Eran Eyal

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.

Ancient Wisdoms of the Entrepreneur, The Martial Art of Business Leadership, Part 1

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What are the qualities that are found in the leadership roles of the most successful businesses?  These men and women are calm and composed under pressure, capable of handling the high-stakes situations that regularly occupy their work. They are driven and passionate, but tempered, displaying excellent mental fortitude. They are open-minded and constantly learning while also being great mentors. These traits are emblematic of the discipline and virtues of eastern philosophies: the qualities that martial arts instil in the practitioners are that which enable business leaders to thrive.

My lifelong passion for martial arts, most notably Taiji Chaun & Bagua Zuang, has provided me longevity through persistence and consistency by “indomitable spirit.” These are coupled with creative perceptions influenced greatly by the inherent Taoist and Buddhist doctrines. Emblematic of the standards of these studies, the challenges one is forced to overcome are transmuted into valuable lessons that continue to shape my ideologies in a manner that improves my business ventures on a day to day basis.


Maintaining Composure

Martial arts, first and foremost, helps maintain composure and control over your emotions. You are forced to confront your physical, mental, and emotional weaknesses eventually led to overcome them.  In business, letting your emotions rule will inevitably cause you to make critical errors.

Emotional decision-making, when untempered, elicits a negative “fight or flight” response resulting in being reactive and causing us to flee from stress, fear, and failure. Subsequently leading us to make decisions and take actions that provide a false sense of emotional resolution which are generally short-sighted inviting a trojan horse to unforeseen pitfalls. Instead, business leaders must be proactive and responsive; they must find a stillness within themselves and enable an understanding of a situation from every angle in order to assess the best outcome with clear rational discernment.

This sort of responsiveness in martial arts is cultivated through meditation as well as time tested techniques that offer business leaders a path to gain more control over their emotions and make optimal decisions in the face of adversity.


There is NO Failure, Only Feedback

Many startups will rarely acknowledge the positive implications of failure. Ignoring critical analysis often leads to devastating losses. In fact, it is by the pain of failure that one can begin to find new ways to progress and improve.

During my training, I once found myself attempting to master somersaults. I would roll around on the concrete, subjecting my body to the hard surface and trying numerous times to succeed. My speciality at the time, Hung Gar (Tiger style) is an art that toughens the body with external callusing, increasing bone density through microtrauma (iron body) all the while maintaining flexibility. I thought that I could simply keep “taking the damage” until I managed to make it work. But after many attempts, I realized that this strategy wasn’t getting me anywhere.

Eventually, I took a step back and reflected on the task, focusing on subtlety instead of the brute force that I had previously attempted. I realized that the motion of the somersault is all about flexibility and that my toughness was actually working against me. Recognizing my error in balancing my regiment, I changed my strategy based on that realization in order to accomplish my goal.

As an entrepreneur, “taking the arrows” is never the viable option. The thoughtlessness of such a method is particularly noticeable in the realm of business, where simply powering through a situation can wind up being harmful to your business and those within your organization. This just needlessly consumes time and energy. Instead, one must embrace failure and accept that the current methods just aren’t working out. Then you can begin the process of discovering the right path. This is the way of “no failure, only feedback.”


Appreciating Constant Learning

As with all endeavors, the natural progression of each pursuit will eventually lead to hearing (and potentially heeding) the call of leadership.

As an entrepreneur, it is the role of the leadership to guide employees toward the company’s vision, and as a martial arts teacher, it is one’s duty to help pupils embrace the legacy of the arts. A mistake that martial artists can make once they become teachers is neglecting their own training. They forget the necessity of constantly learning and improving themselves, and eventually become stagnant in their studies and spiritual progress. As my master once said, “A teacher who is no longer a student, is no longer fit to be a teacher.”

In your training, you will eventually come up against someone that hits harder,  trains harder and is well prepared to test your skill and resolve. I recall a competition where I fought an opponent with 20 years of boxing experience and 12 years of martial arts experience. The first time he punched me, my whole body shook to my bones and joints. My opponent did not disclose his experience in boxing at all and used his boxing experience to overwhelm me. After the fight, I approached him and asked if I could buy him a drink — Recognizing his talent and wanting to learn more from the exchange. What I was gifted was the realization that while there is always someone out there who has trained longer, harder, with more determination than you, it is the understanding that you must compete with yourself of yesterday every day. As “you are the only constant in your universe.”

Business dealings can be repetitive and systematic, but like the complacency of some martial arts instructors, leaders and entrepreneurs should avoid resting on their laurels or assuming that they are handling the situation well enough. “Complacency and familiarity breed weakness and contempt.”

One must always be open-minded, searching for better ways to carry out their visions. It is also vital to nurture the talent of others and allow them to contribute their knowledge and insight and set them up for success. You never know when someone else might have a brilliant idea or a hidden hand that could change one’s perspective and turn the tables in the most crucial of moments.

As I move forward with our team at Shopin and advisory roles, I continually find that the lessons I learn from my training enhance my business endeavors. An entrepreneur should always be searching for ways that other perspectives can positively influence their work, and the passion of the study of the martial arts has opened me up to a multitude of lessons that serve as one of the strongest foundations of effective business strategy and leadership.

It is my most sincere wish that you the reader will benefit from these traditions as I and many others throughout the generations have as well.