Published on: February 9, 2023
Yesterday MNB took note of a really good piece from the Los Angeles Times about the impact - social, cultural, infrastructural - of the pandemic-fueled e-commerce boom, which "accelerated the land grab" for warehouse space in California's Inland Empire.
The area, the Times wrote, has become "ever more hardscaped into the staging point for trains and trucks carrying goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to the rest of the nation. There are 170 million square feet of warehouses planned or under construction in the Inland Empire, according to a recent report by environmental groups. And despite fears of a recession, demand hasn’t ebbed."
I commented, in part:
This is such a complicated issue. There's no question that the logistics industry that has changed the landscape of the Inland Empire has brought jobs and some economic advantages, but those things come at a cost, largely to the agricultural entities that are being displaced and the middle-income folks who are seeing their communities falling under the shadow of enormous warehouses, breathing in the exhaust of a seemingly inexhaustible parade of diesel trucks.
It isn't this simple, of course, but I tend to frame the discussion in my mind this way: Would I want to live in one of the communities being forever changed by this hardscaping? Would the leaders of the companies and the politicians who support them want to? The answer to these questions is no … and in the same way that the golden rule ought to dictate our behavior toward each other, maybe it ought to be applied to how we treat our communities and neighborhoods. Is it to much to say, I will treat every community as if it were my own?
One MNB reader wrote:
The golden rule is great when teaching little kids how to interact with each other. It's an easy way to communicate, "be nice to so-and-so because you would want them to be nice to you." The reality is that the golden rule should be long retired by adulthood. We should not just treat others how we want to be treated. We should also treat people how THEY want to be treated.
There are small changes that each of us should make when interacting with others. How do you motivate others? Do they need cheerleading or a kick in the butt? I'll bet that if you're a good manager you have figured that out and tailor your feedback, regardless of your own motivation. How does that coworker respond best when you need a quick response? Email? DM? Phone call? Bringing them coffee or chocolate? I'm willing to bet that you've also figured that out, too regardless of your preference. Have a significant other who doesn't always see the world the way you do? Is he/she happy? If so, I'll bet you have learned how to communicate in a way that works for both of you. Does your business have customers? Do they keep coming back? I'm sure you can see where I'm going with that one...
Let's retire the golden rule. Be nice to people and then learn how to treat them in a way that works for them and for you.
I take your point. Maybe we can have it both ways?
With people you get to know to the degree that you describe, they should be treated in a way that they want to be treated. But in general, when you don't have the level of understanding, the golden rule becomes the default position.
BTW … I appreciate your confidence in my skills as a manager, but the fact is that with few exceptions over the years, I've never really managed anybody. One of the reasons I started MNB 21+ years ago, Mrs. Content Guy would suggest, is because I don't play well with others. (I'd prefer to say that it is just because I value autonomy, but she's probably right.)
I got the following email from MNB reader Howard Carr, who had some thoughts about my description of Bed Bath & Beyond as being a dead company walking, believing that "it can be brought back to a vibrant life:"
I think it is a matter of the current management not coming to realize that the level of household formation continues to increase, but by a household group with different wants and needs. We know we are adding living units at an incredible pace throughout the US, otherwise, (why would we be building all these apartments) and the upcoming generations, and the baby boom generation has different wants and needs.
The baby boomers are seeking to downsize and live in more intellectually rich environments (in cities, near art and performance venues, near universities and in formats that support their lifestyles (of less hurry, and less pressure/stress)). But, when it comes to the home making part, BBB and the product makers just did not understand the wants of the baby boomers to live a smaller footprint of life (now with the kids gone, I do not need a huge KitchenAid mixer to make bread for my family; I don’t have family dinners for 15 any longer, I go to my kids homes for the big holidays; the Sunday morning breakfasts now consist of “designer coffee” from a french press and the NY Times, and we are NOT trucking kids to Little League practices/games, but are going for a ride to an art show or craft fair to enjoy some of life’s pleasures.
The Gen X, Y, and Z’s and any other letters we can think of, are leading a very hurried and pressured lifestyle because of all the pressures placed upon them by technology, and the race to be aware of what it the next greatest thing to be involved with. Therefore, they order from GrubHUB, DoorDash, UberEats, or any other take-out/delivery service to make their lives easier, because their time for leisure is certainly strained under today’s family environment. What has BBB done to find what appeals to this buyer group(that would be their customer for years to come), so as to make their stores more relevant. Retailers have always been the front line in terms of knowing what the customer wants and needs 9remember the edict of the Home Depot founders, put the buyers in the stores so they know what to buy, and know what the customer wants).
