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    Published on: October 28, 2014

    by Michael Sansolo

    Because managers are so integral to the success of companies and individual workers, we need celebrate to any example of wonderful management.

    And that’s why we need to revisit the passing of legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee. This isn’t about his contribution to journalism but rather his style as a manager and how reflections about his style can educate us - whether we currently are managers or merely hope to be one someday.

    One of the special stories shared in Bradlee’s memory in the Post last week was an anecdote from Milton Coleman, a former Post editor and reporter. Coleman told about a time the newspaper misidentified a person in a photo caption. Bradlee learned about the mistake before Coleman could tell him.

    Bradlee went into the newsroom and both loudly and publicly chewed out Coleman. From that the lessons flowed and every part of this episode is worth reading.

    1. A few minutes after his outburst, Bradlee summoned Coleman to his office to apologize for his behavior. Managers must certainly deliver criticism, but must do it properly. A public outburst is not the way and Bradlee admitted his action was wrong.

    2. Bradlee recognized that mistakes happen, whether in the millions of details in a newspaper or a supermarket. He reminded Coleman that bad news doesn’t improve with age, so there was nothing gained by waiting to tell him. The lesson to all of us: Explain what happened especially when it was a mistake and decide what corrective steps need be taken. Just do it all quickly.

    3. Bradlee also reminded Coleman that the mistake wasn’t the end of the world, and told him the following: “You’re running in the fast lane now. You just fell flat on your face. Do you know what that means? Get the (expletive) up and run.” That one is pretty self-explanatory.

    I’ve had some great managers in my life, but none ever explained things as succinctly as that and it explains why the tributes to Bradlee from his former staffers are so universally wonderful.

    All three of the points he made with Coleman should be considered and discussed by every manager and everyone on their teams. The reality is that mistakes will always happen and the best performers are those who confront them quickly, learn from what happened and, most importantly, get up and start running again.

    That’s life.

    As we announced here on MorningNewsBeat yesterday, both Kevin and I have new books available now that are filled with lessons for improving your marketing, management and leadership skills. One of the lessons in my book, Business Rules!, is about failure. It’s a lesson frequently taught in cutting edge companies: fail fast and fail cheap.

    The lesson is simple: recognize when a project is going wrong and don’t blindly pursue a losing strategy. Learn that there are times to change tactics or simply admit failure and move on. The sooner mistakes are realized the less time and resources are spent. Failure happens and that too is life; so get up and starting running again quickly.

    Our books - Kevin’s is called Retail Rules! - are full of straightforward examples like that in hopes of getting you thinking and giving you ideas for discussion with your teams and colleagues. We both believe the world is full of great examples that provide us direction, insight and inspiration.

    We hope you agree and that you will find our new books every bit as useful as what we try to do daily here on MorningNewsBeat.


    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at msansolo@morningnewsbeat.com . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 28, 2014

    by Kevin Coupe

    Multichannel News reports on a new study from Leichtman Research Group saying that "79% of U.S. homes now get a broadband Internet service that is delivered to the home, up from just 20% in 2004.":

    According to the story, "Broadband also accounts for 95% of all households with Internet service at home, up from 94% in 2013, 89% in 2009, and 33% in 2004.   The mean reported time spent online at home per day has also risen – to 2.8 hours among all individuals online at home, up from 2.2 hours per day in 2009, LRG found in its 12th study on the topic."

    Those numbers are an Eye-Opener.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 28, 2014

    The Environmental Working Group (EWG) said yesterday that it has launched "Food Scores: Rate Your Plate," described as "an easy-to-use food database and mobile app that will house ratings and a vast array of other information for more than 80,000 foods from about 1,500 brands in a simple, searchable, online format." EWG said that the tool "is the most comprehensive food-rating database available to consumers," and said that its scoring system "factors in not only nutrition, but also ingredients of concern, such as food additives, and contaminants. It also estimates the degree to which foods have been processed."

    The aim, EWG said, is "to guide people to greener, healthier, and cleaner food choices. Users can find an overall score, from 1 (best) to 10 (worst), for every product in the food database. EWG’s product profiles include highly detailed information on how each food stacks up in terms of nutritional content and whether they contain questionable additives, such as nitrites or potassium bromate, or harmful contaminants, such as arsenic and mercury, and which foods have the lowest and highest processing concerns. They also identify meat and dairy products that are likely produced with antibiotics and hormones and highlight the fruits and vegetables that are likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues."

