Tag Archive: Nordstrom


“Inspired by (Thomas) Jefferson, Americans expect higher education to boost the chances of disadvantaged people, but it seems to be failing in that task – and in some of the other jobs its customers want it to do.” – The Economist, Excellence v Equitythomasjefferson

“Higher education has two sets of customers: students and the government. Students want all sorts of things from it – to make friends, sharpen their minds and get away from home. But most of all they want it to improve their economic prospects – The Economist, Excellence v Equity

There goes that word again, “Customers.”

Does that mean that colleges and universities provide a vital service, and students and their families pay dearly (e.g., $1.2 trillion in cumulative student loan debt) for that end-product?

Wait a minute. Does that mean … (gasp) that students are our customers?

Let’s take that question a step further: Does the old adage the “customer” is always right apply on campus as well?

Gee, you could have fooled me … easily.

Lost count how many times being asked, if I work out at the college recreation center with … actual students (our customers)? The answer is … “yes.” Never really gave it a thought before, or pondered if this activity was even worthy of a question.

Some in the hallowed halls of academia may not want to hear this, but colleges and universities are in effect businesses providing services and deliverables to … customers, and that includes undergraduates.

Take Nordstrom as an example. The high-end department store chain is known for legendary customer service. The corporation employs skilled retail service professionals in suits, who are working the shoe department, and dressed to the nines saleswomen, who are serving customers at the cosmetics counter. Nordstrom includes spas and nice restaurants to make their lucrative customers feel as comfortable as possible.

A shopper looks over a shoe display as others walk past in the women's shoe department of the downtown Seattle Nordstrom store, Wednesday, May 17, 2006. Nordstrom Inc. releases first-quarter earnings. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

A shopper looks over a shoe display as others walk past in the women’s shoe department of the downtown Seattle Nordstrom store, Wednesday, May 17, 2006. Nordstrom Inc. releases first-quarter earnings. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Need to return a purchase? Absolutely no problem whatsoever.

In direct contrast to Nordstrom, the best-and-the brightest are NOT on the front lines teaching undergraduates.

And who is teaching the vast majority of undergraduates? Tenured professors?

Are you serious?

The answer more times than not is “non-tenure track” instructors for low pay on short contracts.

What this means is that students through loans and/or families digging ever deeper into their wallets are paying top dollar for their children to be taught mostly by the “jayvee team.”

Before you write a snarky response, please understand that the author of Almost DailyBrett served as a lowly paid, on-contract graduate teaching fellow or non-tenured instructor for almost three years. As such, your author knows first-hand that these instructors are doing their level best to carry the load.

God bless each and every one of them.

Forschung Über Alles?

“The call for effectiveness in the use of resources will be perceived by many inside the university world as the best current definition of evil.” – Former President of the University of California Clark Kerr

(Universities) “have the characteristics of a workers co-op. They expand slowly, they are not especially focused on those they serve, and they run for the comfort of the faculty.” – Former Harvard President Larry SummersSummers

And who do universities serve, Mr. Summers?

The answer points to those who require research (die Forschung) and education (die Bildung) in that order. As the stately The Economist declared point-blank: “Universities are paid on the basis of research (excellence), not educational, output (equity).”

Last year, 19-of-the-top 20 global entities that produced the most cited research papers came from American universities. As a world we are better for this as a large percentage of the breakthroughs in software and hardware technology, medical science, biotechnology, business systems and digital native communications come from ideas explored and nurtured on college and university campuses.

The Economist reported that since tenured faculty are promoted and paid on the basis on their research, there is pressure for them to curtail, if not give up teaching. And that leaves teaching to the jayvee team.teachingassistant

Yes, it is true that a college undergraduate degree produces on the average a 15 percent rate of return. Those with B.A. degrees earn on average, $68,000 per year; those with A.A. degrees, $48,000 per anum; and high school degrees, $38,000. These monetary gulfs are magnified when multiplied by 40-year careers and the fact that college graduates have discretionary income to invest in bullish markets.

The rate of return is there, but are undergraduates — our customers — receiving the best education possible for them to prosper in a professional environment and effectively compete, if more often than not, they are being taught by contract instructors and teaching assistants?

Is this right?

Is this the best way to run a business?

Is this the best way to serve your customers?

Nordstrom would probably emphatically disagree with this approach. Almost DailyBrett wonders out loud whether the educational establishment is content with the status quo. By all indications there is no inclination to rock the proverbial boat, even on behalf of customers, the majority of whom happen to be undergraduates.

