Tag Archive: Google+


… and no one is there to read his posts, do they make any sound …

… and does anyone give a particle of bovine excrement?

Ten years ago today, Almost DailyBrett was digitally born by means of hundreds of keystrokes on an IBM compatible, WordPress and an Internet connection.

Drum roll: A grand total of seven souls (page views and/or unique visitors) ventured to read your author’s blog in the summer month of economic discontent,  July, 2009. The predictable and rhetorical ‘Why Bother?’ question was not far behind.

Your author’s life was changing. He was guided by the immortal words of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page:

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”  

Was my blog the commencement of my own, “Stairway to Heaven?’

Even though your author’s odometer was already showing mid-life mileage a decade ago, there was still plenty of fuel in the Miata. There was an acute need to move the personal brand to New Frontiers and yes, to decide on a new path and to change the road.

Since that pivotal day 10 years ago — July 21, 2009 — Almost DailyBrett’s 573 posts …

Garnered 520 reader comments …

Generated 162,373 page views …

Enticed 110,421 unique visitors …

Hailed from approximately 170 countries around the world.

It is humbling to contemplate the equivalent of a Michigan “Big House” with each seat occupied, spending some of their precious irretrievable discretionary time reading Almost DailyBrett.

Did some arrogant academic (redundant?) types suggest that Web 2.0 blogging is dead? Yes there are oodles of deceased blogs along the path — they all started with great enthusiasm and better intentions — but thousands of decomposing writers laying by the roadside should not be interpreted as the end of blogging, maybe just the end of the beginning.

Those Troubling Widowers

Looking back on Almost DailyBrett’s nearly 600 posts, there are wide variety of topics and themes, which constitute the Top 10 blogs:

  1. The Trouble With Widowers (This post keeps on giving each day even though it was composed in 2012), 18,990 page views
  2. NASDAQ: WEED (Predicted publicly traded marijuana companies), 14,653
  3. Farewell LSI Logic (What is and what should have never been?), 4,379
  4. The Decision to Pose for Playboy (Bared my opinions), 4,106
  5. Fiduciary Responsibility vs. Corporate Social Responsibility (Not mutually exclusive), 4,023
  6. Magnanimous in Victory, Gracious in Defeat (Easier said than done), 2,423
  7. Smile on the Lips Before a Tear in the Eyes (Joe Biden on horrific family loss), 2,247
  8. One Page Memo: Now More Than Ever (Makes more sense than ever in our digital world), 1,902
  9. Competing Against the Dead (She’s gone, and she is not coming back), 1,628
  10. California’s Rarefied Air Tax (April Fool’s blog; Don’t give Gavin any ideas), 1,050.

Your author would be remiss if he did not point out that his “About” page has drawn 1,071 page views.

Yes, a successful blog can pay dividends in terms of personal branding and the ongoing perception of accomplishment. Writing Almost DailyBrett certainly did not hurt yours truly in securing a tenure-track assistant professorship of public relations at Central Washington University at 59 years young. 

Total Douche-o-Rama

“This person is an idiot … Perfect for Ph.D candidacy.”

“This whole blog is an audition for a commentator position on Fox News.”

“Total Douche-o-Rama.”

These are just some of the nicer comments your author approved for posting on Almost DailyBrett.

After 10 years in the blogging trenches sending out rhetorical salvos and more than a few occasions receiving less-the-pleasant feedback and name calling, here are 10 hard-earned rules for blogging:

  1. No one was put on this planet to read your posts. A blog is the ultimate discretionary read. Someone is spending precious nanoseconds of their finite life to read your blog. Boring and lame does not cut it.
  2. Digital is eternal. The most important public relations is your own personal PR. Never blog when you are upset, sleepy and certainly not when you are intoxicated (Mark Zuckerberg’s character in The Social Network)
  3. Double Check and Double Check Again. The difference between “pubic relations” and “public relations” is one letter. The level of embarrassment is huge. Don’t rely on the Microsoft Spell Check. If the wrong word is spelled correctly, you are still personally wrong
  4. Employ Pull and Push (in that order) to Generate SEO/SEM. Juicy tags and alluring categories are irresistible to the Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing algorithms. Your blog should always be on page one following a Google search. Social media uploads are essential
  5. Write to Your Strength/Experience. Not everyone shares your interests. Some blogs will do better than others. Follow your passion. Accept that some blogs will barely register a blip on the rhetorical Richter Scale
  6. Be Provocative, Not Notorious. The last thing anyone wants or needs is another partisan rant on social media. Almost DailyBrett has a point of view (e.g., Buy Low Sell High),  but refrains from being another screaming talking head
  7. Avoid Overt Partisanship. In our increasingly tribalized society, your blogs are not going to radically shift public opinion.  Offer new ways to approach an issue. Who knows? You may move the dial just a smidge, and in our polarized world that is and of itself … an accomplishment.
  8. Buy Low Sell High. Offer a proven philosophy. Demonstrate through thoughts and example that economic freedom (albeit not perfect) is still the best way to provide for prosperity and in the end, the pursuit of happiness
  9. Have Thick Skin … to a Point. Don’t blog if you can’t take the heat. Inevitably, someone will not be pleased with your prose. Celebrate responses to a point. You do not need to accept slurs, profanities and name calling
  10. “Opinions Are Like Assholes, Everyone Has One.”  There are times when your personal experience (e.g., press secretary), if you are sure you want to share, maybe can help others. If so, a blog author can be closer to an angel as opposed to an ass ….

And as recommended by University of Oregon Journalism Professor Carol Stabile, write 15 minutes every day. Some days will be better than others. Blogging is a gift of the digital age. The ability to project your thoughts to all continents in mere nanoseconds was inconceivable before 1995. There is a great responsibility that comes with blogging, but an incredible opportunity as well.

Almost DailyBrett note: Even though he went to UCLA and received his B.A. in English (and eventually rose above this baby blue malady), the initial inspiration came from my forever friend and colleague Brian Fuller, editor in chief at ARM. The former editor of EE Times recommended blogging in general and WordPress in particular at a time when his advice made the greatest impact. The success of Almost DailyBrett is in part is attributable to Brian. Buy Low Sell High, my eternal friend!