    One highlight of the new database: "Nearly 60 percent of the foods in EWG’s database contain at least one form of added sugar, and in some food categories added sugar is shockingly pervasive. For example, EWG found that 92 percent of granola and trail mix bars in the database contain added sugars. In some cases, almost a third of the bar’s weight is sugar.

    "Other food categories with surprisingly high percentages of added sugar include stuffing mixes (100 percent), stuffing (96 percent), deli meats (74-98 percent, depending on type), salad dressings (86 percent), peanut and other nut butters (68 percent), and crackers (63 percent)."

    The New York Times reports this morning that "because of mobile technology and social media, consumers are becoming much more aware of not only what is in the foods they eat but also of questions and concerns about them."

    The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) was not amused by the development, and released a statement that said, in part:

    “The Environmental Working Group’s food ratings are severely flawed and will only provide consumers with misinformation about the food and beverage products they trust and enjoy.
     
    “The methodology employed by EWG to develop their new food ratings is void of the scientific rigor and objectivity that should be devoted to any effort to provide consumers with reliable nutrition and food safety information.  Their ratings are based almost entirely on assumptions they made about the amount, value and safety of ingredients in the products they rate.  Adding insult to injury, EWG conducted no tests to confirm the validity of any of their assumptions.
     
    “Not only will the EWG ratings provide consumers with inaccurate and misleading information, they will also falsely alarm and confuse consumers about their product choices.  Embedded in the ratings are EWG’s extreme and scientifically unfounded views on everything from low-calorie sweeteners to the nutritional value of organic foods.
    KC's View:
    The larger lesson here, it seems to me, that the food industry has to get used to the idea that it no longer is in control of the information stream … and, in fact, there are other organizations that may be seen as having greater credibility that establishment sources.

    Sure, EWG has a bias. But so does GMA.

    Seems to me that this is the best possible argument for transparency … that if you are totally up front and candid about your products' ingredients and formulation, and make your case for why you make a product a specific way, then at least you can't be accused of obfuscation.

    Saying that EWG's ratings are illegitimate won't make them so … this is the new reality. Deal with it.

    Published on: October 28, 2014

    Amazon may be coming in for all sorts of criticism and second guessing from analysts, investors, pundits and self-styled experts, owing to the fact that no matter much it is able to grow sales, its commitment to investment creates high expenses that make it seemingly impossible to generate any profit.

    But this doesn't mean that Amazon is changing its tune.

    Yesterday, Amazon announced that it has added two new content arrows to its entertainment quiver.

    First, Amazon said that it now is selling a new Fire TV streaming device, described by the Los Angeles Times as a "$39 streaming media stick … that will compete with Google Chromecast and Roku Streaming Stick. Users (can) plug the new Fire TV Stick into the HDMI port on an HDTV to stream content from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Prime Instant Video, WatchESPN, Twitch, YouTube, Pandora, Spotify and other services."

    The Fire TV Stick is a less expensive alternative to the Fire TV streaming media box. that was unveiled seven months ago as an alternative to, among other devices, Apple TV.

    At the same time, Reuters reports that Amazon "is buying online comedy service Rooftop Media, a small deal that underscores the Internet retailer's broader ambition of becoming a media and entertainment powerhouse." Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    The Reuters story notes that "Amazon is persisting in buying content to round out its service, with designs to take on Netflix Inc. and other online digital media services … Amazon is expected to continue acquiring digital content at a rapid clip. In past years, it began investing heavily to branch out from its online retail roots, delving into Hollywood-style content production as well as developing a line of tablets, smartphones and set-top boxes to accelerate the sale of digital content."

    However, as has been noted here on MNB and elsewhere, CEO/founder Jeff Bezos's "vision of becoming a tech and media powerhouse … has drawn protests from an investor community that for years overlooked its lack of profits because of red-hot revenue growth," Reuters writes.
    KC's View:
    Seems clear to me while Amazon may have to adjust its approach a bit, if only to lessen the flow of red ink, the company is not going to give up on a central conceit - that in order to keep up with or stay ahead of the competition, it needs to keep investing in new products, services and technologies.

