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    Published on: March 22, 2022

    by Michael Sansolo

    One of the main subplots of this year’s NCAA Men’s basketball tournament (aka March Madness) is the pending retirement of Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who will depart upon his team’s next loss.

    Coach K (I’m not going to keep typing his last name) has his team in the tournament for the 36th time and will end his career with more coaching wins than anyone else in college basketball. But the reason you might want to spend a moment thinking about him has nothing to do with basketball, but rather with something we all need to learn.

    That is: How to evolve.

    Unsurprisingly, after such a long and distinguished career, Coach K is being showered with praise in the sports world, but what caught my eye was a column in the Washington Post highlighting how the coach managed to build continued success even as all the factors in his world changed radically. That would seem to hold a lesson for all of us.

    And in this case, it has nothing to do with adjusting to the talents of his teams, an essential quality in any coach or manager. Rather it had to do with the realities of the market in which he operated and the changing needs and wants of his players. Certainly that is something with resonance for anyone who manages people.

    As the Post detailed, early in his tenure at Duke, Coach K put a premium on academic accomplishment by his players to the point that he refused to allow the school to commemorate team success until players had fulfilled their academic requirements. 

    You don’t have to know much about college basketball to know that situation has changed dramatically, with the best players now regularly staying in college for a single season at most before leaving for the huge salaries of the NBA..

    Coach K recognized that his early focus on academics would not work in that new world and he changed with the times, becoming a master of finding players who would welcome a single year in his program. There’s no saying whether he likes or prefers the new environment, but that doesn’t matter. He accepted reality and did his best with it.

    The other great tribute to Coach K is his continued success coaching the USA Olympic team, which always is stocked with professional players, whose mindset and motivations are obviously very different than an 18-year-old college student. But once again, he succeeded by recognizing and working within the realities of his environment.

    Coach K’s example has never been more important to managers at any level. More than ever you are dealing with workplace diversity both in who your staffers are, but also in what motivates them. More than ever you need to follow the example of a highly successful coach who found a way to win by working with the realities of the day rather than fighting against them.

    "My way or the highway" is no way to succeed in 2022.

    That might mean trying to understand the motivations or need for constant feedback from Gen Zers, while also recognizing how to best work with and attract the recently retired, who are looking for a little activity and maybe some income. 

    As we say all the time, it isn’t the strongest or smartest who evolve and survive. It’s the most adaptable and for that reason alone it’s time to consider the lesson of Mike Krzyzewiski. (Pronounced sha-chef-ski for the non-fans out there.)

    Be more like Mike.

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at

    His book, “THE BIG PICTURE:  Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available here.

    And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon here.

    Published on: March 22, 2022

    So, Howard Schultz is back at the helm of Starbucks.  No surprise here, KC says.  The big question is what comes next, as he copes with a variety of issues that made be eroding the company's core value proposition.

    Published on: March 22, 2022

    The Associated Press this morning reports that Boulder, Colorado, is observing today "the one-year anniversary of a shooting at a busy supermarket that left 10 people dead, including employees, customers and a veteran police officer."

    There will be a city-wide moment of silence at 2:30 pm MDT, which is approximately the time that the shooter opened fore at the Kroger-owned King Soopers supermarket.

    The store, which was remodeled and reopened last month, will be closed today.

    The AP says that about half the store employees who worker there a year ago have returned to work there.

    Published on: March 22, 2022

    From the Los Angeles Times:

    "Grocery workers across Southern California began voting Monday on whether to authorize a strike against Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions in an effort to pressure the companies to raise wages.

    "More than 47,000 workers at 500 stores are eligible to vote over five days, with the result expected to be announced Sunday.

    "A three-year contract between the United Food and Commercial Workers and Kroger, the parent company of Ralphs, and Albertsons, which owns Vons and Pavilions, expired March 6."

    The story notes that negotiations collapsed two weeks ago, with John Grant, president of UFCW Local 770 saying that he believes that "the companies wanted to see if workers are going to stand up and ask for the contract they deserve.”  But, he said, “I have never seen such militancy. It’s like we’ve walked through hell and can’t stop now.”

    The Times writes that "this month, the union filed complaints of unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the companies of illegal intimidation, including videotaping of workers at rallies and when they presented petitions to managers. The companies gave employees a one-time $100 bonus, which the union called a 'bribe' to influence the negotiations, and they failed to provide necessary information for negotiations, according to the filings with the NLRB."

