business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from an MNB reader about the study suggesting that consumers are woefully misinformed about the rate of inflation and the margins enjoyed by food retailers:

Two thoughts.

Inflation is much higher than the amount reflected by the CPI.  It may not be as high as consumers think, but the truth is that people are making purchase decisions based on inflation such as increasing the amount of private brands in their baskets.  The consumer choices to combat inflation through their purchase behavior does not cascade through to governmental reporting in my opinion.

The margin issue is a bit more challenging but in these hyper-toxic political times, constantly hearing about the “greedy companies” that are taking advantage of inflation and making more money than ever is simply not accurate but certainly believable to many.

Unless, of course, we're talking about oil companies, which are by definition greedy - in fact, "greedy" may be an understatement.

This note to Michael Sansolo, regarding his column this week:

I was very excited when I saw you mention “Somebody Feed Phil” but spoiler alert, disappointed when you referred to it as “mediocre fare”….

Now, I understand that taste is highly personal and we all have likes/dislikes that are our own, but I find that the show is a breath of fresh air amid the cesspool of streaming television programming.  Yes, it’s goofy and more than a few episodes lack any real “meat” (pun not excluded), but at our home, we find that the sweet & loving message overrides these misses most of the time, and in the really good episodes, including New Orleans (which I recommend to anyone who will listen), it has much more emotional impact than one might expect.  I also find the inclusion of his family heartwarming and genuine in a non-saccharine way that is largely absent from most television & movies produced in the U.S.  I wish I had a job that included either of my brothers on a regular basis.

On top of this, he ends his shows with a plea for people to get out and experience the world, and he breaks bread with many folks he just meets and is willing to be open to the experience of it.  Somehow, that doesn’t seem mediocre to me.

Got a number of emails about yesterday's reference to a New York Times piece about how the pipeline for retail CEOs is running dry…

One MNB reader wrote:

I agree wholeheartedly with you on this. There is far more focus on personal development and promotion than in “player development”. If companies focus on helping their teams grow, they will have ample candidates for upper management. It takes time and effort, but in can be done internally. With technology, some things can be done online. If companies with realize “we are only as good as our people”, they will be successful in the long run. I believe Peter Daniels stated this well when he said “do what is right and the money will come.”

MNB reader Rickard Werner wrote:

The reason that more CEOs don't come out of Marketing is because they are over-visioned; overly focused on vision.  The reason that CEOs coming out of Finance are not successful, especially in the long term, is because they are under-visioned, cutting programs like management training.  Merchants represent the goldilocks-zone with a balance of financial realism and strategic and long-term vision.  This is clear as day to me and does not reflect any bias I may have as a former Merchant.

I bemoaned the lack of management training programs, which prompted MNB reader Grant Krause to write:

I have heard a version of this before…

HR teammate: What if we spend the time and money to train/educate a teammate and they leave?

HR leader: What if we don't, and they stay?

I also got a lot of email about my stick shift/"ghost skills" video yesterday…

MNB reader John Mansfield wrote:

I enjoyed watching you drive your Mustang and discuss the importance of ghost skills,  noting the stick shift which my old manager Joe DiVincenzo would always brag about.

The video scenery reminded me when our realtor Ken Delvecchio was driving my wife and I around Southport in ’03 when I worked at Daymon.  We never bought a home, instead moved to England to work at Sainsbury's.   One day we got the impulse to drive out to the Cotswolds so I rented a car in Marylebone.  When I saw it I thought, sweet a new silver 4 door Vauxhall with the steering wheel on the right thinking this will be fun.    Then I noticed the left-handed stick shift, thank goodness for ghost skills.

That skill came in handy visiting a potential new supplier I found in France when I was in the frozen department. The sales Rep drove us around all week until the last day.  He bid us farewell in Normandy and said have a safe trip flying back to the US.  The fairly young sales Rep he left with us who was also flying back to the US told us she could not drive stick shift.  Typically, the customer (us) is not chosen for doing any driving so we all stared at each other asking who will drive the Mercedes diesel van to get us to the Charles de Gaulle airport?  We still talk about my driving skills through Paris avoiding pedestrians, scooters and bicyclists with their bags baguettes.

Thank you for your thought provoking videos and industry articles.

Great story.  Thanks for sharing.

Another MNB reader wrote:

All of my cars were sticks for 27 years, at which point, the new car I wanted to buy was only available as an automatic.  It was sad because it’s easier to handle New England’s wintery road conditions with a manual transmission.  By the way, nice neighborhood you’re driving through there!

It is a nice neighborhood.  It's my town, though not my neighborhood…I live a lot closer to the railroad tracks.

And, from MNB reader Daniel McQuade:

Apparently driving with both or at least ONE hand on the wheel at all times is a skill that has gone away as well....come on Bud, along with receiving your Medicare card, comes slower reflexes!

Point taken … though I will note that it was a quiet road and a straightaway … I was being careful.

One last note … thanks to all the fellow Wordle players who shared their experiences and strategies.  I enjoyed them enormously.

BTW … today I got it in two.