Short Takes to Start off the Month of March.

Topics of Interest or Without Substance?  Let me know Your Take.

  • I have been all over Samsung for their product issues regarding their flying washing machine tops and burning phones.  Now Mercedes-Benz, long known for their “The best or nothing” promise, has recalled over 300,000 of their cars because of a part that may catch fire.  This defect has been linked to 35 car fires across the USA with their luxury C and E class sedans.  I guess “the best or nothing” is their literal tag line.
  • A British technology company has developed and is now marketing the smart condom.  Yes, because we need not only to practice safe sex but just like everything else these days, we need metrics calculated based on our performance.  Perfect.
  • Autonomous cars having issues again.  It seems Tesla and their ‘autopilot’ feature is somehow installed in many of their model ‘S’ cars and the software that engages the autopilot is only in beta testing.  Say what Tesla?
  • 55,000 people at Bobby Dodd Stadium tonight to watch the home opener for Atlanta United.  Well done Darren Eales and team.  If you are not going you should Uber to midtown and enjoy the pregame tailgating and then watch the game in one of midtown’s many bars.  That is a Funday Sunday, especially with 70 degree weather.
  • The big box retail woes continue as HHGregg is closing 80 stores in an effort to avoid bankruptcy.  As mentioned a few times, retailers better discover the customer experience quotient and do it very quickly.  HHGregg joins Macy’s, JC Penny, and Sears in the battle to stay afloat.
  • It has been around for a mere six years and  it’s market value exceeds John Deere, Delta Airlines, Hewlett-Packard, CBS and Target.  The messages sent via their app disappear after a few seconds and many adults don’t care to know what it is and how to use it.  $40 billion in market value and to date has not made any money,  but Snap, Inc.’s IPO is the most ‘successful’ to date.  Time to unplug and dumb it down at bit.
  • I had hoped that the Academy Awards would be without the political diatribe that we witnessed at the Screen Actors Guild back in January.  For the most part Jimmy Kimmel and presenters/Oscar winners kept it straight but the ending was a farce.  On the upside, Justin Timberlake’s opening performance was outstanding.  He is a very underrated performer.
  • The 1996 Olympic Games was the beginning of downtown Atlanta becoming a prominent live, work and play destination.  Centennial Park, museums including MLK and Coca-Cola along with the Georgia Aquarium and the College Football Hall of Fame have influenced developers and restaurant owners to spend money downtown.  We all know what the new Mercedes-Benz stadium will bring to sports fans, but Philips Arena is also a venue that will be outstanding.  Steve Koonin and team are working on changes to Philips Arena that will cost $200m but will keep the Hawks downtown and serve as one of the country’s best venues for concerts and entertainment.  Google Philips Arena and check out the concepts and renderings.  Outstanding.
  • More vitamin D, a bit less crime, and less traffic accidents.  Yes, we have one week to go until we change our clocks and enjoy about eight months of more daylight.

Have a great Funday Sunday (and let’s hope ATL United starts of with a win)!

 

 

89th. Ice + Land. Turner Sports Makes a Play.

No Politics Please.  It’s Not Hawaii.  Football Instead of Family Guy.

Jimmy Kimmel takes the mike later tonight for the 89th Academy Awards.  A celebration of Hollywood’s finest or a live worldwide platform for the red carpet walkers and Oscar winners to go into their political diatribe?  On the bright side, the 100 million worldwide viewers (note: the Super Bowl viewership was barely over 100m) will hopefully get to enjoy some magical production and a few good performances.  This year, after a few years of homogenized nominees, diversity is prominent with nominees including Fences and Hidden Figures.  Hopefully the Academy of Arts and Sciences has issued strict orders for award winners to stand down from the world of politics….think Meryl Streep’s embarrassing acceptance speech at the Golden Globes.  As the great Betty Davis said in the 1951 classic All About Eve, “It’s going to be a bumpy ride tonight, fasten your seat belts”.

I assume travel is no different than most trends.  When ideas about a destination go viral people around the world flock to a location that is not always top of mind.  The ‘flavor of the month’ destination is non-other than Iceland, a country the size of Ohio.  More than 2 million tourists will visit this country, located in the North Atlantic (just east of Greenland for you geography freaks) and 350,000 of those tourists will be Americans.  Some friends have visited and reported back that the country is full of great things to see and do, including glaciers, volcanoes, the Northern lights, and the Blue Lagoon, an artificial pool warmed by a geo-thermal power plant.  I guess I will forego another trip to the Caribbean or Carmel, CA, and head to the North Atlantic for a holiday stay.