    Published on: October 28, 2014

    The New York Times this morning has a long piece about how fast food workers in Denmark make two-and-a-half times what US fast food employees make, raising the question for some people about why American fast food chains can't pay people a living wage.

    According to the story, "Many American economists and business groups say the comparison is deeply flawed because of fundamental differences between Denmark and the United States, including Denmark’s high living costs and taxes, a generous social safety net that includes universal health care and a collective bargaining system in which employer associations and unions work together. The fast-food restaurants (in Denmark) are also less profitable than their American counterparts."

    While it may in some ways be like comparing apples to oranges - or, more accurate, hamburgers to danish - it is an interesting case for discussion - and you can read the entire story here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 28, 2014

    Ad Week reports that Whole Foods "has loaded up its new flagship store in Alpharetta, Ga., with digital experiences that show shoppers where their food comes from … The most eye-catching activation is in the store's café. A digital screen on a wall runs an Instagram feed showing produce still growing in the fields of six local farms that supply the store. Elsewhere in the store, a digital mirror encourages shoppers to strike three different poses, which trigger images of recommended health products like vitamins and protein shakes.

    "Finally, touchscreens are built into display crates in the specialty section where beer, cheese and wine are sold."

    The company says that the goal is not to make Whole Foods look like the Apple Store, but rather build on its efforts to differentiate itself by educating people more extensively about the food they're buying.
    KC's View:
    It's rule number 18. Be a resource for information, not just a source of product.

    (Expect this to be just one in a series of self-referential comments that serve as not-so-subtle plus of my new book, "Retail Rules!," available now on

    Amazon.com.

    Published on: October 28, 2014

    • The Boston Globe reports that under considerable social media pressure, Walmart has apologized for and taken down a section of its website called "Fat Girl Costumes" for Halloween. The Globe notes that the costumes are still available in a section called "Women's Plus Size Halloween Costumes."

    The story notes that it took Walmart six days to respond to the criticism, which initially appeared on a women's website called Jezebel. There's been no explanation for the thinking behind the original site, the Globe writes, "and so far the company hasn’t offered an official statement."


    • The Washingtonian reports that just a year after Walmart threatened not to open planned stores in Washington, DC, because of concerns about a proposal that would have required it to pay a higher minimum wage than other retailers, the retailer has been named the DC Chamber of Commerce's "Business of the Year."

    According to the story, "The DC Chamber feted Walmart mostly for hiring 600 workers, 68 percent of whom are District residents, between the two stores, and for making $13 million in donations to local charities. Unmentioned, though, is the July 2013 episode in which the company threatened to cancel its other planned stores after the Council passed a 'living wage' bill that would have forced it and other big-box retailers to pay their employees at least $12.50 per hour. Mayor Vince Gray’s veto was ultimately successful, although of the other planned stores, construction has only started on one in a mixed-use project in upper Northwest’s Fort Totten, while two locations planned for Ward 7 remain unbuilt."
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 28, 2014

    • The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the city is getting a new urban store that is conceded to be a knock-off of Eataly - Market on Market, described by the story as "a sprawling $5million food emporium that will be a hybrid grocery market and foodie food court. It will have the staples to take home — milk and eggs, cereal and veggies, meats and breads — but also a taco bar, pizzeria, oyster bar, sushi shop and wine bar."

    The store will be located in the old San Francisco Furniture Mart, "on top of a BART station and on the city’s busiest bike route, which frequently gets 6,000 one-way bike trips a day." The story notes that "the Mid-Market neighborhood is dense and getting denser. In the past three years, it has attracted Twitter, Uber, Square and Dolby. Already, 2,500 residents have moved into the neighborhood, and another 2,500 are coming as towers sprout up along Mission and Market streets, so there should be plenty of business."


    • The Associated Press reports that "Chiquita has sealed a deal to be acquired by two Brazilian companies for about $681 million, with the U.S. banana producer expected to go private by the end of this year or early next. The deal comes just days after the fresh produce company’s shareholders rejected plans to merge with Fyffes, another major banana producer, based in Ireland."

    According to the story, "Chiquita Brands International, based in Charlotte, N.C., said Monday it will be acquired by investment firm Safra Group and juice company Cutrale Group for $14.50 per share, a 2 percent premium to its Friday closing price of $14.16.
    The companies put the transaction’s value at about $1.3 billion, including the assumption of Chiquita’s debt."


