Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Why Is Bad News The Only News?

I think many people should read “Bad News Bias” in the New York Times this morning. I think it is quite insightful. On the other hand, I have thought for years that people loved bad news and even created their own stories if they could not get enough. 

Is this because it is what people have been expecting for so many years? Do the “Bad News” headlines grab an audience? Are we such a depressed group of people that we are only attracted to stories loaded with downers? Is this what is wrong with the nation? Or perhaps the world? 

Disclaimer: Since 1997 I have not read but one newspaper, and I find TV news rather depressing – especially the late news – it will give me a bad night. 

Not all headlines are bad, however, headlines are written with the intent to GRAB you. If you are looking for bad news, and today that appears to be the essence of a great number of people’s thinking, some headlines will really give you what you could be looking for.  

Here are a couple of headlines on the front page today which I thought would be intriguing for some.  

  • “Survivors Describe ‘Listening to Him Kill Everyone You Know.’”
    • Horrific, would not read this and consider the headline gruesome.  
  • “Why ‘Cursed’ Olympics in Japan Are Pressing Ahead Amid a Pandemic.” 
    • Hmm…”Cursed” – already a dire prediction for the Olympics by the writer - don't go.  
  • “Politicians Behaving Badly.”
    • Now this could be one to read just to have a laugh – and it doesn’t matter the party. 
  • “Officer Brian Sicknick Died After the Capitol Riot. New Videos Show His Attack.” 
    • See the answer to the first one above.
    • I would almost put money on those video’s being an attraction. 

Perhaps it is this bad news fixation which is supporting the anger culture of the American people. I do not think the media is responsible, but I do think it has the potential to feed it. It could also have the potential to change it, but his would be to over the top to consider.

Why do we get joyful over other’s misfortunes? Is it because we are looking for people in worse conditions than we are? There appears to be a consensus of finding others to blame for our own bad times and we are joyful in their troubles. I guess this is something I just do not understand. 

I do not understand bigotry either, but that is another story, or is it?

Additional disclaimer: I get most of the news I want digitally, including The New York Times. My other sources are Microsoft, Google, Apple, and ESPN – when my team is winning. 😊 

I do see headlines as I am on the web a great deal, then again, instead of grabbing me they often turn me off. But I bet you would have guessed that. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

If You Have Not Looked at Futureloop Perhaps Its Time

I know some of you may get the newsletter, Futureloop and this morning in just reading the headlines I am suddenly hit with the REAL accelerating speed of what is going on in all area’s of technology. SpaceX Raptor Engine setting a world record, Hand’s Free Driving, chips going into the body to help detect Tumor’s and repair injuries, then the "Future mental health care may include diagnosis via brain scan and computer algorithm". There are other item’s in the newsletter which are mind boggling as well. 

The realization these advances are not in the next 5 years – they are here now, just being perfected. 

So what is going to happen in the next 5 years, 10 years?  I personally find it all kind of exciting. I know there are people who do not find it exciting and who may not be prepared for these advancements.  

OR does everyone just happily grab on and go? 

Sometimes I feel the Luddite is still very much among us, and for the same reasons. The real fear by people whose Lives will be financially disrupted by these technologies, businesses turned upside down by advancements. I Believe we need to preach future excitement as well as the need for Learning. 

We are growing and going!

Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs starts at the bottom with basic Physiological needs and then moves up to Safety, then Social. I believe between Social and Esteem should be Learning. You cannot move up to Self-Actualization without Knowledge which comes from Learning - continued Learning. 

A Bob Dylan song, although written for a different time and reason, still works today; "The Times They Are A-Changin'". And change does not stop at any level except personal, and maybe management. 

I have been into some form of technology all my Life and I find today is even more exciting, not only because of what is happening, but with ones imagination we are going places even Albert Einstein and others may not have ever seen possible - well maybe Leonardo da Vinci had a vision.

Check out Futureloop and Peter Diamandis and Futureloop on Facebook

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

What will the return of retail look like in the coming months - years?

Recently, because of the Pandemic, there has been a great deal of talk about the ability for retail to recover from “stay-at-home” restrictions put in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Having spent a great number of years working in retail, and then owning a small retail store while simultaneously creating a life in technology, I think I understand the viability of the question - can small retail return? Can any retail return, big or small? And if so, which type of retail has the better chance?

Small retail stores of today have one thing big retail does not and is often lost in online buying: the knowledgeable individual working in the establishment. The person who is really into what they are selling. They are (or can be); enthusiastic, excited, and totally enjoy what they are doing. They are willing to tell all they know. Most are also very customer oriented and love the fact that people come to them for their knowledge and guidance on purchases. They can be, and often are, a great influence in the market.

I must admit, when working for Federated Department stores in the early 70's we had people who would learn about the products they were selling. They even had training sessions. Today big retail will hire people to ring up the sale and make sure their area is clean - training went away as a reduction in cost. The only place I have seen knowledgeable people in big retail is in the cosmetics department. It is downhill from there, so why go?

I am aware of the small business owner who went into business for themselves and not the consumer. These business owners will most likely not return. They were not there originally for their customers, but for the prestige of owning a business. The ones that loved retail will try to get back and may be able to pull it off. They need support. They need friends. This IS their Life!

