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    Published on: December 13, 2022

    Today's business lesson is from Austin, Texas, where I'm spending a couple of days attending a boot camp for speakers put on by an organization called ImpactEleven.  My goal is simple - I want to raise my game so I can be even better at structuring and distilling relevant and resonant information in the speeches I give.  Even after having done it for 25+ years, I know I can improve.  (And that's the business lesson.)

    Published on: December 13, 2022

    by Kevin Coupe

    A story from Axios this week illustrates the degree to which change is - go figure - immutable.

    According to the story, "the iconic Boeing 747 is entering retirement after more than 50 years."  The last one that Boeing will ever make has rolled off the company's assembly line.

    While the 747 symbolized the company for decades, instantly recognizable "for both its sheer size and the bubble that houses a partial second level near the front of the plane," it has been replaced by newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft.

    The first 747, the story says, was built in 1967;  a total of 1,574 747s were built by the company.

    But none of that matters.  The time came for even an icon to be retired.  Which is an Eye Opening reality that every business leader should think about when making choices about where to invest and where to cut.

    Published on: December 13, 2022

    The Dayton Daily News reports that Dorothy Lane Market has gotten final regulatory approvals for its fourth store, a 50,225 square-foot unit that will be built in Mason, Ohio, and will include "cafés and culinary centers."

    According to the story, the store will be "part of the Mosaic, a $150 million development that will include residential, office and other retail in Mason … The proposed building will be constructed out of brick veneer, with glass and metal wall accents and decorative art panels over the entrance of the building."  

    The store is tentatively scheduled to open in 2024.

    KC's View:

    There is simply no better specialty food retailer in the US - Dorothy Lane Market's three stores are both aspirational and inspirational, giving full voice to an organizational love of food and a deep desire to share that passion with customers.

    I love the stores … love the company … love the Mayne family that is the beating heart of what makes it all work …. and cannot wait to see what they have planned.

    Published on: December 13, 2022

    The Information reports that Amazon is delaying the start dates for some new graduates that it hired, some by as long as six months, as it tries to "rein in its corporate headcount."

    The moves come after Amazon rescinded some offers and laid off other existing employees.

    According to the story, "Amazon started contacting would-be employees across divisions including Amazon Web Services and retail on Monday to inform them about their new start dates, a person familiar with the matter said. Amazon told the incoming hires, who had been due to start in early 2023, that they would receive one month of pay in the meantime … It’s unclear exactly how many incoming employees have had their start dates delayed."

    Amazon spokesman Brad Glasser said in a statement that “Amazon remains committed to university recruiting and our internship program as important pathways to find the next generation of leaders and builders."

    However, the cuts and delays aren't hitting every corner of the company.

    The Information also reports that Amazon "will boost spending on its self-driving car development unit, Zoox, in 2023, which is already soaking up close to a billion dollars a year, said two people familiar with the situation."

    The story says that "Zoox has pitched itself squarely as an autonomous ride-hailing company since it was founded in 2014, a focus that hasn’t changed under Amazon. Some inside the company, however, say the company’s real long-term value could come from developing self-driving technology to power both taxis and delivery vehicles. When Zoox was marketing itself to potential buyers ahead of the Amazon acquisition, the company mocked up a concept version of an autonomous delivery vehicle, according to a source familiar with the matter."

    And, the Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon also is spending on cyber security, "relying on a combination of internal training and active recruitment to help navigate a worldwide cyber talent shortage.

    "The market for cybersecurity professionals is competitive. The cybersecurity talent gap grew by 26.2% over the past year to around 3.4 million unfilled jobs worldwide, according to professional group (ISC)2."

    Chief Security Officer Stephen Schmidt, "a former senior executive at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a decade-plus Amazon veteran, said he was promoted to Amazon’s top security post in January in part to grow the security team and address retention. He oversees information security, personnel security and physical security, and was previously chief information security officer of Amazon’s cloud unit Amazon Web Services."

    KC's View:

    It always seemed pretty clear that Amazon's cuts would be surgical - the company's leaders are too smart, with too many resources, to be purely reactive.  Amazon has to grow, and so investments must continue to be made.

    Published on: December 13, 2022

    The pandemic provided a lifeline for meal kit delivery businesses.  But one turn of events is yet another indication of how some businesses propelled by Covid-19 have slammed into new realities.

    The Daily Meal reports that Blue Aron, which was in trouble before the pandemic but found that its fortunes improved when the world went into lockdown, now is suffering from both a shortage of customers and cash - and as a result is laying off 10 percent of its corporate workforce.

    According to the story, "Blue Apron apparently needs to cut its expenses by $50 million going into 2023, though the severance payments for these layoffs alone will cost it $1.2 million … According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Blue Apron's number of customers had dropped from 350,000 to 323,000, down from the same period last year. This is especially troubling for the company as its biggest competitor, HelloFresh, continues to grow. It counts 3.67 million customers and growing in the United States at the same time. Blue Apron seems to hope that this reduction in its workforce will be enough to turn things around and make it a more lean competitive force in the market."

    KC's View:

    Blue Apron's resurgence always felt temporary, even illusory.  No surprise here.