    • The Associated Press reports that as part of its winnowing down its product lineup to focus on top performers, Procter & Gamble said that it plans to spin off Duracell into a standalone company.


    • The Wall Street Journal reports that PepsiCo has confirmed that "it will test some of its drinks in SodaStream International Ltd. ’s home-carbonation machines in the U.S. PepsiCo and SodaStream said their agreement is limited to a 'small-scale, limited-time test' scheduled for later this year … The SodaStream trial comes as Coca-Cola Co. prepares to sell its sodas by next year in a cold-drink countertop machine being developed by Keurig Green Mountain Inc. Coke acquired a minority stake in Keurig earlier this year."
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 28, 2014

    Got several reactions to the statement by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that Amazon "isn't a real business."

    One MNB user wrote:

    Beyond your “patently absurd” characterization (which I wholeheartedly agree with), I would add the following about Ballmer, who is a bully with no strategic imagination. (Why do you say this, Kevin wonders? Glad you asked.)  He missed web search for Explorer.  He missed mobile OS when Android buried him. He missed smartphones, calling the original Apple iPhone DOA (dead on arrival because it didn’t have a physical keyboard).  He even missed putting “Office” on 200 million Apple iOS devices … all arrogant moves.   How about the $7B Quantitative Marketing write off?  Some would say the Yahoo acquisition should be on this list, saved only by Yahoo leader arrogance larger than Ballmer.

    Ballmer might have stewarded MSFT along the path to $250B but investors think the Windows/Office monopoly would have allowed a typical leader to achieve the same results.  Under Ballmer’s watch … Google market cap goes from $0 to $370B.  Facebook going to $208B.  How about Apple zooming from almost broke to $616B.  Oh, MSFT?  $377B.  Over a $TRILLION of wealth creation that MSFT couldn’t touch.

    Steve belongs in the NBA, where almost any spending decision is backed by significant TV contracts and license agreements. “Nothing But Attorneys” should take good care of him.


    And another MNB reader chimed in:

    Says a lot about the arrogance of a CEO who says he's, 'proud of the fact I made $250 billion under my watch as CEO'.  Seems to me he probably had a little help from others.  So as not to ruin his sense of being, let's continue letting him believe he did it by himself.

    Excellent point.



    Regarding the decision by some retailers not to accept Apple Pay because they favor a rival mobile payments system, MNB reader Jim Swoboda wrote:

    Hmmm….reminds me of Beta vs. VHS.  Consumer needs were secondary to corporate bias’s there to and an inferior product won.  Sounds very much like the same here after reading about the competing technologies.  Apple Pay is simple, elegant and the easiest to use of anything in the market today.  It’s corporate ego vs. consumer benefit.




    Got the following email on the subject of ageism from MNB reader Gerald Lewis:

    I am now 83 and still quite active, with a few clients and a lot of industry contacts and read your Wake Up Call every morning.

    I was the principal and CEO of CDI Group until we sold it to Miller Zell and I left the company in 2001. Then I became Chairman of a New Zealand-based loyalty provider whose first US program was due to launch in Norfolk VA on Sept 11th 2001.

    In 2011 I conceived, assembled and lead the team that developed the Twice Daily brand for Tri Star in Nashville.

    In 2007, before the first Tesco Fresh & Easy store was opened, I wrote a piece published by CSP predicting its demise and provided eight reasons why it would not work - all of which turned out to be valid.

    I am sure I am not younger than you, so do not meet your definition of being young, but I certainly don't feel old and feel that my perspective, based on having seem the same "new" things coming around and failing over and over, because people fail to learn from George Santayana that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it They could save a lot of time and money from those of us who have learned it. We're still here and not all in rocking chairs at senior citizens' homes.


    I could not agree with you more.

    I somehow seem to have gotten myself in a bit of trouble on this subject with a comment the other day that certain executives are young enough to forge new paths … I could've said the same thing about someone in his or her eighties … it is all about attitude.

    I've probably told this story before, but … I long have said that my dad, an elementary school principal, used to spend his lunchtimes on the playground playing with the students while his teachers had lunch. He only started to get old when he retired … a lesson that I take with me as I grow older (but not up).
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 28, 2014

    In Monday Night Football action, Washington upset the Dallas Cowboys 20-17.
    KC's View: