present trends will continue only until they do not. Challenging your assumptions is vital, but there is not enough time in the world to challenge EVERY assumption. So when (and how) do you challenge assumptions?

Ask why, and then ask the why behind the why.

I have done a video about this, with insights from the theory of constraints and the 80/20 (Pareto) Principle:

The Klondike Gold Rush, fondly remembered in Edmonton every Klondike Days, shows us two paths to wealth. The obvious one – dig for gold. Also a less obvious one, which I explain in video 4 of my business strategy series:

Sooner or later your distributor will have a change of management, and the new management could ruin the business. This is a problem not just for the distributor but also for the manufacturer. In my latest business strategy video – number three in the series – I discuss the problem and some contractual terms that can help:

Here is the second in my new video series on business strategy issues. This video features the Theory of Constraints and also refers to the 80/20 Principle (Pareto Principle):

In business we assume that clients are more or less equal, resources are more or less equal, and products and services are more or less equal. Wrong. Embrace the business power of INEQUALITY!

Here is an introduction to the 80/20 (Pareto) Principle. I include an explanation of independent variables (what 80/20 deals with) versus dependent variables (what the theory of constraints deals with):



Brass Knuckles – The Next Thing In Customer Care?

You probably know what United Airlines did to their passenger Dr. David Dao.  If not, this clip from Jimmy Kimmel gives a good orientation: https://youtu.be/HV28_ENzFog

Why are so many people – including me – so upset about this? United did not kill Dr. Dao, or try to kill him. No doubt they would have preferred for him to leave without any violence at all, though they did resort to violence when it seemed convenient.

But after several days I still feel horror, disgust, and outrage. Why?

Because the normal reaction to evil is horror, disgust, and outrage.

I use the word “evil” deliberately and literally. This is not an exaggeration.

What is evil? According to Terry Pratchett’s character Granny Weatherwax in the novel Carpe Jugulum:

Evil is when you treat people as things

The motive does not have to be cruelty, or even dishonesty. United was evil even if they had the right to remove Dr. Dao – which by the way I very much doubt. Treating people as things is evil whatever the motive.

Here are some of the ways that United Airlines was evil:

  1. United showed no concern for Dr. Dao’s reason for needing to take the flight, namely that he had patients to see the next morning;
  2. United did not seek to find a replacement to exit the flight, for example by raising the compensation offer to a high enough level;
  3. United invited thugs onto the airplane to remove Dr. Dao by threatening violence and, if that did not work, by applying violence;
  4. Thugs acting as agents for United violently removed Dr. Dao. I find it hard to believe that three large men could not have removed one small 69-year-old without reportedly inflicting a concussion, breaking his nose, and knocking out two of his teeth. But whether or not they wanted to injure him their violence was, under the circumstances, evil;
  5. Dragging Dr. Dao was also evil. The thugs, having injured him, should have left him where he was and instantly sought medical help. Even if they thought he was dead, they should have shown his body more respect;
  6. The first “apology” was grotesque. United CEO Oscar Munoz on April 10, 2017 apologized for “having to re-accommodate these passengers”. Dr. Dao was not just someone inconvenienced by having to take a later flight – we have heard that United inflicted a concussion, broke his nose, and knocked out two of his teeth. Or should I say they re-accommodated his teeth?;
  7. Then, in a memo to employees, Munoz claimed that Dr. Dao was “disruptive and belligerent”. If true, that could have justified his removal. But a video I have seen shows Dr. Dao being firm but calm. If the video is reasonably complete then Munoz was misinformed or deliberately lied about Dr. Dao. I do not know American law, but in Canadian law this looks like defamation. Defaming your victim is also evil.

It seems from this incident and others that United’s attitude towards passengers ranges from indifference to hostility. One can pray for United to go bankrupt. Until and unless it does, I question whether United should be allowed to fly in Canada.


As of the start of 2017 my law office is at 1 King Street West, Suite 4800, Toronto, M5H 1A1. All of my other contact information stays the same.