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    Published on: March 2, 2012

    by Kevin Coupe

    ”Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald often is quoted as saying. “They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.”

    And maybe, if a new study is to be believed, more prone to be unethical.

    Wired reports on findings from the University of California, Berkeley, suggesting that “as an individual’s wealth and status rise, so does their tendency to be unethical ... Upper- and lower-class individuals do not necessarily differ in terms of their capacity for unethical behavior, but rather in terms of their default tendencies toward it.”

    Psychologist Paul Piff puts it this way: “Occupying privileged positions in society has this natural psychological effect of insulating you from others. You’re less likely to perceive the impact your behavior has on others. As a result, at least in this paper, you’re more likely to break the rules.”

    And psychologist and consumer researcher Vladas Griskevicius of the University of Minnesota, who was not involved in the work, offers the following perspective: “This work is important because it suggests that people often act unethically not because they are desperate and in the dumps, but because they feel entitled and want to get ahead. I am especially impressed that the findings are consistent across seven different studies with varied methodologies. This work is not just good science, but it is shows deeper insight into the reasons why people lie, cheat, and steal.”

    Fascinating.

    I’m conflicted by these results, to be perfectly honest. There’s a part of me that finds them utterly reasonable and not even very surprising.

    But I’ve also been lucky enough to know a lot of privileged people in my life. (One good friend of mine once told me that if he could be anyone in the world, he’d like to be Francis Ford Coppola. I laughed, and told him that if I could be anyone in the world, I’d like to be him.) For the most part, I think they’ve been honorable, ethical and utterly decent people. Maybe a little isolated from the concerns of mere mortals, but hardly dispassionate or uncaring.

    Then again, I’ve also met some privileged people who were total jerks, with the moral compass of a rattlesnake. But I’ve also met people who were a lot less privileged, and they fit into both categories as well. Some were terrific people, and some were reprehensible.

    So I’m not sure if I buy this study or not.

    I do think one thing - that the notion of “privilege” needs to be rethought.

    I’ve always told my kids that they are privileged, and that they should never forget it. We’ve never been rich, not by any means, but they’ve always had beds and rooms to sleep in, they’ve never missed a meal, they’ve had clothes to wear, and parents who love them. They’ve all had the ability to go to college. And I’ve tried to teach them that to my way of thinking, this means they’ve lived lives of privilege ... and they should remember that a lot of people are not so lucky.

    If there’s a problem with this country, I’d suggest (forgive me for getting on my soapbox), it is that many of us forget that these are privileges. We think we’re entitled. I don’t think we are.

    Note: You can read the whole Wired story here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 2, 2012

    The New York Times has an interesting piece this morning, suggesting that more and ore older Americans are going to be dealing with aging issues on their own, without a supportive spouse or partner.

    “Over the past 20 years,” the Times writes, “the divorce rate among baby boomers has surged by more than 50 percent, even as divorce rates over all have stabilized nationally. At the same time, more adults are remaining single. The shift is changing the traditional portrait of older Americans: About a third of adults ages 46 through 64 were divorced, separated or had never been married in 2010, compared with 13 percent in 1970, according to an analysis of recently released census data conducted by demographers at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio.

    “Sociologists expect those numbers to rise sharply in coming decades as younger people, who have far lower rates of marriage than their elders, move into middle age.”

    The story goes on: “The surge in the number of older, unmarried Americans has been driven by several factors, including longevity, economics and evolving social mores, according to sociologists.

    “People are living longer, and many couples in their 50s and 60s — faced with the prospect of a decade or more in unhappy marriages — are reluctant to stay the course. Women, who are increasingly financially independent, are more willing and able to go it alone.

    “And many baby boomers, who came of age during the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ’70s, feel less social pressure to marry or stay married than their parents and grandparents did. (Only about 17 percent of adults over 64 in 2010 were divorced, separated or had never been married, census data show.) Being divorced or single later in life also no longer carries the stigma that it did for previous generations.”

    You can read the whole story here.
    KC's View:
    I’m taking note of this story because I think it illuminates an important opportunity for businesses - to help these transitional shoppers deal with issues for which, in previous eras, they would have been helped by spouses. It is just another example of how the face of America is changing, and of how these changes may create opportunities for savvy marketers.