BBB lost sight of their customers’ wants and needs, both older and younger, so the stores became less relevant, and did not offer anything that was not already being shown by online retailers. They lost their opportunity to be pioneers in helping the home maker determine what they needed/wanted and how to integrate it into their lifestyle.
I know it may sound hard to believe but household goods are fashionable, just look at the growth of design that has it foundation on HGTV.
The other day we referenced a Food & Wine report that Subway is adding meat slicers to its 20,000 stores as fast as it can acquire the equipment, which the company said is harder than one would think.
Subway apparently is one of the few sandwich shops that has not sliced meat on site; meats always have been sliced in a central location and shipped to stores. "But as prices for almost everything have continued to increase — or as essentials have been in short supply — Subway execs say that the on-site slicers will allow them to save money on shipping costs, and because the restaurants will be using unsliced meats, they may be able to use less-expensive vendors," Food & Wine writes.
It is interesting to me that this decision seems to have nothing to do with freshness or quality - it all has to do with speed and cost. While those two things are important, if you're in the freakin' food business you ought to make food quality and freshness your number one priority.
Maybe it isn't surprising that a food business that has faced questions about whether its tuna fish actually is made from tuna isn't making freshness and quality a priority. But this story illustrates to me why a) people shouldn't go to Subway, and b) why nobody in the food business should use it as a role model. It may be big, but its approach is bad.
One MNB reader responded:
Who do you think in a Subway is trained to or knows how to sanitize a slicer? And even if they know how, would they be given the time to or care enough to do it?
Good point. Which means that at Subway, the term "finger sandwiches’ probably is going to take on a whole new meaning….
And finally … more conversation about Sandy Koufax's decision not to pitch game 1 of the 1965 World Series against the Minnesota Twins because it fell on Yom Kippur. One MNB reader said it was "perhaps the most heinous display of narcissism in the annals of professional sports." I was chagrined by this, and noted that after Game One, Koufax had an amazing Series, pitched three games and was the MVP.
MNB reader Dave Ahrens responded:
Hey Kevin – looking at it from another perspective.
I was 13 at the time and watched much of that series in the bleachers on a 22” TV in my high school auditorium - in a small town in Minnesota. (Remember when the school’s “Audio Visual Dept” consisted of two TV’s and two reel - reel tape recorders that rolled into classrooms as needed?)
My thoughts are, I wish Koufax and Drysdale were both Jewish and they both would have taken the entire series off.
Just FYI … ESPN describes the events this way:
"In 1965, Sandy Koufax refused to pitch in Game One of the World Series because it was Yom Kippur, a Jewish holy day. Instead of Koufax, Don Drysdale pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he gave up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. 'I bet right now you wish I was Jewish, too,' Drysdale said to Walter Alston when the manager came to pull him from the game. The Dodgers lost to the Minnesota Twins, 8-2.
Yesterday, after considerable internal debate (which consisted of me talking to myself), I posted an email from an MNB reader who objected to my talking about what Koufax achieved later in the Series. He wrote:
What Koufax did after he made his self-centered decision has absolutely nothing to do with his thinking when he made his self-centered decision. Or perhaps the Jewish gods had assured him that he’d be rewarded for determining his religious-beliefs were more important than his teammates, fans, and employer.
I was appalled by this, and responded:
First of all, yes … his religious beliefs should be more important.
And then I added:
I debated long and hard with myself whether to post this email. In so many ways it is distasteful in its language and sentiments, having nothing to do with Sandy Koufax. But I decided to use it precisely because of what it says and how he says it. Jewish Gods? Last time I checked, Jews had a single Deity, the same one as Christians. We should never forget that people like this think the way they do and say the things they say.)
This MNB reader got back to me yesterday with this comment:
At least I respect your right to have foolish opinions, an attitude you demonstrably do not convey to people who disagree with any of them.
Really? Not only do I respect the right of people to have opinions different from mine, but I give them a place to post them if they so desire.
In this case, I've given your sentiments more oxygen than they deserve because they expose your antisemitism, and I think it is important to remember that this still exists even in a so-called enlightened society.
And, to be clear, while I respect your right to hold even detestable opinions, I also reserve the right to have the last word.