(Because of some recent warnings from my wife on copyright issues with blogs, I am trying to be more careful on what I use here at Thomsthoughts. If you are interested in the clip from which this phrase was used, simply search on Youtube for “Monty Python Spanish Inquisition” … It. Is. Hilarious. … in a British sort of way)
Recently read this story about the United States post office. In short, based on usage, costs, and business model, the USPS could go down to as low as 3 days of service a week within the next 15 years.
This got me thinking. Why is the Post Office having so much trouble?
Well, lets look at what services the Postal Service provides, and how there are many different ways to do those things today versus yesterday.
- Sending packages – Aside from the impeccable service that the USPS provides to our military personnel overseas, FedEx and UPS, both privately run, publicly traded companies, are increasing market share in this process, often doing it cheaper, faster, and more reliably than the US Postal Service.
- Paying bills – I just payed my last bill for the month. Let me tell you how these played out: 1) Electric Bill – hand delivered. 2) Water – mailed. 3) At&t (Cellphone) – iPhone app 4) Charter (cable) – online 5) Mortgage – online. 6) Lease payment – hand delivered. One … one out of those I place in the mail. All of the other have a less expensive or more convenient option for payment.
- Sending letters – Um … anyone heard of e-mail? In conversation with a friend at work, she shared that while e-mail has been reducing the need for stamped mail in comparison to a year ago, that there is a certain “feel” to writing a letter in your own handwriting. Did you know that you can make your handwriting into a font? Granted, you’re reading a post from someone who has specifically on his list to write 30 handwritten letters to people that have impacted him. There is a “feel” to it. Even so, “feelings” aren’t the best premise for business growth … well, maybe for TUMS, not necessarily the US Postal Service.
- Mailing of contracts or other important original documents – Aside from #1 above, with the fact that overnight and express mail has been mastered by other private enterprises, many important documents have been digitized. Several times even in the last week, as I complete graduate school applications and fill out a leave request form, I sign my name digitally, using technology through Adobe.
At one time, the United States Postal Service was the best at doing what it did … At one time. It isn’t anymore.
Also in the last few weeks, Netflix (a popular way to get media – movies and teleivion shows – for home veiwing) reported that they were going to be raising their rates, as reported in a story here. Now lots of folks are upset by this change in rates (increase of about 60%), but I will allude to how ridiculous that is in a minute.
Also recently reported, Redbox (oh how I loooooove Redbox) is increasing in it’s market share (as in 35% of total DVD rentals), demonstrating an effective method of renting movies with almost no staff, and relying on almost total automation.
But I have a question for you:
When’s the last time you stopped at a Blockbuster or Hollywood Video to rent a new release movie?
Yeah. Seriously. Remember when about 10 years ago, it would cost you $5 for a 48-hour rental, that would beat you up on late charges if you didn’t get it back on time? (As I alluded to earlier … you netflixers … the increase really isn’t that horrible, is it? – and if you don’t like it, visit a redbox … or soon, stream from one)
No one expects a Spanish Inquisition.
Now, some people have the skill to anticipate market and resource changes and can capitalize on them. Life Coaching is a great example. This is a profession, largely unregulated from it’s similar or related professions (counseling, psychotherapy, etc.), that has exploded in the last 10 years or so, all based on the premise of helping ordinarily well-functioning individuals plan for their life and reach their personal goals. It is a lucrative endeavor.
It’s not just that. It’s Google. It’s Hulu. It’s Thirty-One. Name them. Name the businesses, ideas, and advances that weren’t present even 10 years ago.
You can’t ever stop learning.
Read a book. Take a class. Learn a trade. Apprentice with a master. Experience new things. Consider your purpose. Always commit to learning.
I consider myself a life-learner. As I prepare two graduate school applications for a late fall deadline, I have those good feelings creeping up again. Feelings of excitement and anticipation of sitting in a classroom and of listening to someone about something I may know little about. I love learning. I have a growing list of books that I am trying to read in this year. I have subscribed to about a dozen RSS feeds, and dozens of Twitter’ers (sp?) because for a while, I though I was capped. Sure, that sounds arrogant, but when you have excelled to a degree of plateau in your profession (independently licensed in a terminal degree) you tend to think “you’re there”.
Well, you’re never “there”.
Don’t be Blockbuster Video. Be the next Redbox.
Don’t be the Postal Service. Be the next Fedex.
Don’t be the person you were yesterday. Be the person you will be 10 years from now … today.
(Disclaimer – In no way do I mean to portray a disdain for the honor and diligence of the US Postal Service. My comparisons are simply a result of their current operational and business paradigms, not a testament to their continuing work helping people communicate with others and get things where they need to be)