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Are Your Old Beliefs Stopping You From Finding Your New Cheese?

Life is constantly changing whether we like it or not. The sooner we adapt to change the better it is for the future. - 3 Minute Read


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Coronavirus was initially discovered in China. It spread over 188 countries around the world and infected millions of people. Fear and anxiety about this pandemic have caused overwhelming strong negative emotions in adults as well as children.

Due to the long lockdown, many businesses are closing down and a lot of them have lost jobs or income cut. 

Like many businesses, the travel industry was badly affected, maybe the worst affected. Many countries have introduced travel restrictions to control the spread of the virus.

As a hotelier had to close shop till things improve.

Funny, how one stumbles into things that lie right in front of you. I had books unread in my cupboard which I had picked up almost a decade back for a casual read in between meetings.

I came across one of the books which resonate with our current situation. 

WHO MOVED MY CHEESE? By Dr. Spencer Johnson is a story of 2 mice namely Sniff and Scurry and 2 little people named Hem and Haw, living in a maze. 

For survival, they constantly looked for Cheese.  One day they found piles of cheese which they thought would last them throughout their lifetime. 

The little men started taking it for granted and it soon became their comfort zone. 

The mice were a little vigilant and noticed that the cheese was disappearing. They started preparing themselves for the next step. 

One day the cheese ran out and as the mice had foreseen, they moved on to look for new cheese in different ways. 

The little men started screaming, “WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?”

They refused to move on and were stuck with the old belief that they were entitled to the cheese and it will magically appear again.

They got new sophisticated tools to dig the walls and expecting to find the cheese there but didn’t want to move out of their comfort. 

Haw got a little smarter and moved out to look again in the unknown. 

Finally, after a consistent and fearless effort, he finds New Cheese.

The cheese is a metaphor for all that a human strives for. It can be money, a good job, a loving relation, possession, fame, reputation, success, or anything else. 

The Maze is the organization we work for, the business we own, the home and family and community we live in. 

Life is constantly changing whether we like it or not.  The sooner we adapt to change the better it is for the future.

This theory may apply to our personal life as well as our business.

The question that kept running on my mind was, Did Hem finally move?

I got a little inquisitive and started browsing Googlebaba looking for companies that did not adapt to change quickly.

I found 3 companies with the characteristics of Hem.

  1. 1 BLOCKBUSTER


    THE STORY

    • A brick and mortar company founded in 1985 in Dallas, Texas. 
    • A guy with sharp thinking and experience with an analysis tool that determined the type of movies to be stacked in locations according to the neighborhood.
    • After 2 years Wayne Huizenga from Waste Management paid $18.5 million for BLOCKBUSTER.
    • In a matter of 5 years, they opened up 2800 stores with their franchise model.
    • In 1994 VIACOM, the media company purchased BLOCKBUSTER for $8.4 billion.
    • Three years later a guy named Reed Hastings created a company named NETFLIX with good strategic thinking to find a better way than paying $40 as late fees for video rental.
    • DVD rental by mail replaced VHS video rental which was comparatively heavier in weight too.
    • Instead of per DVD rental, NETFLIX started with the subscription model for a certain number of DVDs. 
    • They helped their customers discover movies that they hadn’t thought about. NETFLIX took off.
    • In the year 2000, BLOCKBUSTER while announcing their revenues and statistics, slipped the fact that they collected a whopping amount of $800 million only as late fees.
    • NETFLIX approached them for collaboration which was rejected. In fact, BLOCKBUSTER went ahead to appoint a new CEO and executives. 
    • In 2004 BLOCKBUSTER was still at its peak and now had 9000 stores. And also started their mailing service with DVDs but could not match NETFLIX.
    • Their old belief mindset of adding stuff to increase business did not change and the next 2 years saw a steady downfall of BLOCKBUSTER. 
    • They declared bankruptcy in 2010.

    THE PROS

    • They were owned by VIACOM a media company.
    • They had access to content. 
    • They had the money.
    • They were listed on the stock market.

    THE CONS

    • Their thinking was tied down to their old business model.
    • They didn’t run into the digital future.
    • They saw a competitor emerge but didn’t react faster.



  2. 2 NOKIA


    THE STORY

    • A Paper Rubber and Cable Company from Finland diversified into Electronics and in 1974 expanded into Telecommunication Industry. 
    • The first Mobile GSM call was made in 1991 by NOKIA.
    • From 2003 to 2005, NOKIA was enjoying 70% of the market share through the sales of their top 20 mobile handsets, NOKIA 1100 and NOKIA 1110 being their best models.
    • In 2008 Android and IOS gained popularity in America and Europe and slowly the Asian Countries followed them.
    • In India and China, Motorola and Samsung innovated the flip phone which caught the eye of the consumers.
    • NOKIA was overconfident of Symbian OS and their hardware and ignored the changing market trends resulting in a 30% decline in sales.
    • By 2010 Apple had nearly 3 lakhs apps, Google had 1.25 lakhs app and NOKIA with less than 20000 apps kept bragging about their hardware.
    • Samsung and a few others, build their Ecosystem by collaborating with Android so that they could concentrate on manufacturing the mobile handsets.
    • NOKIA started losing its hold in the market from both ends as high-end phones were being introduced by Samsung, Apple, Blackberry to name a few and the low-end segment was taken over by Chinese and local phone manufacturers.
    • In the year 2011 NOKIA took a risk and joined hands with not so popular software Windows but was too late and couldn’t capture the market.

