Value vs Values

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Data rights is a constantly recurring topic in our daily lives, although it remains an esoteric one. We know it’s an important issue to consider with serious personal pitfalls, but it’s difficult to fully understand or care about the implications of data privacy given the general busyness of our lives.

For example, the Equifax hack exposed sensitive information from over 150MM US citizens, including names, social security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, and more. Then there is the Yahoo hack to consider: The hackers were in the system for over 18 months, and sensitive information had been exposed from over 500MM users representing a total of over 3BN accounts. Yet the public response did not match the gravity of the situation and what it represented. We’re talking about the most protected data you can own: your identity.


People seem to place little value in such information, in spite of its importance. Why is that? The answer is surprisingly simple: the way we best understand value is by actually experiencing it ourselves.

This got me thinking about what I like to call: the dilemma of value vs values.

Experienced Value vs. Value Not Experienced

When we are able to tangibly experience the value something gives us, we cling to it more tightly. For example, we tend to highly value our social media profiles. They provide value to us by allowing us to connect with friends, family, and people around the world, to share our thoughts and be a part of a global conversation. Most go even deeper, providing authentication across the web and even access to quick and easy payment for goods and services.

With that in mind, imagine that our social media accounts were compromised, and we were no longer capable of accessing our own profiles. It’s no exaggeration to say that people would freak out, because something of great personal value has been taken away.

Does this mean that social media is more valuable than our social security numbers, bank account details or purchase data? Most people would instinctively answer no, but in everyday life, it is difficult to attribute value to those things unless they experience the value first-hand on a regular basis. There is something ethereal about these, yet they definitely are valuable enough to be stolen and some certainly can wreak havoc in our lives when in the hands of those with nefarious intent. As the systems converge, our credit cards are increasingly becoming linked to these profile – so the honeypot is certainly getting sweeter.

Objectively, our private information holds much more sway over our lives than social media does, but social media is instantly accessible and gives users a feeling of instant gratification. We can see its effect on our daily lives, and as a result we attribute more value to it on a regular basis. With other types of information, we don’t experience it in this same way. Not everyone looks at their bank account or checks their credit score every day, making it harder to connect with the value it provides.

By way of extreme example: there are unfortunate people in jail today who are the victims of identity theft and that can’t afford bail or decent legal representation. They get stuck in the system, and their life circumstances are such that they cannot easily (or in any reasonable time frame) be released. These people have had the value of their identity stolen out from under them.

It’s evident we need to take the security and value of our data a lot more seriously in the ever-advancing digital world.

Holding Value Accountable with Strong Values

Consider the example of purchase data — many companies offer value by promising to keep that data secure and use it to drive better shopping experiences. However, other times, they may sell the information to third-parties.

The core issue with this, is that often, it doesn’t make your data valuable to you… it is primarily providing commercial value to others. There is a famous saying: “When something is free, you are the product”. This sort of underhanded method that companies employ sometimes to make profits, certainly should go against the grain of any reasonable person’s values. When this happens, it becomes increasingly evident that the so-called “value” that companies claim to provide is entirely an hollow promise.

Giving something value is the first step, but when value is provided, it is necessary to back it up with strong values. As a society and as individuals, we have guidelines (generally achieved by social consensus) for the way we go about our lives.

We tend to align ourselves with beliefs and ideals: our values. If something has value, but doesn’t support our core values, it’s foundations are built on rot. Look at companies like Uber and Airbnb, who have damaged communities and people with their business practices. This demonstrates a negligence in caring for values, and has led to public controversy and loss of trust in these companies. In light of this, the shine of value they once provided has waned.

Value and Values Working Together

The typical consumer, knows that they should care more about values-based propositions, but their lives in this day and age are extremely busy. People won’t stop and notice an issue until a big blowout happens.

The process of values and value is a two-way street, and ideally, businesses poised for longevity should rise to the occasion and build strong values into their business model, while still focusing on providing something valuable to their customers.

Businesses know that they should provide value to consumers, but the true key for success is to merge value with strong values. Even charities, which are values-based instead of value-based, find ways to provide tangible value to consumers in order to achieve that balance.

Omaze pairs charitable giving with a chance to win various experiences with famous individuals. You could enter to win a chance to be interviewed by Trevor Noah on the Daily Show set, or join Hillary Clinton for a Broadway play, among the many other offerings that are meant to encourage promoting strong values while providing significant value.

The Shopin Difference

As we continue to move forward in our data-driven world, the concept of value vs. values will need to be more closely addressed, and the conversation should focus on how we can prevent data from being stolen and abused whilst still being leverageable to drive the consumer’s best experiences.

At Shopin, we are dedicated to accomplishing a unique path to strike that balance, providing you value from your purchase data, all the while backing it up with strong values.

We aim to bring forth a paradigm shift in protecting customer purchase data employing blockchain encryption and approach. This approach focuses on keeping the data out of the hands of retailers and companies that preyed on that information before, using it for their own gain or failing to keep it safe whilst making it more useful and accurate than ever before. That is our foundation of Shopin’s core values: that your purchase data will not be taken advantage of, and provide the best experiences.