Phone calls from some soccer friends and associates late Friday afternoon.  One of the callers was an associate from the past who works for Turner Entertainment Networks, which all of us know as the parent presenting the cable networks of TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, and TruTV, etc..  She works at Turner as a financial analyst and had just learned that her employers had bid on and won the rights to the Champions League, committing over $180m over three years.  When she saw what she considers a very high spend for broadcast rights she phoned to ask what and why Turner would want the Champions League in the first place?  It is simple:  the Champions League is one of the most sought after sports properties on earth.  It is Europe’s annual tournament of their top club teams with the best thirty-two clubs involved in the tournament  starting in late August and ending with the final in mid-May.  Obviously the matches are broadcast five to six hours ahead so the time slots in the U.S. are in the afternoon (2:45pm EST), so during the rounds of tournament play Turner can use one or more of it’s networks to promote and broadcast the Champions League.  This works well with their other sports properties including NBA, PGA Golf, Major League Baseball, and the NCAA basketball tournament.  At a quick glance, the Champions League broadcasts will replace mid-afternoon shows such as American Dad, Supernatural, Bones and Family Guy, most likely targeting the coveted 21-35 year old male and boosting their afternoon ratings.  The worldwide total broadcast fees for the Champions League is astronomical and driven by sponsors targeting a massive viewing audience.  As a comparison, last year’s Champions League final was viewed by a worldwide television audience of 380m while this year’s Super Bowl pulled in 113m viewers.  Turner will pay $180m over three years for the broadcast rights.  Combined with other worldwide rights, the payout yields the winning Club of this May’s final over $100m.   I probably did not answer my friend’s question very well but a least this is a start.

Updates: Iran is holding maritime training exercises in the Persian Gulf…..really Iran?  Atlanta United opens up two weeks from tonight.  The half-brother of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, was murdered in a very bizarre way in a Malaysia airport…..one down, one to go.  Two weeks to daylight savings time!

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!

Incoming. Airplane Food. Hot Ticket. South Korean Woes.

Drone Alert. Delta’s Free Food.  55,00 Coming to Bobby Dodd.  Power Hungry.

Fast delivery from Amazon Prime is one thing but do you really want your package delivered by a drone parachuting the box into your backyard?  Competitive advantage and a high level of customer service is one thing but this may be taking turnaround time a bit too far.

I am not exactly proud that I am a frequent flyer.  Airplane travel these days barely surpasses the nicest Greyhound bus.  So it is interesting to me that Delta Air Lines announced last week that they will offer, at no charge, “meals” to coach class passengers on some long range domestic flights.  Call me crazy but do they think most passengers see this offer as a goodwill gesture?  I have a better idea for Delta on their long range flights. Instead of spending the money with airline food service providers (think food production, delivery, and storage),  with flight attendants clogging up the aisle serving the meals, why not at the time of booking offer passengers on these flights a food service coupon that aligns with restaurants located at the passengers’ departure terminal?  Delta would save millions of dollars, offer their customers a variety of options to pick up food, and free up their flight attendants to deal with important matters like safety (or serving cocktails).  Let’s see, do I want inflight ‘food’ from Delta or a coupon to buy a great meal or salad at Mellow Mushroom, Columbia Restaurant, or Pappadeaux’s?

Atlanta United’s home opener is March 5th.  The opener is at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium (United will move into Mercedes Benz stadium when it opens in late July) and 41,000 tickets are already sold.  With a typical walkup crowd of over 5,000 you better get your tickets soon as the game will sell out.

Samsung’s President was finally jailed in South Korea this past Friday.  Maybe a bit severe but something had to happen with this consumer products company.  Bribes, scandals, phones catching fire and washing machine lids flying around the laundry room are not appreciated in Asia’s 4th largest economy.

Adios and Have a Funday Sunday!!

 

 

Lady Gaga. WTC Experience. NYC. Updates.

Retraction.  Memories of a Tragic Event.  Good Food, Good People.

In last week’s blog I ranted a bit about Lady Gaga and why the NFL selected her for the Super Bowl halftime show.  I mentioned lack of talent, etc., and I was wrong.  Lady Gaga’s performance, supported by tremendous production and execution, was actually a perfect fit for the Super Bowl.  I really enjoyed the first thirty minutes of football and the halftime show.  The last thirty minutes of football…not so much.

I had the opportunity to visit the World Trade Center site yesterday.  The last time I was there was shortly after 9/11 and at that time the only visible elements were the vast area of rubble, building materials and equipment.  Sixteen years later, the new One World Trade Center stands at a building height of 1,362 feet, the height of the original WTC South Tower. An amazing building, it is one of five structures that will be built on the site.  As a dedication to the people who were lost to that tragic event, two reflection pools were constructed in the same footprint of the original South and North towers.  It is a bit surreal to stand and look into the reflection pools knowing that many of the people who perished in the two towers and surrounding area were never found.  One World Trade Center was designed with an observatory on the top floor providing guests with a 360 view of the New York metropolitan area.  A great experience, it makes you reflect on that tragic event and the many days following that left Americans and most of world feeling empty and violated.  I hope all of you have the chance to visit the site soon.

New York City can be overwhelming from both a density and humanity standpoint.  Incredible traffic, way too many people, and sirens from police or emergency vehicles never-ending.  With that said, NYC is definitely in a category by itself.  The activity, the pace, and the people representing most of the countries of the world are blended with the many restaurants, bars, service businesses and buildings.  Walking NYC is an event in itself and sometimes leads to great experiences.  My daughter, Jaime, and her fiancé, Daniel, were nice enough to take us to a local, family-owned Italian restaurant Friday night.  We went early as we had a plans later in the evening which allowed us to have a nice quiet dinner with great food and service.  Jaime and Daniel frequent Il Posto Accanto often so we had the opportunity to speak with the owner, a former NYPD captain.  Sincere, engaging, and genuinely interested in our dining experience, he represents what NYC is really all about.  Family-owned businesses who have tremendous competition from every end of the City.  Some restaurants in NYC open and get popular due to it being the trendy place to be.  Il Posto Accanto opened many years ago and will stay open for a long time due to the ownership’s attention to detail and personal interaction with their customers.  On the lower east side, Il Posto Accanto is definitely a restaurant you should try.

Updates:  Atlanta Falcons:  you got to the big show but forgot the dance always lasts at least sixty minutes. Ford’s $1B investment in a startup engaged with the autonomous car project sends a clear message that the Jetson’s era is coming soon.  Great start Atlanta United….looking forward to March 5th!!  One month to daylight savings time!

Adios and have a great week!!

 

Take the Day Off. Halftime. Super Bowl v World Cup Final.

National Holiday.  GAG, not Gaga.  $4B v $112m. Updates.

Sunday’s Super Bowl LI (Richie, that is 51) brings together two of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League.  The game, telecast on FOX, starts with the ‘Super Bowl Kickoff” at 1pm followed by a four-hour pre-game show.  Yes, four hours of content that probably could be condensed into 30 minutes.  Why four hours of pre-game?  Thank the sponsors who pay big money to air their commercial spots before, during and after the Super Bowl.  In the east, the game starts at 6:30pm and between the TV timeouts and Lady Gaga’s 25-minute halftime show the game will be over by 10pm.  Yes, that is 9pm central and 7pm west coast time.  So, I find it amusing that Kraft Heinz (think ketchup and Velveeta) has called for tomorrow to be a national holiday. They “campaigned” for their national holiday stating that close to a $1B in productivity is lost on the Monday after the Super Bowl due to employees calling in sick or being late for work.  Coined “Smunday”, Kraft Heinz’s marketing team have found a simple way to get national publicity by announcing they will petition the federal government to make the Monday after the Super Bowl a designated national holiday.  Smart, strategic and a low cost idea to bring attention to the company and their global brands.  Well done and kudos to those marketing folks.   FYI:  a 30-second spot on the Super Bowl will cost a sponsor $5m.  In 1967, at Super Bowl I, the same spot cost $37,500.

Speaking of the Super Bowl and specifically the halftime show, the NFL, in their infinite wisdom, selected Lady Gaga to perform at the 25-minute intermission on Sunday.  I guess if you are under the age of 25 you may be able to watch and listen to her but really, NFL, why the hell would you select a no-talent, out-spoken zero to perform before 75,000 spectators and a viewing audience of 112 million?  Roger Goodell, by now it seems like you would have learned a lesson so good luck dealing with the aftermath of her performance at today’s game.

I really do enjoy the Super Bowl and today’s game is going to be even more special as the Atlanta Falcons have a shot at being Super Bowl champions.  I am a huge NFL and college football fan and today’s game is bittersweet because it ends the football season.  It is a long wait until late August but for some folks college basketball, the NBA, the NHL and the start of baseball season fills the void.  For me, the long wait is filled with watching European and South American soccer as well as the Major League Soccer season.  To keep things comparable from a worldwide perspective, today’s Super Bowl will be viewed by approximately 112 million.  Two summers ago, more than 1B people watched the 2014 World Cup final.  The power of a global sport is amazing.

Updates: The Houthi’s, the Yemen sect supported by Iran, attacked a Saudi warship thinking it was a U.S. ship…you can’t fix stupid.  Speaking of Yemen and the Houthis, SecDef Mattis ordered the USS Cole into the Persian Gulf and it is parked off the coast of Yemen.  Just to be clear, the USS Cole is one of our warships armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles.  Sleep well Yemen. Jaime turned 30 years old yesterday.  It is Super Bowl Sunday – GO FALCONS!

Adios and Happy Super Bowl Sunday!!

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!

Another Ungrateful Athlete. Checkout. No Class, No Dignity.

Richard, Cork the Whine!  Turning Retail into a Commodity.  You Can’t Be Serious.   Updates.

  • From a very young age I have been a big fan and follower of the National Football League.  I was lucky enough to get exposed to pro football due to my father and brother and Miami landing an NFL franchise.  Similar to other sports, the television networks, knowing that the success of their overall ratings are attached to NFL broadcasts, pay the NFL hundreds of millions of dollars for broadcast rights.  This money is then allotted to the NFL franchises allowing them to pay their players big salaries.  Some of these salaries are staggering which alarms me when I hear a very high salaried player complain about the NFL schedule.  Yes, maybe the NFL on TV (as well as college football) has hit a saturation point but as a player under contract you deal with the schedule that the NFL establishes just like every other professional athlete.  I realize football brings a physicality unlike most sports but take a look at an NBA team’s schedule, or the NHL or Premier League.  Richard Sherman, one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks, recently voiced his strong opinion about the NFL schedule, in particular Thursday night games.  He complained that playing away to Green Bay on a Sunday and then playing last Thursday night at home led to him playing at “only 50-60% of his ability”.  Seriously Richard, who are you comparing yourself to?  A railroad worker up every morning at 4am?  A steel worker dealing with freezing cold or incredibly humid weather conditions?  Sherman’s comments are particularly bothersome knowing that he recently signed a four-year, $56m contract that included a $11.5m signing bonus.  Don’t get me wrong, I admire his skills and ability, as well as his Stanford education, but he needs to shut his mouth, be respectful and very grateful that he plays professional football for a stupid amount of money.  As a side note, refer to the October 30, 2016 post analyzing the 2nd quarter of an NFL game……total playing time in a fifteen minute quarter was a bit over 4 minutes, and that included both offense and defense.  Man up Richard Sherman.
  • Amazon Go seems like a great idea.  As you walk into one of their stores you and your credit card that is imbedded on your smart phone are identified so you can fill your shopping cart and walk out of the store without waiting in line to check out.  Being cashier-less achieves two customer desires:  ease and speed of checkout.   So I guess this benefit achieves what many call the basics of people shopping at retail including getting what you want/need, a break from the day, some type of experience, or interacting with other human beings.  But what I am wondering is how much the retailer will miss out on making a connection with the customer?  If there is no customer experience (think Nordstrom’s or Starbucks) doesn’t the retailer risk becoming a commodity?   I totally get that to many the customer experience equals getting in and out with no hassles but it seems that this trend might be better suited to convenience stores.   Speaking of Starbucks, they released a presser that they are looking to open 12,000 additional stores within the next five years….they do have a great customer experience for those who like their coffee.  Starbucks realizes that  customer service and interaction drives loyalty leading to year-over-year increases in top line revenue and profits. It will be interesting how well the Amazon Go test works out.
  • Some strange observations while traveling this past week.  The Hilton in downtown St. Petersburg was nice enough to give me access to their ‘lounge’ on the top floor overlooking beautiful Tampa Bay.  Most of these lounges are reserved for Hilton’s top customers which in days past correlated to a more sophisticated crowd.  No longer as early one morning while having breakfast I noticed many people coming into the lounge in workout clothes, shorts and t-shirts.  Yep, times have changed but one guest to the lounge took it a bit too far.  She was very short, very overweight but decided it was appropriate to walk into the lounge in some horrid color ‘silk’ pajamas and yes, the pajamas were at least a size too small.  Hilarious in one way and a bit shocking to most, including me.  On another note I somehow I got upgraded to first class on my flight back to Atlanta on Friday.  Usually a nice experience unless you are sitting next to a “Pat” who, for sure, by their odor, had not taken a shower in days.  So what does “Pat” do?  How about climbing over me to go to the restroom AFTER the door is closed and the plane is backing off the ramp.  The poor flight attendant really had no answers for this creature and simply let “it” go to the restroom.  First class passengers….never judge a book by it’s cover.
  • Updates:  Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte:  be careful with your rhetoric and threats to the United States…..there is a new Secretary of Defense waiting in the wings to deal with people like you. Atlanta United has done well with the expansion draft and trade deadline.  Cyber warfare is not only coming from the Russians.  Can’t wait for Colin Kaepernick to come into the Georgia Dome later today.  Christmas is in seven days!!

Adios and have a Sunday Funday!!

Note:  no post next Sunday/Xmas Day or on New Years Day.  Happy Holidays and all the best for a great 2017.