Big Shoes To Fill in Titletown

looking-towards-n-packer

I’m sick.  Still in a state of disbelief.  Mike McCarthy is no longer the Head Coach of The Green Bay Packers.  In my opinion, Coach McCarthy was the most underrated Head Coach in the NFL.  During his 13 years in Green Bay he never got the props he deserved.  All he did was lead the team to 9 playoff appearances and a Superbowl Championship! Not to mention:

  • Best win-loss ratio to start the first 25 games of a career among active coaches, setting the record for the best coaching start in Packers’ history.
  • Led the Packers to a 13–3 record in his second season.
  • Second in number of Packer victories to the legendary Curly Lambeau.
  • Finished 1st in the NFC North 6 times including 4 years in a row (2011 through 2014)

This is  the resume of a great coach.  No matter how you slice it, as a die hard fan, I’d take McCarthy-like numbers over the next 13 years.  It’s been a glorious run. However, the WON/LOSS record doesn’t come close to painting the full picture.

Like most Packer fans, I’m proud of this team’s heritage.  Even if you don’t root for the Packers there’s something oh so special about this iconic football franchise. Mike McCarthy was meticulous in upholding the Green Bay Packers standard of excellence. In my opinion, he was born to be a football coach and he was a perfect fit in Green Bay.  Over the years, I have followed him closely.  He’s a meat and potatoes guy who understands professional football at its deepest level.  He was brilliant from 2011 through 2016 when he led the Pack to the NFC North Championship 5 out of 6 years.  All of a sudden he’s not creative enough? He’s got a lousy relationship with Aaron Rodgers?  He hired the wrong defensive coordinator?  He failed to develop Brett Hundley?  He intimidates his players?All of this is BULLSHIT in its purest form.

While his football resume speaks for itself, his leadership capabilities separate him from his peers.  Mike McCarthy is a class act. In his 13 years at the podium, he never threw a player “under-the-bus”.  I never heard him respond inappropriately to some of the dumb-ass questions he was asked by the media.  Could he be gruff? Of course.  Sarcastic? At times. What do you expect from a football coach who has to field the same questions day in and day out?  Heck, Coach McCarthy is warm and cuddly compared to some (see Bill Belichick). Most importantly he represented the Green Bay Packers in a way that would’ve made Vince and Curly proud.

He didn’t put up with crap in the locker room.  Guys with big egos and loose lips weren’t going to make it on a Mike McCarthy team.  Call me old school, but that’s the way it should be.  He took care of issues and never aired the team’s dirty laundry for public consumption.

The pundits are all trying to find out WHY Mike lost his job.   When they can’t find anything sensational enough they make up stuff, like the supposed feud he was having with Aaron or the lack of creativity in his offensive scheme.  Of course, I’m just a fan.  I don’t proclaim to have the inside scoop on why, but here’s my opinion.

It all began on October 15, 2017.  The Pack took their 4-1 record into Minnesota and #12 went down with the broken collarbone – out for the season.  When the team finished 7-9 they blamed it on McCarthy.  Then, the decision was made to rearrange the furniture in the front office, putting Ted Thompson out to pasture and promoting Brian Gutekunst to GM.  I’m not sure what precipitated the rest of the changes, but many on McCarthy’s staff got their walking papers and they decided to perform an extreme makeover on the offensive playbook. Not a bad idea in concept, however the Packers stumbled when it came to execution.   That combined with several strokes of bad luck has us where we are today 5-7-1 and without Mike McCarthy.

The record is temporary.  The decision on Coach McCarthy is permanent.  This gives me an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.  How in the name of Vince Lombardi do you replace a coach who was the second best coach in Packers history?  It’s easy to fire someone but now the work gets hard.  Essentially the front office, has to make up for this huge mistake.  Oh and by the way, there are only 8 NFL teams interested in McCarthy’s services.

I would wish Coach McCarthy good luck but he doesn’t need it.  You see leaders who are bonafide winners don’t need someone to wish them luck.  Through hard work, determination and doing the right thing, leaders make their own luck.

Now it’s time for Mark Murphy to make his own luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Days Of the Week – Perception or Reality?

When I think about the days of the week, I can’t help but harken back to a one hit wonder — “Friday On My Mind” that soared to the top of the charts in 1966. (Originally sung by an Australian group called The Easybeats!)  The first verse described the days of the week as follows:

Monday mornin’ feels so bad
Ev’rybody seems to nag me
Comin’ Tuesday I feel better
Even my old man looks good
Wed’sday just don’t go
Thursday goes too slow
cuz I got Friday on my mind!

