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    Published on: June 12, 2017

    A note from the Content Guy: My Dad passed away on Friday, and with your permission, the next few days of MNB will be somewhat abbreviated ... I'll try to offer you a taste of MNB each day, but not the full meal. ("Sansolo Speaks" will run as usual on Tuesday, as will "The Innovation Conversation" on Wednesday, for example.)

    This morning, I thought I'd share with you his obituary...

    Walter A. Coupe, whose 90 years were marked by love of family, a commitment to his faith, and an unending enthusiasm for teaching and learning, passed away on Friday, June 9, at home with his children in Stamford, Connecticut. The cause of death was complications from dementia, which he faced with grace, good cheer and characteristic charm for the past several years.

    Born in the Bronx to Thomas and Anne Coupe, the youngest of six children, Walter went to Cardinal Hayes High School and served in the US Navy and the Pacific theater during World War II. He then earned his Bachelors and two Masters degrees from Fordham University, and eventually became the first male elementary school teacher to work in the Mamaroneck Public Schools.

    It was during this time that Walter experienced the defining moment of his life - he met and fell in love with Joan Brett. Their first date was at Ebbets Field, an irony since he was a New York Giants fan at the time and Joan really didn't care about baseball. They were married on June 23, 1951, and moved to the New York suburbs - first to Yonkers, then to New Rochelle, and finally to Larchmont.

    Walter spent virtually his entire working life as an educator in the Mamaroneck Public Schools. Over the years he taught fourth, fifth and sixth grades at Chatsworth Avenue School and Murray Avenue School, and later became assistant principal at Mamaroneck Avenue School, and finally achieved his dream job - principal at Murray Avenue School. As principal, he viewed himself as the "principle teacher," and continued to spend as much time in the classroom as his schedule would allow. Among his favorite things to do was to venture out on the playground at lunchtime, and play with the kids - shoot baskets, play kickball and just hang with them. It kept him involved. It kept him connected. It was who he was.

    As Walter moved up in the school district, Joan and he also were having a family. A big one, which is what they both wanted. Four girls (Debbie, Deirdre, Amy and Clare) and three boys (Kevin, Brendan, and Tim), which required increasingly larger houses in Larchmont, because Walter also liked living in the same community where he worked. He also tutored kids in math and science, owned and ran a summer day camp, and even taught ice skating during the winter.

    Faith also was an important component of Walter's life. As a parishioner at Saints John & Paul Church in Larchmont, and later at St. Catherine of Siena in Riverside, Connecticut, he was a lector and a Eucharistic Minister; he also served on the parish council, and both Joan and he were longtime and enthusiastic members of the Christian Family Movement (CFM). Walter lived his faith, and from time to time at home, sometimes without prompting, he would warble "God is Love" to whatever audience happened to be available.

    Walter retired from the school district in 1986. He and Joan moved to Cos Cob, Connecticut, and did some traveling together and relaxed for the first time in years. Retirement actually allowed him the time and freedom to care for Joan when she was diagnosed with cancer in 1994. She fought the disease for four years, with Walter devoting himself lovingly and completely to her during every hour of every day until she passed away in 1998 at the age of 67.

    During the following decades, Walter focused on other passions. He took numerous driving trips across the country, went to Europe several times, and when he was home devoured history books and biographies, always continuing to learn. He played tennis and golf. And he watched the New York Mets, who had replaced the New York Giants in his heart from the moment they came into being. Trips to Shea Stadium and then Citi Field were among his favorite pastimes.

    Upon being diagnosed with dementia, Walter moved to the Osborn, in Rye, New York, where he continued to read, make friends, and watch the Mets. He spent time with his children and their spouses, 13 grandchildren and, eventually, one great granddaughter. And even as memories faded, he recognized them, and would smile when he saw pictures of Joan and their life together. And even could, when prompted, manage a few bars of "God is Love."

    Walter Coupe's life and passions will be celebrated first in a wake that will take place on Wednesday, June 14, at the Leo P. Gallagher Funeral Home in Stamford, CT, from 4-8 pm, and then in a funeral mass at St. Catherine of Siena in Riverside, CT, at 10 am on Thursday, June 15.

