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    Published on: September 24, 2019

    by Michael Sansolo

    As a movie buff, it’s been wonderful to see all the tributes to the now classic film, The Shawshank Redemption, on the 25th anniversary of its original release. I’ve always thought is a great movie for business lessons, especially the repeated admonition that you have to get busy living or get busy dying.

    It’s not a small choice. If you aren’t trying to actively grow these day, to actively understand and employ new technologies and not actively talking to your people about the need to rise to a new level, you are, sadly, getting busy preparing for death. Sorry but it’s true.

    News comes so fast at us these days that you’d be easily forgiven for missing a single important line in a recent "Your View" note here at MNB last week. In response to Kevin’s article about Zupan’s, one reader compared the company to another local Oregon retailer, Bale’s. As the reader said, at one time Zupan’s and Bale’s were on par with each other.

    No longer though. While Zupan’s (in the reader’s eyes) “acted on a changing consumer, Bale’s didn’t. I’m not sure they even tried. The results are in.” As the reader pointed out, Bale’s isn’t around any more; Zupan’s is thriving.

    That’s the world in a nutshell. The story is pretty simple. You change or you die.

    To simply be in business today means you and your company have already been changing in countless ways. Every one of us, no matter how limited our computer skills, can navigate countless programs and apps these days to run our lives. We’ve also learned the reality that what used to be good enough to succeed is no longer near close enough.

    So let’s go back to Shawshank prison and that simple philosophy. To get busy living we need to put ourselves in positions of discomfort. We need to challenge ourselves to make sure our strengths become even more pronounced and that our weaknesses are minimized. We need open ourselves to new ideas and new directions. It starts simply by courting opinions from all parts of our teams, including those young Gen X staffers who annoy us. It includes our trading partners and, if you’re lucky, your share group members or other folks you trust.

    The wisdom isn't just found in The Shawshank Redemption. Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway musical "Hamilton," has a moment in which George Washington sings to the titular character, "Dying is easy, living is harder."


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

    KC's View:

    Published on: September 24, 2019

    by Kevin Coupe

    One of the core things that I often have written about here on MNB is the importance of making customers feel like regulars. It is, I've argued, a powerful tool for creating loyalty, because there are few things more comforting and appealing to a customer or patron than being treated that way.

    My favorite example of how this works has been Morgan, the bartender at Etta's in Seattle. I've told the story - both here and in both of my books - about how he remembered me after just one visit to Etta's, and has treated me like someone who comes in every day as opposed to someone who comes in only during occasional visits to Seattle. He knows what I like to drink and eat and sit, and I always feel like Norm in "Cheers" - Etta's has become a compulsory stop for me (and to many readers who have read about Morgan here).

    I must admit that I've always been a little disappointed that I don't have that kind of connection to any bartenders in Portland, Oregon, where I spend a lot more time. I'm sure that there are lots of wonderful bartenders there, but for some reason, I've never really found a place and person there that can measure up to Morgan.

    Until the other day.

    I wrote here during the summer about how I'd discovered a new place - Bar Rione, a wine bar that opened in the Pearl neighborhood by the owners of Piazza Italia, a restaurant next door. I went there several times during my summer adjunctivity in Portland, and liked it a lot. It was fun, and the wine and food were excellent.

    A few days ago I was back in Portland on business and I had a free evening, and so I stopped into Bar Rione. I sat down at the bar and Lucy, the bartender, looked at me and said, "Rosé, Kevin?" Yes, please, I responded. "Suppli?" she asked, referring to the risotto balls I'd had on other occasions. I nodded … delighting in the fact that Luci had remembered my name and my previous orders.

    I felt like a regular. (And because it is in another city, I don't feel like I'm cheating on Morgan.)

    Now, it ends up that Lucy has been cited as one of the nation's five best bartenders by "Food & Wine" magazine, so she knows what she's doing. But as great as she is at making drinks, I'd argue that she is just as proficient at making loyal customers.

    That ability is what retailers ought to be looking for in the people they put on the front lines. Sure, it is harder in a supermarket than it is at a bar, but it needs to be a goal … one of the ways in which retailers create for themselves differential advantages that can stand up against online and bricks-and-mortar competition.

    It can be, I think, an Eye-Opener.
    KC's View:

    Published on: September 24, 2019

    The New York Times writes about a new report from AARP saying that "older Americans" are being "shunned and caricatured in marketing images, perpetuating unrealistic stereotypes and contributing to age discrimination."