Throughout the history of mankind, an ingrained perception of each day of the week has developed and ultimately become set in stone.  In a rudimentary way, the Easybeats hit the nail on the head.  I think it’s fascinating how our perspective, even our mood can change based on the particular day of the week.

Mondays are sometimes plagued with a hangover from the weekend. Not necessarily the type caused by over indulging in adult beverages. I’m talking about maybe a lack of sleep hangover or even that groggy feeling from too much sleep. Or sore muscles from various weekend warrior activities. Mondays seem to be a day of survival. “Get me through Monday and I’ll be okay”, I say to myself, “Tuesday will be markedly better just because it’s not Monday anymore”. By Tuesday the weekend past is a distant memory and the coming weekend is too far in the future.  On Tuesday we got to put the pedal to the metal to make up for our lethargy on a manic Monday.

Because there are 5 weekdays, Wednesday got tagged with a legendary nickname – Hump Day! It could’ve just as easily been named Hope Day. Reality is, because it’s Wednesday, you feel like you have a chance to make it to Friday without something blowing up in your face! In our minds, the clouds from Monday and Tuesday begin to part and the sun appears intermittently on Wednesday afternoon.

I know Geico commercials can be as irritating as a mosquito buzzing in your ear, however the camel bopping around the office amongst the cubicles is a classic.  This rendition, by far, is the most viral Geico commercial ever made.

Thursday is a nondescript day. It’s plain vanilla. When they decided in what order the days of the week would fall, Thursday got the short end of the stick.  Let’s face it, you ain’t gonna get much love when you are the day before Friday.   If Friday is Sinatra, Thursday is Mel Torme. It’s Spiderman vs. Hello Kitty. Thursday had the misfortune of being shoe-horned between the two most famous days of the week — HUMP day and TGIF! However, Thursdays have one redeeming quality. Around 5:00pm, Thursdays can turn from frog to prince. Many look at Thursday evening as the perfect opportunity to jump start their weekend! The mindset is LET’S PARTY!  Friday is such a great day, I can deal with just about anything, including a lack of sleep and an alcohol induced hangover.

And then there’s Friday.   It sits upon its throne, high above all the other days of the week.  There’s little doubt that Friday rules the weekday kingdom. Heck, Friday is so famous it’s got its own acronym;  they even named a restaurant after it. The mood swing from Thursday to Friday is palpable.  People stand up straighter and walk around with  an added pep-in-their-step. Smiles abound. Jokes that were stupid on Tuesday are funny on Friday. Those critical deadlines you obsessed over Monday through Thursday seem less critical when the weekend is just a few short hours away. No matter how determined and dedicated the individual, the productivity graph begins to plummet south starting Thursday afternoon. By Friday afternoon it has red lined.  Even the bosses throw in the productivity towel by 3:00PM on Fridays.

As blasphemous as it sounds,  Friday can be better than Saturday and Sunday!  Why?  Because anticipating a fun weekend can cause a higher adrenaline rush than the weekend activity itself.  I have no research to back this statement — just my gut telling me it’s true in some cases.

Are these perceptions good or bad?  The psychologists would probably say they are bad.  If you believe we get what we think about, and you believe Mondays suck, then guess what?  Your Mondays will suck!  How many of us sit at our desks on a Tuesday wishing the rest of the week away?  There’s that little voice in our heads whispering over and over again, “I can’t wait for the weekend, I can’t wait for the weekend”.  I’m sure you agree, time flies by fast enough on it’s own.  The last thing it needs is boost from our minds.

What can we do about it?  The skeptics would say – not a whole lot.  However, those who study how our minds work would advise us to stay in the moment, let go of past and future thoughts – focus on the NOW!  I’m not a skeptic nor am I a  neuroscientist, but I am willing to learn.  They say there’s a way to teach our minds that there is no difference between a Tuesday and a Friday, if you are able to gain control of your thought process.  Seems like swimming up stream but it may be worth it to avoid the Monday morning blues and make your Fridays more productive!  What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

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Quit Changing The Game

It’s been well documented that the Millennials don’t quite grasp what once was “America’s Favorite Pastime”. Too slow for this group with the speedy thumbs. Who wants to spend 3 hours at a baseball game (playing or watching) when there are so many other, more compelling activities to keep them occupied? Like what, I ask.

Don’t get me wrong I love our Millennials. I have two boys that are part of what is now the country’s largest, most obsessed about consumer group. They are simply products of their environment. The 18-34 year olds came of age at the same time the internet did. They can’t help it if they grew up with a mouse in one hand and a cell phone in the other. Participation rates in little league baseball have plummeted. Families have opted out in favor of soccer and other activities. You hear everything from baseball is boring to my kids just aren’t interested.

Rewind back to when us Boomers were in our formative years. On any day I didn’t have school I woke up in anticipation of playing – outside, with my friends. In the spring, summer and fall it was all about baseball. Growing up in northern New Jersey we were literally 45 minutes from the baseball Mecca. It’s hard to imagine, in the 50’s, the metropolitan area supported 3 professional baseball teams including the Giants, the Dodgers and of course my personal favorite the Yankees.

From a very early age, I can remember when we’d get together with my Dad’s family, it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to baseball. “Hey did you see that shot Mantle hit last night?” “Do you think the Yanks can win another pennant?” People felt free to be critical of their team or the players. However, it would’ve been blasphemy for anyone to criticize the game itself. Nobody was griping about the games being too long or boring. This was America’s Favorite Pastime baby!

Things do have a tendency to change over 4 or 5 decades. Now, if you follow the game, you can hardly go a day without hearing about how the game needs to change. MLB is obsessed with making the game more attractive to “fringe viewers”.  In general the lords of major league baseball are searching for all kinds of ways to speed up the game. They’ve already instituted a timer on manager visits to the mound. Last I heard they want to put a clock on the pitchers and batters too. Now they are talking about tinkering with the strike zone (making it smaller) so there can be more offense. This doesn’t necessarily jive with the “speed up the game” initiative but it supposedly makes baseball more exciting. I even read there’s consideration being given to changing the extra innings rules! Someone out there thinks it’s a good idea to start every extra inning with a runner on second base. What the…? Then we all know the technology exists to take the human element out of calling balls and strikes. STOP THE MADNESS.

I have to admit, I’m old school which doesn’t mean I’m against change. I think change is good as long as it has purpose. Part of baseball’s charm is there is no time clock. Games can last 2 hours or 6 hours. It was never intended to fit into a certain time frame and I’m okay with that. Baseball’s change agents would say they are adapting the game for the modern day fan. That’s hogwash in my humble opinion. They are constantly reevaluating the game for the money.   That’s not necessarily bad but drop the “It’s for the fan” BS. It’s all about the Benjamins!

I’ll close with one of my fondest baseball memories… The year was 1967, Tuesday, August 29th, to be exact.  My pal Marty, me and our Dads attended a “Twi-Night Doubleheader” at Yankee Stadium. (Only a handful of you remember those!) Yes, the doubleheader went extinct around the same time as the dinosaur and the twi-nighter went with it.

Our Dads got off work early that day and we arrived at the stadium around 4:00pm – ready to enjoy 18 innings of the greatest rivalry in sport – RED SOX/YANKEES! Unfortunately these two games were meaningless as our beloved Yanks were going nowhere with a record of (59-73).  But, this was the Red Sox – throw the records out the window.  It was time for baseball in the Bronx.

Little did we know 18 innings would turn into 30 of which we stayed and watched for 26!  Our Dads were troopers during that night and into the wee hours of the morning. Marty and I wanted to stay until the fat lady sang.  Marty Sr. and Joe had work the next day!  We left after the bottom of the 17th.  That’s the bad news.  The good news… We listened to the game (on AM radio) during the entire ride home.  In the bottom of the 20th, as we pulled into the driveway, we heard yet another HOLY COW from The Scooter* as the Yankees scored the winning run. It was 2:00AM.  That’s baseball my friends.

*The Scooter was Yankees Hall of Fame shortstop (1941-1956) and spent the next 40 years as an announcer on Yanks radio and television broadcasts.

BOSTON RED SOX VS. NEW YORK YANKEES

AUGUST 29, 1967

    RED SOX 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   3 12 2

YANKEES 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1  4 17 1

WP Jim Bouton
LP Bucky Brandon
Time of Game: 6:09
Attendance: 40,314.

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What I Learned Driving for Uber

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Dealership Deficiency

Dealer2

I love my 2006 Honda Pilot. It’s roomy, reliable and paid for! The perfect car for me. Recently I received an over-sized postcard in the mail notifying me of a recall. Apparently the air bag inflator was faulty and, by federal law, it needed to be replaced. Due to shear dread, it took me a while to drag my ass to the dealership where I purchased the vehicle (pre-owned) over 5 years ago. It didn’t take long for me to remember why I dreaded it.

I was on time for my 7:15AM appointment, got greeted immediately and was directed inside to speak with my service advisor. He was pleasant but obviously preoccupied. When I asked how long it would take he told me 2 hours which seemed reasonable. I brought my laptop to get some stuff done while I waited.

In the waiting area the water and coffee are free. They have free Wi-Fi and several USB outlets for the customer’s convenience. I got lost in what I was doing when my phone notified me of an incoming text. I’d been there for just under two hours. The text informed me that they were finishing up on my airbag inflator. Their estimated time was close to perfect–apparently this wasn’t their first air bag inflator installation.

