Fast Company

That Island Caretaker Job: Floating great ideas when the water's rough

Pictured: Why would anyone want to smurf it up on a tropical island when there's important brainstorming to do? ... you mean this is real pineapple in my pina colada?

 

The Galfromdownunder's Submission  or click here: Can't resist a 1-minute video challenge

 

I still haven't been able to view that insanely popular site for the Island Caretaker job in my home country. ("Get paid $100K to swim snorkel ...")

Big bucks, bottomless Sex on the Beach (aka Sand Up Yer A**) cocktails, a casual schedule and most appealing of all:  no stated requirement that you look like Pamela Anderson in a tanga. It's Work/Life balance (skewed heavily towards "life" for once) on a stick.

It's so jammed, it can't even manage a polite apology like the New York Times threw up after getting crash-tackled for its $14.95 Obama re-print. I suspect that's part of the clever strategy. Keep me banging "Refresh" on my browser like a lab monkey drip fed dopamine, why don't you!

It's a good ad for Australia - far more engaging than Australia.com's bout of cinematic seasickness featuring a dog-paddling VP of Sales limpidly gazing into the camera "coming back as Kate". Unless a character is making a disarming fool of herself, human envy is such that we won't be putting ourselves in her flip flops any time soon. As a straight shooting Aussie, this ad embarrasses me. The Hamilton one, with a big wink in its eye, does not.

As I Googled around, looking for a way to view the application procedure for this 2000-unique-visitor-per-second site, I noticed that no one has taken it on to copy the details.

Imagine the traffic you could be getting, by being the alternative go-to site to the real deal? A bit like those now-annoying USA Greencard Lottery sites, that prey on people those never make it to the dreary governmental portal where the process is essentially free of charge.

Has someone thought to come up with a similar offer too?  6 months in the Bahamas, rent free. I'd say they could dispense with the sweet salary to get the seasonally affected depressed and disorderly clamoring.

Work/life balance is still that holiest of unholy grails, even in a recession, when keeping your job is a blessing.

If you can appeal to that part of us that is arguably the next most desirable thing to sex (it sure lasts longer) you will get discretionary dollar yet.

And I'm not talking about having sandy island sorties to throw around, nor re-inventing wheels. I'm talking about cheap'n'choosy ideas, small but powerful tweaks you can easily implement within  your world – and with people working partial weeks, it's the perfect time to do brainstorm.

Let's do it now.

It's winter, I'm sitting here, snowed in, seasonally affected, down and disorderly ...

I'm holed up in my burrows, surfing the web, researching my next new toy. In this case some wool sox that your toes don't poke through after a week. There's something already, sock manufacturers. We hate a perfectly good sock rendered useless by hole, which only returns, lumpier, no matter how much we darn it.

Back to me. I'm on the web, not standing in your store. Unless your Amazon or Ebay, you've probably been saying, "I need to fix my website" for the past year. I know I have. Do it now. Not only is it unselling  you as you sleep, you're already losing to the competition economy picks up. Why?  A bad website means the product is bad. That's how we think.  Unless you're selling toilet paper or tampons, your sales are probably down, so reduce your sales staff and deploy that money towards upgrading your site.

I'm turning up the heat now ... why haven't I seen a better range of S.A.D. lights?  Why are they ugly, like something you get your wisdom teeth pulled under? Lighting manufacturers, why not make fixtures look like Artemide classics but lift our spirits at the same time?

My green tea is getting cold ... How about a personal heat pad for my favorite mug to keep it warm and cozy? No one really wants to drink coffee from a paper cup through a hole in a plastic top. Perhaps it could be candle driven? The warmth of a flame ...

I just warmed it up in the microwave, despite being browbeaten by a naysayer from the Toast Oven Lobby. I had to push several buttons before I got it right. Whatever happened to the simple and elegant dial from years back, that you could spin to get the minutes and then hit start? Microwave manufacturers, you're supposed to make my life easier.

I did have to step out in the snow just now, and realized that despite my balaclava, my eyes were being battered with sleet – and it was too dark to wear sunglasses. How about a pair of light winter goggles, cleverly tinted (rose gold?) to protect my eyes and make the day seem warmer? An indoor version would do wonders for my awful fluorescent lit carpeted cubicle ... 

Let's move away from cheap'n'choosy products, to cheap'n'choosy MO's:

What about changing your dreary phone menu script? Get rid of "Please listen to the following  options as some of them have changed" and say something more conversational, we'll like you for it, and it will make me forget my neighbors either side never talk to me. Voice recognition software is still not perfect, and I'm tired of an electrovoice telling me  "Sorry I didn't get that" over and over. Give me a button to push, please.

How about changing your "hold" music to an informative and entertaining listening program, offering tips on how to use your product, stories from happy customers, jokes and so forth. Make it like we're at your dinner table. You're selling to us even while we wait our turn.

And please, doctors, and anyone with a receptionist - fire him/her if he/she is not the most loveable creature on the end of a phone line. That voice is the face of your income stream. I called about 10 doctors and hung up in frustration because the receptionist made it sound like I'd called the wrong number.

Restaurants. Why is your server/waiter giving me the bill before telling me about dessert? I appreciate the concern for my waistline, but enrolling me in the creme brulee is part of the reason you can still pay the rent, and keep your best waiters employed. Waiters. don't take my dish away without asking. Do you want a tip or don't you? And it's a recession. I'm gonna eat that last potato.

The Staples Easy button is one of my favorite cheap'n'choosy ideas.

http://www.staples.com/office/supplies/StaplesProductDisplay?storeId=10001&langId=-1&catalogIdentifier=2&partNumber=606396

We want life to be easy, we want it at the push of a button, and we want to play. They captured it in a little non-executive toy.

I read somewhere they've sold millions of dollars of this product. So much so, up to a million dollars each year is donated towards a worthy charity, Boys and Girls of America. 

They've made it even easier - you can now download it to your desktop, though I'd like them to add this caption:  "Although  this is a more convenient, lower carbon footprint version of our famous Easy button, we urge you to buy the real deal, support our Boys and Girls of America, and get your hand off that damn mouse for once."

This is a simple idea, executed all the way to where it counts – our psyche. Yair, I bought one, I don't hit it as often as I should, but when I look at it over there, it brings a smile to my face. A little bit of Work/Life Balance, a little bit of sunshine and sand, a bit of the easy life - while sitting in a snowstorm.

The Galfromdownunder believes that cheap'n'choosy ideas are hard currency in a recession. She likes to celebrate them on her Cheap'n'Choosy blog.

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