    In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the Walter Coupe Scholarship Fund, supporting first generation college attendees. Checks should be made out to the Mamaroneck UFSD and mailed to: Clare Coupe Scott, 4851 Aziza Road, New Tripoli, PA 18066. Online donations will be accepted at 

    Which all seems like the right thing to do. Because now he is back with Joan, the great love of his life. And his unending enthusiasm for education will live on.
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 12, 2017

    The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that Germany-based discount Aldi plans to spend $9 billion and "open nearly 900 stores and remodel hundreds more in the US ... over the next five years," which would give it a total of 2500 stores here.

    Such an expansion would make it the third largest retailer in the US by store count, behind only Walmart and Kroger, and the plans come as Lidl - another german discounter - begins to open store sin the US, beginning with 10 on Thursday.

    According to the Journal, "Executives at Wal-Mart and Kroger have been preparing for the growth of the discounters for years. Wal-Mart has been sprucing up its stores and slashing prices on some products in select markets, while Kroger continues to drive down costs to compete.

    "But the discounters could have a big impact on the U.S. grocery market as they did in Europe. Their market share there has steadily grown while traditional supermarkets have seen theirs fall. Deep discount chains in the U.S. are expected to grow by up to 10% a year through 2020, five times the rate of traditional grocers, according to a recent report by consulting firm Bain & Co."

    The move is seen as a major move by Aldi, which actually has been in the US since 1976, primarily with an appeal to low-income shoppers. But now these new stores - still with a focus on private label, but with an improved approach to fresh that management hopes will appeal to more affluent shoppers - are seen as a way to have a greater impact in the American market; it is seen as helpful that Americans' loyalty to major national brands seems to be eroding.
    KC's View:
    While I remain unconvinced that Aldi and Lidl can necessarily cause the kind of disruption that they have in the UK, where they've combined to erode the market shares enjoyed by the major and more traditional retailers, I do think they can cause a lot of margin trouble, affect consumer expectations, and have a real impact on stores that are less specific about their offerings and value propositions.

    There is no room for error here - and no room for mediocrity, or just-good-enough retailing. None.

    Published on: June 12, 2017

    • The New York Times reports that Amazon has been sued by a former warehouse shift manager, Michael Ortiz, who charges that the company did not pay him the overtime wages he was owed.

    According to the story, "The suit, filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court, says that Amazon improperly classified Mr. Ortiz as exempt from overtime in violation of California labor regulations. Mr. Ortiz’s lawyer, Scott Cole, said he would seek class-action status for the suit with the addition of other plaintiffs ... While most of the entry-level workers at Amazon’s warehouses, known as associates, are eligible for overtime pay, salaried managers are not under Amazon policy. In an interview, Mr. Ortiz, 34, said he and other managers had been promised when they were hired that their jobs would consist mostly of supervisory work. Instead, most of his job ended up being manual labor, some of it dangerous, he said."

    Amazon has not commented on the suit.

    GeekWire reports that Amazon has filed a lawsuit charging that Gene Farrell, a former Vice President of Enterprise Applications & EC2 at Amazon Web Services (AWS), violated a non-compete clause by taking a job at Smartsheet, described as a "heavily-funded ... online workplace collaboration platform."

    The lawsuit says that Farrell's new job "will necessarily involve development of and strategy regarding competing cloud-based productivity products, including but not limited to those for project management, collaboration, and/or automation, and will therefore breach the Noncompetition Agreement and threaten the disclosure of Amazon’s highly confidential information."

    Smartsheet calls the suit "unfortunate" and "a form of intimidation."
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 12, 2017

    • The New York Times reports on how the US House of Representatives last week voted 233-186 to approve the Financial Choice Act, which "rolls back or weakens most of the protections put in place since the 2008 financial crisis through President Barack Obama’s Dodd-Frank Act."

    However, as expected, the bill did not contain language that would have eliminated a cap on debit card swipe fees; retail industry executives had argued vociferously that those reforms needed to be maintained.

    Not one Democrat voted for the bill, and only one Republican did not vote for it. The Times writes that "though it is very unlikely to gain the 60 votes it needs to pass in the Senate, important parts of it could pass through the budget reconciliation process."
    KC's View:

    Published on: June 12, 2017

    ...will return.
    KC's View: