Tag Archive: Starbucks


“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” — UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

If a private sector position with full benefits isn’t the greatest anti-poverty program ever devised … what on earth is?

In order to avoid saying she will raise taxes on the middle class for “Medicare For All,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is proposing federal confiscation of all pretax employer paid Medicare health care benefits for literally millions of working achievers.

Her plan will eliminate private health insurance for 150 million Americans or more, and nationalize the $530 billion private health insurance industry.

Isn’t the termination of $8.8 trillion in cherished pretax employer-paid health care benefits for millions of employees, the equivalent of a middle class tax increase on steroids? Keep in mind, the annual federal budget is only … $4.45 trillion.

Instead of Starbucks paying $20,000 for this benefit to each of its 291,000 employees for private insurance (e.g., Blue Cross, Kaiser …), the legendary coffee roaster would be compelled to turn-over a similar amount to the federal government. In turn, these employees would lose their Starbucks offered pretax Medicare benefits and choice of private health insurer, only to forced into government paid … and only government paid … DMV-style insurance.

The Bernie Sanders “Medicare for All” bill (which Warren supports) calls for a 4 percent federal income tax increase for middle class workers. In order to avoid saying she is raising middle class taxes, Warren proposes instead federal confiscation of pretax employer paid health care benefits.

“In practice this (redirection of employer-paid health benefits to the government) would be a tax on employment, which seems likely to hurt middle-class Americans.” — The Economist, November 9, 2019

Deciding which plan (Sanders or Warren) is worse is just as difficult as deducing which is better.

How about keeping and retaining private health insurance, and our ability to choose our own doctors, dentists and optometrists?

Almost DailyBrett has always exhibited a libertarian streak. If we empower our $4 trillion behemoth federal government to confiscate pretax employer-paid health insurance, and eliminate private health insurance for 150-million-plus souls, the obvious question is:

What’s next?

Tax On Billionaires

” … if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us?” — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commenting on the spectre of a Warren presidency to the company’s 35,000 employees.

The public relations spin by Bernie and Elizabeth has focused squarely on the likes of Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon and Leon Cooperman, including Warren mocking the latter for his tearful concern about the future of our country.

Consider the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given $36 billion to fight third-world poverty. Does no good deed go unpunished?

The centerpiece of the billionaire vilification campaign is a 2 percent wealth tax on those with assets exceeding $50 million (how many folks in blue states California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts … are included in this tax?), and 6 percent for those with $1 billion or more. We are not just talking about giving “two cents” (on each dollar) more.

How would the federal government determine the amount of wealth to be taxed and confiscated? When would it be paid? How much stock will needed (needlessly?) be sold (maybe even at loss) and how much will be immediately bought back? What’s the algorithmic multi-billion dollar impact on the 52 percent of the country investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds for their retirement or children’s education?

Is this tax, constitutional? Are we talking about double taxation? More to the point, do we want as a nation to empower … there’s that verb again … our massive government to punitively confiscate wealth and with it, achievement? How about a tax on lower upper class wealth? Ditto for a levy on upper middle class wealth? And how about … ? The possibilities are limitless.

Three European nations still impose wealth taxes: Norway, Spain and Switzerland. How’s Spain doing?

Eleven European nations have rescinded their wealth taxes: Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Sweden.

That’s right, wealth taxes didn’t work in Denmark and Sweden, why should it fly in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?

According to the stately The Economist, Warren’s all-government all-the-time programs include requiring Amazon, Facebook and Google to be regulated as platform utilities (before or after their breakups?), 40 percent of all board seats held by “public reps” (read, unions), bans on nuclear power and fracking, 75 percent lobbying taxes, 37 percent taxes on capital gains, and the imposition of taxes on unsold stocks (employing Enron-style mark-to-market accounting or MTM) … and the list goes on and on and on.

Warren supporters caution America’s Investor Class (52 percent of the entire nation) not to worry; her plan will eventually be watered down or not approved. If so … what’s the point?

Are Warrenites and Sandernistas supporting Republican control of at least one house to serve as a check and a balance to radicalism? Didn’t think so.

Some see Warren as a Socialist champion against Capitalism or buy low sell high.

Instead, Almost DailyBrett sees Bernie and Elizabeth as two peas in the same pod.

They are threatening our economic freedom. They will dip into our wallets, and deny us benefits and physician choices we already enjoy. The only winner? Big government.

Instead of wisely controlling the size and scope of government, some will be cool with a greatly empowered … there’s that verb again … carnivorous federal bureaucracy with even more power over our individual abilities to chart our own financial futures.

Be afraid … be very, very afraid.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/elizabeth-warren-wealth-tax-european-nations/

https://slate.com/business/2019/11/elizabeth-warrens-health-care-medicare-for-all-single-payer-unfair.html

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/10/24/elizabeth-warrens-many-plans-would-reshape-american-capitalism

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/11/07/how-would-elizabeth-warren-pay-for-her-health-policy

https://slate.com/technology/2019/10/mark-zuckerberg-said-elizabeth-warrens-presidency-would-suck-for-us.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/how-blue-cross-saved-my-bacon/

”I could say … that I ran a small grocery store on the corner (e.g., State of Arkansas), therefore I extrapolate that into the fact I can run Walmart. That`s not true.” – Ross Perot debating Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and President George H.W. Bush

Perot labeled Clinton’s 12-year public sector experience as the chief executive of the “Natural State” as “irrelevant.”

The famous 1992 debate exchange reminds Almost DailyBrett of today’s deep-state/elite media practice of automatically and terminally disqualifying anyone aspiring or even holding the presidency – including the present office holder – who does not have public sector experience.

Public sector über alles?

Some have suggested that seven-year South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg, 37, is more qualified to run the nation than billionaire entrepreneurs, who build, create breakthrough products, employ thousands and manage global business enterprises.

Let’s see, Mayor Pete’s South Bend has a $368 million city budget, 1,285 employees and 101,168 residents including thousands of Notre Damers who need their garbage picked up and their streets swept.

Okay …

In contrast, the $9.5 billion, The Trump Organization LLC, is the 48th largest privately held company in the world. Trump and his family manage 500 affiliated property development and marketing companies with 22,450 employees operating in 25 countries.

According to the New York Times, Trump’s business has been required to take losses and declare bankruptcy from time to time. Phil Knight in his book, Shoe Dog, recounted how Nike almost went under … nine times.

How’s Trump doing today? How’s Nike doing today?

And then there is Starbucks founder and chairman (political villain) Howard Schultz.

Sorry Howard … you can’t play this (presidential) game either … even though you created and turned Starbucks into the largest coffee roaster in the world. Let’s see … the company reports $24.7 billion in annual revenues, manages than 27,000 stores and hires 277,000 baristas et al. around the globe.

Kathleen Sebelius vs. Jeff Bezos For CIO

All kidding and snickering aside, the political class seemingly would rather hire as its CIO Kathleen Sebelius with her infamous crashing Obamacare website with its pathetic non-working calculator.

Conceivably the alternative would be private sector Amazon with its track record of successfully and accurately processing 1 million digital transactions per hour.

The millionaire Bernie and Elizabeth types rail daily against billionaires (i.e., Trump, Schultz, Knight, Bezos …) and their privately held/publicly traded corporations (i.e., Starbucks, Nike, Amazon), seemingly as the sources of all that is wrong in the world. The Massachusetts senator even talked about breaking up the most successful and useful of these companies.

If digital retail pioneer Amazon was forced to breakup, wouldn’t the company in an aw shucks moment, simply spin-off Amazon Web Services (AWS)? Considering Amazon’s marketing for AWS’ cloud services capability, don’t you suspect Jeff Bezos and company are already thinking about AWS as a separate publicly traded company?

How about the prospect of (NYSE: AWS)? Victory for the government? Victory for investors? Whattyathink Elizabeth?

Wasn’t there a movie actor/union president, who with the exception of a stint in the military, never spent a nanosecond in the public sector and became the governor of the largest state in the union, California?

How did that experiment turn out?

Not only was Ronald Reagan wildly popular in blue state California, he was one of our greatest presidents and the only one to ever hold a union card while serving as the nation’s chief executive.

Which Is More Important: Public or Private?

For Almost DailyBrett, your author served 14 years in the public sector (i.e., California press secretary and Central Washington University assistant professor). The same four-decade career also included 25 years in the private sector (i.e., LSI Logic Corporation, Semiconductor Industry Association, Edelman Public Relations, newspapers).

Which sector was more important in the development of your author’s institutional knowledge base?

Don’t know. Inclined to conclude that both are nice to have, and each is equally important.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1992-10-20-9204050015-story.html

https://money.cnn.com/2016/12/15/investing/trump-organization-48th-largest-private-company/

https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=344985

http://www.city-data.com/city/South-Bend-Indiana.html

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/13/politics/bernie-sanders-millionaire-book-sales-tax-returns/index.html

 

 

Does a Led Zeppelin concert photograph of singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page go with marble Romanesque columns?DSC02649

How about a sketch of Mick Jagger with his signature protruding lips combined with Moorish arches?

For that matter, should an operations manager attempt to incorporate Eric Clapton’s Gibson Les Paul electric guitar with Spanish tile?

One would think an acoustic guitar would fit better into the classic Castilian style, but no one will ever confuse Andres Segovia with heavy metal.

For months including the critical last three weeks before opening night in Sevilla, the team behind the Hard Rock Café worked diligently to fully respect Spanish tradition, while swearing allegiance to the rocking iconic restaurant chain.DSC02651

Carlos Gil, the Venezuelan-born Hard Rock Café operations manager out of Amsterdam, visited patrons on the opening night this past August 4. He said local authorities insisted on the preservation of the Romanesque columns. The chain was more than happy to comply and even to incorporate them into the setting for customers.

Hard Rock in the Land of the Flamenco?

Sounds like a potential prescription for integrated marketing communications (IMC) disaster, but from all appearances it is working in Sevilla, Spain as evidenced by the turnout on opening night.

Starbucks and The Prado

About the length of one futbol pitch is the distance between Madrid’s famous Prado art museum and the usually well-located, Starbucks.

Howard Schultz and his Starbucks team certainly have a knack for finding great locations for the 33,000 stores of the $19.28 billion largest coffee roaster in the world.

Without doubt, each of Starbucks’ venues is consistent with the company’s brand from the green aprons of the baristas to the coffee posters from all over the world. But what is different in Spain’s capital city is that Starbucks also incorporates the Spanish style into its store.DSC03188

As the inevitable pace toward globalization and a flatter world intensifies, so will the demands on multi-national brands to respect the culture while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the brand.

Many are opposed to multi-national chains, and will naturally opt for local choices. Others will yearn for the consistency of product. A Starbucks latte tastes the same in Seattle as it does in Madrid as it does in Dublin or München. There is a beauty in predictability in an unsettled world.

