Dominance on the Courts. Retail Woes. March On This.

Serena & Roger Rule.  Retailers Better Find a Way to Pivot.  Find a Real Cause.

  • As a tennis fan and recreational player I have followed the sport for a long time.   Many of the great players had their own style and temperament (Ilie Nastase, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors come to mind) and Serena Williams is no different.  There have been many times that I watched her behavior with disdain and often stopped watching her play.  With that said there is no argument that she is the greatest woman tennis player of all time.   Friday night Serena won her seventh Australian Open, her 23rd major singles title of her career.  She now is only one victory away of equaling Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.  Call Serena what you want but she has now won ten major titles after the age of thirty and her career winnings are a staggering $82m.  On the men’s side, last night’s final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal was an incredible five set match and after playing well over three hours, ended with Nadal challenging a ball that was clearly in.  After not playing for many months and enduring three 5-set matches during his run to the title, Federer now has collected eighteen Grand Slam titles and has earned close to $100m in career winnings.  On two consecutive nights we were lucky enough to see the two greatest tennis players of all time.
  • Weeks ago I wrote about the retail customer experience and how retailers must find new ways to change their styles and merchandising often to drive customers to purchase in-store.  Retail executives continuously strive for heightening the customer experience but it seems like to no avail.  Last week, Wet Seal, around since the early ’60’s, made the decision to close all of their 171 stores nationwide.  This followed American Apparel laying off 2,400 workers, The Limited closing all stores, and Macy’s announcing that they will shutter over 100 stores in 2017.  The economic landscape and the ease of online purchasing leads me to believe there is no end in sight for more retailers to either try and pivot their offering or decide, similar to Wet Seal and The Limited, to just give up completely.
  • Can someone, in simple terms, explain to me what the Women’s March was really supposed to accomplish?  I support human right’s, LGBTQ, racial equality and freedom of religion, but I found the March and many of the ‘protestors’ embarrassing.  I talked to many people, both men and women about the march.  A few pointed out that most of women marching were protesting against then President-elect Donald Trump without understanding his platform and pending policies.  Too bad this massive force of women could not re-focus their time and energy on important issues.  Feeding the hungry is one that comes to mind.
  • Updates:  Matt Ryan, only sixty minutes left in the season….get it done.   To the terrorists in Yemen who killed another U.S. soldier yesterday:  SecDef Mattis is coming for you.  Please Wayne Rooney, don’t get selfish and piss away your career playing in China.  Showtime’s Homeland, once a crazy, action-packed sixty minutes has gone politico on us…..the producers and writers should be ashamed.  Six weeks to daylight savings time!!

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!! 

 

 

Airport Anxiety. Mr. Blank and the Falcons. Circus No More.

Let’s Go Private.  Houston Here We Come.  PETA Does a Number on Ringling Bros. 

  • It was always interesting to watch the strange behavior of people once they arrive at an airport and proceed to check in and get through security.  I suppose the dynamics of packing and getting to the airport, as well as parking and getting to the terminal leads to a bit of tension and anxiety?  The behavior of people changed even more after the events of 9/11 with security parameters heightened along with the Transportation Security Administration.  Yes, TSA, the array of disciples dressed in garb reminding everyone of their diligence and duty to the country.  For the most part, TSA has straightened out their hiring practices and training but there are numerous occasions that you just must wonder why the United States has not provided for the privatization of TSA services at our airports.  Obviously, money is not an obstacle because like most government agencies the marginal productivity of TSA personnel surely lags the private sector security firms that certainly could provide airports with more qualified agents to screen passengers and their bags.  I am not admonishing the TSA nor most of their agents, I am simply wondering why these services are still under the guise of the Federal government.   Speaking of privatization, next week I will take a hard look at the U. S. Postal Service, whose 2015 financials showed a $5.1B loss.
  • They are on their way to Super Bowl LI.  Yes, in two weeks the Atlanta Falcons, led by MVP quarterback Matt Ryan, will make their way to Houston to play for the NFL championship against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  It is simply amazing how a new head coach, a new staff and a few new players in key positions can change the performance of a team.  The person responsible for demanding these changes is 74-year old Arthur Blank, who co-founded The Home Depot, and is both a respected businessman and philanthropist.  You must feel great for Mr. Blank, who has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the Falcons, their new stadium, and his new Major League Soccer franchise, Atlanta United.  Losing Super Bowl LI to his longtime rival Robert Kraft is not an option so let’s hope that the evening of February 5th is a great one for Mr. Blank and the Falcons.
  • Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has been around for well over 100 years and has performed worldwide before hundreds of million spectators, many of those young children.  Wild animals and courageous acts filled most arenas and left young children with huge smiles on their faces as they wondered how you really survive getting shot out of a cannon or hanging out in a cage with a few lions and tigers.  Last week Ringling Bros. ownership group announced that they were closing down due to the financial pressures of increasing the level of safety, security and habitats of the performing animals.  PETA went after the Circus many times threatening lawsuits and continued protests mostly focused on how the trainers treated the elephants.  I do think there is a time and a place for PETA but this has gone on way too long and now Ringling Bros. has thrown in the towel.  What a shame that many millions of children will miss out on this spectacle.  I remember my daughter and her heightened excitement knowing that the circus was coming and the joy she experienced once she walked into the arena.  Hopefully, the assets of Ringling Bros. will be bought out, retrenched and reintroduced to the world soon.
  • Updates: the Trump inauguration costs will reach $200m.   The Philippines’ President Duterte has gone quiet and for good reason:  General “Mad Dog” Mattis was sworn in as the Secretary of Defense.  Nigeria needs help with Boko Haram and their terrorist ways…. maybe a first assignment for the new Secretary of Defense? Have you tried Wendy Dunlap’s Impromptus?  Great solution for a gift or bake them yourself for a great appetizer….Impromptus Savory Shortbreads.  To order, email Wendy at myimpromptus@gmail.com .

Adios and have a great week!

 

 

 

 

 

MLK Day. Cop Killers. The Road to the Super Bowl. Updates.

I Have a Dream.  Make Them Suffer.  Next Sunday’s Games.

  • In the United States, a federal holiday is an authorized holiday which has been recognized and designated by the US government.  Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday that was instituted by the federal government thirty one years ago.  In my view, the States of the Union share their sovereignty with the federal government including following guidelines and statutes of designated federal holidays.  Martin Luther King, Jr., incredibly strong by most and controversial by some, was honored by the U.S. Federal government for his work to combat racial inequality through nonviolent resistance.  In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Tomorrow, as designated 31 years ago by the federal government, all fifty states are mandated to honor MLK day.  Then there is the state of Mississippi and specifically the city of Biloxi, where MLK day is also called “Great Americans Day” incredibly honoring General Robert E. Lee on the same day as the designated federal holiday.  The same Robert E. Lee who held the black race in bondage, proud of his legacy as a racist.  Shameful and outrageous, you would think that Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant would step in to stop this ridiculous practice of dovetailing MLK Day with this so-called “Great Americans Day”.  Dr. King must have had great insight as his famous “I have a dream” speech included this excerpt:  “…..I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice….”.   Maybe we should suggest to President-Elect Donald Trump that his infamous wall should be moved a bit north and east to sanction off the shameful state of Mississippi?
  • She spent seventeen years as an Orlando police officer and was decorated and honored numerous times during her career.  Last Monday, Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was gunned down pursuing a murder suspect.  While police in many states have come under scrutiny for unnecessary tactics, the police in this country, as well as firefighters and emergency response personnel, need to be honored for their dedication to protecting and serving as well as putting their lives on the line day in and day out.  I am not sure how to solve this trend of cop killers but people who kill police officers need to suffer the most dire of consequences.  Putting these types of criminals in regular prisons does not work as they are often glorified by their fellow prisoners.  Maybe the idea of a “special” prison could send a message to these vicious criminals who have no regard for human life.  A friend of mine has told me about “ADX Florence”,  a super-maximum security prison located in rural Colorado.  I had no idea something like this existed in the United States, until he told me that the likes of Zacharias Moussaoui (9/11) and Richard Reid (shoe bomber) are held here.  Each inmate is in solitary confinement and spends 23 hours a day in their cell.  With little to no human contact or conversation and only a skylight in each cell, these prisoners are completely cut off from interaction and reality.  Cop killers, like the one who killed Debra Clayton, should be sent here to deal with the consequences of their actions.
  • There have been exciting Super Bowls but next Sunday’s National and American Conference championship games are usually way more compelling to watch than the Super Bowl.  The anxiety and complexity of winning one more game to reach the Super Bowl leads to the anticipation of these two games, to be played next Sunday afternoon and evening.  The Atlanta Falcons, with their beat down of Seattle yesterday, face the winner of today’s Green Bay – Dallas game.  Matt Ryan, with yesterday’s performance, has locked up the MVP award and hopefully will duplicate his performance next Sunday and in February 5th’s Super Bowl.  And if anyone knows a great podiatrist (a.k.a. Dr. Joel Schancupp) can you please have them fix Julio Jones’ big toe once and for all?
  • Updates:  The presidential inauguration is Friday so can all you politicos just shut up.  Atlanta United’s college super draft went very well….twenty-three players signed and the opening game seven weeks away.  Thankfully, daylight savings time is right around the corner starting March 12.  The high in Alanta today, in the middle of January, will be 76…..where is Al Gore?

