Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Prosper others

As a retiree I can do anything I want on any given day.  I have an infinite number of choices on how to spend my time.

Today I decided to attend a class on Selling Energy Efficiency presented by Mark Jewell.

Selling efficiency
Selling energy efficiency presents a conundrum.

Energy is cheap, incredibly cheap, in North America.  In very round numbers, one US dollar of electricity buys enough energy to "bicycle" from Eaton Rapids, Michigan to South Miami, Florida...about 1200 miles.

A rough estimate of a typical company's income statement shows that energy is very small potatoes.  The cost of energy might be 0.3% of the expenses incurred by a "knowledge based" industry like banking or insurance.   The cost of energy disappears when compared to wages and salaries (30%-to-60%).

That makes "selling" energy efficiency hard.  The savings are lost in the noise and ground-clutter.

That is a pity because energy is a keystone resource.  If it were possible to chart all of the relationships between resources, energy would be a critical component of "value adding" in far more links of the value chain than the 0.3% number would indicate.

The material presented by Mark Jewell was copyrighted and he asked us to respect his intellectual property.  So the material I present is from the doodles I made in the margins of the workbooks.  These are not official "Mark Jewell" examples but are imaginings from my own, fevered imagination.

Consider that energy is the prime carrier of information.  Light...consider light:  It tells you when fruit is ripe or cheese is melted.  It can tell you when you are swallowing an aspirin or an ibuprofen or a Tylenol.  Sharp, crisp light provides depth perception so fewer people misstep on stairs.  Is there any resource more critical to competitiveness than information???

The ancillary benefits of high quality LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting extends far beyond the energy savings.  In fact, the ancillary benefits DWARF the energy savings.  Energy is cheap.  Anything times zero is still zero.

It reminds me of Peter Drucker and his distinctions between "Efficient" and "Effective".  The person selling energy efficiency must demonstrate that the buyer gets "effective" as a huge bonus.

Jewell pounded home the message "You need profound understanding of the industry you are selling to."

This next example is totally contrived and speculative.  It is extrapolated from information given on performance documented in milk cows and in academic settings.  I just want to give a flavor of what might be possible.
It has been documented, based on serotonin and cortisol levels, that people are less stressed by LED lighting than by fluorescent lighting.  Stress is simply a polite word for "tense" and "angry".

Before you call "Bullshit" consider that fluorescent lighting typically have ballasts that buzz.  Also consider that bees, wasps, yellow jackets and biting flies buzz around our heads before stinging or biting.  It is not much of a reach to conclude that classical conditioning quickly "hard-wires" our brain to be stressed in the presence of buzzing, whether we are milch cows, horses, school kids or workers in the post office.

What is it worth to de-stress a workplace or a school?  An event that results in an in-patient Mental Health event typically results in five days of lost productivity and $6000 of costs.

Sometimes those events result in fights, sabotage or loss of live-and-limb.

People who are stressed tend toward avoidance strategies.  In short, they miss school and work.  What is the value of taking your "not present" number from 9% to 8%?  It can be huge.  You might be able to find a replacement to stuff into the task but will they add value or will they merely control rioting?

Incidentally, the title of this post is from Mark Jewell's favorite business quote.  This is a saying he learned from his father, Walter Jewell, at the family dinner table:  "The best way to prosper yourself is to prosper others."


  1. That reminded me of a 'study' I saw a few years ago, that milk cows near 115KVA power lines gave considerably less milk than their counterparts in other pastures.


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