Published on: May 4, 2011
Michael Sansolo had a wonderful column yesterday about the discipline and organizational loyalty shown by Pentagon workers who did not exult publicly in the death of Osama bin Laden, which, he suggested, teaches us an important business lesson: It reminds us that every person who works for us represents us every day. That even the lowest ranking person in our company impacts our image and our ability to get the job done. It reminds us that everyone needs to understand the power of common purpose and that the job only gets done when all of us give it the right effort. That takes communication, discipline and effort.
One MNb user responded:As the parent of a U.S. Marine, it brings a chill and a tear at the same time, to think of the honor of all of our military men and women and the jobs they do every day for each and every U.S citizen. You said it with solemn dignity, the absolute amazing effort that goes into an effort such as the one accomplished by our own Navy Seals, and I thank you for the acknowledgement. Unless you live with a service person, you can’t imagine the discipline that they have to live by. And I truly mean “live”, as it is a matter of life and death in the truest sense of the words. I’m not sure that I’m even making sense, as I’m so emotional about the whole event, knowing that my son will deploy to that very area of the world in just a few short months.
With that said, you are so very on-target, as usual, in that every person in our organization is so valuable, from our Executive VP’s to the utility worker who smiled at me as I emptied my cart and she offered to take it from me on a windy cold day just last week. Each of us has the ability to make a person’s day, to make them feel value, to make someone else feel big - or small, with just a glance or a few words.
Thank you for noticing that we all make a difference, whether you’re the top person or the bottom. We all matter. But, in the opinion of a Marine mom – maybe our service men and women, who safely hold our world in their collective hands, matter just a tiny, little bit more.
Well said by all.
MNB took note yesterday of an interesting trend - the slight decline in people who own television sets, which is taking place a) because economic concerns have made it harder to own the new digital TV sets, and b) because there are other options for how to get TV programming.
One MNB user responded:I myself do have 2 TVs but I got rid of cable TV about a year ago and got a Roku box and a decent HDTV antenna instead. A lot of people don't realize how good DTV reception is now and of course it's free! I would argue that those of us who watch TV via the Internet are actually more trackable because it is a lot easier to track the number of Internet streams of an episode or movie than it is to track every cable box, satellite receiver, and antenna. Also, my wife and I end up watching more commercials than when we had cable+DVR since most online sources simply don't let you skip past them. What scares me is the ISPs who are starting to cap home Internet usage presumably to prevent loosing their TV service subscribers.
Another MNB user wrote:I am part of the 3.3% that have no TV in my house. And, so is my son. Neither of us have landlines or hardwired Internet. We have chosen to opt out not because of any economic reason, but rather, because it adds nothing to our lives. I am very surprised the number of households with no TV is so low. As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"…Our family always felt "Life is what happens to you while you're busy watching TV" and we didn’t feel that was the life we wanted. Sorry marketers!
Responding to a story we had about Walgreen expanding its in-store health testing capabilities, one MNB user wrote:Walgreen's blood testing may be an okay thing to do BUT when I found out that they were charging 25 to 40% more for my wife's prescription drugs than the Walmart next door...well, that's it for Walgreens ... The only reason we found out about this price issue was the change in insurance coverage when I retired. Eventually the public will discover this and they will then be hurt.
You’re right. Those kinds of differences will hurt Walgreen long-term if they are not resolved.
Finally...I’ve received the following email from MNB user Ken Wagar, which I think is worth posting for lots of reasons ... not least of which is the fact that it may give voice to sentiments held by other MNB users, especially people who are new to our little community:I love what you do on your blog regarding retail news and analysis. I read your blog daily specifically looking for what your site defines as your purpose which is Retail News in Context and Analysis with Attitude.
On the other hand your preoccupation with wine, restaurants, baseball, Jimmy Buffet (who I love), Spenser novels (which I greatly enjoy) and now the creation and promotion of a wine of the month club, in at least my mind, don’t seem to fit with “Retail News in Context and Analysis with Attitude”
I understand that MorningNewsBeat is a reflection of you, your personality and your likes and dislikes but it seems there should be limits or you begin to morph into all things for all people and therefore lose the focus that you can bring to today’s exciting retail landscape.
You are talented and knowledgeable enough to develop and produce separate blogs and sites on things like Wine, Books and Authors, Movie reviews and Restaurant reviews and may in fact be able to manage several productive, fun and profitable sites on a variety of topics.
I’m getting confused as to whether MNB is all about retail and analysis thereof or if it is simply all about Kevin and his likes, dislikes and opinions on any and all subjects. You obviously have the right to drive things in any direction you may choose and I certainly understand that retail is influenced by many societal changes and our view needs to be broad, I just want you to know that rather than increasing clarity on the challenges and opportunities that exist at retail MNB seems to be spending more time on topics that are disconnected from the stated purpose of the site.
Just my opinion…..I do look forward to and enjoy those shrinking portions of your comments that have to do with Retail news and analysis.
First of all, thanks for your note.
You make good points, all of which I promise to think about as MNB continues to evolve. I guess that I might disagree with you on a couple of issues; for one thing, I tend to restrict my commentary about wine, restaurants, Buffett music and Spenser novels to the Friday "OffBeat" column, which seems like a good way to do it (and one of the columns that gets the most reader reaction). Yes, I may quote Robert B. Parker or Jimmy Buffett elsewhere from time to time, but I hope the points I'm making are retail-relevant. Baseball does get mentioned a fair amount, but usually within the context of the "Sports Desk" section.
I guess this is a long way of saying that best I can, I try to do the peripheral stuff in a way that is segmented - if people don't like the "Sports Desk" or "OffBeat" sections, they don't have to read them ... and I am transparent about what they are.
The Wine of the Month Club, to be honest, came about largely because it was something that was requested by readers. People would ask me where I got many of my wines and I would tell them about the club I belonged to, and they'd ask if I could make it available through MNB. So I did. I was trying to be responsive (which is, after all, something that I talk about a lot). I should note here that I am not making a penny from the club - it is there as a reader service. (Though if a wine company would like to become an MNB sponsor, I'm more than happy to talk about it.)
Wine, by the way, serves another purpose - it is a great window on smart marketing. I've long believed that if retailers brought the same level of expertise and engagement to other departments that some do to wine sections, the act of food shopping would be vastly different. And better. (Same goes for our discussions of great pizza joints and hamburger stands. If people in the food business are thinking more about food, and not just focusing on the bottom line, I think I've done them a service.)
If I have one complaint about some retailers, it is that they are too myopic. I've met too many people over the years who live and breathe their own businesses, but to the point where they don't, say, visit the Apple Store to see what it is all about. Don't order groceries from Amazon to see how it works. Don't go to the movies to see what's popular to their shoppers. Don't read novels instead of just business books, even though that's a great way to broaden the mind. Is MNB a traditional approach to business news and commentary? Nope. But that's the point.
You are right about MNB being written through the prism of my own life. This may be appealing to some, and appalling to others. In essence, one of the ways that I believe that MNB is different is that you know precisely what the point of view is. (The last site I worked for was so afraid of showing personality that they threatened to fire me; for better or for worse, it went out of business and we never had to have that particular showdown. Their favorite flavor was and continues to be generic vanilla. I prefer, to overwork the metaphor, Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip.)
It is not that my POV is universal, but rather than I hope that by being upfront about my POV, it helps people consider their own perspectives, and maybe think differently about business (and other) issues. Am I right in my belief? I have no idea ... though the fact that I get between 50 and 100 new subscribers each week, largely because of word of mouth, persuades me that I am onto something. Is MNB for everybody? Clearly not. But that's okay. My biggest fear is of being so bloodless that there is no difference between me and the competition. I believe in drawing blood. Even if sometimes it is my own.
I wish I were talented enough to write and manage several sites. But that's not in the cards. I’m largely a one-man band, MNB is pretty much a full-time job, and that doesn't count the other stuff I do, like speaking at conferences, facilitating corporate retreats, writing freelance columns, and trying to find time to do another book. (Though if someone would like to buy MNB and contract for my services, I’d be happy to reconsider my business plan.)
I'm not complaining. Far from it. This is almost always fun, and I hope that fun translates into some level of entertainment - as well as illumination - for the MNB community.
In the end, that's my ultimate purpose for MNB - that each day, I provide some kind of news and commentary that, in an entertaining and literate fashion, tells you something you did not know, makes you think about something from a new perspective, and maybe even gets you to laugh or smile or even shake your head because you can't quite believe that I wrote something. (Not necessarily in that order, by the way.)
Ken, I'm glad you wrote. I never mind when people challenge my thinking, or make me reconsider what it is I do and how I do it. And even make me explain myself from time to time.