    Some points from the report:

    • "More than a third of the United States population is older than 50, but the group turns up in only 15 percent of media images, according to research from AARP, the powerful advocacy organization focused on older Americans."

    • "More than 53 million people older than 50 are employed, making up a third of the American labor force … But only 13 percent of the images reviewed by AARP showed older people working. Instead, they appeared at home more than in any other setting, often in the company of a partner or a medical professional. Younger people were more likely to be featured with co-workers."

    • "Less than 5 percent of the images showed older generations handling technology, even though the Pew Research Center has found that 69 percent of people between 55 and 73 own a smartphone. More than a third of the images analyzed by AARP portrayed younger people with technology."

    The Times writes that "many advertising professionals blame the ageism rampant in their own offices for contributing to the invisibility and distortion of older people in marketing campaigns. At advertising, public relations and related companies in the United States, more than 81 percent of employees are younger than 55, according to government data."
    KC's View:
    Ironic that this story appears on the same day that Bruce Springsteen turns 70.

    I'm not surprised that the AARP is annoyed by this, but I think the real mistake is looking to the advertising business for approbation … or reality checks. It hardly should be a shock that advertising focuses on using young people to appeal to young people. Been that way pretty much forever.

    It is important to be aware of this stuff, but then to keep moving forward. And maybe listen to Bruce's new album, "Western Stars," which is terrific.

    Published on: September 24, 2019

    The New Yorker has a piece about Pat Brown, the founder/CEO of Impossible Foods, who, "by developing plant-based beef, chicken, pork, lamb, dairy, and fish … intends to wipe out all animal agriculture and deep-sea fishing by 2035."

    “The use of animals in food production is by far the most destructive technology on earth," Brown says. "We see our mission as the last chance to save the planet from environmental catastrophe.”

    "Meat is essentially a huge check written against the depleted funds of our environment," The New Yorker writes. "Agriculture consumes more freshwater than any other human activity, and nearly a third of that water is devoted to raising livestock. One-third of the world’s arable land is used to grow feed for livestock, which are responsible for 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Razing forests to graze cattle—an area larger than South America has been cleared in the past quarter century—turns a carbon sink into a carbon spigot."

    You can read the entire, fascinating story here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: September 24, 2019

    Engadget reports that Ikea is on track to "generate more renewable energy before the end of 2019 than the energy its stores use."

    This has been the goal, the story says, but Ikea actually achieved it a year early.

    According to the story, Ikea has "invested about $2.8 billion in solar and wind energy over the past decade," with its renewable tech investments including "two stakes in American solar farms." And, it plans to sell solar panels in its stores within the next few years.

    Engadget writes that the "timing isn't a coincidence. Like Google, Amazon and other companies," Ikea is "using both the Global Climate Strike and the UN's Climate Action Summit to build goodwill and avoid controversy. This isn't a selfless act. With that said, the move could illustrate the next step for companies hoping to burnish their ecological credentials. Instead of merely striving for neutrality, more companies might try to counter the effects of climate change."
    KC's View:
    Anyone who watched the speech given by 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg yesterday at the UN's Climate Action Summit in New York City yesterday should, I think, get the sense that the debate is shifting, and that businesses need to embrace this issue and do everything they can to make a difference. That's one of the measurements that customers will be using to judge them … and they may be graded on pass/fail basis.

    Published on: September 24, 2019

    The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that "federal prosecutors in California are conducting a criminal probe into e-cigarette maker Juul Labs," though "the focus of the probe couldn’t be learned."

    However, the story notes that Juul "has come under increasing scrutiny by state and federal officials. The Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and several state attorneys general are investigating its marketing practices. The Trump administration said earlier this month that it planned to ban most flavored e-cigarettes."

    It is known that the FTC probe is specifically into whether Juul was marketing its products to minors, an allegation that the company has denied. The FDA is said to be conducting "a more wide-ranging investigation, covering marketing and outreach as well as the high nicotine content of Juul’s refill pods."

    The Journal writes that "while cigarette smoking has dropped among teens, nearly 28% of high school students this year said they had used an e-cigarette at least once in the past 30 days, up from 21% a year earlier, according to a recent federal survey."

