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Case Studies

Forward Thinking

By Marta Bright, Bobbie Hartman, Monica Mehta, Christopher Null, Kate Pavao, and Alison Weiss

July 2007

Exotic Car Club

If you've always dreamed of driving a Ferrari but can't handle the US$200,000 price tag, an exotic car club might be just the thing for you. Starting at a few hundred dollars a month, a club membership offers access to a stable of high-end cars, much like a vacation timeshare. You get to drive Lamborghinis, Bentleys, and Porsches without the hassles of ownership, because the club takes care of maintenance, cleaning, and storage. "Our typical member is a 54-year-old individual who currently owns some sort of fun car, or has owned one in the past, and understands the realities of ownership," says Torbin Fuller, president and founder of Club Sportiva (www.clubsportiva.com), the first car club in the country. Car clubs exist throughout the U.S., from Club Sportiva in San Francisco, which offers memberships starting at US$3,500 per year, to the Classic Car Club Manhattan (manhattan.classiccarclub.com), where you can drive a classic like the 2001 Porsche Turbo for about US$7,500 per year. Club costs differ depending on the types of cars and number of driving days offered. Memberships often include perks such as clubhouses and private events. Companies such as Curvy Road (www.curvyroad.com) also offer fractional car ownerships, which lock you into one car but can be less expensive. "When you're out in one of these cars, you get celebrity treatment—people wave, they talk to you, they take photos of the car while you're driving," says Fuller. "You get that sense of, 'I'm somebody special.'"

Book Review
Monkey Business

The Ape in the Corner Office, by Richard Conniff
In The Ape in the Corner Office, Richard Conniff argues that people are very similar to social animals such as primates. "We have to be able to work with other people, and in fact we're completely frustrated if we're not working with other people in order to succeed," he tells Profit.

Conniff examines corporate culture and animal behavior through anecdotes and studies, and he offers advice for working primates looking to thrive in the corporate jungle. Among the book's lessons: an obvious alpha can establish a peaceful environment—but bosses shouldn't forget that creating that environment means taking time to do some serious grooming of their packs. (In other words, don't skip the positive reinforcement.)

Conniff also believes in the power of gossip. "We're built to trade information, and it's not divisive in most cases. It's the opposite. It's how we form bonds with people, by swapping valuable information and letting people know about things that affect their jobs."

One change was made for the paperback edition. The subtitle went from Understanding the Workplace Beast in All of Us to How to Make Friends, Win Fights and Work Smarter by Understanding Human Nature. Why the switch? "I don't think people like being reminded of their animal origins as much as I do," Conniff says. "They're ready to hear how biology affects behavior, but it seemed more sensible to show them how understanding their biology can help them succeed."

Want to hear more? See how facial expressions, gossip, and compliments impact your management style in Richard Conniff's conversation with Profit Online, at oracle.com/profit/exec/060807_conniff.html.

Hide and Seek

For golfers, one of the main frustrations during a game is losing a ball, wasting time looking for it, and taking a penalty when it can't be found. It takes the focus off where it should be—on the game itself. Now, there's a solution to this challenge: the RadarGolf System, by Radar Corporation. The system uses Ball Positioning System technology, which is a microchip embedded in the core of USGA-conforming, high-quality golf balls. Golfers use a handheld homing device to find any lost balls using a radio signal. Depending on the terrain, golf balls can be detected from up to 100 feet away. According to Radar President and CEO Chris Savarese, "Professional golfers don't have to look for their golf balls. All golfers should have this advantage. RadarGolf gives golfers their own digital caddy."

The RadarGolf System, which is priced at US$199.95 and includes 12 golf balls, is available through the company's Web site as well as Sharper Image and Golfsmith. For more information, go to www.radargolf.com.

Snuggle Up to These Diseases

Ever thought of the common cold as . . . cute? You might, after you see what rhinovirus looks like as a cuddly, five-inch plush toy. Giantmicrobes are plush dolls that look like real microbes, only a million times the actual size (and not infectious). Each doll comes with an image of the real microbe it represents as well as information about the microbe.

A Chicago-based company also called Giantmicrobes has been making these snuggly viruses and germs since 2002. CEO and founder Drew Oliver originally developed the plush toys as educational tools for doctors and teachers but found that these adorable replicas of the flu, bad breath, Lyme disease, dust mites, rabies, and even scum appealed to the general public. Today, you'll find Rhino and his companions in drugstores, hospital gift shops, and science and children's museums. Check out www.giantmicrobes.com to see the entire collection and to order.

An In-Dash GPS that Goes with You!

Want a real-time map wherever you go? You can pay hundreds of dollars for a handheld GPS unit that mounts awkwardly (and illegally in some states) on your car's windshield. Or you can pay thousands for a built-in automotive GPS unit that never leaves your vehicle, making it useless for camping, hiking, or adventuring after you park the car. Fujitsu Eclipse's AVN2210p offers the best of both worlds. It's an in-dash car stereo with a full, 3.5-inch GPS screen. But when you exit your car, just punch a button and the GPS unit pops out to help you navigate on foot.

Priced in the low US$900 range, the base Eclipse unit fits in any 2-DIN (double-height) stereo bay, offering a CD player that can play MP3 and WMA files, a USB port for standard MP3 players, and an optional Sirius radio and iPod connector. Bluetooth is also built in, in case you'd like to fold your cell phone into the mix and use the car speakers for your call.

The GPS unit comes from TomTom, one of the top names in navigation, and its screen is preloaded with maps of the U.S. and Canada, plus 5 million popular destinations such as restaurants and gas stations. The usual top-down and 3-D map views are available, with gentle, turn-by-turn voice guidance, and a real-time traffic display is also available as an upgrade. Disconnected, the GPS offers about 90 minutes of runtime before the battery dies, so don't forget how to ask for directions. For more information, visit www.eclipse-web.com.

Tech Events

Oracle OpenWorld Asia Pacific
Shanghai, China, July 30-August 2
Experience the latest in Oracle applications, technologies, and solutions. Keynotes from Oracle executives and key partners, more than 165 sessions covering all Oracle products, an exhibition hall with Oracle and partner products, and ample opportunities for networking make this a must-attend event for Oracle professionals and customers in the Asia Pacific region.

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo
San Francisco, August 6-9
The single-largest gathering of the Linux and open source community, LinuxWorld brings together three days of education, strategic insight, and success stories.

Digital ID World
San Francisco, September 24-26
The Digital ID World conference provides information and analysis of how digital identity is being leveraged to help integrate, manage, and secure networks. Presentations cover deployments, identity-based technologies, standards, and more.

Oracle HCM Users Group Annual Conference
Las Vegas, Nevada, September 24-27
Whether you use Oracle E-Business Suite or Oracle's PeopleSoft Enterprise for HR management, this conference offers an excellent opportunity for networking with peers and speaking directly with Oracle's development team.

The Shoe Knows

The latest twist in GPS technology won't help you find your way around an unfamiliar city, but it will locate a missing loved one. Isaac Daniel's Compass sneaker features an embedded 2-by-3-inch GPS module in the bottom of the shoe. In the event that the wearer is lost, the GPS module uses satellite technology to pinpoint his or her location anywhere on earth. The company released its first line of sneakers earlier this year. Available in six designs, the sneakers look like any other brand of running shoe and retail for approximately US$325 a pair, plus a monitoring fee of US$20 a month. A children's line will be available in spring 2008. For more information, visit www.isaacdaniel.com.

Discovering Sake

Most people are somewhat familiar with Japan's offering to the realm of delicate wine—sake. There are five grades of sake: junmai-shu, which includes only rice and no added distilled alcohol; honjozo-shu, which includes just a hint of added alcohol; ginjo-shu, which is made from highly milled rice and may contain added alcohol; daiginjo-shu, which has ultramilled rice and also may include added alcohol. Last is namazake-su, which is unpasteurized.

Overall drinkability and taste quality places daiginjo-shu, which has a silky smooth texture and light flavor, at the top of the list. Following daiginjo-shu is ginjo-shu, which has a slightly acidic taste, then junmai-shu, which offers hints of tropical fruit and is considered an everyday sake. Honjozo-shu is very similar to junmai-shu, and nama-zake, which comes from the first press, has a dry, full-bodied taste, and must be consumed soon after opening or it will become cloudy. After conducting a search for sublime—and budget-friendly at under US$50 per bottle—sake offerings, the editors at Profit recommend these four:

  • Junmai-shu: Otokoyama ("Man's Mountain")
  • Honjozo-shu: Hakkaisan ("8 Mountains, 8 Seas")
  • Ginjo-shu: Suishin Tenjomukyu ("Eternal Heaven")
  • Daiginjo-shu: Wakatake Onikoroshi ("Demon Slayer")

Photography by Shutterstock