Answer Yourself! A blog by Sukhpreet Singh

A blog on personal development, entrepreneurship & change.

12th September 2007

What matters – being number 1 by any means or fair play?

In my previous article, i talked about a small, young (4 years new) but fast growing organic plant food company – TerraCycle®. They are being sued by a large (over 2.6 billion dollar), 100 years old company – Scotts Miracle-Gro®.

So whats the lawsuit? According to suedbyscotts.com, a site owned by Terracycle:

1) Scotts claims that the two companies’ products look similar and will confuse customers because some TerraCycle plant foods have a green and yellow label with a circle and a picture of flowers and vegetables on it.
2) Scotts also objects that TerraCycle says its plant food is as good or better than “a leading synthetic plant food” and is refusing Scotts’ demands that TerraCycle hand over its scientific tests conducted at the Rutgers University EcoComplex to Scotts’ scientists and lawyers. Scotts refuses to turn its tests over to TerraCycle.

But Why did this multi-billion dollar GOLIATH sue DAVID (TerraCycle – the small company)? I found this reason by Rider of sustainableisgood.com to make a lot of sense:

It appears the lawsuit is really an attempt by Scotts Miracle-Gro to prevent TerraCycle from becoming established in the rapidly growing market for organic non-chemical based fertilizers and plant food, which coincidentally Scotts Miracle-Gro is trying to crack into with its Organic Choice® line of products.
Clearly Scotts is concerned by the fact TerraCycle is carried by Wal-Mart & Home Depot as well as numerous other large retailers and that this will some how impact their business.Bullying

Hmmm… that seems like bullying to me. According to this definition of bullying at wikipedia.org :

Bullying is the act of intentionally causing unhappiness to others through verbal harassment, physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion such as manipulation. There is currently no legal definition of bullying.
In colloquial speech, bullying often describes a form of harassment perpetrated by an abuser who possesses more physical and/or social power and dominance than the victim. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a target. The harassment can be verbal, physical and/or emotional.

There are many types of bullying. One particular kind is known as Legal bullying. It is a way of bringing a distressing legal action to control and punish a person or an organization. So what are the characteristics of a target that is chosen to be bullied amongst so many others that exist and what events trigger such an act – (source: here)

a) target company/person might be showing independence of thought or deed.
b) the bully fears exposure of his/her inadequacy and incompetence; target’s presence, popularity and competence unintentionally fuel that fear
c) having a well-defined set of values which the target is unwilling to compromise (hint: Being environmental friendly, organic)

Triggers:
a) target’s performance unwillingly highlights, draws attention to, exposes or invites unfavorable comparison with the bully’s lack of performance
b) challenging the status quo, especially unintentionally
c) gaining recognition of target’s achievements, eg winning an award or being publicly recognized.

TerraCycle has decided to fight the lawsuit which might cost them an estimated 1 million dollars. For a startup company which is just beggining to see profit, thats a lot of money. On the other hand, putting myself in the big Giant’s shoes, i see the point – crush the competition before it becomes big.

So whats right – being #1 by any means or fair play?

PS: Check out suedbyscotts.com to find more details about insighful comparison between the two companies, their history, TerraCycle’s counter-arguments etc. Also, there is a link to make donations to TerraCycle to raise enough funds to fight this case. Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to any of the above companies.

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posted in change, entrepreneurship |
28th August 2007

100 atomic bombs every year

Today, its been two years since hurricane Katrina unleashed its power on New Orleans and other Katrina coastal cities. To quote from USATODAY:

Katrina was a 396-year storm, meaning that statistically, another storm of its magnitude would not hit for nearly 400 years…. The flooding that began after Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005, delivered an estimated $150 billion worth of damage to the Gulf Coast region, making it the worst disaster in U.S. history.

I just got done watching “Storm That Drowned a City” on Pbs.org. It was heart-breaking, gut-wrenching and goose-bumping (if such a word exists) depiction of physical and psychological state of people just before, during and after the hurricane. One of the scientist on the show said, “One hurricane of that magnitude has a force and destruction capability of 10 atomic bombs.” He also said that due to global warming, the temperature of the ocean where most of the hurricanes – that head towards US – are born, has increased by half a degree over past couple of decades. This half degree rise means additional 10 hurricanes every year. That amounts to additional 100 atomic bombs every year that head towards US and Mexico.

Before going to bed, as i was brushing my teeth with tap water running at full blast, my mind asked “What can i contribute towards making our earth ‘greener’? Can i even think of making the tiniest dent towards conserving energy and contribute towards mitigating Global Warming?” And boom! I closed the tap. That was a humble start. I have also decided that in next 2 weeks, i am gonna move from paper statements/bills to online bills. What else can i do? Turn off my fan and light when i leave the room. And as my mind wraps itself more around conserving energy, it will see more things to do that will help me make that “tiny dent”.

But there is something that stands against me – something so strong that i will have to fight hard and often, to come out as a winner. It will be an ongoing battle against “My Habits“. But the more i make those “tiny dents”, the more those “acts” become part of who i am. I look forward to welcome this new change, to become part of me.

We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
- ARISTOTLE

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posted in Conservation, change |
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