    Walmart announced last week that it will no longer sell vaping products, citing "the growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty regarding e-cigarettes."
    KC's View:
    I have no idea what the feds are going to find and what the implications will be, but they cannot bring enough pain to these folks, who are only interested in selling their addictive poison to as many people as they can. Their denials are belied by the fact that tobacco manufacturer Altria invested almost $13 billion in the company … reflecting the fact that as cigarette usage declined, they need to find another delivery method.

    Published on: September 24, 2019

    Eater reports that the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) is calling for boycott of Kroger-owned Fred Meyer stores in Oregon, saying that union members at certain Fred Meyer locations have been “threatened and harassed," with insinuations "that they’re worthless and easily replaceable."

    Fred Meyer leadership has denied the allegations, and said that a boycott "will only hurt employees and help non-union competitors."

    According to Eater, "This recent development comes after months of rising tensions between the company and its union, who have been at a relative standstill as they negotiate a contract for union employees. At the end of August, the union decided to cancel all contract extensions because of the lack of progress." After it was reported that the company was seeking replacement workers to work in the event of a strike, the UFCW filed a unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.
    KC's View:

    Published on: September 24, 2019

    • Kroger-owned Food 4 Less/Foods Co yesterday announced the hiring of Nancy Lebold as the company's new vice president of merchandising. Lebold, who joins the company after more than a quarter-century at WinCo, where she most recently was senior vice president of Operations, succeeds Mike Servold, recently promoted to vice president of operations of Kroger's Atlanta division.

    • The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) announced that it has hired Lori Buss Stillman, most recently the executive vice president of analytics, insights and business intelligence for Advantage Solutions, as its new vice president of research.

    • Publix Super Markets announced that Jeff Chamberlain, the company's senior vice president of Real Estate and Facilities, will retire at the end of the year after 47 years with the company.
    KC's View:

    Published on: September 24, 2019

    Responding to the story we had about a new Toys R Us format under development, MNB reader Angie Dahman wrote:

    The real question is will they take gift cards from the old company? You know the one that was found after they shut down.

    I'd guess not, but it would be a real savvy public relations move to do so.

    I wondered if the Toys R Us brand is so damaged that recreating it might not make sense, prompting MNB reader Jim Huey to write:

      I remember in (I think) the late 80’s to early 90’s AT+T in an effort to get away from the very negative view associated with the brand AT+T, changed to SBC. I believe Tommy Lee Jones voiced the commercials. However, after several years of this, their marketing team decided that although there was negative brand recognition with AT+T, it was still much better for them to use than SBC and they changed back. The same may be the case here.

    Writing about the endless and intense battles taking place among retail giants these days, I said:

    I am reminded of something from "Star Trek" … an original series episode, "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," in which a pair of aliens engage in an endless battle, each one convinced that he is superior - one because he is white on the right side of his body and black on the left, and the other because he is black on the right side of his body and white on the left. It was, as it happens, a fairly obvious - and even clumsy - way to address the kind of racial tensions that were evident in the US back in the late sixties … but also serves as a metaphor for the e-commerce battles…

    Prompting MNB reader Peter Talbott to write:

    According to an interview with DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy) in David Gerrold’s "The World of Star Trek," one proposed mission would have involved McCoy and Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) beaming down to a planet where the inhabitants viewed Uhura as a slave-owner and McCoy her slave.  Whether the plot was considered too controversial or because the script was not good enough, no such episode was filmed.  A fact which DeForest Kelley regretted because he felt the chemistry between his and Nichelle Nichols’ character in that situation would have been interesting.
    KC's View:

    Published on: September 24, 2019

    In Monday Night Football, the Chicago Bears defeated the Washington Redskins 31-15.
    KC's View:

    Published on: September 24, 2019

    This special podcast, recorded in front of a live audience at the recent Retail Tomorrow Immersion conference in Boston, goes inside the evolving world of LL Bean, the iconic catalog business that has engineered a dramatic and highly successful shift into omnichannel retailing through transformational leadership and a willingness to disrupt from within.

    Our special guest is CEO Stephen Smith, the first outsider to ever run the company, who offered a unique perspective on how a legacy retailer - founded in 1912 - has been transformed into a model of 21st century marketing savvy.

    The host: Kevin Coupe, MorningNewsBeat’s “Content Guy.”

    You can listen to the podcast here , or on iTunes or GooglePlay.

    This edition of the Retail Tomorrow podcast is brought to you by the Global Market Development Center (GMDC), connecting people & companies to opportunities for growth.

    Pictured, left to right: Kevin Coupe, Stephen Smith

    KC's View: