Son of Five Rivers Blog

For the advancement of Entrepreneurship, Sustainability & the Ecology of Everyday Life

Google Strikes Back at Rupert Murdoch!

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, strikes back at Rupert Murdoch in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal (which is owned by Rupert Murdock by the way). Before we get to the good stuff I’ll quickly explain who Rupert Murdoch is for those who don’t know.  He owns lots of media outlets (Newspapers, Magazines, Radio Stations, TV Networks, Cable & Internet Companies etc.) He is the founder, a major shareholder, chairman and managing director of News Corporation (News Corp).  He’s been in the news lately because he wants to ban Google from searching his sites and has been trying to make an agreement with Bing (Microsoft).  I don’t think he should be able to control the message people can and cannot hear.  I think and I hope he loses big on this!

With dwindling revenue and diminished resources, frustrated newspaper executives are looking for someone to blame. Much of their anger is currently directed at Google, whom many executives view as getting all the benefit from the business relationship without giving much in return. The facts, I believe, suggest otherwise.

Google is a great source of promotion. We send online news publishers a billion clicks a month from Google News and more than three billion extra visits from our other services, such as Web Search and iGoogle. That is 100,000 opportunities a minute to win loyal readers and generate revenue—for free. In terms of copyright, another bone of contention, we only show a headline and a couple of lines from each story. If readers want to read on they have to click through to the newspaper’s Web site. (The exception are stories we host through a licensing agreement with news services.) And if they wish, publishers can remove their content from our search index, or from Google News.

here’s even better stuff:

It’s understandable to look to find someone else to blame. But as Rupert Murdoch has said, it is complacency caused by past monopolies, not technology, that has been the real threat to the news industry.

Kudos to the WSJ for running the piece—assuming some editor didn’t lose his or her job for doing this. I just can’t wait to watch Google and News Corp go at it.

December 4, 2009 Posted by | Ads, Blogging, Business, Business Development, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Government, Information Technology (I.T.), Inspiration, Marketing, Politics, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media, Sustainable Community Development, War, Website | | Leave a comment

10 Questions Businesses Should Never Stop Asking

Here are the 10 questions businesses should have asked when starting and they are the very questions that any business owner should continue to ask, year in and year out:


What is our purpose for existing?

Who is our target customer? and why?

Why does anyone need what we’re selling?

If there is a need, is it enough to support a profitable business?

What are our competitors up to?

Can you reduce expenses–without harming the product?

Do the company have the right leadership?

Do we have the right employees?

How will we continue to drive revenue?

How are your employees holding up?

Please add any suggestions:

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Business, Business Development, Business Model, Human Resources, Marketing | | Leave a comment

The problem with Centralized Purchasing

Definition of Centralized Purchasing: The control by a central department of all the purchasing undertaken within a large organization. Centralized purchasing is often located in the headquarters and centralization has the advantages of reducing duplication of effort, pooling volume purchases for discounts, enabling more effective inventory control, increasing skills development in purchasing personnel and sometime by consolidating transport loads to achieve lower costs (unless everything has to repackage and shipped to other branches).

The Financial & Administrative Impacts

Organizations are focusing too much on centralized purchasing because of the typical administrative and financial benefits associated.  Economies of scale kicks in when buying bulk and it many cases it is easier to manage.  But here’s the idea; what if executives responsible form Sales, Marketing, Finance, HR & Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) sat together and rethought a strategy that would fulfill not just the bottom line ($) but the triple bottom line (Finance, Social, Environment) while meeting all departmental objectives.

Helping develop the local economy benefits any business operating in that community, the case same would go for the branch location of any multinational.   The decision to decentralize purchasing and purchase from small businesses owned locally would do wonders for multinational CSR and branding.  Logistically it would have less of a carbon footprint because less transportation.

The success stories and highlighting local businesses would be a new approach of viral marketing for the Marketing department.  Financially it would make sense as head office already knows the price targets each branch needs to meet.

The case can be made that centralized purchasing you have fewer suppliers and thats more control.  This is translated into “stronger or better relationships.” If we look at the turnover and promotions within large multinationals do you really think its stronger relationships or is it entirely bottom line driven.

Now imagine an organization that goes away from playing the global market and but instead now develops the local economy.  Now each branch of the multinational would purchase its supplies from local small business community, which in return could generate more business for that branch.  This helps the local economy and all the employees of the multinational.  How does it do that?  Take your wife/husband, kids, neighbours and/ or siblings, then think about where they work and how the development of local business community can effect their lives and your community.  The stronger we make each community the more robust in can grow leading to a great satisfaction of everyday life.   Plus look at the simple economics of the multiplier effect where everyone is buying from small businesses and that same dollar is being spent several times over in the community where before it would have left without anyone even seeing it.  All this can make a HR (Human Resources) department more efficient when you start looking at statistics that community driven and sustainable organization have higher retention rates and higher levels of productivity.

The branch would play a vital part in the local economy and help keep dollars in the pockets of their customers and the employees families, who live work and play in that community.


November 30, 2009 Posted by | Business Model, Community Economic Development (CED), Great Ideas | , | Leave a comment

How Procurement Helps Organizations Stay on Course in a Tough Economic Climate

Recent economic conditions require immediate, measurable, and sustainable cost reductions, and it’s essential
that procurement leads the way in delivering savings. The link below leads to research conducted by SAP in conjunction with the Procurement Leaders Network.  You will find the results of a survey taken in April–May 2009, where over 200 procurement executives about what strategies are working today, in a period of economic free fall.  63% of stakeholders interviewed are responsible for procurement with companies that have annual sales in excess of €1 billion euros.

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Business, Community Economic Development (CED) | , | Leave a comment

Facebook using your photos for

FacebookUPDATE on Tuesday, Nov. 24: This rumor about Facebook using your photos in ads without your consent is spreading again. The rumor was not true earlier this year and it is not true now. For more information on Facebook’s advertising policies and how we use photos, please take a look at the blog post below.


Published on Friday, July 24
In the past couple of days, a rumor has begun spreading that claims we have changed our policies for third-party advertisers and the use of your photos. These rumors are false, and we have made no such change in our advertising policies.

If you see a Wall post or receive a message with the following language or something similar, it is this false rumor:

FACEBOOK has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures WITHOUT your permission.

The advertisements that started these rumors were not from Facebook but placed within applications by third parties. Those ads violated our policies by misusing profile photos, and we already required the removal of those deceptive ads from third-party applications before this rumor began spreading.

We are as concerned as many of you are about any potential threat to your experience on Facebook and the protection of your privacy. That’s why we prohibit ads on Facebook Platform that cause a bad user experience, are misleading, or otherwise violate our policies. Along with removing ads, we’ve recently prohibited two entire advertising networks from providing services to applications on Facebook Platform because they were not compliant with our policies and failed to correct their practices.

We’re committed to remaining vigilant in enforcing our policies to prevent bad ads from appearing on Facebook—whether served by us or a third party. But we also need your help. If you ever see a misleading ad or believe it violates our policies, report it to us.

If it’s one of our ads, you can simply click the thumbs-down icon that appears above or below the ad to report it. If the ad is from a third-party application, click the “Report” link at the bottom of the page to report it to the developer and us.

How We Use Photos


We’ve run advertisements from our own advertising system for more than a year that let your friends know if you have a direct connection with a product or service, in the same way that your friends learn through your News Feed if you’re connected with another friend or an organization’s Facebook Page.

These social ads always require that you and your friends have taken an express action to indicate your connections with the product or service and that no data be shared with the third party.

Barry, manager of policy communications at Facebook, likes checking the facts.

November 26, 2009 Posted by | Business | Leave a comment

2010 Emerging Trends in Real Estate – Price Waterhouse Coopers

November 25, 2009 Posted by | Business, Construction, Economics | Leave a comment

Top 20 Consumer Trends for 2010

November 25, 2009 Posted by | Business, Business Model, Creativity, Great Ideas | | Leave a comment

The White House going Open Source

White House announced via the Associated Press that is now running on Drupal, the open source content management system. That Drupal implementation is in turn running on a Red Hat Linux system with Apache, MySQL and the rest of theLAMP stackApache Solr is the new White House search engine.  This move is huge win for open source movement and to bridge the digital divide amongst all of us who can benifit from technology.

This is one step forward for all the people of the world.  If government can adopt open source technologies and web 2.0 it would truly make a more democratic society.

November 24, 2009 Posted by | Business, Creativity, Government, Information Technology (I.T.), Open Source, Politics | , , | Leave a comment

RFID The Future of Technology

Looks amazing doesn’t it?  The problem is RFID may begin to take away whatever anonymity we have and is in complete violation of our privacy rights.

For business its great, you can track just about everything and its going to transform the supply chain of every multi-national corporation.  They will have an abundance of fantastic information to analyze.

My problem is what happens when we start tracking people. President Bush stated the use of  RFID would help in tracking people who enter America on temporary work visas and don’t leave.   Now image how this could be abused when this same technology will go into our new drivers licenses and passports.

Entrepreneurs may take this to the extreme and develop “radio-opaque” sleeves to protect whatever anonymity they think we should be entitled to have.   Even this won’t do much for us, because imagine if phones (iphone for example), our credit cards, debit cards, SIN Cards, Health Cards, Gift Cards and even our money was tagged!