As a courtesy, in their text, they let me know my aging vehicle was in need of additional repairs. It listed twelve different issues to the tune of
$5,350.80 — strike up the band! Everything from spark plugs to shocks to a “left side axle slinging grease”. I get the courtesy and I appreciate knowing my car needs some love. The information was fine, it’s the delivery that sucked.

I read through the laundry list of repairs one more time. Holding back the vomit, I made fast tracks to the service advisor’s desk. I politely asked him to explain the issues in more detail and to help me understand which items were most critical.

Obviously not fully present, he started reading the document to me. (like I couldn’t read it myself?) I gave him a chance to explain which of the repairs were most critical but it became obvious that wasn’t going to happen. I had a few sarcastic comments rush through my brain that fortunately got stuck in the filter between my brain and my mouth. It was his nonchalance and I don’t care attitude that got me steaming. About three issues in, I told him to forget it and he seemed okay with that. I wanted to ask for his supervisor but I was convinced that would be a complete waste of time. I drove away having had another crappy service experience at the Honda dealership.

I suppose this is just one more story about lousy service at a car dealership. I honestly don’t get it. I don’t know about others, but I’m not prepared to drop $5k for car repairs all at one time. It would be nice if the service advisor had suggested a plan on getting these items fixed over time. How hard would it be to identify the critical issues and those that aren’t so critical just so the customer knows what to address first? I also think it’s deplorable when a “service” person is blatantly going through the motions. He was simply trying to appease me so that he could move on to providing someone else with mediocre service.

To make matters worse, when I got home I received another text from the dealership this time asking me to rate the service. All they wanted was a 1,2,3,4 or 5 rating. I assumed they would appreciate a comment which I provided. That was more than a week ago. I haven’t heard from them since.

This is my second lousy experience at this particular dealership. Remember I opened this blog expressing my love for my Pilot? Honda builds quality cars however there are plenty of others who do the same. I’ll be due to purchase another car within the next couple of years. There was never a doubt it would be a Honda until now.

Posted in brand, brand loyalty, Customer Service | 1 Comment

Making This Year Happier Than Last

I can’t be the only one who is striving to be happier? Being the dork that I am, I have spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out what makes people happy. On the happiness scale of 1-10 I feel like I’m around a 7. I aspire to be an 8 or a 9, believing that a perfect 10 is unattainable. My New Year’s resolution is to be happier. I started with the definition of happy which is too simplistic for me:

hap·py
ˈhapē/Submit
adjective
1.
feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.

There has to be more to it than that.

Is contentment happiness? Is financial success happiness? What causes people to genuinely be happy? When I look at this brief definition of the word, it seems like happy is more about feeling pleasure than it is about showing it. Aren’t there a lot of people who show it but aren’t really happy?

In today’s frantic, ever-changing world, happiness happens to be a hot topic. It’s not just the Boomers, many of whom, have spent their careers, working ridiculous hours, always striving for more, just to realize more doesn’t equate to happiness. Take the Millennials for example. They are all about happy! Many of them have observed their parents working their asses off, just to get kicked to curb late in their careers. As a group, they refuse to waste their personal time commuting to and from work. The Millennials understand that “30-years and a gold watch” is no longer a reality. They aren’t just talking about quality of life; they expect it. Flexibility in their work schedules is of the utmost importance. Oh and if they aren’t happy in a certain situation they are perfectly willing to move on to something else (that makes them happy).

Businesses are finally starting to figure out that happy employees are more productive. They’ve known all along that better productivity translates to better profits; however it starts with happiness.

There’s even a country in South Asia called Bhutan that understands the important role happiness plays in how they run the country. Way back in 1972, the king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, is credited with bringing up the notion that “Gross National Happiness”is a more important measure for government than “Gross National Product”. To this day the country measures and makes policy decisions based on GNH scores.

Interestingly, psychologists haven’t been able to draw a correlation between external factors and a person’s happiness. How many times have we heard the expression, “Money can’t buy happiness”? Apparently, there’s only a certain amount of truth in this worn out cliche. In a recent LiveScience article, they shared the results of a study on money’s affect on happiness…

“Money that lifts people out of poverty increases happiness, but after that, the better paychecks stop paying off sense-of-well-being dividends.”

It’s also true that money affects happiness when a person is disabled or in bad health. It’s logical that having financial resources in these situations results in better medical care and ultimately a higher level of happiness.

Based on this information the following conclusion could be drawn:

If you are healthy and your income allows you to meet your basic needs, making more money doesn’t provide much lift on the happiness scale. Does this mean we should be happy with the status quo? I always thought that it was human nature to strive for more.

