Bell Peppers and Reverse Engineering the Ski Industry
Pretty much everyone knows what a bell pepper is and the same goes for skiing (even though some might not think of it as an industry) so let’s begin with reverse engineering.
It is a process of examining an existing product, or in this case a service, to figure out how it was made and how it works.
Some use reverse engineering to copy the product but others just try to understand it.
As a big fan of figuring things out (though not always successfully) it should come as no surprise that I like reverse engineering. In pre-school, I think they call it “puzzles and problem solving.”
The ski industry seems like a pretty complicated problem.
The land is usually controlled by the federal government acting through the Forest Service. There is much permitting required.
Significant capital is needed and generating a satisfactory return on that capital requires careful thought and high-end pricing.
There is also a real estate aspect to the business that explains why a ski village often looks like a luxury mixed use shopping mall.
Most visible to the amateur reverse engineer, however, is the “client facing” sales and service aspect of the business.
Whatever else the developer of a ski resort might have done well, getting the sales and service part wrong looks like a potentially fatal misstep.
Imagine the role of the greeter at the earliest level of ski school. There might be some men who serve in this capacity, but if I were recruiting candidates, I would focus on women because the odds of finding the required skill set seem vastly higher.
There are several audiences for her efforts.
Two-year olds are best served by attaching tiny plastic skis to snow boots, stepping a few feet away and saying, “come to mommy.” They don’t belong in even the earliest level ski school but that does not mean they are not there. Our greeter needs to be able to convey the “I’m not sure this is such a good idea” message or there have to be rules related to potty training to provide her with the ever-popular-but-rarely-well-received “that’s not our policy” defense.
Most of her child audience should be in the three-to-six age range. She should have finely tuned antenna for short attention spans, coordination levels, resistance to trying new things, separation anxiety, “stranger danger” signals, spoiled-brat behavior and the like.
Then there are the parents. Here our greeter’s antenna needs to be sensitive to inflated expectations as to the quality of the experience for the little darlings entrusted to the ski school’s care; often excessive safety concerns; and the parental desire to deposit the toddler someplace so they can get on with their own fun having.
Inevitably, this brings us to the bell pepper, but first a word about its nutritional value: Calories 31; Water 92%; Protein 1 gram; Carbs 6 grams; sugar 4.2 grams; Fiber 2.1 grams; and Fat 0.3 grams.
Whatever the childhood consumption of bell peppers might do for parental self-esteem, the bell pepper is probably not well suited to a morning spent outdoors in the cold learning a new and somewhat strange activity. Even in comparison to the high-carb, high-fat, high-protein; low-organic; probably not purchased at Whole Foods toddler ski school offerings, the bell pepper comes up short.
Earlier this week, I was putting on my boots within both sight and earshot of a ski school greeter in action. She was at a desk in front of a long curling line of anxiety filled parents holding the hands of impatient and sometimes barely controlled children.
The mother in front of her was engaging in a detailed discussion of her child’s daily nutritional needs and – you guessed it – expounding on the virtues of the bell pepper while holding one up for all to see.
I am pretty sure the greeter has a bright future in more lucrative careers involving the management of expectations in the high-income demographic.