    The pandemic should've given the company room to adjust its business model for a time when things returned to "normal," whatever the hell that is.  But it appears that this is not what happened.

    Published on: December 13, 2022

    Bloomberg has a profile of Matt Ryan, described as a "veteran marketer" who "has worked on two of the world’s biggest brands in Disney and Starbucks. And now the 60-year-old is applying what he learned to vertical farming as chief executive officer of Soli Organic Inc."

    According to the story, "Ryan said the company, which he joined last year following a stint as chief marketing officer of Starbucks, differentiates itself from competitors by growing crops in dirt instead of water. That helps it harvest tastier lettuce with better yields, he said.

    "The ultimate goal of the company, which generates about $140 million in annual sales, is to reduce costs through scale and automation to sell organic vegetables at prices that match conventional field crops. It’s a similar strategy to how Starbucks brought premium coffee to the masses."

    You can read the piece here.

    Published on: December 13, 2022

    •  Kroger announced "the launch of floral and sushi delivery on the DoorDash marketplace from banner stores across the country. The new delivery option through DoorDash marks the latest expansion of the grocer's seamless experience, providing customers with even more opportunities to get fresh, affordable products. 

    "Kroger will now offer convenient delivery from more than 900 sushi locations and 1,600 floral locations nationwide through DoorDash."  The addition follows a successful pilot in selected markets this fall.

    •  Casey's General Stores announced that it is launching its own retail media network, called Casey's Access," early next year, saying that it will allow vendors to leverage customer data to create relevant promotions, targeted offerings and marketing content, cutting across its bricks-and-mortar and digital platforms, including at the company's gas pumps.

    Casey’s operates more than 2,400 stores across 16 states.

    Art Sebastian, vice president of digital experiences, said in a statement that the "program will harness the power of first-party data and our API-led technology stack to leverage new capabilities and generate value."

    Published on: December 13, 2022

    •  Fox Business reports that "multiple states are raising their minimum hourly wages next month, with four boosting the minimum hourly rate to $15 or above at the start of the year: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington.  Inflation will boost the Golden State's hourly minimum wage to $15.50 and Washington state's minimum wage will increase to $15.74.

    "Connecticut and Massachusetts will both raise wages to $15 an hour."

    In fact, the story says, "At least 25 states are raising their minimum wage next year, with the majority taking effect on Jan. 1."

    •  The FMI Foundation announced that it will host  the 2022 Gold Plate Awards in a live, virtual ceremony tomorrow at 3 pm EST, recognizing the "outstanding efforts of food retail, supplier and community organizations promoting National Family Meals Month."

    The ceremony will be accessible via FMI's YouTube channel, with no registration required.

    •  NBC News reports that CVS and Walgreens have finalized their agreement "to pay a combined $10.7 billion to settle allegations they failed to adequately oversee opioid painkiller prescriptions, thus contributing to America's opioid addiction crisis.

    "The funds will be distributed to states, local governments and federally recognized tribes and will go toward opioid crisis abatement and remediation programs. CVS will pay $4.9 billion to states and political subdivisions and approximately $130 million to tribes. Walgreens will pay $4.95 billion, plus more than $750 million in fees for attorneys and costs. The payments will be made over time.

    "The pharmacy chains have also agreed to implement robust controlled substance compliance programs that will require additional layers of opioid prescription reviews and institute new mandatory training programs."

    Published on: December 13, 2022

    Got a number of nice emails about yesterday's FaceTime video from Arlington National Cemetery

    One MNB reader wrote:

    I am in the very same boat as you. Never went into the service and regret it now. I tried for the Coast Guard and it was after Nam and they did not need people.  I should have went to a different branch.

    We (a friend and I) are now working with the Michigan Vets home to bring a bus load of residents to a local NASCAR race track to get away for a night, once a month. 10 vets and 10 volunteers and a $200 gift card so they can have a bite to eat and drink. They all love it. Biggest issue is finding the volunteers to do more people, we are working on that now. The vets are so happy that someone remembers them, it is so rewarding.

    From another reader:

    I think of all the young males today who should read your reflection .. but wonder if it would do any good.  If there was s  draft, I would worry about the quality of commitment!  Your commentary made me think..again.

    I actually think that there ought to be compulsory national service for everybody - not just males.  There would be options beyond the military, but the armed forces would be an important part of that.

    No exceptions - not for the rich, not for the powerful, not for ther well-connected.  Seems to me that the old people who make decisions about war and peace would be very careful about those decisions if everybody, quite literally, has skin in the game. 

    Another MNB reader wrote:

    That was a beautiful tribute to our honored US Military Veterans.  Thank you, Kevin!

    And, from another reader:

    Thank you for posting your powerful video about Arlington national cemetery.

    I happened to watch your video about 10 minutes after the Wreaths Across America trailers and police escorts passed by my house in southern Maine on the way south to place the wreathes.

    It is an emotional moment each year I see them/hear them with the sirens and truck horns reminding us of the sacrifices those buried there (and others) have made.

    Published on: December 13, 2022

    In Monday Night Football action, the New England Patriots defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-13.