 What started me down this was an article this morning in the New York Times by Alexandar Alter "Bookstores Are Struggling. Is a New E-Commerce Site the Answer?"  - Warning - you may have to join, sign-in, or subscribe, to read. 

It was very insightful about the plight of the small bookstore owner during this pandemic. Today there is an online option for the small bookstore owner to stay in business, however, will it work when things open back up? Will it change the way they run their business in the future, or will it hurt them?

I am an avid reader so my own personal experience: In the 60's/70's I went to a small bookstore, and although it was part of a chain the chain allowed the manager to be a quasi-owner, and she was fantastic. She would even call when a new book was published by a particular author she knew I liked, and had knowledge about the book. I ONLY shopped with her. The store is gone as is the chain and now I shop at Amazon.

On the other side of this bookstore quandary: I have an author friend who just published another book. In his email he pointed us to Amazon to buy the book. Before I finished reading the email I bought the book on my Kindle. I am not a young person; however, I have gotten over the need for the tactile feel of paper.

As an afterthought, what small businesses s can return? Good question. How about hardware stores where knowledge can be sought after, beauty salons, coffee shops who allow conversation, perhaps ice cream stores. 

A great deal of knowledge can be had online today in almost every category, the small business can be a source of influence with specific products as can friends and other associates. This pandemic has increased the online sales volume (from what I read) but has definitely put more people online searching for information, which is what it is all about.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Monday Morning Read: Om Malik provides some interesting thoughts today and into the future.

In my email this morning was a blog post by Om Malik, "Has pandemic pushed us into a post-human future?" I recommend you take time to follow the link and read what Om has to say. 

I have followed Om Malik for years as I believe he is a very good interpreter, and reporter, of the technology arena of today. Om's input brings a real human insight to whatever he is writing, or talking, about. I found this particular article very appropriate in today’s world. 

I know I have always chased the future and tech but I still feel a lot of what he is saying is true. Perhaps the reason we have succeeded, in most cases, of staying at home during these lock down's is we do not have the immediate connection with  large businesses as people thought. We miss it and we don't miss it, if that makes any sense. 

My wife and I have owned small businesses and understand the connection with people. In my heart I really think there is a chance for the comeback of small businesses, on the Mom & Pop side, mainly because of what Om talks about in this post. We want to do business with people we know and are part of our community. 

Only once did I ever feel I had connection to a sales person in a large department store but I have had many connections with a people in the corner dry cleaner, a drug store, wine shop, deli, and other local owned businesses as well as local restaurants. Perhaps we will see a return to this. I have to admit I really won’t miss JC Penny's, Nordstrom's, or Macy’s - even thought I spent a number of years working with Federated Department Stores – as did our son. I mistakenly believed the customer comes first but realized later it was the stockholder. 

 Oh, and OM is a good photographer. There are other links, check them out. 


Monday, May 11, 2020

Thinking About Tomorrow - Personal and Business

Because of the Pandemic many things have already changed and many more will change. The big one I see is WE will change. There is already talk about what happens when things open up. I found the most recent article in "tech blog" from Peter Diamandis, "4 Industries Impacted & What's Next...."  quite interesting as he presents the challenges and lay's out potential future opportunities. Things have already changed and more things are going to change. Rather than fear the future, we need to find the way to a better Life. 

Below are some notes that I started in April but are still relevant today. We have all read that it takes 21 Days to Break a Habit, and the converse, it takes 21 Days to Make a New Habit.  From Lifehack is a link (and there are many out there) with some thoughts on ; How Long Does It Take to Break a Habit? Science Will Tell You. Some say 21 days and some say 28 to 30 days. We are going on 60 to 90 days and don't know when it will end. We will have new habits

Businesses, small and large, will have new ways of working. Remote working (article below) will have been found to be more successful than originally thought. There will be GREAT effects rippling thought the world of work, family, and play. We just might have more office space than needed and we can Zoom to that meeting rather than fly. Yes it's all been around but now we are finding just how easy it is and how important, or not, some of these things can be. 

Apparently I am not the only one who is hypothesizing about potential outcomes of our current status of "Stay at Home"  and work related issues. In reading this ZDNet article, "CFOs looking to make remote work, telecommuting more permanent following COVID-19, says Gartner survey", they cover some bigger issues like cancelling offsite meetings and travel expenses because we all now know how to ZOOM, or Go To Meeting, Skype, and other means of communications visually.  This article on ZDNet is part of a Special Feature on Working From Home: The Future of Business Remote.

The impact could be huge. How about offsite office rental being vacated, airline seats empty as well as hotel rooms, rental car companies looking for customers. The Service Industry will take a big hit; Uber, Lyft, Conventions Center's, as well as well known cities for hosting conventions.

There is more to be concerned with if the impact continues.  

Monday, April 13, 2020

Our First Attempt at The Kroger Pickup Service - We Like What We Found.

This past weekend my wife and I used Kroger's Grocery Pickup service for the first time. 

To begin my wife had talked to several others who had used this service and so we decided we had to find out for ourselves just how it worked. 

This is where it does benefit you to be a Kroger Loyalty Card member. When we went to the Kroger website and signed in, we found a record of what we have purchased in the past. I cannot remember when we first joined the Kroger Loyalty Card program, however, we probably joined soon after it started (in the year 2000) - I like to do things like that. 

Once you access the app on your phone, or go online with a computer (which is what we did), the first thing you to do is to pick the Kroger location you are going to pick up the groceries from. There are many Kroger stores in our area, and we frequent 3 of them on a regular basis. The one closest is the oldest and we use it more like a convenience store, quick in and out. We have another one within 4+ miles where we used to go for our big order’s, but then Kroger opened a bigger (newer) store about 6 miles away and we started going there. 

I mention the above because when we were selecting the store for our grocery pickup it turned out not to be anyone of the ones we would normally use. We had already been forewarned that it was not always quick, same day, next day, kind of thing.  We found a list of all Kroger Stores on the website with suggested pick up times. The shortest in the list was 4 days away, on Sunday, and it was a completely different location than we were used to, but still within 5 miles. Since we started this on Wednesday night, we had plenty of time and selected the shorted time location. We do not normally shop until Saturday or Sunday anyway

Once we brought up the website on the computer, we started going through all the items. Adding things to the cart was easy. First, we went through all the items we would normally purchase, then we started looking for items not on our normal list. We also ordered some wine in the process. 

Once we placed the order we did not go back to add to, or alter, the order in any way. I understand you can do that for a certain amount of time.  

In talking to friends, we were also warned of great lines at the pickup spaces at Kroger. Our pickup time was set for between 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM on Sunday. Preparing for long lines we arrived at 12:25 PM to find there were no cars in the allotted spaces - so we pulled in.

The sign said to call a number and someone would take care of us. We called the number, explained we were early, gave them our order number, and they said not a problem. We were asked if we had coupons and then sent someone out to the car to pick up the coupon (only one) and shortly our groceries were brought to the car. 

The people who brought out the groceries put them into the back of the car, explained that one item, which was out of stock, could be substituted with another, they had a suggestion which we accepted. One item was not available and there was not a replacement. 

We were back on the road by 12:50 PM and headed home. 

Once home we brought in the groceries and the wine and verified everything and said "This is cool. We will do this again". 

I will say it was a very pleasant experience. We did discover we did not order a few things because when walking down the aisles we were used to having a visual experience to remind us of something we needed. In the case of ordering online you do not have that same visual walk-through experience. Next time we will plan better, but for a first-time trial - this was really great.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Today's Life At a Distance - Both Social and Business

A while back I wrote on "A thought about the current conditions affecting our society." and today I find Google is thinking the same thing. Think with Google (a newsletter you can subscribe to) has an article, "Will social distancing accelerate a trend toward home as headquarters?" within which they bring up some interesting changing statistics. Very good read along the lines of will this pandemic accelerate our changing ways in working and shopping? We have time to think and this read can help one be creative for the future.

If you are in business today you should be interested in these cultural and social changes that are occurring. I know there has always been change, however, over time it has been gradual. Today the times we are going through can, and will, accelerate change. The longer we are working from home the more the use of technology will expand because people will figure out better ways to connect using new tools.

Look at the popularity of the product Zoom. Because of the sudden growth in usage Zoom is accelerating it's security. No one anticipated people putting links on Facebook to have meetings all over the country/world, families and businesses.

Technology of communication has been accepted quickly and has led to the sudden growth everywhere. People (customers, clients, employees, families, and friends) are using Skype for personal calls (do not need a Microsoft account), even Go To Meeting can be used on ALL devices. Not to mention text messaging, email, all leading to mobile phone data usage going out of sight. Issues with apps which can only be available on some, or certain, devices are not ready for main stream. We need tools that can be used on ALL devices. We are all different.

The individual is better connected now than ever before - and so is the office.

From the business perspective there are many things to consider.

  • What if people, who now have to work from home - mandated by this pandemic, figure out they can make it work very well? Where they were hesitant initially they have now grown to like it. They have made it work because they had to, and work it will.
  • What if both small, and big business, discover their reluctance to advance in this direction was a mistake? They now find, with a great number of people working from home, there are advantages. Advantages could be; 
    • reduced overhead of office space - particularly where space is rented
    • there is also a reduction of related expenses like,
      • phone lines, 
      • wireless and internet setups in every office. 
    • IT can still connect to the individuals computer. 
  • We all can meet online reducing travel expenses and it is liked by many.
  • People can work from anywhere, what a concept.
I am sure the list can get longer, I am also sure there should be increases in pay to compensate for use of home space, however, is it possible that maintenance of home systems is now to the provider of the service? 

What else could we benefit from this "Life At a Distance" and "Work At a Distance"?

I am sure there are those that want to get back to the office as soon as possible because it was a refuge, a hide-out, however, that number, overtime, could be a great deal smaller. 

I am also sure that there will be cries of "INSECURE" but we need to make it "SECURE". Don't blame it on others - get your own act in place. 

There are many other considerations, but under the current conditions, everyone is getting an education in Life at a distance, and perhaps, there are more advantages we have not yet discovered.