February 28, 2011

A Very Special Blog from New Zealand

By Paul Bieber
Last Year, Ian Barker of Christchurch, New Zealand, sent in a guest blog which was published on my pages.  Two weeks ago, he sent another, which follows.  The most amazing part of this story will continue after Ian’s blog.  Here is Ian’s blog:

My daughter says “Mom, can we have McDonald’s for dinner?”.

Her mother, who is rushing around trying to get their gear sorted for Saturday morning sport, says “Maybe,” and continues busily looking for the sun hats.

In the computer industry kids would be described as “boolean.” It means either on or off, yes or no, black or white. With boolean computers there is no middle ground. There is no “maybe.”

When parents say “maybe,” kids hear “yes.” When Mom answered “maybe” they programmed their minds for McDonald’s for dinner and began salivating over the very thought of a greasy Big Mac. Later in the day, they say “Mom, why are we having salad for dinner? You said we could have McDonald’s.” Mom responds, and what follows is a very negative and pointless discussion about who said what and how we are not having McDonald’s as Mom has already made a lovely salad. Nothing good comes from this.

Maybe. The worst word in the world.

So, this guy comes into your glass shop and says he needs a mirror cut and polished. You discuss and agree on a price. Just as the customer is leaving your shop and you have turned away to return to another job he calls out “Can I pick it up this afternoon.” What do you answer? If you take your time to stop and think the answer will be a simple “Yes” or “No.” Very boolean of you. If you’re mind has moved to the next job you could say “maybe”. Oooh, very dangerous. The customer just heard you say “yes.” If you do deliver the polished mirror that afternoon the customer’s expectations will have been met. All good. If you don’t, then the customer will feel that you’ve not done what you said you would. A bad customer relations situation for your company. Not good.

So, I’m banning the word “Maybe” in my family. I think banning this word will only have positive outcomes for my family by the kids not thinking their parents (or others) have let them down.  I am also banning the word in the rest of my life, work and social. No one will ever get away with answering “maybe” to my questions, and no-one will ever hear me answer their questions with a “maybe.”

Will this work? Please answer with a boolean response!

Great blog, but, here is what is so amazing:  Ian sent his blog to me on the afternoon of Sunday, February 20.  I responded on Monday afternoon, commenting on how good the blog was, and asking for some additional information that I could include with the blog.  What follows is is Ian’s answer:

Paul, great to get the “Yes,” many thanks.

We are sweltering in another hot day of summer. Blue skies, no wind, and very much summer. I’ve been watching all the wintery news from the USA, and we had a truck delivery from Seattle to NY delayed a couple of weeks ago due to bad weather.

Our bio is:

“The Glass Racking Company is a global supplier of transportation and factory handling equipment to the glass and window industries. Our products assist customers to save time, reduce rework, and address health and safety. Checkout our comprehensive website at www.theglassrackingcompany..com including 73 online videos of our products, 32 brochures, hundreds of photos, helpful tips, and much more. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and join us on Facebook and LinkedIn.”

Our business is going well despite the global economic recession. It’s a lot of hard work but seeing traction in our international markets is very rewarding. There’s a blog in that one day.

Also here in my home town of Christchurch (400,000 people) we had a 7.1 earthquake in September and have had over 4800 aftershocks since then. The first quake moved the ground 9 feet sideways and 3 feet up. Quite remarkable. The glass and window industries were bought to their knees, with massive losses of glass, but thankfully no loss of life. There’s a good story in how the industry recovered to fix up our city, and also what glass and window factory equipment and systems survived the earthquakes well, and not so well.

Please keep up the good work with your blog. Myself and others here subscribe to USGNN and always read your blog entries. You have a great knack of mixing glass, business and topics of general interest. Most bloggers struggle to get the content and mix right, but not you Paul!

Lets keep in touch.



The very next day, Christchurch was hit with another huge earthquake, killing more than 150 people and leaving vast destruction. I wrote Ian again, hoping that he was alright and safe. Here is his next response:

What an frightening few days! Fortunately my family, closest friends and all staff are all accounted for and no injuries. We have power and water on at our house so are one of the lucky few. Our house has been a stop-in haven for neighbours, friends and relatives so we’ve been very busy comforting and looking after them. My wife is responsible for over 80 foreign students who are at home stays, so Caro has been busy sorting them and their home stay parents, and getting them out of the country – no mean feat with limited telecommunications operating plus language issues.

I visited some glass companies yesterday and will spend all day today visiting others and arranging our staff to do what we can for them – its vital to the rebuild of our city that the glass and window businesses get back to operation.

Thanks for your thoughts, Paul.



In 1979 or 1980, while I was employed by CR Laurence, I attended a meeting at the home office in Los Angeles and experienced a small earthquake, the first one I had ever been involved in.  I jumped … and everyone around laughed.  To them it was just another thing.  It scared the heck out of me.  I look it up and it was a 2.3 on the scale.  Barely nothing.  Yet, it frightened me.  My heart goes out to the country of New Zealand, and the people of Christchurch.  I, and I am sure all of my readers, have you in our prayers.