    According to the Times, "the companies are offering the highest tier of grocery workers — full-time checkers with five years of experience who make $22.50 an hour — a 60-cent annual increase over three years … Grant called the proposed wage hike 'paltry,' especially given high inflation, and far less than the companies recently agreed to in Oregon and Colorado. The union proposes a raise of $2 the first year of the contract for the highest-paid workers, $1.50 in the second year and $1.50 in the third year, with larger increases for lower-wage workers."

    KC's View:

    I'm not qualified to say what an appropriate raise would be, but I would suggest that management has to think about the word "essential," which was tossed around a lot during the pandemic as defining both the stores they operate and the people they employ.

    To paraphrase writer Finley Peter Dunne, labor negotiations ain't beanbag.  I get that.  

    But if stores are going to continue to create the perception - and, perhaps, even the reality - of being essential, I think they have to foster an environment of investment in workers.  Otherwise, it is just a word.

    Published on: March 22, 2022

    As expected, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted yesterday 3-1 "to propose regulations that, for the first time, require companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions as well as their exposure to climate change risks," Axios reports.

    According to the story, "In proposing climate risk disclosure rules, the SEC is effectively trying to set a floor for companies to meet or exceed when reporting how prepared they are for the consequences of a warming world … The proposed rule would require companies to include certain climate change information on their financial reports, such as their Form 10-K.

    "The information to be disclosed would include how climate-related risks could affect the company's business, strategy and projections … The company's greenhouse gas emissions would need to be audited by an outside party. The rule gives firms wiggle room over emissions embedded within its value chain, such as those caused when customers use its products, which are known as 'Scope 3' emissions."

    Axios notes that "the rule is meant to give companies more certainty about how they need to incorporate climate change into their financial reporting, but it contains gaps that may allow big emitters to obscure their complete carbon footprint."

    KC's View:

    If one accepts, as I do, that climate change is a fact and that some percentage of it can be impacted by addressing issues such as greenhouse gases, then it makes sense to require public companies to a) disclose their approach to these issues and level of implementation, and b) create a level and transparent playing field on which companies can be compared and contrasted.

    Companies always will find some degree of wiggle room, and I'm sure there will be accusations of government overreach and regulatory abuse.  But this doesn't strike me as the case - or at least, the intention - here.

    One objection to the proposal is that climate change is outside the SEC's traditional lane of expertise and regulation.  But it seems to me that one of the ways in which governments - and, for that matter, other institutions and companies - get in to trouble is when they silo their approaches.  Staying within lanes can lead to lack of nuance when it comes to policy;  I would hope that the SEC would get the appropriate guidance from climate change experts in crafting the specific regulations, but I have no problem, in theory, with this approach.

    Published on: March 22, 2022

    From Axios:

    At a meeting of the Business Roundtable yesterday in Washington, DC, President Biden warned that "based on evolving intelligence, Russia may be planning a cyberattack against us … the magnitude of Russia’s cyber capacity is fairly consequential, and it’s coming … it's a patriotic obligation for you to invest as much as you can in making sure ... you have built up your technological capacity to deal ... with cyberattacks."

    Published on: March 22, 2022

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In the US, there now have been a total of 81,448,402 Covid-19 coronavirus cases, resulting in 998,840 deaths and 63,254,918 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 472,786,431 total cases, with 6,106,666 resultant fatalities and 409,101,751 reported recoveries.   (Source.)

    •  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 76.8 percent of the total US population has received at least one dose of vaccine … 65.4 percent are fully vaccinated … and 44.5 percent have received a vaccine booster dose.

    We're clearly getting perilously close to a landmark number when it comes to Covid-related deaths in the US, and I was curious … so I went back to the January 3, 2022 MNB, and saw that at that point, there had been 847,408 deaths reported.  Which means that in the past three months or so, there have been more than 150,000 Covid-related deaths in the US … the vast majority of which could have been avoided if people had been vaccinated and boosted.  Which breaks my heart.

    Published on: March 22, 2022

    •  Business Insider reports that "grocery delivery company Instacart has joined Uber and Lyft in adding a temporary fuel surcharge to customers' orders to help cover the skyrocketing gas prices its drivers are paying."

    Instacart wrote in a blog posting, "We're implementing a temporary surcharge on customer orders to help offset the increased cost of gas over the next month … This surcharge will add an additional $.40 on customer orders across our marketplace, with a clear indication of the fuel surcharge on the batch before you accept it." 

    •  From Business Insider:

    "During a November all-hands meeting, an Amazon employee asked CEO Andy Jassy to share the 'innovations' that most excited him at the company.

    "Without much hesitation, Jassy mentioned Amazon Care, the company's new primary-care business, as one of his top picks, according to audio of the meeting that Insider obtained.