    Published on: March 2, 2012

    In Toronto, The Star has an interview with Walmart Canada president/CEO Shelley Broader, who tells the paper, “We don’t take new competition lightly, but we have a carved out a very specific niche around lowering the cost of living, and focusing like a laser beam on the cost of goods ... When people ask me what our Target strategy is, I say we have a Walmart strategy. That’s about helping people save money so they can live better.”

    The interview comes about a year before Target begins opening the first of an expected fleet of 135 stores over a two year period. Walmart currently has 333 stores there.

    Target’s move north of the border is seen as reflective of growing competition in Canada, and moves by existing retailers to compensate. As the Post writes, “Known for its high style at low prices, the Canadian entry by the second-largest U.S. discount department store retailer is expected to dramatically alter the Canadian retail landscape.

    “Already, large retailers are planning strategy with Sears Canada announcing earlier this month it is slashing its prices by as much as 15 to 20 per cent on many items for good.

    “This week, Loblaw, which has a new president Vicente Trius, announced it will focus on getting more customers in its stores, expanding the Joe Fresh brand and offering a loyalty card starting next year.”

    Says Broader, ““It just makes us compete harder. It’s freedom of choice for our customer. There’s nothing like good competition to make you sharper and smarter and better at what you do.”
    KC's View:
    It’s funny. I’ve know Shelley Broader for a long time, and I can hear her voice when I read those quotes. I’m sure she says these things with passion and determination and utter confidence that this is a game she can win. And I’m pretty sure that this is precisely the attitude that she shares with her employees, because she knows that all these games are won on the front lines.

    I have no idea how Target will do in Canada. But I would never, ever bet against Shelley Broader.

    Published on: March 2, 2012

    Bloomberg reports that a number of retailers - including Gap, JC Penney, Nordstrom, and Gamestop - have shuttered stores that they opened on Facebook, despite the social networking site’s efforts to become a shopping destination.

    Analysts tell Bloomberg that the reason so-called “F-commerce” did not work as well as expected is that people on Facebook wanted to hang out with their friends, not be sold stuff or go shopping.

    According to the story, “Business consultant Booz & Co. predicted in January 2011 that physical goods sold through social commerce would balloon to $30 billion from $5 billion by 2015, with Facebook contributing a majority of sales.” But now it is at least possible that the prognosis is not quite so rosy.
    KC's View:
    This doesn’t mean that Facebook has any less allure as a place to market products and services; it is just that, at least for the moment, actual purchasing is more likely to take place elsewhere. That’s actually okay ... all of this stuff is still relatively new, and there are going to be a lot of tests and a lot of failures as companies and consumers try to make sense of these various online and social media opportunities.

    Published on: March 2, 2012

    The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that Miller’s Super Valu has decided to close its store in Sturgis, Michigan, a unit that has been open for almost three decades. The reason? Increased competition.

    But here’s where it gets interesting...

    Miller’s has eight other locations that it plans to keep open...and it also intends to keep serving the Sturgis market via home delivery, though now the food will be sourced from its LaGrange store. So, while it is closing a store, it is not abandoning a market.
    KC's View:
    Maybe a picture of the future? In certain markets, under certain circumstances, maybe you don’t need to have a physical store in order to have a piece of the local food business. What may be most important is having a compelling offer, relevant products, an ability to communicate with the audience and an intimate understanding of what shoppers want and need. But a bricks-and-mortar store? Maybe not so much ...

    Published on: March 2, 2012

    Internet Retailer has a brief piece about this week’s eTail conference in Palm Springs, where at least some of the discussion focused on how smaller online retailers can compete with Amazon, which is almost always going to win the price comparison battle.

    The secret? According to the site, it comes down to “carrying unique products, cultivating supplier relationships and offering top customer service.”
    KC's View:
    Go figure.

    Actually, I don’t mean to be glib about this. I’m sure they were absolutely sincere about this. But I have to chuckle a little bit since those are pretty much the ways that any small retailer is going to succeed when battling with any big retailer.

    Published on: March 2, 2012

    The Rochester Business Journal reports that Eastman Kodak Co. is selling its online photo business to rival Shutterfly for $23.8 million.

    According to the story, “The terms of the agreement include the transfer of Kodak Gallery customer accounts and images in the United States and Canada to Shutterfly.”

    The company has said that it is “focusing its consumer business on retail and destination photo solutions as well as home printing products.”

    Kodak Gallery, the story notes, reportedly has more than 75 million users.
    KC's View:
    Call this the developing portrait of a once-great brand becoming irrelevant, antiquated and obsolete.

    Published on: March 2, 2012

    ...with occasional, random, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

    The Atlantic has a story about how “the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now supporting the front-of-package labeling scheme introduced by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI).”

    This is seen as something of a shift in attitude. Some critics say that FMI/GMA program as an “end-run” around the government, as they hoped to head off federally mandated labeling programs with a voluntary effort. While the government has not officially endorsed the industry initiative, the FDA has said that it is dropping any opposition to the effort.

    I always thought it was a good ideas for industry to do these kinds of things before the government does ... voluntary is always better than mandated, IMHO.

    • The Los Angeles Times reports that Dunkin’ Donuts is coming to California. But you’ll have to enlist to get one.

    According to the story, the chain will open its first California location on the grounds of Camp Pendleton, the military basis north of San Diego. The doughnuts and coffee will only be available to the some 64,000 people who live and/or work there.

    No other California openings have been announced, though the story notes that “the chain has  been marching steadily westward, expanding its reach beyond its Northeast and mid-Atlantic strongholds with outlets in Las Vegas and Arizona as well as branches in the works in Colorado and New Mexico.”

    Reuters notes that as of yesterday, the “nutrition labels found on almost all packaged foods can be found for ground meat and poultry. Forty of the most popular whole, raw cuts or meat and poultry, such as chicken breast or steak, also will have nutritional information either on the package labels or on display at the store, under a new Department of Agriculture rule.

    “The panels will list the number of calories and the grams of total fat and saturated fat in a product contains.”

    I know this creates some headaches for industry, but I can’t help but feel that the more information available, the better it is eventually for everybody.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 2, 2012

    I wrote yesterday about a great customer service experience that I had when buying a new TV, but the description prompted the following email:

    I just had to share this after reading about your 5-year warranty being 1-year expired.  Whenever I buy a major appliance and they try to push the extended warranty on me, I always ask the annual fee and then decline.  What I do is put that annual fee in my working savings account under its own column “Warranties”.  I then put that amount for that appliance in that fund every year.  If/when I need to fix something or replace something, I use the money from that fund.  The law of averages will always kick in.  While there may be a loss for any appliance overtime, the rest will balance it out.  We had a rear projection TV for, believe this, 13 years. The annual warranty would have been $199.95.  So, every year, I put $200 in the warranty fund toward a new TV. When we replaced it, I had spent $93 at one point over the 13 years on a minor repair.  So, I had over $2500 to put toward the new TV.  When we did replace it w/a flat screen plasma (3 years ago), the annual warranty on that puppy was $499.95.  So, every year, I now put $500 in the warranty fund toward my next TV.  Hey, in the trade, it’s just called being self-insured.

    Makes sense. But maybe it requires just a tad more fiscal discipline than I’m capable of. 

    From another MNB user:

    It doesn’t matter whether he would have done it for anyone who called or if your purchasing history prompted the attention, to you, the customer, it was a personal experience delivered by someone who was willing to spend time explaining why he couldn’t solve the immediate problem in such a manner that you were willing to invest money on a purchase from his store. You may have received the same customer service from one of the other retailers, BUT it sounds like your local store has figured out what it takes to compete with the big guy down the block and price wasn’t it.

    MNB user Jim Swoboda wrote:

    I strongly believe anyone can compete with the big guys, providing they understand their customer and really, genuinely, strive to take care of them.

    Yesterday, I was in Lansing, MI and as I was beginning to back out, I saw a local jewelry store owner walking out of his shop and putting money in the meter for what was clearly a customer’s car.  That simple act told me all I needed to know about him and his business.  He cares about his customer and he will take care of them.

    Simple to understand, seemingly impossible to execute in so many places in today's world.

    Your local guy did the same and he was rewarded.





