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    Published on: May 10, 2022

    by Michael Sansolo

    Let’s all give a big round of thanks to Ryan Tannehill for so publicly offering up a lesson in how we can easily chase away young, new hires. While his case is hardly usual, I’m sorry to say I think his sentiment is both quite common and an enormous problem.

    Tannehill, if you missed the news last week, created quite a stir in the world of professional football with a comment that some said was honest and correct, while other saw it as terribly self-centered.

    Tannehill’s team, the Tennessee Titans, recently drafted a young quarterback and Tannehill, the Titan’s incumbent quarterback, was less than pleased. Although he is 33, a fairly mature age for most professional football players not named Tom Brady, Tannehill clearly sees the newcomer as an unwelcome threat to his continued employment.

    In the world of professional football, as in so many occupations, it falls to experienced workers to help educate and train newcomers, but Tannehill was having none of that. “I don’t think it’s my job to mentor him,” Tannehill said in regard to the Titans new player.

    You could easily argue that this episode has no similarity to anything in your workplace. After all, your company doesn’t “draft” new staffers in some organized fashion broadcast on ESPN and I doubt your company pays anyone the millions that Tannehill or his new understudy make. (Plus the Titans’ new draftee has no choice but to play for the team. Needless to say, you don’t have that type of control.)

    But the issue of mentoring is absolutely essential and Tannehill’s shortsighted (to my mind) comment put a spotlight on an enormous issue.

    For most employers these days, a major problem is finding and retaining good young workers. Currently the problem is greater than at any time any of us can remember thanks to a growing labor shortage. With that in mind, retention and reputation become more important than ever.

    The young adults of Generation Z are still being studied quite heavily but first impressions of them and their slightly older millennial counterparts give us some important clues. Among them is this: they like to be mentored!

    Mentoring, quite honestly, can be annoying to any experienced worker. It takes time from their day and attention from their duties to help instruct someone who could soon compete for their job. But again, I’d argue that is a shortsighted point of view.

    A well-mentored staffer is going to get up to speed much quicker, which means they can help the entire team perform better and faster. In Tannehill’s very strange workplace, it could mean that his team would have a much more capable replacement once an injury occurs (and in football they always occur).

    In your workplace, it might be a way of better retaining new staffers and of giving them a reason to recommend your company to others. But again, mentoring won’t happen organically. Let’s remember, experienced workers need training, encouragement and perhaps even incentives to create a workplace culture that will benefit their company, possibly even beyond their own tenure.  (It might even require an addition to current staffers’ key job responsibilities.)

    Reaction inside professional football was starkly divided on Tannehill’s comments, but again, his field of employment is anything but ordinary even if his sentiments are somewhat common.

    If nothing else, use this far-flung example to discuss the importance of mentoring inside your company or team and look for ways to address whatever culture you have.

    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: May 10, 2022

    American businesses are facing a controversial Rubicon, as the pressure increases for many of them to take a position on a political and cultural issue that likely will prove enormously divisive.  I cannot offer magic formulas for how to meet the moment, but I do think that the scenario has to be discussed, and strategies developed.

    Published on: May 10, 2022

    The federal government has arranged for 20 internet companies "to provide discounted service to people with low incomes, a program that could effectively make tens of millions of households eligible for free service through an already existing federal subsidy," according to a story from the Associated Press.

    The story notes that "the $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year included $14.2 billion funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides $30 monthly subsidies ($75 in tribal areas) on internet service for millions of lower-income households.  With the new commitment from the internet providers, some 48 million households will be eligible for $30 monthly plans for 100 megabits per second, or higher speed, service — making internet service fully paid for with government assistance if they sign up with one of the providers participating in the program."

    The program means that "families of four earning about $55,000 annually — or those including someone eligible for Medicaid — will get a $30 monthly credit, meaning about 40 percent of Americans will qualify."

    Marty Newell, coordinator for Rural Broadband Policy at the Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg, Kentucky, tells the AP that this "might be a game-changer" for places where "slow internet has plagued residents and businesses alike," and says that his main question is, "What took them so long?"

    KC's View:

    One of the things that this program does, at least potentially, is enable families that have suffered through lousy internet connections to have greater access to online retailers that traditionally might not have been on their radar.  Which means that their local retailers suddenly may have stronger competition that they haven't had to deal with before.

    Published on: May 10, 2022

    Vox reports that "since at least last summer, Amazon has quietly been recruiting mom-and-pop shops in rural America to join an experimental delivery program. The company is paying participating small businesses a per-package fee to deliver Amazon orders within a 10-mile radius to their neighbors’ homes in states like Nebraska, Mississippi, and Alabama.

    "The local businesses Amazon is recruiting range from florists to restaurants to IT shops, and none of them are required to have prior delivery experience — just a commitment to deliver Amazon packages seven days a week, around 360 days a year, and a physical location to receive parcels each morning … The new local business delivery beta test seems aimed at perhaps one day replacing its existing partners as Amazon’s sales grow and the Postal Service navigates its own financial and operational challenges. Amazon hopes the new program could help it take more control over customer deliveries in sparsely populated areas and improve the delivery speed to these customers’ doors. The company has already tried versions of the program in a few international markets, including India since 2015, but the testing in the United States is more recent."

    KC's View:

    I certainly understand why Amazon wants to do this, and even can understand why some of these businesses might decide to get in bed with a company that ordinarily might be seen as the competition.  It is a matter of risk-reward.