Perhaps it could be great to help against the trafficking of drugs  if every single dollar note were traceable.  And perhaps if it is taken to a public referendum where the propaganda will be its a fight on terror and drugs.   Majority of the people will let this go because of the simple mentality “I don’t have anything to hide.”  Too bad the main lobbyist behind RFID technology are big corporations.  In 1999 Proctor and Gamble, Gillette & MIT partnered together with the objective to try to track every item ever produced and shipped in the world.  It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 10 years with this technology.  Imagine how much smaller these chips will get! I’ve read forums where they are discussing RFID is the size of a grain of sand.

Enjoy the videos below! You may have seen the IBM commercials a few years ago.  Also there is a good book called “Spy Chips” by Katherine Albercht, great read!

Son of Five Rivers

November 21, 2009 Posted by | Business, Information Technology (I.T.) | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Second Wind, Canadian Billionaire

Second Wind, by Peter C. Newman  January 31st, 2007 [Courtesy: Maclean’s]

It is entirely appropriate that for this final instalment of Maclean’s series on the New-Canadian Establishment, my subject should be Navjeet (Bob) Singh Dhillon, a very different breed of entrepreneur than his half-dozen predecessors. Unlike his peers, he is a master scuba diver, expert spear fisherman, and professional-level salsa dancer. He does not wear the traditional Sikh turban and prefers yoga and meditation to religious observance. As a businessman — he boasts that he will become North America’s first Sikh billionaire — he runs and controls a half-a-billion dollar, publicly traded real estate company, snaps up apartment buildings in Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver, and for fun on the side, markets luxury beach lots in the Central American playground of Belize.

A 40-year-old, barrel-chested extrovert who lives in a palatial $2-million house on a mountainside overlooking Calgary, Dhillon justifiably describes himself as having “a triple A-type personality.” He has never been interviewed before, except for two-minute segments on business channels, and is inordinately shy about his personal life, which he insists must remain private for religious reasons.

Dhillon’s frantic schedule allows few quiet moments to discover balance in his life. “When I’m travelling alone on plane rides, that’s the only time I have for myself,” he tells me. “On those four-hour trips from Toronto to Calgary, I can reflect on my future. I’m always writing notes to myself and sketching out business plans. But I do meditate, which gives me calmness.”

He almost didn’t have a future. “I was diagnosed at one time for having cancer, and I beat it,” he reveals. “I got my clean bill of health three years ago. I also beat racism in Alberta and the odds of a falling capital market. What drives me is the second wind on my life when I beat cancer, and went through chemo. Now the stars are realigning. My personality is a fabric of my family, being an immigrant, and beating cancer.

“If you ask me what religion I am, I would say, I am a Sikh,” he says. “But if you ask me whether I am a real practising Sikh, I would say that would be a false statement. I am more spiritual than religious. Sikhs were persecuted like the Jews. They’ve always been at war. For hundreds of years, we guarded the foothills of the Khyber Pass, beating off the invaders who came from the north. When you’re fighting for your life, generation after generation, you develop a survival instinct, as I have. The image of being Sikh is that it’s orthodox-oriented, but it actually is very liberal. You go to a Sikh temple, and they sing songs like the southern Baptists and invite you in for a meal. When the Canadian Legion wouldn’t allow turbaned Sikhs into their halls, they didn’t realize that we’ve won more Victoria Crosses than any other group. Sir John A. Macdonald once suggested bringing in a Sikh battalion to protect Canada from the Americans.”

Although he considers India to be his homeland, Dhillon was born in Japan. His grandfather Saproon Singh Dhillon had migrated from Punjab to Hong Kong at age 16. There he eventually became a trader and established the North China Shipping Co., which exported goods to Japan. That was where Dhillon was born in 1965. Six years later, the family moved to Liberia to tap the trading market of West Africa. During the 1970s, when a bitter civil war erupted in that unstable republic, the family lost everything and sought refuge in Vancouver. It was not a happy time. Racial slurs were regularly directed at the youthful Bob as he walked to school.

The family relocated to Calgary, which they initially found to be no more welcoming. His mother was fired from her job at the post office strictly because of its racist attitude. “Now, this is a fact,” Dhillon insists. “We fought the case with the post office, a Crown corporation, and won. I don’t want to give you a story about someone hitting me in a bar, or somebody calling me a Paki and pulling my hair — these are things that happen because some guy behaves like an idiot. I’m telling you about an institutional fact. My mom fought the case, and was reinstated a year later.”

The family soldiered on in Calgary. “It was tough getting a job,” Dhillon remembers. “There were only stereotyped positions available for the Sikhs, and it was really hard to break through the glass ceilings. For example, we were banned from any front-line positions in offices, and no oil companies would hire me.”

With no obvious prospects, he decided to go into business for himself. In 1984, at age 19, he bought two houses, fixed them up, and sold them for an $18,000 profit. That was his modest grubstake. For the next 15 years he bought and sold Calgary real estate worth about $150 million, a hectic pastime better known as flipping. “I worked out of the trunk of my car and with a cellphone,” he remembers. “What drove me to work 70 hours a week or more was that my family had lost everything in Liberia after the coup, and I vowed it would never happen again.”

Incongruously, his first success was to establish the grand-sounding Pan-Pacific Mercantile Group, which he hoped to spin into a major distributor of three-dozen North American brands throughout South Asia. It never happened, but until recently if you ordered a Bloody Mary anywhere east of Hawaii, you’d have flavoured it with Tabasco sauce that was distributed by Bob Dhillon.

He underwent a significant sea change in 1996 when he decided, at age 32, to spend two years getting his executive MBA at the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business. Larry Tapp, then the school’s dean and now a director of Dhillon’s companies, described him as “a very direct, driven guy.” In May of his first year, he incorporated Mainstreet Equity Corp. as a numbered Alberta company that would become his main investment vehicle. “I used every available course at Ivey to formulate the strategy for Mainstreet,” he recalls. “Whether it was building a brand, running an efficient operation, financing growth or making a speech, I thought about the lessons in terms of what they meant for Mainstreet.” When he graduated, his company went public, and he began buying properties to hold instead of flip. Once back in Calgary, he moved his office out of the car trunk to the main floor of one his buildings, which was also used to store construction supplies.

In the process of moving in new directions, he came up with every entrepreneur’s wet dream: a neglected yet accessible real estate niche that could profitably be filled without having to raise too much new capital. The building industry was polarized into local mom-and-pop-size operations running a few buildings, and at the other end, the giants — the Bronfmans, the Reichmanns, Brookfield, Trizec and others. In between was where Dhillon wanted to be. He became a consolidator of multi-family, mid-tiered residential rental properties, starting in Alberta, then moving west to Vancouver and east to Toronto. During the past seven years, Mainstreet Equity (of which he owns 41 per cent) has mushroomed from 276 units to nearly 4,000, with a portfolio worth more than $300 million. The year 1999 was a particularly stellar one, with the Globe and Mail Report on Business Magazine ranking his company the following year at the top of its list of Biggest Profit Gainers, recording a stunning 15,791 per cent increase.

His technique is to buy buildings that require drastic repositioning, such as one in Calgary’s Forest Lawn area that had 60 deserted cars and trucks in its derelict parking lot, holes in living-room walls, and all the telltale signs of having been a druggie hangout. Dhillon invested $2.3 million, doubled the rents, and turned a slum into a middle- class complex. His fix-ups do not break any luxury barriers. Expenditures are calculated to the nearest penny. (Replacing toilets with modern, low-volume fixtures, for example, reduces water consumption from six gallons per flush to 1.6; substituting 60-watt light bulbs with $20 fluorescent lights reduces annual electricity consumption from $30 to $8.) He doubles rents and three-quarters of his pre-renovation tenants usually move out, but the increased cash flow covers the cost of the upgrades.

Fifteen years ago, when he was looking around for something interesting to fill his non-existent spare time, Dhillon discovered Belize, a tiny former British colony bordered by Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Guatemala to the west. It was an English-speaking democracy with little poverty, and still virgin tourist territory. With only 280,000 people, it boasted all the trimmings fit for expats: offshore banks protected by secrecy laws, a diving paradise second only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, dozens of Mayan ruin sites, and 540 species of wild birds.

Dhillon purchased a 2,300-acre island and marketed beach lots, only a few with price tags of under $1 million. Leonardo DiCaprio is a neighbour, and Madonna is said to own a nearby estate. When Dhillon is not skippering his 55-foot yacht into the surf (occasionally crossing over to Cuba), he is negotiating to purchase an 88,000-acre patch of jungle for more development. His original island is now worth well over $100 million. “Belize will be the next St. Bart’s without the Eurotrash,” Dhillon says. “It has the best fishing, the best diving, the best sailing, white sand beaches, and the kind of lifestyle we all dream about.”

…The one constant in Dhillon’s cheerful litany is his unstinted praise for the country of his choice. “I owe my success to Canada. No matter how bright I may be, or articulate or generous,” he confesses, “if I wasn’t in Canada, I wouldn’t have had one-tenth of the success anywhere else in the world. I owe my start to Alberta, because it was not a closed shop, like some of the other places. If you create a business model there that has a success pattern, you can branch out to other parts of Canada. The rest of the country can learn something from Alberta, which is that the No. 1 economic engine is lower taxes. Let the people be free. Governments cannot create jobs. Governments cannot create anything.”

In the real estate world, Mainstreet remains a mid-size company. “I’ve got to be at about $5 or $10 billion before anybody will recognize me.” But Bob Dhillon intends to double his holdings in the next five years, and he has another advantage. “I’m now learning kundalini, which is a higher level of yoga,” he confides as we part company. “I’m a very spiritual individual. Meditation combined with yoga means I can live forever. Literally.”

November 21, 2009 Posted by | Business | | Leave a comment