    Responding to my piece yesterday about how we seem to be moving toward a cashless society, and my comment that I rarely write checks anymore, one MNB user wrote:

    When you mentioned that you rarely write checks, I stopped to think about that, as I write about 20-30 checks/month.  So, I got out my checkbook to see what’s going on.  I pay my cleaning lady w/a check.  Only other option would be cash.  When my lawn is mowed (or is it mown?) or the driveway plowed, the guys leave me a bill in the mailbox, which I pay w/a check in the mail to them. Same for the guy who cleans my windows.  He leaves me a bill taped to my front door; I mail it back w/a check.  For all the people who work on my house, paint it, powerwash it, etc, they are all paid via checks.  I am positive none of them have any access to being paid any other way except cash, which makes no sense as I would have it on hand and then insure I get a signed receipt and don’t lose it.  The check is certainly easier all around. 

    My family lives all around the country.  When I send money for birthdays/anniversaries/etc, I’m not going to send cash through the mail. I send checks.  When I go to a wedding or graduation open house, I put a check in the card, not cash.  I put a check in my church envelope, not cash.  My hairdresser is not set up to receive payment any other way except cash or check (I pay by check).  Same w/my yoga studio; it’s cash or check.    Now, these latter 2 (hairdresser and yoga studio) will probably move to accepting credit/debit eventually, but they’re not there yet.  I could go on, but you get the idea.  How would/do you handle these types of payments?


    I do almost everything using my PIN-based debit card, or I do bill payments online, with the bank doing electronic payments.

    From another MNB user:

    I want totally cashless where people don’t get paid under the table and never pay taxes on income! I have been self employed since 1984 and I report every cent..every cent that I make. Incomes, payments to everyone should all be done electronically...

    I cannot stomach those who ask for cash..so they don’t have to report it. I am tired of subsidizing the cheats!






    Yesterday, MNB had a story about a new decade-long German study revealing that “coffee drinkers have no more risk of getting illnesses such as heart disease or cancer, and are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes,” contradicting some earlier studies.

    I commented:

    All the various and conflicting studies are part of the reason that shoppers get confused. But I’m probably typical in this case - I’m going with this study because it validates and reinforces existing behavior. If this study said that coffee was bad for me, I’d think about it, but then I’d just wait for another study to come out.

    One MNB user responded:

    Don’t you find it interesting that the public will embrace a study that makes it okay, maybe even preferable, to engage in some behavior that is constantly being studied with conflicting results, while at the same time when it has been proven numerous times that moderation in calories with consistent exercise is the most consistent and healthiest way to maintain a healthy weight, we wait for the next miracle drug that allows one to eat hamburgers and French fries everyday while downing a liter of pop in front of the TV. AND blame it on the purveyor of the hamburgers and pop for making the food/drink so tasty. Just my thought after reading another study that validates my consumption of 4-5 cups of coffee per day.




    We had a piece the other day about a smarter shopping cart that would even talk to the shopper if her or she seemed to be making mistake - putting a product with gluten into the cart when the shopping history would indicate a gluten-free diet.

    MNB user Susan Kemp wrote:

    The idea has great potential for people with disabilities or time-crunched shoppers.  If it can be taken one step further,  I would love to have a cart recommend the appropriate wine to pair with the chipotle-cranberry cheddar in my basket.

    Bingo!

    From another MNB user:

    I like it. A shopping cart that would let me know when I am forgetting something on my list would be a plus in my book. If it would steer me away from impulse items at the same time, I would be grateful enough to change stores.

    Yet another MNB user chimed in:

    Are they equipped with collision sensors?  

    Yet another distraction for someone who already is talking on their cell phone instead of paying attention to where they are going.  The bruise on my leg from last week’s “crash in aisle 4” was just healing!


    Still another MNB user offered:

    Kevin, If I wanted a smart cart I could just take my wife to the store with me.

    And, another reader responded:

    While these shopping carts are following around shoppers…will they be smart enough to NOT park in the middle of the aisle??? How will they avoid collisions when coming out of an aisle??? Especially during the crowded peak periods???



    We had a long discussion here the other day about Monsanto filing lawsuits against farmers who own land on which Monsanto’s GM seeds have spread, and how Monsanto managed to win a suit that sought to prevent it from filing such suits, with the judge saying that the farmers were trying to create a controversy where none exists. Seems pretty controversial to me, and I wrote:

    But what I can’t quite figure out is how - considering there have been so many lawsuits - the lawyers for Monsanto were able to make their case. Unless the judge in the case was predisposed to rule in their favor. Or the lawyers on the side of the organic farmers simply did not make theirs.

    MNB user Elizabeth Archerd wrote:

    Hey Content Guy,

    Innocent people have been put on Death Row in lots of states over the decades, too.

    Appeals are already underway.


    From another MNB user:

    As I have said to you before on the subject of Genetically Engineered ingredients, they are so pervasive that if they are required to be declared the consumer will become numb because almost everything has something GE in it except Organic Foods.  The phrase “contains Genetically Modified Ingredients” will become as common place as Made in USA, no wait, maybe more common than even that!!!

    And, from another MNB user:

    I'm a little surprised by your follow up comments on Monsanto and what they do to small farmers as you come off a little naive, something I would normally never expect from you.

    The simple fact of the matter is this - sometimes the process of law doesn't determine who's right but simply works better for those with piles of money who use it's machinations to slowly muscle their weaker opponents out of the ring.

    Monsanto has made that a primary business objective and they do it well.


    Not naive. Just idealistic (leavened with some cynicism). Hey...I grew up in the late sixties and early seventies. I can’t help it. Some attitudes never die.




    On the subject of the increasingly irrelevant and seemingly clueless US Postal Service, MNB user Craig Espelien wrote:

    Thought I would share a bit of interesting information on how the postal workers feel about moving to fewer days.  While most of us in the real world understand things change, it seems that the post office is the business that time forgot.  The delivery folks are part of a union (at least I believe they are) and at the very least they have a union mentality.  I had dinner a few months ago with a group that included a postal delivery person.  When the subject of moving to fewer than six days came up the reaction was swift and energetic – the feeling portrayed was that the world would essentially come to a standstill if a day was to be removed from delivery – and the person get only more emotional as the discussion progressed.  I learned later that for postal carriers this is an extremely vitriolic point.

    Also, if you check to see what it costs to get a second or third day air package from one of the “other” carriers (DHL, FedEx, UPS) it is pretty expensive - $20 or so even for a letter.  Why not raise the price on letters to $1 or more (as part of the overall retrenchment plan including cutting delivery to four days), raise the cost to deliver junk mail and advertisements (recognizing that much of this is moving to the digital world, milk the cash cow for all it is worth) and turn some of those more remote postal stations folks want open into multiple use facilities (perhaps combine them with the DMV or something similar).

    Radical changes require radical thinking.  As Einstein (I think) said – No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.


    Agreed.

    From another MNB user:

    Just some thoughts in response to Ms. Shunks comments today:

    "I think the real issue with the post office is that they are being forced to act like a private company instead of what they are, a public good.  No one builds roads, lays electric lines or treats water to make a profit (or even to break even).  This is infrastructure designed to make everything else possible."

    This starts her points off on a false premise.  Many companies have built and operated roads, bridges, or other transportation infrastructure under contract with the government, but without government support and these are often cited as being operated more efficiently and with better results. Electric lines are almost always privately owned and maintained, and yes
    the utility companies turn a profit.  While less frequent there are private suppliers of drinking water (I happen to be on one of those systems and love it).  I also have a bit of trouble feeling a lot of empathy for postal workers whose pay and benefits are well documented to be significantly above private employees.  That said I do feel for anyone who loses their job over mismanagement like this.

    With this, the problem remains that the Post Office is stuck between a rock and a hard place.  They legally must exist unless a constitutional amendment changes that, but they are asked to operate as an independent entity.  If the government needs more money they can simply find a way to tax us more.  The post office can raise prices, but since we are not forced to use them we can simply transfer to alternatives.  Either the government needs to do a full takeover and get rid of the illusion of an independent entity while supporting them with tax dollars, or the post office has to start offering the types of services that people want at a quality they expect.  This will have to start with reducing the costs of operation through radical change.

    Personally, I rarely use the Post Office outside of simple envelope delivery because the cost difference between them and their competition is not wide enough to justify the poor service that I have personally experienced over the years.  I think there are many like me.