Simultaneously, that same data will not simply sit there functionally useless. We intend to provide value to your data by driving the most personalized shopping experience to date, safely utilizing purchase data, visual AI, and user preferences to enhance the shopping experience. I encourage readers to look at Shopin’s website and explore the ways we deliver value back to your data.

Achieving a balance between value vs. values can be a great challenge for businesses and entrepreneurs, but it is one worth overcoming. As we continue toward the future, it is encumbered upon us to always be on the lookout for ways that we can align our ideas with strong values, while working to give true value to consumers.

You Sunk My “Battleship”… and Other Thoughts on Business Strategy

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Competition is a natural part of life. You find it everywhere, from the board games you play casually with friends to the businesses that compete neck and neck with each other for greater success. Whether you are playing a game or running a business, the basic path for success remains the same: you need a clear and strong strategy to steer a steady course.

Lately, I’ve been considering one of my favorite childhood games: Battleship, and pondering about how its strategy parallels the business world. At its core, Battleship is a game in which you have to fail over and over before you win. Battleship fundamentally requires a systematic strategy of trial and error in order to find your opponent’s ships. After hitting a ship for the first time, it’s fairly easy to hit the rest of it and sink it, because you begin to see the shape of success.

Entrepreneurship shares similar traits. You can make educated guesses or accurate predictions when you’re strategizing, but there is never a 100 percent guarantee for success. This is what makes it so crucial to be meticulous and plan ahead. In Battleship, you want to actively discern where your opponent has placed their pieces. It’s essential to be ready to readjust your plan if necessary, to course correct yourself if you find that certain areas of attack are simply not working.

Battleship shows entrepreneurs that it’s going to take some time to get your bearings — it’s nearly impossible to do everything right the first time when starting a business, just like it’s nearly impossible that you’ll go a whole game of Battleship without missing at all. You can’t reasonably expect either scenario to happen, so understanding the trial and error approach will better equip you to pick yourself back up from failure in order to keep moving forward and eventually find the shape of success.

In any game, and with any business, you are playing to win. Strategy and competition is zero-sum: there are a limited amount of resources to be had by each participant. You either work to boost your own resources above your opponent or try and deplete your opponent’s resources — this is true in Battleship (and in Monopoly or Settlers of Catan or any other strategy game) and this is also certainly true in business.

Bill Gross TED talk – The single biggest reason why start-ups succeed @Bill_Gross

This is why it’s important to have a well-thought-out strategy and be prepared to change it as necessary. If you’re playing against someone by relying on chance and luck rather than a well-thought-out strategy, you’re way worse off because the game is a two-sided equation: your opponent is certainly not going to simply hope for the best, they are going to do everything in their power to win, and that means trying to find a strategic way to beat you and win.

Battleship is unexpectedly also an exercise in listening. The game is particularly fascinating in that it requires open and honest communication between opposing players. When one player calls out a grid number, the other person must declare whether their opponent has hit or missed a ship. Once a ship has been sunk, the opposing player must say so to their opponent. Business strategy decisions have very clear responses — investors, consumers, employees and partners, the general public all have an opinion — but you have to be listening for it. Are you open to accept the feedback?

When you pay attention to the response, you begin to understand where strengths rise and weaknesses lie veiled. If your product isn’t being well-received, listening will likely reveal vital information that could affect your strategy. Of course, you have to know how to listen. You have to have the right tools. Perhaps you’ve been marketing to the wrong target audience, or you should have been focusing on one of your product’s features over others. In the way that your Battleship opponent tells you if your decision was right or wrong, there are many who will also keep you informed and aware of what’s working and what’s not in your business. Have you surrounded yourself with advisors and colleagues that can help you circumnavigate these experiences in an effortless and easy manner?

When approached with the right mindset, Battleship is fun no matter if you win or lose. What matters the most is the process, and learning from the process as much as you can creates the enjoyment that many feel while competing.

There’s so much value in playing the game itself, and the lessons you gain while doing so are what lead to future success. Winning a game is accompanied with a short-lived burst of elation… but the lessons and small wins along the way to the big win will provide a path to a lifetime of successes. 

Likewise, entrepreneurs can find fulfillment in their business endeavors whether they are successful or not in securing that “BIG FINAL WIN” at the end of the race, as long as they are fully invested in the process and are open and willing to learn from the experience. Without working through the process, entrepreneurs can never hope to find success in their future or experience the true joy of competing in business strategy.

Remember when you studied maths or science? The majority of the points were gained in showing how you achieved your final solution, not in the provision of the final solution itself. You could even score marks just in getting some of the steps right, even if the final solution was erroneous.

Challenges and competitions are healthy for entrepreneurs. They drive us to be deeply involved in process-based outcomes instead of the false positives of seeming “big wins”. Keeping in mind that it’s all a game of Battleship or similar offers that meaningful series of regular rewards that help keep us on track and stay motivated. They also ensure that even if the final goal you set out to achieve is not fully met, you’re left with a wealth of riches from each successful milestone.