Starbucks wants to deliver a consistency of product wherever and whenever patrons come-in for a latte, mocha or cappuccino. At the same time, the company’s stores do not have to be indistinguishable cookie-cutter designs with each one mimicking the very first one at Seattle’s Pike Park Market.

Seasoned PR and marketing managers instinctively can sense a departure from the “conscience” of the brand, but are they are equally adept when it comes to incorporating a local culture and traditions into the presentation of the brand?

What is the smart solution? The answer lies with respecting a local culture, not going “native,” and at the same time be consistent with brand management.

Cultural Dimensions

Professor Geert Hofstede is famous for his Cultural Dimensions Theory measuring national differences in six arenas: Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long-Term Orientations and Indulgence.

Before dipping their collective toes into another culture’s waters, it is best to weigh the very real differences between what you know and call familiar, and what you don’t know.

Wal-Mart succeeded big time in Mexico and failed miserably in Germany. Unilever’s Dove “Real Curves” campaign was a hit in the United States, but went over like a lead balloon (not to be confused with Led Zeppelin) in Taiwan.

Under Hofstede’s theory, Spain is high in power distance (57 percent), average in individualism (51 percent); low in masculinity and high in compassion (42 percent), skyrocketing in uncertainty avoidance (86 percent); below average in long-term orientation (48 percent) and low in indulgence (44 percent).DSC02656

There are zero issues when it comes to Brand über Alles. The brand must be respected and maintained. At the same time, there are cultural considerations that need to be considered as well.

Can they work together? Hard Rock Café and Starbucks are at least two global companies that have responded in the affirmative.

http://www.hardrock.com/corporate/history.aspx

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9s_Segovia

http://investor.starbucks.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=99518&p=irol-presentations

https://geert-hofstede.com/national-culture.html

 

 

“There you go again.” – Ronald Reagan debating Jimmy Carter in 1980

Wonder why more than a few consider “corporate social responsibility” to be an oxymoron?

Can corporations, especially publicly traded companies, serve both masters: fiduciary responsibility (do well) and CSR (do good)? It can be done, but the effort has to be sincere and meaningful.

Sorry 5-hour ENERGY®. There you go again.

5-hourvets

First, Living Essentials (parent of 5-hour ENERGY) mounted a mucho grande marketing campaign with special pink raspberry bottles in order to make an un poquito contribution to Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC). The Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) campaign even came with a plethora of television ads and a specially decaled NASCAR racer being driven by Clint Bowyer

Now, it is time for yet another mucho grande marketing campaign with special red-white-blue bottles in order make another un poquito contribution, this one to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF). Do you think that 5-hour ENERGY just commissioned another specially marked Bowyer stock car for the occasion?

Does a bear relieve itself in the woods?

In addition, the company even sponsored a 400-mile NASCAR race in Kansas just in case you missed any of 5-hour ENERGY’s ads.

Even in-your-face syndicated radio sports jock Jim Rome got into the act, pimping for these $2.99 (today’s retail price) red-white-blue bottles of 5-hour SPEED.

And how much will be raised for the wounded vets? (Drum roll) Not less than $75,000.

Wasn’t the $75,000 minimum the same figure for when 5-hour ENERGY contributed a nickel from the sale of each $2.99 pink bottle (less than 2 percent of retail) to the breast cancer foundation?

Why is Almost DailyBrett underwhelmed?

Real Corporate Social Responsibility

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit,” – Harry Truman

SBUXCI
Contrast the shameless 5-hour ENERGY CSR-in-disguise campaign with the synergistic relationship between Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) and Conservation International (CI) on behalf of the environment and the farmers in the Chiapas region of Mexico. This is the same case that was examined in-depth by Harvard Business Review. 

The relationship between the for-profit Starbucks and the NGO Conservation International took time to develop. Starbucks wanted to help, but it insisted on not compromising the quality of its mild Arabica coffee beans for its discerning customer base. In the end the two disparate entities teamed in setting standards for Starbucks’ coffee supply chain in the Chiapas including the planting of shade trees and no coffee pulp being thrown into the rivers.

Just imagine, Starbucks and its NGO partner, Conservation International, accomplished impressive deeds together without the need for specially marked cups or a spiffy race car.

This same is true for Ronald McDonald House Charities, including the 338 Ronald McDonald houses around the world, a direct offshoot of the fortune made by McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. Ditto of the Home Depot Foundation and its $1.5 million partnership with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for veterans.

Let’s not forget Nike founder Phil Knight’s $100 million contribution for the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), and another $125 million for the OHSU Cardiovascular Institute. There were also some celebrated “Uncle Phil” contributions to the University of Oregon and Stanford University.

And of course we need to salute the efforts of another billionaire, Bill Gates and his spouse Melinda, establishing the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. The foundation’s $38.3 billion endowment targets promoting health care and reducing extreme poverty around the world.

“Pink Washing” Close Call

kfc

Before 5-hour ENERGY got into the Think Pink act, YUM Brands’ KFC Division launched a controversial “Buckets for the Cure” campaign benefitting the Susan G. Komen Foundation.to combat breast cancer. A portion of the sale of each specially marked bucket of grilled chicken was devoted to the work of the Komen foundation.

Some have called this effort true CSR. Others have labeled it, Pink Washing. Whichever way one comes down on the “tastes great” vs. “less filling” divide, there is no question that KFC raised a reported $4.2 million to combat and find a cure for breast cancer.