    The question is whether the juice is worth the squeeze.  The story notes that "an Amazon webpage marketing the program says business owners can expect to make $1,500 to $2,000 a week if they deliver 600 to 800 packages weekly, which translates to about $2.50 a package.  One logistics expert thinks that this is about a buck less than he would've expected would be necessary to make the deal attractive to local businesses.

    At the high end, this is about eight grand a month, or 96 grand a year … which is a lot of money.   I wonder, however, if even that kind of money is worth all the time-consuming effort (not to mention the cost of gas) to deliver, at the high end, 3,200 packages a month or more than 38,000 packages a year.  Plus, when you think about it, is it even possible to have that kind of volume - by definition, these are remote areas.

    Bottom line - I suspect this program will be better for Amazon than for the businesses with which it makes deals.

    Published on: May 10, 2022

    Interesting piece from the Wall Street Journal about how the current economic moment - higher inflation than at any time in recent decades, a slowdown in consumer spending, and a stock market roiled by economic and geopolitical uncertainty - is creating job insecurity for a number of retail CFOs.

    Companies like Walmart, Lowe’s, and Wayfair are swapping out their CFOs, the story says, as changed circumstances seem to be calling for fresh blood and new perspectives.

    "The turnover comes as the boom in retail sales during the pandemic - particularly for e-commerce companies - shows signs of slowing," the Journal writes.  "Higher prices for groceries, gas and other items are squeezing U.S. consumers, who are facing inflation at a four-decade high. Household spending has slowed in recent months and retailers selling big-ticket items, such as beds and appliances, have reported lower demand."

    KC's View:

    There are a lot of companies and people grappling with circumstances with which they've never dealt before.  Tom Furphy and I talked about this last week in the Innovation Conversation - Amazon, for example, has dealt with a recession, but came into being well after the last time that we experienced any sort of significant inflation.  This is new territory for any company that's come into being in the past quarter-century, and they indeed may find that they need some different perspectives in navigating it.

    It shouldn't be just CFOs who are at risk, though … one can imagine that a lot of c-suite occupants could be at risk if they don't respond to the moment effectively.

    Published on: May 10, 2022

    Good Morning, America this morning had a piece about how a "Minnesota-based nonprofit, The Food Group, is working to provide nutritious, high-quality, low-priced groceries across the state in over 30 counties, including neighboring Wisconsin, to help over 50,000 households."  The vehicles - "32 'Fare for All' pop-up sites that focus on rural and suburban communities and a Twin Cities Mobile Market that delivers food directly to urban neighborhoods weekly."

    You can check out the story here.

    Published on: May 10, 2022

    From Bloomberg, a provocative thought:

    "What happens when the growth stops?

    " Inc. last week disclosed an eyebrow-raising milestone: The world’s largest online retailer sold roughly the same number of goods in the most recent quarter as it did in the same period last year.

    "Unit sales - reported in Amazon’s earnings in terms of 'year-over-year growth,' because, historically, all the company did was grow—came in at 0% in its latest report. That is to say, absolutely flat.

    "There are some asterisks. The figure doesn’t include sales by Amazon’s cloud-computing division or Whole Foods. It also tallies only the quantity of units sold, not their value. Amazon’s revenue itself rose by 7.3%.

    "But for a company that has averaged 30% revenue growth since 2000, the unit sales metric is something of a sorry number. After the report, Amazon’s share price crumbled, and financial analysts re-evaluated their (still overwhelmingly optimistic) takes on the company.

    "And lately, a few have been wondering whether the retailer’s recent stumbles might herald the advent of a new era: Peak Amazon."

    KC's View:

    I do think that one of Amazon's advantages will be that it has effectively spread its bets around … it isn't just dependent on one segment of business to be successful.  But I do think that this is a question that must be on the minds of Amazon's leadership.

    Published on: May 10, 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…

    •  The United States now has had a total of 83,688,188 total cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 1,024,752 deaths and 81,019,770 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 517,868,846 total cases, with 6,278,413 resultant fatalities and 472,739,812 reported recoveries.   (Source.)

    •  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 77.8 percent of the total US population has received at least one dose of vaccine … 66.3 percent are fully vaccinated … and 46 percent of fully vaccinated people have received a vaccine booster dose.

    Published on: May 10, 2022

    •  7-Eleven announced the opening of its fourth annual "Brands With Heart" event, "designed to give brands the opportunity to enter a new retail channel and introduce their products to 7‑Eleven, Speedway and Stripes customers across the US. Applications are now live and will remain open through the end of May.

    "7‑Eleven knows that customers who purchase its iconic food and beverages – such as Slurpee® drinks, Big Bite® hot dogs, taquitos and coffee – are also more likely to couple it with another packaged food item or bottled drink, which is why the company is always on the lookout for exciting new products to introduce to customers. The brand has built a team to identify new food and beverage trends, find up-and-coming brands aligned with those trends, and ultimately support the development of those brands to be sold at 7‑Eleven, Speedway, and Stripes stores and beyond.

    "For the fourth year, emerging brands are invited to make their case for why they deserve a spot on the shelves of 7‑Eleven, Speedway, and Stripes stores. Whether a product is ready to go to market or is still up-and-coming, all brands are invited to apply."

    The company says that it "is looking to diversify its product offerings beyond the traditional c-store assortment and put innovative products on the shelves that meet the needs of its on-the-go customers. This includes a variety of snacks, beverages, confectionery, and ‘better-for-you’ items."