June 2008

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Some sort of weird meta thing going on with this video. I’ve long thought we’d hear VW’s music in an upcoming Wes Anderson movie, but it seems that VW sort of flipped things around. They’ve essentially made a Wes Anderson video for their song.

The setting, the attire, the single tracking shot, and – most tellingly – the use of Futura Bold (definitely Anderson’s signature font, in the same way Windsor is Woody Allen’s font) in the chapter titles (not to mention the…uh…chapter titles) all scream Wes Anderson.

Don’t get me wrong, I am 1000% fine with all of this. Makes good sense.

Vampire Weekend “Oxford Comma” (fast forward to see “A Punk” and “Mansard Roof”)

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Of all the lectures I have the opportunity to present, one I tremendously enjoy giving is when I get to talk about the importance of exceeding expectations. It’s really fun and easy to discuss bands who either fall below, meet, or beat customers’ expectations, and the consequences that occur.

Put simply: failing to meet expectations leads to bad word of mouth; meeting expectations leads to nothing; exceeding leads to loyalty and good word of mouth. The punch line, such as it is, is that meeting expectations is not enough because nothing happens.

This expectation thang played itself out in our house recently. We needed a toaster…badly. For some reason, toasters have always sort of been a problem for me. I hate toaster ovens (they’re just so 80s), and the random Sunbeam-esque toaster you get for $12 at the hardware store offends me from aesthetic and functionality perspectives. So, much to my wife, Marci’s, frustration, we just went without – toasting via broiling in the oven (yes, many smoke alarms went off) – for a long time.

Finally, Marci (rightly) would have no more of this, and I knew the game was afoot. Somehow, I stumbled upon the Breville Toaster.

One would think that there is not much room for improvement/innovation in a toaster. One would be wrong. Every piece of functionality on this booger has been thought out: The slider for degree of toastiness is a pleasing blue LED; When you put the toast in the slots you don’t push down to engage, but instead press the glowing toast button, and – as my daughter, Annabelle, says, “like an elevator” – the toast is gently loaded; There is a “Look and See” button that elevates the toast so you can check if it’s done (Annabelle loves this); Should your toast be not quite done, there is an “A bit more” button to…well, you get it.

It’s not just the functionality. The aesthetics are amazing: Real stainless steel, aforementioned glowing LED lights, and even a plug with a convenient loop so you can easily unplug.

See what I mean. I’m rhapsodizing about a toaster….a toaster.

This is what happens when expectations are exceeded; you want to tell people. Of course, you also want to have your expectations exceeded again. To wit, I’m now investigating all the other Breville products. Got my eye on the juicer, single shot coffee maker, and many others.

A last point. This toaster ain’t cheap. That said, the price is now a distant afterthought replaced by the pleasure of the machine. This is important to remember. When expectations are wildly exceeded, the product will enjoy a very inelastic demand.

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