There are many, who simply do not like KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) and will not see anything positive undertaken by the company. Having said that, there is a legitimate debate whether “Buckets for the Cure” was a crafty marketing campaign, a well-intentioned CSR thrust or a combination of the two. Let the Fiduciary Responsibility vs. Corporate Social Responsibility debate commence!

5-hourspecial

When it comes to 5-hour ENERGY and its guarantee of $75,000 to the wounded vets, compared to its massive marketing campaign, NASCAR race and race car, one has to make the call:

5-hour ENERGY once again stands guilty of disguising its massive for-profit marketing campaign as an attempt to help (fill-in-the-blank).

There you go again.

http://www.5hourenergy.com/5hrNews-2014-04-14.asp

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/5-hour-pink-washing/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/lattes-cappuccinos-mochas-and-csr/

http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=6413&facInfo=pub

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/harrystru109615.html

http://www.rmhc.org/what-we-do

http://www.homedepotfoundation.org/page/our-partners/habitat-for-humanity-international

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/buckets-for-the-cure/

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_%26_Melinda_Gates_Foundation

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

http://www.nascar.com/en_us/race-center/sprint-cup-series/5-hour-energy-400.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

(Almost DailyBrett Note: The following is the text of my Facebook message in which I had the privilege of spending $100 to send it directly into the inbox of Facebook Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark Elliot Zuckerberg).

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:

Your company’s gracious offer, bestowing upon me (and other mere mortals) the privilege of spending $100 to send a Facebook message to your personal in-box, left me in a serious quandary.

On one hand for the same $100 I could conceivably purchase three shares of Facebook stock for $31.79 a share, leaving me with $4.63 to cover a Grande mocha with no whip cream from Starbucks. The obvious value for me would be three shares of your overhyped and underperforming stock, well below the $38 IPO price, in addition to 330 calories to my waist line.

Or I could spend the same amount with no guarantee that you would actually condescend to read my message, but maybe you will.

zuckerberg

This choice reminds me of Monte Hall’s “Let’s Make a Deal” (e.g., a popular television game show that was way before your time). The three shares of NASDAQ: FB and one mocha would constitute the equivalent of a Volkswagen bug sitting on the stage. My $100 to send a message to you would be the equivalent of the “door.” There may be a brand new Lincoln Town Car behind that door or maybe a donkey.

Okay I will go against a bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush admonition, and I will spend $100 to help FB’s top and bottom lines by sending a message directly to your inbox.

As other commentators have noted, one can send a similar message to the President of the United States or the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for free, but you (and your crack public relations pros) are deigning to permit the riff-raff to spend $100 (each time) to send a message that will actually pass under your hoodie shrouded eyeballs. I have never felt so special.

My first question: Can you give me an exclusive preview of your mysterious (“Come See What We’re Building”) software or hardware announcement this coming Tuesday? After all, I just paid you three figures…

Oh…You can’t do that. Something about selective disclosure of material information, which would get us both in trouble with the almighty Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). Never mind. For your sake, I hope this announcement lives up to the hype.

Another question: Would you consider taking my $100 and heading down to Brooks Brothers (there is one in Santana Row in San Jose and another near Union Square in San Francisco) and actually dress the part of a CEO, particularly when you are trying to raise money from investors?

What’s that? You say that Steve Jobs was able to dazzle the world in a black turtleneck, so why shouldn’t you be able to do the same in a hoodie?

Can I submit to you that Steve had a long-standing track record of success at Apple (e.g., Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad) that slightly exceeds your success at Facebook?  Yes, I know how proud you are of Facebook’s market valuation of $68 billion. Can you even imagine how proud they are at Apple with a $489 billion market cap?

My point is that Steve Jobs earned the right to wear the turtleneck. I don’t see that you have earned a similar level of achievement to adopt the same cavalier attitude toward your stakeholders…that would include little ole me.

What really confounds me is that seemingly no one from your public relations team objected to the idea of charging Facebook subscribers $100 just to write to you. Let’s see your company reported $4.3 billion in annual revenues. Facebook recorded $714 million in net income. And you are personally worth in the neighborhood of $9.4 billion with a “b” and still you want to charge your customers $100 just to send you a line?

Facebook started with the cool idea of connecting people to their friends online. You have 1 billion subscribers or one-out-of-every-seven people on the frickin’ planet. Is it cool or arrogant to charge someone three figures just for the privilege of writing to you? I will leave that to you to decide.

P.S. My check is in the mail…

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100372793

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/the-cost-of-contacting-mark-zuckerberg-steve-jobs-14966751

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2025158/facebook-lets-some-people-email-mark-zuckerberg-for-100.html

http://tvgrapevine.com/articles.html/_/misc/media/facebook-stunned-and-amazed-by-mark-zuckerberg-r2380

http://www.itechpost.com/articles/4910/20130112/facebook-charging-100-send-message-mark-zuckerberg-here-official-clarification.htm

http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000140473&play=1

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

http://data.cnbc.com/quotes/FB

Declaring Victory

Compromise is so easy, when you leave all the heavy lifting to the other side.

In reality, it doesn’t work that way … and it never will.

Unilateral good nature, masochism and altruistic virtues will not do the trick.

The answer always comes down to how can both sides can “declare victory” and pass the giggle test at the same time. Each must be able to make the sale to the majority of their followers on their side of the aisle.

nixon1

Keep in mind: Your enemies will never change; your friends can run for the exits if you sell your soul.

Consider the oncoming 5 percent of national GDP “fiscal cliff.”

All the Republicans in the House of Representatives have to do is go against their ingrained philosophy, accept a tax hike for those making $400,000 or more annually (or possibly less) in exchange for no spending restraint by the federal government in the face of a record $16.4 trillion national debt. On top of that, they are expected to raise the debt limit, reportedly reached next Monday, to accommodate even more borrowing from China and more red ink (double entendre not intended).

Let’s say that House Speaker John Boehner can convince his reluctant caucus to go along with this “deal” to preclude the January 1 expiring George W. Bush tax cuts for middle-class taxpayers 1. You can count on the Washington Press Corps. and the Punditocracy on prime-time cable to declare the president and Democrats as the winners and the Republicans as the losers.

In historical terms, the Third Reich was deemed the winner at Munich in 1938 as it was given the permission to gobble up Czechoslovakia, while loser Neville Chamberlain came home with a worthless signature on a worthless piece of paper. After Mitt Romney’s defeat last November, do the Republicans want to be the Neville Chamberlain’s of December?

neville

Even though Howard Schulz and Starbucks are getting into the act with DC baristas scribbling “Come Together” on the cups of upscale coffee, you can hardly expect the Republicans to be moved…or to move…without some real progress from the self-proclaimed progressives.

Can Social Security be indexed to inflation in the form of the Consumer Price Index? Can the age limit for Medicare eligibility be raised from 65-years-old to 67-years-old? More than 60 percent of federal spending is directed toward to the “entitlements” even before the full-impact of Obamacare is felt.

MoveOn.org is threatening primary challengers from the left for any Democrat that votes to reform the entitlements. The Republicans are demanding entitlement spending concessions in order to declare victory. To the Democrats, these demands are seen as leverage…and they are.

The recipe for both sides and their respective media spokespersons to declare victory require raising tax rates on high-income folks, including small businesses (Democrats claim victory), while at the same Social Security is indexed and the eligibility age for Medicare is increased (Republicans claim victory). It sounds simple, but it’s not.

One thing is certain: There will be no deal until the 11th hour on the 365th day of the calendar year. Legislators are akin to bats: They only come out at night.

And if there is no deal?

The sun came up in the Golden State on June 7, 1978, the day after Proposition 13 passed with 65 percent of the vote. Reportedly, the bees were still buzzing and the birds were still chirping.

There was a next-day after the Y2K “crisis” came and was quickly forgotten after January 1, 2000. Talk about much ado about nothing.

And if the leader of the Free World and Congress cannot make amends and allow both sides to declare victory, the ball will still drop in Times Square next Tuesday and the bowl games will still be played on Tuesday.

The nation’s credit rating may plunge yet again. The country may default. The next recession will be on the horizon. These (un)pleasantries may be upon us.

Or we can get down to figuring out how both sides can claim victory.  I saw this practice work in Sacramento in the 1980s. It can work in Washington DC in the teens of the 21st Century. Let “Victory” ring.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnmcquaid/2012/12/26/starbucks-come-together-fiscal-cliff-misfire/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-will-hit-debt-limit-on-dec-31-treasury-department-says/2012/12/26/0e8e3738-4fa2-11e2-839d-d54cc6e49b63_story.html?wpisrc=al_comboPNE_b

http://www.starbucks.com/blog/lets-come-together-america

 

“Pleas for corporate social responsibility will be truly embraced only by those executives who are smart enough to see that doing the right thing is a byproduct of their pursuit of profit.” – Arneel Karnani, University of Michigan associate professor of strategy, Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2010.

“Whether one likes or dislikes Starbucks or its philanthropy, the Starbucks CSR model looks like a recipe that many corporations recognize as a solid formula for social responsibility,” – Rick Cohen, The Non-Profit Quarterly, April 20,2011

starbuckscoffeecup

Celebrating its 40th year in business, Starbucks Corp (NASDAQ: SBUX) is a profitable $11.7 billion roaster/retailer of specialty coffees with operations in 50 countries around the world. Last year, the world’s leader in the sale of upscale coffee (e.g. mochas, lattes, cappuccinos and whole/ground beans) reported a net profit of $1.24 billion and recorded $33 billion in market capitalization.

Throughout its history, the company has made a commitment to fiduciary responsibility, generating profits and returns to its shareholders, while embracing a company culture that includes a focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR). Early forays into this latter field included support for the anti-poverty organization, CARE, and for the environmental non-government organization (NGO), The Environmental Defense Fund.

Starbucks’ first CSR efforts began in 1994 as an activity incorporated in its Environmental Affairs Department with a modest budget of $50,000. Five years later, a separate-and-distinct Environmental Affairs Department was established, focusing on five areas: business practices, environmental, community affairs, corporate giving and the Starbucks Foundation. By 2002, the 14-member department was working with a budget of $6 million.

Starbucks chief executive officer and president Orin Smith drew a linkage between shareholders and stakeholders, which include customers, suppliers, partners and coffee growers. “It’s (CSR) an integral part of the new business strategy,” said Smith.

Worldwide concern about the plight of the Amazon rain forests and sensitive species has put a public magnifying glass on the production of coffee in the tropics, including the mild arabica beans used by Starbucks to serve its global customer base. The majority of the coffee crop (the world’s second largest commodity) is grown on small-and-medium sized farms, many in areas of significant environmental impact containing a wide variety of fragile species. The plight of these regions has been the mission of environmental NGOs, including Conservation International.

At the same time, the public esteem and trust for these NGOs has steadily increased. For example, the 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that not-only are NGOs (seen as responsible third-parties) the most trusted in society, but their level of popular support is growing from  57 percent in 2010 to 61 percent in 2011.

Starbucks collaborated with one of these more trusted NGOs, entering into a strategic alliance with the professionally oriented Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), to develop a more environmentally friendly coffee cup. The question facing the company was how could it enhance its reputation as an environmentally conscious corporate citizen without compromising the quality of its supply of mild arabica beans?

Could the company grow revenues and profitability and promote shareholder value (fiduciary responsibility), while being seen as a good steward for the environment and to improve the standard-of-living for its suppliers, the medium-and-small farmers (corporate social responsibility)? Enter biodiversity NGO, Conservation International (CI).

ci

The first uneasy meeting between Starbucks and Conservation International representatives took place in 1997. Starbucks expressed its concern about the quality of the coffee that it was buying for its discerning customer base. Conservation International was focused on the impact of hundreds of medium-and-small coffee farms in the hills of the environmentally sensitive region of Chiapas, Mexico. Concurrent with this meeting were the letters and cards coming from the customer base asking Starbucks whether it is actually buying shade-grown coffee and about protecting the forests where coffee is grown.

Conservation International saw that Starbucks could exert considerable influence as a major purchaser on the company’s supply chain (includes the coffee farmers) to protect the environment. So why did the strategic alliance between a major, publicly traded, for-profit corporation, Starbucks, and an influential, non-profit, environmental NGO, Conservation International, work for the benefit of not only both parties, but the overall environment as well?

Due diligence was definitely one factor. Accumulated trust eventually became a second factor. Both entities took the time-and-effort to comprehend and appreciate the position of the respective parties. Starbucks as a publicly traded company has a fiduciary responsibility to grow the top-and-bottom lines and to generate superior value for its shareholders. The top line increased from $1.68 billion in 1999 to $2.64 billion just two years later. Gross profit margin expanded slightly in the course of these three years even though COGS expenses grew by $742 million. Total net income increased from $101 million in 1999 (6.1 percent) to $181.2 million (6.8 percent). These revenue and profitability enhancements were recorded after Starbucks signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Conservation International (not implying a direct effect of the strategic alliance on company financials).

Starbucks impressed upon Conservation International that it was not going to serve its customer base by purchasing politically correct, shade-grown coffee beans that are substandard from a quality standpoint. Conservation International responded by teaming with Starbucks, finding common ground, even playing a direct role on coffee farmer quality control. Was Conservation International in effect helping Starbucks maintain its fiduciary responsibility, while exerting pressure on the corporation for CSR?

Starbucks CEO Smith even extolled the “synergies” between Starbucks and Conservation International with the former focusing on quality coffee and the latter on the environment. Typically, the word “synergy” is reserved for evaluation of mergers and acquisitions. Smith was a member of the Conservation International Board of Directors as of October 31, 2001.

Eventually, the Chiapas project led to signed agreements between Conservation International and certain Mexican coffee producers and their respective cooperatives. Upon meeting Starbucks quality standards, producers could sell an increasing percentage of their crop to Starbucks for premium prices (Especially important considering the drop in prices for mild-arabica and rustica coffee prices worldwide). Starbucks eventually became comfortable guaranteeing low-interest loans to these small farmers, providing them with needed capital.

chiapas

In exchange, these farmers agreed to not harvest trees on producer farms or the Chiapas Biosphere Reserve, a wide variety of shade trees would be planted, and no coffee pulp could be thrown into local rivers.

Starbucks’ “synergistic” and cooperative strategic alliance with Conservation International followed the company’s professional and managerial relationship with the Environmental Defense Fund. Does that mean that Starbucks enjoys the same relationship with all environmental NGOs? Unfortunately, the answer is “no.”

While the relationship with EDF was professional and the interchange with Conservation International was synergistic, Starbucks’ was subjected to a wave of confrontational tactics undertaken by other environmental NGOs. For example, Global Exchange launched a protest at the company’s annual meeting and demanded that Starbucks sell fair trade coffee.

After a series of discussions, Starbucks entered into an agreement with TransFair USA, which provides certification for all Fair Trade Coffee in the United States. Starbucks offered a similar approach, comparable to its relationship with Conservation International to TransFair. The aim was to improve coffee quality, provide financial assistance to farmers and raise public awareness of biodiversity issues in the tropics. TransFair rejected Starbucks’ advance, stating that is only sells certification seals and would only deal with Starbucks in that fashion.

Ultimately, Starbucks did sign an agreement with TransFair to purchase Fair Trade-certified coffee, providing that it met the company’s quality standards that were needed to respond to consumer demand. Starbucks even paid 10-cents per pound licensing fee to TransFair. Even with this agreement Global Exchange and TransFair were badgering Starbucks to buy even more Fair Trade-certified coffee.

Contrary to the actions of Conservation International, TransFair had no interest on improving quality among its registered farmers. TransFair said this was simply not its mission.

Starbucks chief executive officer Smith acknowledged, NGOs are critical influencers. And there are some (e.g. EDF, Conservation International) that are willing-and-able to work with a multi-national company for their mutual advantage. Alas, there are others (e.g.TransFair) that are at best cordial, if not antagonistic and downright confrontational with multinational enterprises (e.g. Global Exchange, Seattle Audubon).

For Starbucks and other publicly traded companies, there will always be fiduciary responsibility (buy low, sell high). And to an increasing extent, there is also corporate social responsibility, including exerting pressure through the management of the supply chain to demand greater adherence to environmental stewardship. There is also the question of building brand equity.

A proactive, collaborative working relationship with a NGO, such as Conservation International, can directly benefit fiduciary responsibility and corporate social responsibility. They are not mutually exclusive terms of art.  These strategic alliances can also help inoculate or at least mitigate a MNE against outright hostility by certain NGOs that deliberately choose corporate antagonism as their modus operandi.

(Editor’s Note: The following analysis was made based on a May 1, 2004 Harvard Business School case presented by James E. Austin, Harvard professor, emeritus and Cate Reavis, senior researcher from the Global Research Group. To learn more about Austin’s impressive publication and research record, please visit http://drfd.hbs.edu/fit/public/facultyInfo.do?facInfo=pub&facId=6413).

What does an engineering student ask?

How can I build it?

What does a pre-med student ask?

How can I cure it?

What does a business student ask?

How can I finance it?

What a liberal arts student ask?

Would you like fries with that hamburger?

There are many variations of this particular joke, but as your mom taught you: Much truth is often spoken in jest.

Today was the last day of the spring term and the end of my first year of Graduate School. During the past 10 weeks, I took Strategic Management and was surrounded by (soon-to-be) MBA types.

What impressed me was their unrepentant, unrestrained and unabashed celebration of capitalism. How can we drive revenues? How can we promote growth? Is gross margin expanding or contracting? Should we be investing in this business or that business? How can we promote sustained profitability…Notice the question was not about the promotion of “sustainable” profitability.

And by the way, they think it is cool to make a profit.

adamsmith

The spirit of the father of modern economics and capitalism – Mr. Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith permeates the dialogue. This is exciting. It is a reflection that entrepreneurs, free markets, capitalism produce the products that we need; provide jobs; and make global societies better.

Golly gee, just call me old-fashioned. And how do you finance that?

And then for my other classes I walked about 100 yards or a long LaMichael James touchdown run into another world, the world of redistribution and social justice. Adam Smith would not be welcome here, but a lecture by Che Guevara would be packed to the rafters.

In this organic, sustainable, free-trade, shade-grown environment I found out that Communism didn’t work in Russia, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, North Korea and even Guevara’s Cuba because they were/are dictatorial governments. Otherwise, the system is just swell.

For some reason, virtually every class needs to ponder the works and deeds of Karl Marx. I miss him; oh I miss him so…

che

I learned from my classmates that Internet access is a basic human right, and should be provided free of charge to the proletariat regardless of the R&D and all other up-front costs incurred by those who had the courage and foresight to build the system. Semiconductors, software, connectivity devices, fiber optic lines…who cares? Intellectual property? Smitellectual Schroperty!

KFC? Boo hiss. Microsoft? Grrrr. Monsanto? Ugh. Wal-Mart? Arrgh. Starbucks? Smash their windows…And the list goes on and on and on. Have you ever met a happy activist?

It took about two quarters, but I was eventually labeled by a few as the class Republican. In fact, over adult beverages I was asked in the context of my party registration and annoying voting patterns, if I was an angry person…What? The answer is no and besides unlike so many of my colleagues, my biggest moment in life did not involve being arrested or fondly dreaming of some form of civil disobedience.

To some companies are just evil. I worked for 10 years for custom semiconductor innovator LSI Logic. It was founded by a guy who came to America with zero money. He had a dream. He grew this dream into a company with $1.8 billion in revenues, employing more than 4,000 highly skilled people and providing the key microchip for the first two generations of the Sony PlayStation. Is that evil? Should he give his hard-earned millions to someone who has never built a billion-dollar-plus business from the ground up? Is that fairness? Is that justice?

So…if the majority of jobs come from the private sector which group of people is going to be more in demand by employers? Those who know how to read a financial statement from the top line to the bottom line or those who wouldn’t know fiduciary responsibility if it bit them on the backside?

Today, we learned that the number of jobs barely grew in May and that unemployment jumped back to 9.1 percent nationally. I really hope there is a job market out there for those demanding redistributive social justice. Maybe it will be the expanding nanny state or maybe it will be a place that offers both onion rings as well as pommes frites.

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

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

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

http://www.cnbc.com/id/43265008/

http://www.cnbc.com/id/43267992

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

Did I get your attention?

Actually the purpose behind posing this question is much more than the yearning for the ultimate in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) victories by using the S-word as a verbal pheromone to stimulate the Google algorithms to draw even more eyeballs to my Almost DailyBrett blog.

Instead, my intentions are noble (yes, I know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions). As a result of being a widower for more than five years, I have been cast into an unenviable position as a mature, single follicly challenged male after more than two decades of blissful marriage. The padre really meant it, when he stated: “To death do you part.” And I thought the vows were just an administrative act that stood between us, the champagne reception, the delicious wedding night and the honeymoon in Hawaii.

And when you actually do part because of death (my spouse succumbed to dreaded stomach cancer), you are suddenly single wondering if you will ever recover from this ultimate curve ball of life and whether you will ever find another very special someone. So far my search has not born ultimate fruit, but it has been instructive and I have learned a lot about me and the opposite gender.

dating

As a communications choreographer, I have come to appreciate love, sex and romance as a core marketing and public relations skill. Today, we do not have to rely on the company dock, the Safeway produce aisle or the local tavern to scout out would-be partners. We can now use 21st Century digital tools to identify our target audiences, develop our strategic messages, execute our communications program and market our product (that would be me…in my case or you in your case).

Certainly I am not an expert in the affairs of the heart, but I have learned from my own experiences and mistakes and the errors of others on what works and doesn’t work when it comes to online dating. So what are some techniques that you should consider regardless of your membership in terms of the great gender divide and your orientation? Here are a few to weigh.

● First do not expect perfection when it comes to online dating websites. Some are better than others. Personally, I prefer Match.com and have been an on-and-off member for about three years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Match.com For some reason I cannot get past Neil Clark Warren the Ph.D founder of eHarmony and his embarrassing ads. Match.com gives you the tools that you need, but just be mindful that when you are done, cancel the service…otherwise they will gladly renew your subscription and renew it again and again. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Clark_Warren

● Go into this process with the clear understanding that everybody is not for you, and you are not for everybody. Even though there are more than 3 billion card-carrying members of the opposite gender on this planet (or your own gender, if you are so inclined), your target audience in reality is relatively small. Plan on investing some time into this process, including responding to e-mails, participating in screening calls, and then meeting at a busy public, neutral site, such as a Starbucks or a wine bar. You can usually identify an ongoing awkward Match.com first-time meeting at Starbucks or any other upscale coffee joint. It really is a joint job interview where two people are alternating between interviewer and interviewee.

● Trust your instincts when it comes to safeguarding personal information. Don’t share your cell phone number (never give out landlines, assuming you still have one) or your personal e-mail address (never a work e-mail address) to someone until you have developed a rapport. If necessary, do a Google search on the lovely Mizz X or the mysterious Mr. Y. They are probably doing the same with you.

● Sweat the details when it comes to your profile. Use your spell checker, but then read your profile out loud (or ask someone to proof it for you). Keep in mind that spell checkers will miss the wrong word spelled right (e.g. “pubic” instead of “public”). Also avoid the dreaded “I” disease as in “I do this…” and “I do that.” Avoid coming across as self-absorbed, particularly if you are a guy, or needy, if you are a female.

● An early 20th Century advertising executive once said that “A good picture is worth a 1,000 words.” In online dating, good, recent pictures that accurately portray you are absolutely vital to success or failure. If necessary, have some professionally produced digital photos taken. They should not be corporate, but not cheesy either. Sydney Biddle Barrows, the infamous Mayflower Madam, said that “a man falls in love with his eyes; a woman with her ears.” http://www.sydneybarrows.com/  Despite the wisdom behind this turn of phrase, women are also very attracted to a portrait of a confident, handsome man. Oh and be sure to smile. Forget the linebacker stare.  Most important of all, be sure to post photos of yourself, if you want to have any hope at being successful in Internet dating. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_words

● Many lie like rugs on online dating sites, particularly when it comes to age, height and weight. And once you are caught in a lie, your would-be partner is wondering what other facets of your “background” are not the truth. Keep in mind, she or he is going to meet you and decide for herself or himself. Be honest. Don’t be deceitful about your age in order to beat the search engine (e.g. under 50…when you are clearly over that mark). You are what you are.

● If you are not happy with your appearance, don’t expect miracles. We cannot all be perfectly enhanced and airbrushed Pam Andersons. Having said that, spending a few weeks to really get yourself in the best shape possible will improve not only your physical appearance but your personal confidence as well.

● Be reasonable when it comes to that first meeting over coffee or wine (safer than a long lunch or dinner with someone who is immediately incompatible). If it is not clicking or if you are not attracted, then just have a nice cup of coffee or a good glass of wine with a friendly acquaintance. The most important point of all: If you set up the encounter as your first meeting with Mrs. X or Mr. Y, you will most likely be disappointed, and besides is that really fair? This is an awkward time for her or him as well.

● Be realistic about your expectations. If you are a 55-year-old guy (and you are not Hugh Hefner), do you really think that a self-respecting 22-year-old female is going to be interested in you? Let’s face it; you are old enough to be her father. The same applies to Cougars on the prowl, albeit some young bucks may be interested in a meaningful overnight romance. My humble advice: Pick on people who are in your own age group.

hefner

● Don’t subordinate what is really important to you, but at the same time don’t impose standards that are virtually impossible for anyone to live up to. Everyone has some baggage (and so do you). Look for someone with a carry-on bag and be willing to be flexible. If a college education, not smoking, working out, having parental experience, loving animals, harboring reasonable ambition, are important to you then don’t settle. Compromise is good; settling for someone who is not a match is a recipe for a very expensive divorce, particularly in a Community Property State.

● Stay away from tailor-made arguments. Opposites do attract to a point. Personally, I am very wary about “currently separated” (ongoing combat?), “never married” (north of 50), Bible beaters or the opposite, atheists and/or agnostics…these are just fights going somewhere to happen. Personally I relish a good political discussion, but I know when it is best to fold my tent in the face of a militant extremist (Redundant? Maybe) regardless of ideology. Avoid extremism, drama queens (or kings) if you can and seek out people who are even-keeled.

● Don’t send or respond to Internet dating websites on Friday or Saturday nights. Perception is everything, and you don’t want to unintentionally send an unwanted signal. Your pithy messages and responses can wait until the morning.

● If you have eccentric hobbies, habits or fetishes, you might want to hold off on revealing these until you have established a clear relationship. I am not advocating withholding the ultimate truth. I am suggesting like any good PR practitioner to manage the flow of your information.

Finally if you are contemplating taking the plunge into online dating, my advice is to go for it, but do it with your eyes wide open. Is having that very special someone in your life the key to ultimate happiness? Maybe. There is only one way to find out. Digital tools are now at your disposal. Use them. Besides how is she or he going to find out that you are available and all the wonderful things that you have to offer?

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