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21646985-american-model-higher-education-spreading-it-good-producing-excellence

http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/03/10/the-average-student-debt-load-in-d-c-is-a-whopping-40885/

http://larrysummers.com/press-contacts/biography/

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

 

 

“I think we have a fun deficit in America.” – Former Secretary of State Hillary Clintonhillarynosmile

Can you imagine a fun evening downing a few PBRs with Hillary?

You’re right: Drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) is akin to making love in a canoe, so scratch that idea.

Back to the point: Would you look forward to hoisting a few tall ones, even microbrews, with Hillary?

What are your alternatives? Trip to the dentist’s office? Afternoon at DMV?

Or how about joining outgoing Senate leader Harry Reid for a few Nevada microbrews (is “Nevada” and “microbrews” an oxymoron?) And why is Harry always POed?reid

Do these people ever smile? Seriously, do they ever break out a grin?

Is this a problem? Check out the latest SNL skit with Kate McKinnon playing Hillary for your first clue. A lot of truth is often spoken in jest.

Will Hillary be hiring “smile” coaches?

According to the mantra of Nordstrom and McDonald’s and possibly others in the customer relations business: “Hire the smile.”

No one really wants to be around “Negative Nancy,” “Gloomy Gus” or Harry Reid for that matter. They want happy, fun people instead … and maybe a little gravitas too.

Persona Matters

“Voters don’t remember specific issues, they remember the ‘feel’ of the candidate — his values, his passions, his competence, his persona.” — Pollster Pat Caddell prepping former Vice President Walter Mondale for his first debate against President Ronald Reagan

There is little doubt that Hillary can be as wonkish as anyone on the planet, including Harry Reid. If that skill is the only criteria, then maybe she should start ordering the drapes for the Oval Office.

She is raising tons of money and undoubtedly will summon her disciples to write even more big checks. The legal tender will not be a problem for her second campaign for president.

She is the spouse of a former POTUS. The problem is her charm deficit. Her other half can turn on the smile in a few nanoseconds and draw potential supporters into his personal gravitational pull. This is where Hillary will always be wanting.merkel1

Certainly, Hillary has gravitas. The same is true for Fed chair Janet Yellen and German Kanzlerin Angela Merkel. The latter is lovingly known by at least a majority in the Vaterland as Mutti. Hillary is more like America’s Mother in Law.

Why do über-cautious Yellen at the Fed and compromiser Merkel in Berlin succeed when it comes to likeability and Hillary seemably comes up short? Call it a shortage of persona. The author of Almost DailyBrett will never forget the words of my own mumsy: “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”

Kennedy and Reagan

“There is a reason why the two major parties continue to search for a new Kennedy or a new Reagan, and why so many presidential contenders offer themselves as such. It is because they believe it’s what the American people want. And there are surveys that show just how remarkably popular Kennedy and Reagan remain.” – Scott Farris, author of Kennedy & Reagan: Why Their Legacies Endurekennedysmile

Undersecretary of the Navy Paul Fay wrote the 1966 bestseller, The Pleasure of His Company, about his relationship with JFK. Reagan was known for his stories and one-liners with a huge smile on his face, an obvious bonus from his days in Hollywood.Portrait

Both men are held as the modern-day models of popular, charming and engaging presidents. Will candidate Hillary or second President Clinton ever reach that precipice or come even close? Hubert Humphrey was known as the “Happy Warrior.” Should Hillary’s handlers bring that one out of the public relations vault for their candidate?

Political junkies all know the track records of those with personality deficits and how they ultimately performed under the day-to-day spotlight of presidential campaigns. Remember President Ed Muskie? How about President Scoop Jackson? President Michael Dukakis? President Bob Dole? President Newt Gingrich? President Al Gore? President John Kerry? President Mitt Romney? They all exhibited sooner or later (usually the former) personality issues that contributed to their ultimate demise.

Even one who won, Richard Milhous Nixon, was gloomy, suspicious and paranoid. His next elected successor James Earl Carter could flash a toothy smile, but transformed himself into a mean candidate running for re-election in 1980.

Do the Democrats see a contemporary charming John F. Kennedy in Hillary? Seems like a silly question. But then against Hillary’s candidacy is a serious business.

Maybe a little bit too serious.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXdNYXMQoy8

http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/10/opinions/zelizer-hillary-clinton-weaknesses/index.html

http://customerservicereader.typepad.com/customer_service_reader/2005/12/nordstroms_1_cu.html

http://www.rove.com/articles/578

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_B._Fay

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