When I was growing up my parents would say, “We don’t care what you do, as long as you are happy”. That wasn’t much to go on but I bought in. Happiness came naturally for me through high school and college. I always had lots of friends and we never took life too seriously. My perspective changed when I graduated from college and stepped out into the real world. It didn’t take me long to realize I’d have to get a little more serious if I was going find a decent career and live on my own.

As time went on, my curiosity about happiness grew. I’ve always wondered, in spite of their circumstances, why some people seem happy and others seem miserable. I spent a long time looking for that balance between having fun and handling life’s serious matters. I’m still searching…

In the April 2017 issue of Psychology Today I learned that genetics have something to do with an individual’s happiness:

Regardless of how it’s defined, happiness is partly emotional—and therefore tethered to the truth that each individual’s feelings have a natural set point, like a thermostat, which genetic baggage and personality play a role in establishing. Yes, positive events give you a boost, but before long you swing back toward your natural set point.

This doesn’t mean that people with lots of genetic baggage can’t be happy. They just need to be aware that they have a natural set point and then discover ways to maximize their happiness in spite of it.

As I read over this blog it’s apparent that I unearthed more questions than I answered. While there’s plenty of quantitative research out there, qualitative input is just as important. With that in mind, I’d love to hear from you! What is happiness? What makes you happy? Any suggestions on how to improve our level of happiness? Happy New Year!

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A Cluster at the Car Wash

When was the last time you witnessed a good old fashioned rant by someone who received lousy customer service? I had a front row seat for one last week at the car wash.

As those of you who live here know, Texas weather can be erratic. Early last week the temperature topped out at 80 degrees. By Thursday the low was in the 30’s. Just before we ran out of sunlight I made a snap decision to get my car washed. When I pulled in, there were four “wipe down your car guys” standing there in a semi-frozen state. One of them directed me toward the empty car wash entrance. He handed me the receipt and I made a beeline into the warm confines of the building. I paid for my wash and took a seat in the lobby. All along I was feeling a little guilty for making these workers be out in the cold for any additional time.

As I sat there checking my emails on my phone, a lady bursts through the door and stomps towards the front desk, clearly on a mission. The unsuspecting manager was about to get blind-sided. He looks up and asks, “How can I help you Ma’am?” Within in seconds he’d be sorry he asked!

She went off, “I’ve had to clean my own car while your people could care less. I had to vacuum out the car myself. It was still dirty after it went through the wash. I had to wipe it down. I’d like to know what you are going to do about it!” Then came her best line… “Are you going to pay me for working here or what?”

The manager stumbled and bumbled into an absolutely deplorable response…

Inside Manager: Ma’am, I am the inside manager today. The manager responsible is outside. He’s the one you need to talk to.

Oh and it gets worse. The outdoor manager walks in… The inside Manager redirects his attention towards him.

Inside Manager: C’mon Joe you know better. Go outside with this customer and make sure her car is cleaned to her satisfaction.

Customer: No. You don’t understand, I finished cleaning the (expletive) car. I don’t need to get it any cleaner. I want to know what you are going to do about it!

I cringe waiting for the inside manager’s response.

Inside Manager responds: I can give you a coupon for a FREE CAR WASH on your next visit.”

Customer: I don’t want a coupon for a free visit. I don’t live around here and I’m not coming back. Are you going to compensate me for the work I performed on your behalf, YES or NO!?

Inside manager: Sorry there’s no way I can do that.

The customer (who will no longer be) turns around and stomps out.

I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. The manager’s responses were so wrong on so many fronts. First, if he had his head anywhere but up his behind he would have realized this customer was not coming in to wish him happy birthday. He then could have proactively addressed the situation instead of allowing himself to be ambushed. The customer was justifiably pissed. His first thought needed to be, what can I do to de-escalate the situation?” Instead, every time he opened his mouth he added fuel to the fire. The right solution was so simple a monkey could’ve figured it out. The conversation could have gone something like this:

Customer: I had to wash my own car. Your employees could care less.

Manager: I’m so sorry Ma’am. That is unacceptable. Please let me pay for your car wash today and I’d like to offer you an opportunity to come back for a free detail, at your convenience, of course.

Chances are the discussion ends there. She might even come back. If she does and the detail service exceeds her expectations, there’s a chance she becomes a regular customer. If she doesn’t come back for the free detail, at least you went above and beyond to address her situation.

This bit about “I can’t refund your money” is pure, unadulterated BS. Certainly this company has a way to provide refunds to dissatisfied customers. If not, I would have taken the cash out of my own pocket, then, asked the boss for reimbursement. If the boss refused to reimburse, I’d go look for another job.