    THE PROS

    • They had the best hardware.
    • They had access to content. 
    • They had 70% and a monopoly of the market share.

    THE CONS

    • They didn’t adapt to the change in technology which is forever evolving.
    • They didn’t focus on customer requirements.
    • They saw a competitor emerge but didn’t react faster.
  3. 3 KODAK


    THE STORY

    • A company founded in 1880 by George Eastman namely KODAK was the leader in the photography industry for more than a decade.
    • KODAK solved the problem of bulky cameras and hard to make prints of the photographs.
    • George Eastman made all the innovations that made photography available to the general public.
    • In the beginning, the company marketed with the magical slogan, “You Press The Button, We Do The Rest”.
    • Their business strategy was a classic example of a Razor and Blade business where Cameras were the low-cost cameras and the film and prints were the high-cost blades.
    • KODAK gave the consumer easy to use cameras, quick convenient processing, high-quality images, and albums for convenient display and save the photographs. 
    • In 1976, with their marketing campaign, KODAK Moments, they dominated the market with 85% sales of Cameras and 90% of the film sales.
    • In 1995, all the above changed when the photography industry shifted toward digital cameras.
    • Now the digital cameras took the pictures and processing, the computers did the storage and the internet did the display.
    • Digital Cameras tore the high-margin heart out of KODAK film and print-based business model.
    • In 2012 they filed for bankruptcy.

    THE PROS

    • Steve Sasson from KODAK invented the digital camera in 1975 and came out with the first digital camera for the consumer in 1995.
    • They had the best pricing compared to their companies.
    • They had 85% and a monopoly of the market share.

    THE CONS

    • In spite of leading technology and pricing, they lost their place because of sub-quality in their digital cameras.
    • They didn’t develop marketing and design skills for digital and online imaging.
    • They saw a competitor emerge but didn’t react faster.

    ULTIMATE CONCLUSION



    WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?  - a must-read for all.

    Let’s visualize ourselves in a maze. So who are you in the story? Sniff, Scurry, Hem, or Haw. 

    About 3 years back, I experienced a major shift in my life. I wasn’t Sniff and didn’t see it coming. I wasn’t Scurry and didn’t take any action. I was like Hem as I was comfortable in my zone. I was upset and blamed all, for the situation. I was having a hard time adjusting to the change I didn’t think it should have happened.

     It was My Cheese. 

    When I look at the series of situations I understand that not only the Cheese had moved but eventually it would have run out. 

    Life moved forward when I started thinking like Haw and started looking for my New Cheese. 

    For almost 20 years I took care of PR and marketing for my business. I started looking for new ways to use my experience and knowledge. Fearlessly I entered into the online world and started enjoying the same. I used the new learnings with my Old Cheese. 

    For most of us, 2020 is been a year full of learning. We lived in our comfort zone for far too long and Corona hit and given us time to rethink and recreate ourselves.

    As my Cheese had moved earlier, it was easier this time to move forward with My Cheese. 

    Now embarked on another new journey of sharing my knowledge and experience with the world as a Digital Coach.

    My Take

    • Don’t let a decision you make become your entrenched thinking.
    • Anticipate, Adapt, and Enjoy the CHANGE.
    • Be ready to CHANGE quickly again and again.

    Discover the secret for yourself to enjoy more success in work and in your life.

    Open your arms to receive new ways and new doors to thrive. 

    Are you ready for the NEW CHEESE?


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NIna Punjabi

22 Comments

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  1. I have read “Who moved my Cheese”. . . nearly 5 years back . . . and to be reminded of it again. . . . . so relatable to the current situation . . lovely article … you made your point . . with facts and suggestions . . . but as the quote goes . . .”comfort zone is a beautiful place to be in …. but nothing ever grows there” . Thanks for the article – was nostalgic for me.

  2. Amazing story .but with lot of meanings .pros and cons. After reading the article ,I think this is high time I need to move my cheese too.

  3. Wow, what a relevant article, it’s a eyeopener and a reminder that change is only constant, so it’s best to be ready for change

  4. Excellently written Nina. You are so right. Nothing is permanent but change. We have to keep evolving with time. Those who didn’t evolve remained monkeys.

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