    MNB user Jeff Folloder wrote:

    I've offered many options for approaches to course correction for the USPS.  Given that it is a quasi-government entity, real change will likely never happen.  That said, there is a relatively easy, short-term fix that is likely to do a LOT of good: Triple the bulk mail rate.  Bulk mailers are the ones who benefit the most from the subsidized system, so let them pay the freight.  And if the result is that there is less bulk mail... The USPS is reducing the amount of unprofitable delivery and consumers are dealing with less mail that is the most likely to get pitched without even a glance.




    We had an email the other day from a young man who spoke eloquently about what he saw as some of the problems inherent in having a career in the grocery business - including sometimes lousy hours and what he saw as a lack of a work/life balance. I offered a fairly long (and, I hope, gentle) response to his email, suggesting that sometimes you have to pay your dues, that a tough economy requires people to do more with less, and that maybe the grocery business is not for him.

    One MNB user responded:

    While I have worked 50-60 hours on average for most of the past thirty years, I think that you completely missed the point that the young writer made.

    I believe that he is WILLING to work the hours necessary to be successful.  HOWEVER, it is a one way street.  The writer gets few weekends off, few evenings off, and forget about time off around the holidays.  The retailer basically works its young managers into the ground as they know that there will be a new flock of young people that will take the abuse (at least for 5-10 years).

    I ran institutional food service operations for an operator that was always on the "Top 100 Employers to Work For."  There was always a lot of lip service about being "family friendly" and for the people in corporate positions, it was a great place.  The young managers in the trenches were working long hours, nearly every weekend, and many holidays.  After ten years, I realized that if I could manage 100+ employees in a kitchen, I could transfer my skills to an industry where I could enjoy weekends off and actually spend some time with my family.

    The young writer will last maybe another two or three years and join his brother and friend in another industry - and usually at a much higher salary.  And you will still be wondering why young people don't hang around in the retailing industry.

    To the young writer, my ONLY regret in life is that I completely missed my twenties.  During those years, I never had the opportunity to join a softball team, do much travel, spend holidays with my close relatives (many are now gone), and the like.


    Fair enough.

    To be clear, though, I did say in my response that retailers need to find ways to appeal to young people with attitudes like these:

    I think it is critical for retailers to understand the mindset of people like this, and to figure out how to deal with it. There’s not much that can be done about the long hours, I suspect, but I do think that it is important to figure out how to help them feel invested in the business, dedicated to the company’s success, able to contribute creatively and constructively and see those contributions realized in the marketplace.

    As for young people...here’s what I suggest. Find something you love doing, and make it the centerpiece of your work life. You’re going to spend way too much time working to not find it personally rewarding and even joyous.


    Another MNB user wrote:
     
    First time caller, long time listener.  Love your column.  That may be because I agree with you on many of your political, movie, beer and wine thoughts but it also may be because it’s well written and touches on topics that are important to the industry. 

    I wanted to send a slightly rambling comment to the young man that complained about the work hours at HEB/Costco and your response.  I too am sympathetic but feel that too many young people have a sense of entitlement as to instantly having a BMW, 4 bedroom house, latest cell phone/iPad without having to work for it.  The generation of my parents (boomers and before) generally started with a modest “starter” home, and moved up as the means allowed.  Everyone seemed to realize and accept this progression.  Work was similar.  You started in the mail room and moved your way up.  Times have changed as very few now spend 50 years with same company and retire with a gold watch.

    Some (not all) of my generation (I’m 42) seem to have lost that work ethic/prioritization and want to have the most expensive toy to show off to their friends and family.  I get it - It can be pretty cool to have the latest and greatest.  I think this generally says more about our society and less about the individuals. 

    All of this leads to my main thought.  I think this letter warranted a comment about retaining talent.  Retention of talent is a huge issue for every industry and we are no exception.   This evolution in priorities is also about generational differences and we should realize this.  The baby boomers have different expectations and goals than the 25 year olds (Gen Y?).  I think your response to this man’s letter reflected you trying to fit a square peg (Gen Y’s priorities) into a round hole (baby boomer’s work ethic).  One could argue that the Gen Y’s have it right and those Boomers that made work their top priority had it wrong.

    My concern is that our industry needs the brightest and best to continue to innovate and thrive.  Hard work and passion is certainly a huge part of that.  A generation ago, I think that was enough.  Now I think we need to supplement that with both education and experience. 

    To retain this talent, I think we need to figure out what drives this generation so we can retain without sacrificing hard work and passion.  It may not be easy I would argue it is the reality Some are motivated by money, some by passion, some by work-life balance and most by a combination of many different things.  Figuring that out will ultimately help us be successful.

     
    You had me at “first time caller, long time listener.” It is my favorite line when people start off their emails that way, since I’ve always sort of aimed for MNB to have that sports radio feel to it.

    From still another reader:

    Kevin, if your position on "doing what it takes to get the job done" regardless of the hours involved is truly politically incorrect then we are in worse shape than I thought.  I suppose there are jobs out there which really are 9-5 (I've never had one either) but I can guarantee from long experience that even in those industries the top performers don't treat them that way.  Just like the rest of life, the rewards and satisfaction people get out of work is typically directly proportional to the effort they put in.

    Another reader suggested that a great quote on this subject comes from the late Steve Jobs, who once said:

    You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

    He said it better than me. He said it first. Go figure.




    I noted yesterday, with the passing of Davy Jones of the Monkees, that I wasn’t sure what would be more devastating to Mrs. Content Guy - losing Davy Jones or Bobby Sherman. Which led one MNB user to write:

    I am with Mrs. Content Guy, although I would add Donny Osmond and David Cassidy to the mix (good object lessons as they expanded their brands beyond the teen scene). I would add them more because as they are aging so am I.

    We’re all aging. It’s awful, but it beats the alternative.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 2, 2012

    Just a couple of quick notes this morning.

    I’ve long been somewhat proud of the fact that I don;t watch so-called “reality television.” For one thing, it seems anything but real. Besides, my idea of reality TV is news and sports.

    But I’ve fallen off the wagon. The show I’ve fallen in love with is “The Voice,” on NBC.

    I’ve only watched a couple of episodes, but these “blind audition” segments have featured four celebrity judges - Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton - who have picked people for their teams based only on what they hear - they cannot see the people who are singing. I gather that what is going to happen now is that the judges will turn into coaches, and the goal will be to find one “voice” that eventually will get a recording contract.

    What I find so refreshing about ‘The Voice” is that everybody seems so positive and encouraging to each other; even the people not picked for any of the teams are treated with empathy and respect. There’s no humiliation, no bullying, no obnoxious judges looking to prove how great they are at the expense of someone else’s feelings.

    It is great fun to watch, and there’s even a lesson that being positive eventually beats being negative, since “The Voice” seems to be getting better ratings than “American Idol” these days.



    “The Voice” also has proven to be a strong lead-in for a show called “Smash,” which is a bit of delightful fiction about the creation of a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe. “Smash” has got a winning cast, great music, and a compelling storyline; it’s up against “Castle” and “Hawaii Five-O,” but my son and I find ourselves drawn to it on Monday nights. (After watching both “The Voice” and “Smash” one recent evening, my son looked at me and said, “I really need baseball to start.” But we watched it again the next week ... I think you;d call it a guilty pleasure.

    For me, I suspect “Smash” is fun because when I was in acting school many, many years ago, I always fancied myself as eventually ending up on the stage. For most folks, I just think that there is something timeless and fun about putting on a show.

    “The Voice” and “Smash.” I recommend them both. At least until baseball season starts.



    One other show that looks terrific, BTW, is “Awake,” the new NBC drama about a cop who is in a car accident and then seems to find himself splitting his time between two realities. In one, his wife is alive and his son has died in the accident; in the other, exactly the opposite is true. And the events in each reality seem to bleed over into the other reality, affecting both his personal life and the cases to which he is assigned. Jason Isaacs is terrific as the man caught between two universes and finding some solace in his dilemma, the supporting cast is great, and the only problem I can see with this series is maintaining the storyline over 22 episodes a year. But I’m happy to watch them try.




    One wine to recommend this week - the 2010 Lindeman’s Bin 50 Shiraz from Australia - big and bold and great with spicy beef.




    That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

    Slainte!
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