    "Calling Amazon a 'significant disruptor' in the medical-care field, Jassy expounded on the potential benefits of Amazon Care, which connects patients with doctors over text and video — and in some locations, mails prescriptions and dispatches a nurse to people's homes for exams and labs.

    "He said its on-demand telehealth capabilities could significantly improve the medical-care process, which relies on long wait times, unpredictable scheduling, and additional stops to pharmacies to pick up medications. Ten years from now, he added, the standard experience of seeing a doctor today would look 'crazy'."

    Business Insider goes on to point out that "Jassy's comment offers a rare window into the CEO's staunch enthusiasm for Amazon's healthcare business at a time when big tech is jockeying to plow into the largely antiquated $4.1 trillion healthcare industry.

    "Since spending $750 million on acquiring the online-pharmacy startup PillPack in 2018, Amazon has significantly ramped up the healthcare services it offers … Amazon plans to double down on its healthcare efforts, internally consolidating the team and planning for further expansion across various areas, said internal documents and seven people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from Amazon."

    Published on: March 22, 2022

    •  From CNBC:

    "Kohl’s on Monday confirmed it has received multiple preliminary offers from parties interested in acquiring the department store chain.

    "Kohl’s said in a press release the proposals are nonbinding and without committed financing. The company’s board of directors has hired bankers at Goldman Sachs to coordinate with bidders.

    "Hudson’s Bay Co., a Canadian department store operator owned by HBC, is one of the bidders, a person familiar with the talks told CNBC. Reports last week also said private equity firm Sycamore is mulling a bid, which would value the company at more than $9 billion. On Monday, Kohl’s market value was hovering around $8.1 billion … The recent heightened interest comes after Kohl’s said an offer from Starboard-backed Acacia Research, at $64 per share, was too low. Kohl’s has since forged ahead with its own initiatives to boost profits and win new customers."

    Published on: March 22, 2022

    •  The Wall Street Journal reports that "Chobani Inc. hired former Juul Labs Inc. chief executive Kevin Burns as its new president and chief operating officer … Mr. Burns, who worked at Chobani for several years before leading Juul, will report to the yogurt giant’s founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya. Mr. Burns succeeds Peter McGuinness, who left Chobani last week to become chief executive of plant-based burger maker Impossible Foods Inc."

    KC's View:

    I don't usually comment on Executive Suite items, but I can't help but mention that it seems like Chobani exists on a different planet than Juul.  But maybe that's just me.

    Published on: March 22, 2022

    Yesterday we had an email from an MNB reader who said he was distraught at the unwillingness of some companies to move decisively and appropriately to stop doing business in Russia, and mentioned specifically Procter & Gamble;  Nestle, Unilever and Mondelez are among the other companies that have been identified by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

    This prompted MNB reader Steve Burbridge to write:

    After reading about the three companies noted in today's newsletter, I reached out to the companies to ask about their stance.  

    Both Nestle and Unilever required you to send comments through a Contact form and they responded via email that "they will respond".

    Mondelez allowed a chat; text below:

    Chat - As a food company, we are scaling back all non-essential activities in Russia while helping maintain continuity of the food supply during the challenging times ahead.

    SB - Your company is a significant exception to what others are doing and is the bad PR really worth it?  If your concern is feeding the Russian people, what are you doing with those profits?

    Chat - We will be providing your statements and questions to the appropriate teams. We appreciate you taking the time to reach out about this.

    I may be insignificant to their overall sales, but it will impact how I buy going forward.


    On another subject, from MNB reader Tim Callahan:

    Visited a Publix GreenWise store today. Nice selection, lots of help, everything we wanted from a store in downtown Tampa. Sometimes simple is perfect.

    And, responding to yesterday's piece about how Stew Leonard's has released nine songs - all sung by its audio-animatronic Farm Fresh Five - on a variety of streaming platforms, including Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon, one MNB reader wrote:

    Thanks a lot. I don’t even live close to a Stew Leonard’s but now I have the song stuck in my head. Very effective advertising on their part.

    Published on: March 22, 2022

    •  Score another one for Amazon, which, Sports Illustrated reports, has hired sportscaster Al Michaels away from NBC's "Sunday Night Football" franchise for its own new "Thursday Night Football" package.

    According to the story, "Michaels will be joined in the booth by longtime college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who previously agreed to join Amazon in addition to his role with ESPN.

    "Sources told Marchand that Al Michaels will be paid in the 'Joe Buck neighborhood' to join Amazon. Buck recently left Fox for ESPN to become the lead commentator for Monday Night Football. Buck’s deal with ESPN is for five years and $75 million."