This is an extreme example of poor customer service which probably has more to do with poor hiring than poor training. Certainly the inside manager has been trained on the basics of customer service. However, in this situation, he was unwilling to apply what he learned.

Inside manager? Are you (expletive) kidding me?

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Get Good at Quitting!

job-hopper
I’m a Boomer. Which means I’m the offspring of parents from The Greatest Generation. I was brought up to have a sense of loyalty and was taught not to quit. My mother called it “sticktoitiveness”. My father used plainer English. He simply said, “Once you commit to something, DON’T QUIT”. This was great advice for another generation. In today’s business world loyalty is still valid, but only to a certain extent.

I was hired for a new position in August. Last Friday I resigned. The details are not important. Let’s just say it wasn’t a match. As ridiculous as it sounds, this is the first time I have quit a job — barring a few times early in my career. It comes from a work ethic that is ingrained. I pride myself in staying positive and thinking “It may not be good now but it is going to get better!” This is also known as blind faith.

In recent years the landscape has changed dramatically. When Boomers were out of work and looking for jobs in the 80’s, recruiters considered longevity in one job with one company a good thing. For today’s Millennials, it can be viewed as a negative. Many employers actually prefer candidates with more diverse backgrounds.

In a recent article in Forbes magazine*, Sarah Landrum wrote about Millennials in the workforce:

Job-hopping is in, and being stuck in a dead-end job is on its way out — and that’s good for everyone. Job-hopping millennials are more likely to earn a higher wage, develop their career on a faster track and find a better fit in work culture by changing jobs more frequently. The stigma is lessening as the positives are revealed.

One CareerBuilder survey shared employers expect 45% of their newly hired college grads would remain with the company for under two years, and the study showed that by age 35, about 25% of young employees would have worked five jobs. Employers are aware they’re hiring job-hoppers as millennials find their footing in their career development, learning to make healthy choices rather than staying stuck and unmotivated in a job that’s not beneficial for either the employee or employer.*

My message to all workers is this. Learn what it takes to have an entrepreneurial spirit! I’m not suggesting everyone work for themselves or start their own business. Even if their preference is working for a company, in my opinion, developing the skills of an entrepreneur is of paramount importance. CEO, Matt Ehrlichman, wrote an article for Inc. magazine in 2015*. He mentions five indicators that demonstrate the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving in someone:

1) They are in-tune with their passion
2) They are always questioning how it can be done better
3) Optimistic about all possibilities
4) They take calculated risks
5) Above all, they execute

Today’s business world is less predictable. It’s important to stay proactive. Always keep your eyes and ears wide open. Learn how to deal with the discomfort uncertainty brings.

Don’t get me wrong. Every new opportunity deserves a chance. Unless a job is negatively affecting your health or your boss is a complete SOB, give it every ounce of energy you’ve got for a minimum of one year. Then reassess. If you see signs of the company’s values not aligning with yours, or it’s clear your boss is not working in your best interest, or if you are finding it hard to get out of bed and go to work, it may be time to develop your plan to leave.

This is the tricky part. In my personal experience, I’d fall back on a convenient excuse. I’d tell myself, “You’re too busy to think about quitting”. I was afraid I couldn’t balance the workload of the job with that of a job search. I thought the distraction of networking and interviewing with other companies would affect my job performance. And, I dreaded quitting. It took me many years to understand that sometimes quitting is the right thing to do.

The words in Kenny Rogers most famous song,The Gambler,sums it up:

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.

*Millennials Aren’t Afraid To Change Jobs, And Here’s Why — Forbes 11/10/2017
*5 Characteristics of Entrepreneurial Spirit — Inc. Magazine 2015

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We Made It to the Motherland!


Most of us have a bucket list. Whether it’s in our minds, or on paper, we have things we want to do before we are no longer able to do them.

I’m about to put a date stamp on my forehead. I grew up watching Hawaii-Five-O starring Jack Lord as Lieutenant Steve Garrett, James MacArthur as Danny “Book Em Danno” Williams and Kam Fong as Chin Ho. That classic program aired for 10 years from 1968 through 1978 and left an indelible impression on me. I liked everything about that show. I thought the casting was perfect, the episodes were captivating and the location was extraordinary – the land of big waves and white sandy beaches. Even the intro music was cool. The more I watched the more my expectations grew and subconsciously, a visit to the Hawaiian Islands was becoming an item for my bucket list.

Fast forward to the early 80’s. I went to work for Trans World Airlines as a flight attendant. One of the many perks included travel passes. I could literally go anywhere in the world for free. There was no doubt where I would go on my first trip. The moment I became eligible and had a few days off I grabbed a couple buddies and took off for the islands. As one might imagine my expectations were through the roof. As a faithful viewer of Hawaii-Five-O, I had this glorified vision. It just had to be paradise…

Hawaii was more magical than I had imagined. When we arrived at our rented condo on Maui, I paused for a moment to take it all in. The ocean was bluer, the waves were bigger and the beaches were more pristine than I had remembered from many days of viewing Hawaii Five-O. The experience of being there blew my enormous expectations to smithereens.

A few weekends ago, I had a different kind of experience with a similar result. I’ve been a Green Bay Packers fan since forever. When I was a kid it was Vince Lombardi, the Green Bay sweep, Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Ray Nitschke, Boyd Dowler and of course legendary quarterback Bart Starr. There was the Ice Bowl, the frozen tundra, the first two Super Bowl Championships and this mystical arena called Lambeau Field located in Green Bay Wisconsin. I knew I had to figure out a way to get there one day…

I’m such a devout fan I suppose my boys (Jeff and Bryce) never had a choice. It was out of the womb and into a Packers jersey for both of them. Guys like Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers helped cement their loyalty to one of the most legendary franchises in the history of professional sports. If you’ve ever watched a Packers game on TV, the announcers will typically go on and on about Lambeau Field and how special it is to play and watch a game in Green Bay.

The Packers are an anomaly. The team is owned by the fans, making them the only publicly owned, not-for-profit, major professional team in the United States. The Pack have been a fan-owned operation since the primitive pro football days of the nineteen-twenties, when NFL teams could be won in card games and no one foresaw the awesome power this sport would hold over both the American imagination and the American wallet.

In 1923, the Packers were just another hardscrabble team on the brink of bankruptcy. Rather than fold they decided to sell shares to the community, with fans each throwing down a couple of dollars to keep the team afloat. That humble frozen seed has since blossomed into a situation wherein more than a hundred thousand stockholders own more than four million shares of a perennial playoff contender. This model can’t be replicated. In 1960 Pete Rozelle officially made the Packers an exception to the NFL by-laws which require teams to have single entity ownership. This unique history adds to the lore of The Green Bay Packers.

As my boys have grown older, we’ve talked numerous times about making the trip to Green Bay; just to have another season pass us by. This past fall, it took a text from Jeff’s amazingly wonderful girlfriend, Suzanne, to spark the flame. In her text She said she wanted to treat Jeff, Bryce and I to a game at Lambeau! I said YES with 2 caveats – she must go with us and I must pay! She agreed and we set our sights on a trip to the football mecca. Suzanne deserves all the credit. Without her influence we’d probably still be saying, “One of these days, we’ve got to get to Lambeau!”

Our dream finally became a reality. On Friday October 20th, I flew to Milwaukee where the kids picked me up at the airport. We did Milwaukee that night and found it to be surprisingly metro, charming and fun. One thing is for certain, they are loyal to their sports teams. The place was swarming with all things Packers, Badgers, Brewers and Bucks.

The next day we were up early and chock full of anticipation. Next stop – Green Bay. In less than 2 hours we were on the outskirts of Wisconsin’s third largest city. Choose your description – the boondocks, the middle of nowhere, east bum —-, the town is surrounded by farmland. It’s a beautiful rural area. As we continued to travel north we were stunned to catch our first glimpse of Lambeau! It was similar to the feeling I had when I first saw Mt. Rushmore. The stadium seemed to rise up out of nowhere. It made my heart skip a beat. Finally, after dreaming about it for a lifetime we had arrived in Titletown, USA!

We quickly checked in at the local Sleep Inn, piled back in the car, and headed in the direction of the stadium. The rest is difficult to describe. The people, the place, the moment – Spectacular! For me it brought back all the Packers memories of my childhood and one in particular…- watching the NFL Championship game better known as The Ice Bowl at Lambeau Field vs. the Dallas Cowboys. I was with my Dad at our home in New Jersey. The temperature was -18 degrees in Green Bay and the field was like an ice rink. As expected the game came down to the wire. As the final seconds ticked away the Packers, trailing 17-14, had the ball 1st and goal on the Dallas 1-yard line. After 3 failed running attempts the Pack decided to go for the win on 4th and less than a yard to go.

“Starr under center, the ball is snapped, Starr keeps and behind right guard Jerry Kramer sneaks into the end zone – TOUCHDOWN GREEN BAY!”

I went completely nuts! I’m sure my Dad was thinking, this kid needs a straight-jacket.

Little did I know, that Packers dynasty would be coming to a sudden end. After winning the Super Bowl that year, they’d be in for a long drought. From 1968 through 1996 the Packers made two playoffs appearances but never sniffed the Super Bowl. That all changed with Holmgren and Favre in the early 90’s followed by McCarthy and Rodgers. Since 1993 the Pack has made the playoffs 19 times and won 2 Super Bowls. Yes, it’s good these days to be a Packers fan.