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/the-trouble-with-widowers/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/nasdaq-weed/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/the-decision-to-pose-for-playboy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/magnanimous-in-victory-gracious-in-defeat/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/smile-on-the-lips-before-a-tear-in-the-eyes/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/the-one-page-memo-now-more-than-ever/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/competing-against-the-dead/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/californias-rarefied-air-tax/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianfuller24/

 

 

 

 

“I can understand wanting to have millions of dollars, there’s a certain freedom, meaningful freedom that comes with that. But once you get much beyond that, I have to tell you, it’s the same hamburger.” – Bill Gates speaking to university students

There are 25.7 million Google results of an image of a middle-aged dude standing all alone with his hands in his pockets.

He is patiently waiting in line for his cheeseburger, fries and a coke.

The maroon pullover guy is patronizing the original Dick’s (1954), which unofficially serves as a gateway to the upper class Wallingford neighborhood in Seattle.

Is the pale dude (gasp) … privileged?

What gave him the right to buy a “Deluxe,” fries and a coke in Wallingford?

Did his parents dote on him? Where did he go to school? Where did he go to college?

Did he ever invent anything of value to society? Did ever provide a living to people?

Did he ever give back to make our world a better place?

And if the answers to these questions do not meet communal approval – Privilege? Family? College? Inventions? Philanthropy? – should we as a collective society even the score in the name of social justice?

It may seem silly to some to have this public good discussion, and yet 25.7 million Google results are triggered in 0.28 of one second, when one inquires about the guy in the sweater standing all alone in line at Dick’s.

Our Obsession With Wealth?

How many billionaires — members of the three comma club — would stand-in line all alone for a burger and fries?

And yet there was Microsoft founder Bill Gates, 63, waiting in line at Dick’s on Sunday evening, January 13.

In our always-on digital imaging world, it did not take long for the celebrity dude doing normal things to go viral, generating stories and impressions about Gates and his love of hamburgers.

The latest estimates place his net worth at $96.5 billion. Couldn’t Gates simply buy Dick’s as opposed to standing in line for a burger? Where was his entourage? Couldn’t he feed the homeless with Dick’s burgers?

And how did he make that money? Did he take full advantage of his privilege? Did he inherit the money?

As many Almost DailyBrett readers know, Gates and the recently departed Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1975. Their entrepreneurial spirit and those that followed (i.e., Steve Ballmer and Satya Nadella)  resulted in the ubiquitous Windows operating system, X-Box gaming console, Microsoft Surface PC, Microsoft Cloud and so much more.

Microsoft is one of the three largest competing companies in market capitalization (share price x number of shares) at $814.5 billion, generating $96.5 billion in total revenues and employing 134,944 around the world.

After departing the daily operations of Microsoft, the guy in the maroon sweater with his spouse established The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The charitable organization bearing their names has given a reported $36 billion to date to alleviate third world poverty and suffering. They are without any doubt the most generous philanthropists in America.

And yet …

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” – Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

In her quest to become the 46th President of the United States, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed a 2 percent surcharge on net assets – not annual income – exceeding $50 million, and another 1 percent on billionaires.  Is Warren’s  “wealth tax” really confiscation in disguise?

There are questions about whether a confiscatory surcharge of assets – not an income tax – is permissible under the U.S. Constitution. This legal question is above the pay grade of Almost DailyBrett.

Having said that, your author must ask: Why do so many Washington elites want to punish achievement, service and philanthropy?

Some rationalize this obsession with wealth as a quest to reach some far-reaching social justice nirvana when the solution is the same-old tired remedy: wealth redistribution targeting those who provide great products, create jobs and give back to the less fortunate.

The answer always comes down to new and more burdensome taxes, but in Senator Warren’s case she calls for outright confiscation of assets. One thing is certain is the redistribution does not stop there. There will also be increases in tax rates, most of all the top rate from 39.6 percent, hiking it to 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent or beyond.

Once you have raised taxes and confiscated assets is that the end … or worse … is that just the beginning?

What’s next? Fees on stock and mutual fund transactions? Surcharges on bank accounts? Is the sky the limit?

How about a wealth tax/surcharge on Bill Gates’ hamburger?

https://www.geekwire.com/2019/billions-served-bill-gates-photographed-standing-line-burger-dicks-drive-seattle/

https://www.ddir.com/

https://www.seattlepi.com/seattlenews/article/Billions-served-Bill-Gates-photographed-standing-13539669.php

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/01/24/senator-warrens-plan-tax-ultrawealthy-is-smart-idea-whose-time-has-come/?utm_term=.251e17e49629

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/Investor/earnings/FY-2018-Q4/press-release-webcast

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/three-comma-club/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/taxing-uncle-phil-to-death/

https://www.businessinsider.com/biggest-projects-of-generous-philanthropists-bill-and-melinda-gates-2018-8

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/138248-the-problem-with-socialism-is-that-you-eventually-run-out

 

Five years ago Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPE) was kicked off the Dow Jones Industrial Average, replaced by Visa.

Three years ago, AT&T (a.k.a., The Phone Company) was ingloriously removed from the index of 30 share prices, substituted by Apple.

And just last month, General Electric (NYSE: GE) was unceremoniously ushered off the exchange for Walgreen Boots.

Will Itty Bitty Machines (NYSE: IBM) be the next Dinosaur Tech heading for Dow Jones extinction?

Flintstones vs Jetsons

Under legendary CEO Jack Welch, GE was the most valuable (market capitalization) American company in 2000. The company was one of the founding companies of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896. General Electric was a consistent standard on the exchange since 1907, 111 years.

What have you done for us lately, Fred and Wilma Flintstone? GE was replaced on the Dow Jones two weeks ago by a drug store company? How embarrassing.

Almost DailyBrett earlier wrote about companies that are absolutely rocking (i.e.,  Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Google, Salesforce.com), metaphorically packing stadiums as opposed to those reduced to playing “greatest hits” at county fairs and desert casinos (i.e., Intel, Cisco, Dell).

These latter companies were/are directly tied to the mature PC market and thus became fairly valued with limited prospects for investor growth unless and until they credibly changed their story with compelling new information (e.g., Apple from Amelio to Jobs2 to Cook) & (e.g., Microsoft from Gates to Ballmer to Nadella).

Apple was on the precipice of bankruptcy in 1997; now the company is the world’s most valuable at $912 billion. The Wunder corporation may be first to ever to achieve a $1 trillion market cap (share price x the number of shares).

Microsoft has cleverly reinvented itself as the market leader in the cloud, even though the PC software company was late to the party. Macht nichts. MSFT has a $762 billion market cap.

Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix and Salesforce.com constitute the 21st Century version of the Jetsons.

Conversely, AT&T, GE, Hewlett-Packard and IBM are the Flintstones.

What Are Their Winning Narratives?

Having worked in corporate Silicon Valley public relations for more than a decade, Almost DailyBrett understands the virtue of championing a winning narrative.

What is your company’s raison d’etre?

How does it make the legal tender?

How is the company positioned in the marketplace against ferocious competitors?

What is its competitive advantage?

What is its legacy of results?

What are the prospects for reasonable and achievable expectations for shareholder joy?

For the record, Almost DailyBrett owns shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM).

Both companies have delivered. Both are leaders in their respective fields. Most of all, your author understands their business strategies – lead in consumer innovation and services; provide selected software via the cloud to business customers).

Investing or Gambling?

When you understand how and why a company makes money then markets are investing, not gambling.

What is the winning narrative for GE? The company is restructuring yet again. Give it up J.C. Penney. Forget it, GE.

Tell me more about the business strategy for AT&T. How will it beat Verizon? Your author doesn’t know either.

Your author loves his Lenovo Ideapad. Who commercialized the PC? IBM in 1981. Reagan was president. “Watson,” can you help?

HPites love the 1937 story of HP founders William Hewlett and David Packard and the Palo Alto garage.

If the two gents could see their creation in the post-Carly Fiorina era, they would most likely would be turning over in their respective graves.

When contemplating these four Dinosaur Techs – AT&T, GE, HP, IBM — in a Jurassic Park era, the hardest questions are also the most basic: How do these companies make money? What product defines their respective businesses?

In stunning contrast, Apple is the #1 company in the world, defined by game changing innovation (e.g., iPhone X) and services (e.g., Apple Music).

Amazon is the #1 digital-retailer in the world with 100 million Prime memberships.

Facebook is the world champion social media company with 2.19 billion subscribers.

Google is the #1 search engine and developed the smart phone Android OS.

Netflix is the #1 digital-streaming-video company (at least for now) with 125 million subscribers.

Salesforce.com pioneered SaaS (Software as a Service) and is a leading-business-software-via-the-cloud provider.

Quick: Can you name a signature product/service directly associated with AT&T, GE, HP or IBM?

Being a jack of all trades, master of none leaves investors will absolutely … nothing.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/19/walgreens-replacing-ge-on-the-dow.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/what-happens-when-the-music-stops/

 

 

“We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible.” – Tim Cook, Apple chief executive officer

The largest taxpayer in the world is paying more … $38 billion more … in one lump sum.

Apple is repatriating $200 billion in the world’s largest amount of overseas corporate assets, $252 billion.

The company also announced $350 billion in direct investments in the U.S. economy, not just share buy-backs. Apple will create 20,000 jobs right here in America.

Almost DailyBrett is proud to be an Apple shareholder, for more than the 83 percent in share appreciation since 2015.

Tim Cook and his lieutenants are proving to the world that a great company can be more than the innovator and producer of wonderful products (i.e. iPhone X, iPads, Mac). Apple is more than 123,000 jobs with full benefits and a terrific return for its shareholders

Apple is also redefining the relationship between fiduciary responsibility and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

To a few misguided, well-meaning souls, major corporations are somehow the enemy of the masses. And yet how does one who holds these views explain Apple’s good deeds?

The $38 billion is happening right now. These are additional revenues for the government that would have remained trapped overseas without a reduction in the world’s largest 35 percent corporate rate to 21 percent.

Think of $38 billion in terms of 38 x 1,000 x $1 million. That amount can start to make a quite a dent in fixing our highways, airports, bridges and other major infrastructure needs.

FILE PHOTO: The Apple Campus 2 is seen under construction in Cupertino, California in this aerial photo taken January 13, 2017. REUTERS/Noah Berger/File Photo

So much for those who say that tax reform is not a dynamic scoring stimulus.

These are the same folks who conveniently forgot the nation’s largest peacetime expansion occurred during the Reagan Presidency years in which 19 million jobs were created.

Yes, there will be a $1.75 billion-over-20 years impact to the federal treasury using static scoring.

But how much additional economic stimulus will come from putting more revenues back into the economy and lifting time-consuming, expensive regulations? This is the serendipity of dynamic scoring.

Now that Apple has announced the one-time payment of record taxes, a flood of domestic investment and five-figure increases in hiring, will Microsoft, Cisco, Google and Oracle do the same?

According to Standard & Poors, Microsoft has $132.1 billion in overseas holdings; Cisco, $69.1 billion, Google, $60.5 billion and Oracle, $58.5 billion.

Messrs Satya Nadella (MSFT), Chuck Robbins (CSCO), Larry Page (GOOG) and Mark Hurd (ORCL), it is time for each of your companies to follow Tim Cook’s lead and to give back to America.

Great Time To Be A College Graduate

As a tenure-track assistant professor of public relations, integrated marketing communications, corporate communications and investor relations, the author of Almost DailyBrett could not be more excited for my graduating students.

Please do not dismiss my excitement as Greenspanesque “Irrational Exuberance.” There is little doubt that our 26,000-point Dow is in need of a healthy correction, maybe 10 percent or more.

Nonetheless, when was the last time that our GDP (gross domestic product) was growing at a 3 percent annualized rate?

Our unemployment rate stands at 4.1 percent, very close to full employment.

Wages and salaries are rising, reflecting a labor shortage for skilled employees.

Our inflation rate (e.g., Consumer Price Index) was 2.1 percent in December.

The Federal Reserve’s Fed Funds rate is 1.25 percent.

Hmm … bull market, expanding global economy, low unemployment, labor shortage, low inflation, miniscule interest rates … sounds like a Goldilocks Economy. What’s not to like?

To top it off, we now have tax reform and regulatory relief.

Certainly, all of these factors will not last forever. They can’t and they won’t.

Having said all of the above, this is a great time to start or revive a career. Your author could not be more stoked for his students.

And he has more than once cautioned his students against taking the first offer. Don’t be arrogant. At the same time, don’t be afraid to be confident and maybe a tad bold.

Tim Cook and Apple have the wind in their sails. And to prove it, they are paying record taxes, investing in America and hiring Americans.

We have at least 200 billion repatriated reasons to rejoice.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-to-pay-38-billion-in-repatriation-tax-plans-new-u-s-campus-1516215419

 

 

 

“I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It’s important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter.” Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer in her July 25 employee letter announcing Verizon’s $4.8 billion cash acquisition of Yahoo!

What next chapter?mayerbook

Want to take an Internet pioneer, first-mover $125 billion company and transform it into an also-ran, acquisition target for four pennies on the dollar?

And to top it off, reward Yahoo! chief executive officer Marissa Mayer with more than $50 million in severance pay?

Wonder why so many are so upset with Wall Street?

What is it with high-accolade, lofty-expectations, lavaliere-strutting narcissistic chief executives, who are ostensibly hired to reverse the fortunes of struggling companies?

Much later, we all discover their real personal agenda was to simply put the corporation on the auction block, and to get paid handsomely for the privilege.

Where can I sign up for this lucrative gig?

The author of Almost DailyBrett will gladly say all the right things for a few years, bloviate at a few “developer” conferences, CES, SXSW and TED Talks and then when no one is looking, sell the company to the highest of low bidders and get rewarded for creating … nothing, absolutely nothing.

Hold That Horizontal Pose!

Alas, one thing your author will never be asked to do is pose for Vogue. Sorry, I don’t own a Michael Kors dress … and never will.mayer

Almost DailyBrett three years ago questioned why relatively new Yahoo! CEO Mayer would accept Vogue’s invitation for a horizontal spread in a fashion magazine? Was she trying to impress buy-side and sell-side institutional investors?

Women have long and justifiably complained about being objectified. What was telegenic Mayer doing with her Vogue reclining pose?

What did her PR team think about her proving once again that sex sells? Did her photo draw even more eyeballs to rival Google’s market-leading search engine?

Before you start thinking that Almost DailyBrett is solely focusing on the lucrative PR disaster record of one Marissa Mayer, please consider that many are still smarting over how Abhi Talwalkar drove LSI Logic into the ditch and received at least a $5.74 million severance payment for burying the company.abhi1

Your author served as the director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic. Even though I left after 10 years to join Edelman Public Relations in December 2005, one could already see what Abhi had in mind … shed as many assets as quickly as possible to make the company more attractive to buyers.

As Almost DailyBrett previously reported, LSI Logic was the innovator of the application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) specialty semiconductor market for nearly 25 years under the leadership of founder Wilfred J. Corrigan.

It took Abhi less than nine years to end its existence, eventually accepting Avago Technologies (H-P’s former semiconductor business) for $6.6 billion offer in late 2013. LSI Logic is no more, but Abhi’s contract provided for the following:

  1. In the case of our Chief Executive Officer, a lump sum payment equal to 2.75 times his or her base salary and average bonus received over the preceding three years. In the case of a participant other than our Chief Executive Officer, a lump sum payment equal to two times the individual’s base salary and average bonus received over the preceding three years. 2. Full acceleration of all unvested equity awards. 3. Reimbursement of COBRA premiums for health insurance for 18 months. 4. In the event that a participant’s “parachute payments” are subject to the excise tax imposed by Section 4999 of the Internal Revenue Code, then LSI will make a supplemental payment to the participant in an amount that equals the excise tax on the parachute payments, plus any additional excise tax and federal, state and local and employment income taxes, on the supplemental payment. However, the total supplemental payment shall not exceed the sum of the participant’s (i) base salary immediately prior to the change in control, and (ii) target bonus for the year in which the change in control occurs.

Glad to see the “supplemental payment” would not exceed Abhi’s $2.09 million annual salary. Enough is enough … Right?

It’s even better that Vogue didn’t ask Abhi to pose horizontally in a Michael Kors dress.

His severance was obscene enough.

http://fortune.com/2016/04/19/verizon-yahoo/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2016/07/25/yahoo-sells-to-verizon-for-5-billion-marissa-mayer/#7b9c799b71b4

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2016/07/25/here-is-marissa-mayers-final-letter-to-yahoo-employees/#54a12ae875ba

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/mayer-vogue-nasdaq-yhoo/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/avago-to-buy-lsi-for-6-6-billion/?_r=0

 

 

There was a decade when giants walked.

These were days when governments and societies for the most part worked. These were days when a wall came down, and the guns went silent. These were the days when 19 million jobs were created, the greatest peacetime employment expansion in American history. These were days when just plain living was a “good thing” as Martha would say.G7worldleaders

Almost DailyBrett will never be accused of being warm and fuzzy, romantic or even nostalgic. There is no desire to turn back the clock, but there is an almost daily longing to go Back to the Future (1985 film) and see what we can learn from the 1980s.

The 1980s began with 52 Americans being held hostage in Iran and ended with the Berlin Wall coming down and the successful culmination of the Cold War.

Some closer to home even dared to utter that it was “Morning in America.” Can you imagine saying that today?

There is no such thing as a perfect society and there never will be, but the 1980s gave us a peek into what we can do, if we can compromise, respect other opinions and work together.

“Bygone Bipartisanship”

“Why won’t our leaders work to accommodate each other, employing civility as they cooperate to accomplish goals in the country’s best interests? What in our national character, in the ways we choose to deal with one another and respect different viewpoints, has changed so much since the days of Reagan and O’Neill? How can we win back the faith that our republic is working?” – Chris Matthews, staffer to former House Speaker Tip O’Neill.reagantip

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews wrote his 2013 best seller, “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked” about the relationship between a Republican president and a Democratic speaker of the house that were mirror philosophical opposites of each other, but managed to work together to improve America.

Even with Paul Ryan coming aboard as Speaker of the House are we in any way more confident that Congress and the incumbent president can put together enough votes and good will to do anything other than raising the debt limit to $20 trillion?

Going back to the future, to the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was president, Margaret Thatcher was prime minster, Mikhail Gorbachev was general secretary and Helmut Kohl was Kanzler. Would we trade Barack Obama, David Cameron, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel for their aforementioned predecessors?

Wouldn’t we certainly like to see bare-chested Putin ride his horse into the sunset?

Reading Kohl’s Vom Mauerfall zur Weiderveinigung: Meine Erinnergungen, one is floored by how Kohl drew an inside straight with Gorbachev barely 50 years after Barbarossa commenced and the Panzers roared into Russia.

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA. USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and his spouse Raisa and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, right, have a walk prior to their talks at the resort settlement of Arkhyz on July 16,1990. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Yuri Lizunov and Konstantin Tarusov) Êàðà÷àåâî-×åðêåññêàÿ àâòîíîìíàÿ îáëàñòü. 16 èþëÿ 1990 ãîäà â êóðîðòíîì ïîñåëêå Àðõûç ïðîøëè ïåðåãîâîðû ïðåçèäåíòà ÑÑÑÐ Ìèõàèëà Ñåðãååâè÷à Ãîðáà÷åâà ñ ôåäåðàëüíûì êàíöëåðîì ÔÐà Ãåëüìóòîì Êîëåì. Íà ñíèìêå: Ìèõàèë Ãîðáà÷åâ ñ æåíîé Ðàèñîé Ìàêñèìîâíîé è Ãåëüìóò Êîëü (ñïðàâà) âî âðåìÿ ïðîãóëêè ïåðåä íà÷àëîì ïåðåãîâîðîâ. Ôîòî Þðèÿ Ëèçóíîâà è Êîíñòàíòèíà Òàðóñîâà /Ôîòîõðîíèêà ÒÀÑÑ/.

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA. USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and his spouse Raisa and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, right, have a walk prior to their talks at the resort settlement of Arkhyz on July 16,1990. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Yuri Lizunov and Konstantin Tarusov)

All Kohl wanted to do was reunify Germany, expel Soviet troops from former East Germany, enroll a united Germany in the NATO alliance, integrate Germany into the European Union and maintain a defense force of 370,000. Surprisingly, Gorbachev said “da” as Germany promised to monetarily assist with Russia’s perestroika or restructuring program.

One of the key ingredients for Kohl to secure what he wanted for Germany and his place in history was being able to provide Gorbachev with talking points he could use back home in the Rodina. Imagine putting yourself into the other leader’s shoes and helping her or him make the politically tough, but correct choice? Alas, Gorbachev paid the ultimate political price for his courage.

Can anyone conceivably imagine Putin signing off on any of the above or compromising on anything? Heck, Putin and Merkel won’t even speak the same language to each other when they meet. Courage seems to be in short supply these days (not suggesting that Merkel is a shrinking violet).

Looking back at the 1980s, Americans were notorious ticket splitters and reflecting the national mood, more times than naught they gladly re-elected incumbents. Almost DailyBrett can’t forget how Republican Governor George Deukmejian was re-elected with the greatest landslide in blue California’s history with a 61-37 percent margin in 1986, and Democratic Senator Alan Cranston won re-election by a 49-47 percent count on the very same day.

21st Century Filter Bubbles

Contrast the mood in the country and political climate in the mid-1980s with the widespread vitriol, anxiety and angst that is prevalent at this mid-point of the second decade of the 21st Century.

Many have asked the question, what happened (e.g., Chris Matthews)? The more important question is to ask: What can we collectively do to bring back the optimism and achievements of the 1980s?

Are we turning back the clock as the pessimistic pundits would say or are we applying the digital wizardry of the 21st Century to recapture the optimism and best hopes of a not-too-distant time?DSC01433

As PR practitioners, reputation managers, students of global society do we dare appreciate the other team’s point of view? Can political animals read both Karl Rove’s Courage and Consequence and David Axelrod’s Believer and learn something from the two architects of the last four winning presidential campaigns?

Or do we selectively search on Google, Yahoo and Bing for news and information that serves to corroborate our own personal confirmation bias? Some even revert to their crayons, coloring books and play dough when some foreign thought is threatening the filter bubble? Vaccines are really bad; it says so right here on Wikipedia.

Even though the 1980s were not perfect, we know they were a better time, a much better time. Sometimes the best strategy is to take one step back before going two steps forward. Sounds like a tactical retreat, a period of reflection and then moving forward with great vigor to New Frontiers. A little compromise may be in order as well.

Do we have the makings of a 1980s plan?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_to_the_Future

http://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/12/news/transcript-of-reagan-s-farewell-address-to-american-people.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/books/review/tip-and-the-gipper-by-chris-matthews.html?_r=0

http://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/alt-kanzler-auf-der-frankfurter-buchmesse-kohl-praesentiert-sein-neues-altes-buch-vom-mauerfall-zur-wiedervereinigung/10812422.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_election_in_California,_1986

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/the-latest-ism/

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A million dollars isn’t cool. Do you know what is cool? A billion dollars,” – Justin Timberlake playing the role of Napster founder Sean Parker in The Social Networkseanparker

There are problems in America, and much of those aren’t about the sharing economy. Income inequality is rising, and the middle class isn’t better off than they were a decade ago. We don’t need government investment, and we can provide a solution.” – Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder to USA Today

We all have a choice: We can either hate or we can celebrate.

We can resist change and inevitably fail or we can embrace the future.

There are very few that make it to the vaunted three comma club, those with 10 or even 11 figures as their cumulative assets. Nobody has made it to the 12-figure mark … yet.

There are oodles of millionaires, but reaching the billionaire or the three comma club as Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker ($2.6 billion) offered to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg ($33.4 billion) is quite a different story.

Some may try to dismiss the select membership of the three-comma club, contending the majority of the wealth was inherited and thus represents just another indicator of income inequality. This contention for the most part is not correct.

For the vast majority of billionaires, as opposed to mere millionaires or multi-millionaires, the difference lies with what Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen proclaims as “disruptive technologies.”

Under Christensen’s theory, existing corporations usually have the edge when it comes to sustaining innovations (e.g., one generation to the next generation; one model to the next model). When it comes to “disrupting innovation,” the advantage lies in the hands of new entrants/first movers into the marketplace. That is where we typically find new members of the three comma club.

Taking a gander at the Forbes annual list of billionaires, one finds Bill Gates in first place at $79.2 billion. Were Bill Gates and Paul Allen ($17.5 billion) game changers? The question almost seems silly. Microsoft became THE software side to the PC equation with its novel Windows operating system and its Word-PowerPoint-Excel business suite. Intel (e.g., Gordon Moore, $6.9 billion) provided the other half of the Wintel monopoly with its Pentium processors.windows10

Joining the celebrated three comma club is an incredibly difficult proposition. For the most part, it means the new member came up with a novel idea that changed not only the rules of the game, but society itself.

Jeff Bezos at $34.8 billion was the driver behind first-mover, digital-retailer Amazon, which transformed the way the world shopped with its long-tail strategy (e.g., 99 percent of all of Amazon’s inventory is sold at least once a year to at least one grateful consumer). Jack Ma of China’s Alibaba ($22.7 billion) is attempting to do the same as 400 million of the Middle Kingdoms’ population moves up into the middle class.

Mark Zuckerberg ($33.4 billion), the subject of the aforementioned The Social Network, invented Facebook in his Harvard Kirkland H-33 dorm room just 11 years/1.4 billion subscribers ago. Facebook has changed how we instantaneously transmit to friends and family the exciting (or not so exciting) developments in our daily lives.

Google co-founders and former Stanford students Larry Page ($29.7 billion) and Sergey Brin ($29.2 billion) pioneered the world’s dominant search engine, another first-mover victory, as well as the Android operating system for mobile devices.google1

Elon Musk (a mere $12 billion) is attempting to make climate change neutral electric cars a reality for the middle class with his publicly traded Tesla. And if that was not enough, his privately held SpaceX is delivering payloads into orbit for NASA.

Disruptive Technologies

“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy

It’s not the progress I mind, it’s the change I don’t like,” – Mark Twain

Are there those out of sheer jealously, who don’t like reading or hearing about billionaires? Yes indeed. Do some people rationalize these monetary gains as being ill-acquired? Yes again. And then there is the disruptive part of the equation.uber

There are those with mobile devices with time on their hands and cars that can be put to work. Hello Uber and its $50 billion in market valuation. And who is negatively impacted? The cab industry and their drivers, who would be well advised to be fairer and nicer to their riders.

And there are those with mobile devices with houses and rooms to rent, reaching out to those around the world, who just want to couch-surf. Hello Airbnb and its $25 billion in market valuation. And who is negatively impacted? The hotel and motel industry, which soon will be facing downward pressure on its pricing model as a result of expanding supply.Airbnb

For Uber, Airbnb and other privately held “unicorns” (i.e., Snapchat, Pinterest, Dropbox), they are forcing change onto those who do not want to change. The forces of inertia have powerful allies (e.g., New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman). These change agents need effective public relations, marketing and branding to help the on-demand economy to succeed and for society to advance.

Let the storming of the barricades continue.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/08/19/airbnb-ceo-brian-chesky-change-agents-company-targets-new-growth-opportunities/31888851/

http://fortune.com/brian-chesky-airbnb/

http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/3/#version:static

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/attacking-uber/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/war-on-wall-street/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Parker

http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/in-search-of-another-suite-h33-kirkland-house/

 

 

 

 

“To be blessed to have all of this stuff around us, we want to give back. We want to give back to Phil Knight, to give back to Nike, give back to all the donors that donated to the school, and changed Oregon.” – Oregon defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

It’s been success, and really, Nike. Let’s face it. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.” – Craig Pintens, University of Oregon senior associate athletic director for marketing and public relations

Does that mean that Oregon would be somewhere else? Corvallis? Pullman?

Are Oregon returning seniors giving back in order of importance: Uncle Phil, Nike and oh yes … the donors too?

Is the Oregon Athletic Department once again confusing the “O” for the “Swoosh”?Oregon1

“University of Nike”

“We are the University of Nike. We embrace it. We tell that to our recruits,” – Jeff Hawkins, University of Nike senior associate athletic director of Football Administration and Operations.

Nike-Logo

Bad habits die hard at the University of Oregon Athletic Department.

A little over a year ago, Almost DailyBrett reported about how Jeff Hawkins made the “University of Nike” pronouncement to the New York Times.

Fast forward to today and Ifo and Pintens sang a similar song to Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times.

Yes, Uncle Phil has been incredibly generous to the tune of more than $300 million and counting to the Oregon Athletic Department (e.g., impregnable Brazilian ipi wood in the 25,000-square foot weight room) and academics (e.g., Law School and Library).

The university is extremely fortunate that its most distinguished alum founded and ran Nike. He is now worth billions, and is bestowing a portion of his wealth to his alma mater. That’s great.

What is a matter of public relations concern is the intentional practice of making the Nike and Oregon brands synonymous.

Quick: Name another major university that is the brand equivalent of a Fortune 500 publicly traded company? The closest that Almost DailyBrett can even ponder is Oklahoma State and T. Boone Pickens, but of course, the former Wall Street raider is not a corporate brand.

Overcoming Geography

Even though the campus is tucked away in America’s sparsely populated cul-de-sac, these are heady days for the University of Oregon. The Ducks are No. 2 in the AP poll of football writers after dashing the notion that Oregon is “soft” with a second-half smack down of Rose Bowl champion, Michigan State. The final was Oregon 46; Michigan State 27, and in the end, it really wasn’t that close.

There is a swagger that has been building in Eugene during the last decade-plus: High tempo spread offense, cool Nike uniforms every week. Ferrari leather, Brazilian wood, and high-tech gizmos at the $68 million (it’s more than that) 145,000 square-foot Hatfield-Dowlin football complex adjacent to the friendly confines of Autzen Stadium. There are also the 10 straight over Washington with number 11 slated for October 18. Yep, it’s cool to be a Duck fan.

There is zero doubt that Nike played a significant role in the program’s success, but the story does not start or end there. The Ducks made it to the Rose Bowl in 1994 with no swooshes on their traditional uniforms and mediocre facilities. They did it with great coaching, skillful recruiting and a confident team that caught fire down the stretch. “Kenny Wheaton is going to score. Kenny Wheaton is going to score.”

wheaton2

Proclaiming the equivalency of Nike and Oregon sends the unfortunate and inaccurate signal that Oregon would be Oregon State or worse, Washington State, without Uncle Phil’s largesse.

The more important issue is the resulting confusion when it comes to multiple brands.

USC wears Nike jerseys, but no one mistakes the cardinal and gold, the Trojan head, the Song Girls, and Traveler the Horse with the “swoosh.”

Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to Stanford, but there is no PR effort on the Farm to tie Stanford to Google. Stanford will never be confused as a search engine with an Android operating system.

Reser Foods sponsors Oregon State’s football stadium, but no one is attempting to equate Benny Rodent with bratwurst … even though the idea has some appeal.

Think of it this way. Starbucks is Starbucks. Apple is Apple. Amazon is Amazon. Southwest is Southwest. So why does Oregon have to be Nike?

Are the brand management rocket scientists at the Athletic Department trying to be both the “O” and the “Swoosh” at the same time? And if so, what is the unifying message? Just Do It!? Or Go Ducks?

Here are even more germane questions: What does the latest in a line of interim presidents at the University of Oregon think about dueling brands on the same campus? Do they even recognize that they have a problem on their hands?

Or is it simply, the team is winning, so who cares if there is a little brand confusion?

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-oregon-football-20140826-column.html#page=1

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/university-of-nike/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqlcRAZfRHc

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._Boone_Pickens

 

 

 

 

“We don’t have a strategy yet.” – President Barack Obama asked about a potential U.S. response to the radical ISIS of Iraq and Syria

“We are THE low-fare airline.” — Herb Kelleher, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Southwest Airlines

kelleher

We hear the word all the time.

It is as ubiquitous as “sustainable,” “solutions” and “selfies.”

Here comes another common S-word: “strategy.”

What is this creature?

According to the Business Dictionary, strategy is “1.) A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem or …

2.) The art and science of planning and marshaling resources for their most efficient and effective use. The term is derived from the Greek word strategia for generalship or leading an army.”

As the creator of an upper-division university course, Strategic Business/Financial Communications (my M.A. project), sometimes one can still ask if you appreciate the meaning of the word, strategy. We use it all the time, but do we really appreciate its context?

Does Management Know What It Is Doing?

Rank-and-file workers around the world spend portions of their days chatting around the proverbial cooler or more likely firing text messages or emails across cyberspace asking each other whether the boss or bosses really know what she/he/they know what they are doing?

watercooler

The real question is: Do we have a strategy? And if so, what is our strategy?

Think of the interrogative this way: Any organization has only so much money, so much time, so much manpower/womanpower and so much talent and knowhow. These resources are finite. How will they be most effectively utilized?

The decision is just as much what an organization is going to do with its resources, as it is what it will not do with its limited attributes.

“We’re not serving any damn chicken salad”

The New York Times bestseller Made to Stick, co-authored by Chip and Dan Heath, recounts the story of Tracy, the marketing whiz at Southwest Airlines, suggesting to CEO Herb Kelleher that chicken Caesar salad would be popular with the airline’s customers. The idea went absolutely nowhere because it did not coincide with Southwest’s THE low-fare airline strategy.

madetostick

“Core messages help people avoid bad choices by reminding them what is important,” Chip and Dan Heath wrote in Made to Stick. “In Herb Kelleher’s parable, for instance, someone had to choose between chicken salad and no chicken salad – and the message ‘THE low-fare airline’ led her to abandon the chicken salad.”

Think of what Southwest (NYSE: LUV) does:

The airline offers soft drinks, pretzels and peanuts (and adult beverages paid by credit cards).

Southwest flies point-to-point primarily in the continental U.S., eschewing the annoying jammed “spoke” airports (e.g., Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta) that plague the legacy carriers and their passengers. Southwest only flies Boeing 737-400s.

There are no assigned seats, festival seating for all.

And the flight attendants seem to be having a great time, and really want the passengers to “enjoy” rather than endure their flight.

What does Southwest NOT do:

There is no crummy airline food to purchase.

There are no spoke systems.

Southwest does not purchase multiple models of aircraft from both Boeing and Airbus. There is one model of aircraft to service.

There are no assigned seats, but a devilishly effective way of boarding it’s A,B and C boarding groups. Southwest makes money when its planes are in the air, not on the ground. The strategy is to get satisfied passengers off the plane, quickly loading another happy group of patrons and sending the plane back into the air heading off to the next destination.

As a public relations, marketing, advertising professional, you want to work for an organization that knows what it wants to be when it grows up. When dealing with external (e.g., conventional and social media, industry and financial analysts, governmental regulators, investors, partners, suppliers, distributors general public) and internal stakeholders (e.g., all-important employees), you want to be sure of your “story.”

If your organization knows what it wants to do, and what it does not want to do (and has the discipline to stay within the confines of its resources), your job is just that much easier.

FedEx will get your package to its intended destination positively, absolutely overnight.

Tesla pours millions into R&D and cap-ex for ion batteries for electric cars at acceptable price points with sufficient range.

Salesforce.com is a pioneer in SaaS or software as a service, allowing customers to pick-and-choose, and then plug-and-play business software from the cloud.

Google is the number search engine in the world, and makes the Android operating system for mobile devices.

Amazon is the number one digital retailer on the planet, and makes the Kindle reader.

The examples are too numerous to count, but these are companies know how to answer the question: “How do you make money?” The answer is a clear strategy.

The vast majority of investors will weigh buying shares in these companies because they know these companies raison d’etre. There is no FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) when it comes to Southwest, FedEx, Tesla, Salesforce, Google, Amazon and many others.

obamastrategy

Alas, a few folks in Washington D.C. are not the only ones without a strategy… yet. And every organization without a strategy – what to do and not what to do — has a big league public relations/branding/marketing dilemma.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/08/28/obama-on-increased-action-against-islamic-state-we-dont-have-a-strategy-yet/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herb_Kelleher

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/strategy.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Made_to_Stick

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/how-does-a-company-make-money-2/

 

 

 

 

It would be hard to make this up.

Our Club Universe American tour guide to the “Evil Empire” in 1981 was named … Joseph McCarthy.

Over a round of adult beverages in the “office” (e.g., hotel bar), he assigned an unofficial tag line for the state-run Aeroflot, essentially public transportation in the sky: “The Longer the Flight, The Longer the Delay.”

If your flight was about two hours from Moscow to then-Leningrad; now-St. Petersburg, the delay was about two hours. If you were flying eight hours from Moscow to Novosibirsk…Lenin help you.

aeroflot

The in-flight cuisine was Tatiana delivering plastic cups of mineral water. That’s all, folks.

With Aeroflot at the time, you knew what to expect. Yes, there was a consistency of product.

You were back in the USSR; You don’t know how lucky you are boy…

The Soviet Union has now gone into the history books, even though Russia with all of its backwardness and sadness (even with the temporary joy of the Sochi Olympics), still exists.

What also exists are customer expectations and consistency of product. And in most cases that is a “Good Thing” as Martha would say.

Take Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) for example.  The line sometimes goes back to the door. The prices are high. Knowing the author of Almost DailyBrett and $3.70 will result in a Grande mocha with no whip. And yet so many will shell out for their daily fix. The Grande mocha tastes the same in Dublin, Ireland as it does in Ellensburg, Washington.

Some may scoff at McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD), but the company has nailed fast food. You know what you are getting and there is a consistency of product. Yes, a Big Mac tastes the same in Tokyo as it does in Brussels as it does in Hood River, Oregon.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has essentially pioneered digital retailing. The company even acquired online shoe store, Zappos, which built its reputation on under-promising and over-delivering (shoes arrive before their promised delivery date), literally providing customers with the consummate “wow” experience.

Amazon fulfillment center

Digital search-engine leader Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has become a verb, an ultimate sign of success as in “Google this; Google that.”

For flyers of Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), you know what you are getting and not getting. Plan on joking flight attendants, Boeing 737-700s that are habitually on time, peanuts and/or pretzels and a soft drink. Don’t plan on assigned seats or in-flight cuisine. There is a consistency of product, and that speaks to the company’s brand as the nation’s leading low-cost carrier. Reportedly based on percentages of applicants vs. acceptances, the percentages are more in favor of being admitted to Harvard than landing a job at Southwest.

The point is these firms have learned the lessons from failing companies (or companies that should be put out of their misery), including J.C. Penney, Braniff, and Circuit City.

What is the usual customer expectation driving into the parking lot of any state’s Department of Motor Vehicles? There are three absolutes in life: Death, Taxes and DMV.

As you emerge from the car, you can sense your pulse quickening and your blood-pressure rising. Your dog-eared copy of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace is ready at your side. Will Napoleon’s Grand Armee drive to Moscow and beat a snowy retreat to France before your number is called at DMV?

dmv

Everyone, staring at the linoleum floors, sitting in the plastic chairs, and waiting for the cheerless bureaucrats, has the same pained look on their collective faces. Are your papers in Ordnung? If your papers are nicht in Ordnung, you will be sentenced to the gulag…another trip to DMV.

Yes, your expectations are being fulfilled, and (alas) there is a consistency of product.

Even though DMV operates in a monopoly position, similar to nationalized industries in the former Soviet Union, would anyone in their right mind invest in this stock: (NYSE: DMV)?

Keep in mind, DMV does not have a corner on the market when it comes to a desultory customer service experience. There is always (drum roll), the United States Postal Service.

How about staking a portion of your life’s savings in (NASDAQ: USPS)?

The USPS reached an all-time peak of volume served in 2006. It has been all downhill ever since. In 2013, the USPS lost $5 billion on top-line revenue of $66 billion. Not only is the USPS underperforming vis-and-vis its private sector competition, Fed-Ex and UPS, but the digital writing is on the wall as the Internet is providing even more reasons (e.g., online bill paying) to avoid costly snail-mail.

postoffice

This reality is evidenced in those selected to provide “customer service” at USPS stores (e.g., post offices). If there is the potential of staffing four registers, the USPS will offer two joyless staffers even though the customer line is stretching out the door.

Yes, there are customers standing in long lines at many Starbucks, but they have a happy ending in the offing in the form of a latte, cappuccino or mocha. At the USPS, joy comes with reaching the front of the line, shipping your package, buying snail-mail stamps and then mercifully…leaving.

To many, the word “corporate” has become a dirty word. And you can see the roots of the negativity, multi-million executive “golden” parachutes, Bernie Madoff Ponzi schemes, Walmarts driving smaller competitors out of business etc. etc. etc.

Having acknowledged the obvious, there is a flip side to the word, “corporate.” The other side of the story revolves around great products, literally millions of jobs, and bursts of innovation. Do we think of Starbucks or the DMV (or even Amtrak) when it comes to a superb product and a super customer experience? When it comes to innovation, would we bet our future on Amazon’s ability to move products or the USPS?

Many are wary of the prospect of DMV-style “service” when it comes to services provided by government, whether it be auto registration, mail delivery or maybe even health care.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeroflot

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Postal_Service

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zappos

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Madoff

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_and_Peace

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