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!!

 

 

Helter Skelter. Football Weekend. Showrooms Only?

Serious Spend on Charles Manson.  I Can Be Wrong.  Online vs In-Store.

  • Over 46 years ago he was charged with orchestrating the murders of seven people, including Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant and at that time the wife of movie director Roman Polanski (he is another story altogether).  Last week I learned that Charles Manson, the maniacal menace who commanded the worldwide media’s attention with his outrageous behavior and cult following, was hospitalized in critical condition and hopefully will never leave that hospital.  Manson was sentenced to death but the death penalty, in that period of 1969, had temporarily been abolished by the state of California.  Sentenced to life in prison, Manson has somehow come up before the parole board twelve times in his 46 years in prison.  I reviewed a Congressional study on U.S. prisons and learned that the average annual amount of money spent on each inmate in California is $50,000, so my math tells me that taxpayers have spent well over $2.3m keeping Manson alive over the last 46 years.  Note: in the year 2014 the U.S. spent over $80B to maintain it’s prison population.  With respect to religious beliefs and feelings, it may be time, for many reasons, to reevaluate the use of the death penalty.
  • My opinion and take on things don’t necessarily relate to reality.  With that said I will eat crow regarding my post way back in August about Matt Ryan and his declining skill set. His season:  5,000 yards passing, 38 TD passes and only 7 interceptions. Don’t get me wrong, as an Atlanta Falcons fan I am thrilled that he proved me wrong and I can only hope that his level of play continues next Saturday against Seattle.  A lot of things came together for Ryan this year including his very talented wide receivers, the protection he gets from the offensive line and his execution of Kyle Shanahan’s complicated scheme.  I thought Matt Schaub might replace Ryan after the sixth game of the season and wow, was I ever wrong.  Ryan, depending on next Saturday afternoon’s performance, may be selected as the MVP of the league.  Go Falcons!
  • I would be very concerned if I was an executive with a big-box retailer.  In previous posts I have discussed how the customer experience influences loyalty and spend but there is only so much a retailer can do to grow year-over-year top line revenues.  The National Retail Federation reported that many big-box retailers, including Macy’s, Kohl’s, and J.C. Penny reported a drop in revenue in the November-December holiday season while online sales were up over 16% for the same period.  Are customers using stores to preview the new lines of clothing or product and then going online to purchase?  Are stores morphing into showrooms?  Years ago it would be crazy to think this way but unless you are a specialty or discount retailer you better find a way to elevate your customer experience and do it very quickly.  Mike Wittenstein specializes in customer experience design and speaks to the subject at worldwide meetings and conferences.  Take a look at his website:  www.Storyminers.com.  Very interesting ideas and information.
  • Updates:  great NFL football watching this weekend and more to come later today.  Bagelicious in East Cobb, after 25 years, is still the best deli food on the Northside of Atlanta. Ice and snow on a weekend is No Bueno.  March 5th for Atlanta United is coming fast….the first/inaugural home game is at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd stadium and if you want to be there you better get tickets quickly because it will easily be a sell out.  Heartfelt thoughts to the people mourning the loss of their loved ones at Friday’s incident in Ft. Lauderdale.

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!