Game day was considerably cooler with occasional rain. Good thing we were well prepared with layers of clothes, ponchos, etc. Walking into Lambeau through the atrium out the gate into the stands was an out-of-body experience. I guess that happens when a dream you’ve had for 50 years comes true.

The game was a tale of two halves. Two picks in the first quarter kept Drew Brees and the Saints offense at bay. The “Rodgers-less” Packers played okay and went in at halftime sporting a 7 point lead. The second half was agonizing. The Saints won going away 27-19. For once it wasn’t about the Packers winning or losing. It was all about the experience of watching a Packers game live from the stands at Lambeau Field.

There was something extra special about sharing this incredible experience with Suzanne, Jeff and Bryce. Suzanne who is not a Packers fan, screamed and yelled for the Packers in full cheese head gear throughout the entire game. She was the catalyst for the trip and for a weekend – a true Packers fan. As for my boys and I… I cherish every moment I get to spend with Jeff and Bryce. Sharing this dream-come-true weekend, watching them take it all in… That, my friends, is the definition of true joy. I’m thrilled we were able to create a memory that will last a lifetime.

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My Donut Dilemma

I sometimes get obsessed with the strangest things.  Since I’ve been living in north Texas I’m flabbergasted by the lack of differentiation within the donut shop segment.   No doubt I am the only one who has a hang up on this particular topic.

Did you know there are 3800 donut places in Dallas-Fort Worth?  Not really, I made that up.  I’ll bet you a couple of Bear Claws I’m pretty darn close. They are everywhere.  I swear you can’t drive more than a couple of blocks and bingo – DONUTS!  I get it.  It’s like that for many shops and stores in and around Dallas. In case you haven’t checked there are 7.1 million people living in what they refer to as the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  For the uninformed, the term “Metroplex” is not even a legit word.  (Fun Fact) In 1971, when DFW Airport was under construction, the members of the North Texas Commission were looking for ways to promote the region. There was an ad guy on the commission named Harve Chapman.  Good ole Harve said, “Why don’t we refer to the Dallas Fort Worth area as The Metroplex?”  His compadres gave it a thumbs up and the term has somehow survived the test of time. It means absolutely nothing! Back to the topic at hand…  If there are close to 3800 donut shops in this area that’s approximately 1 per every 1868 people.  Okay my estimate may be a little rich. The point is there are lots of them.

Being a marketing hack from way back, here’s what perplexes me.  Nine out of ten of these places display a single moniker – DONUTS.  That’s it.  It’s almost like they were in a hurry to open and didn’t bother to come up with a name like Joe’s Donuts or Tasty Donuts or maybe Delicious Donuts.  I’m struggling with the thought process here. Did the Donut Commission have a meeting and tell its constituents, “Okay guys in order to keep a level playing field, when you open a shop, you are required to call it DONUTS; this way customers won’t know the difference between your place and the one down the street”. Sure we have a couple of Dunkin Donuts, a few Krispy Kremes and a smattering of donut places with unique names. However it’s obvious these rogues didn’t get the memo.

Not only do they all go by the same name, once you walk in the front door, you can expect the same experience.  The interior is painted white or off-white and there are a few cheap tables and chairs, in case the customer chooses to “dine-in”. Towards the back there’s a small donut display case with some glazed, chocolate covered and maybe a few cinnamon rolls, you know the standard donut shop offering.  Most of them throw a coffee station in there complete with styrofoam cups and if you are lucky they’ll provide cream, sugar and sweet & low.  Oh and it’s not a bank of coffee pots.  It’s one, usually close to empty, emitting the tantalizing aroma of coffee that’s past its expiration time.   If they were going for the cheap, low cost, no ambiance positioning they nailed it.

It’s funny, I’m not even a big donut guy.  I keep going into these places thinking one will be different.  Or, I’m thinking, maybe someone will share some insight on why they are all the same. I’m determined to keep searching for the answers.  Somebody has got to have a clue.

Before I close, I have a final question for my fellow Dallasites… Where are the bakeries?  You know the ones that serve bagels, hard rolls, crumb cake, baklava, cannolis, eclairs, etc.?  They have names like Carlo’s Bake Shop, Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe, Miller’s Bakery (since 1947) and Palermo’s to name a few. These are places where, the moment you walk in, your mouth begins to water.  The aroma and atmosphere overwhelms the senses which causes you to buy twice as much as you should. 

Dallas has everything! It’s true much of it is bigger and better than elsewhere.  If there’s a bakery that will make me say WOW, I would love to know about it!  Please provide Sherlock with a clue!

 

 

 

 

 

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