After threatening to do so for the better part of a year, I finally cut the cord yesterday. I mostly held on this long because of sports. With the exception of a few programs I watch with the girlfriend, or in some cases drink scotch and tolerate, all I watch is sports. I had an irrational fear that I would miss coverage of The Masters, US Open, or football. I should also mention my dog Norman watches The Golf Channel all day while I am at work. So I spent numerous mornings researching and became convinced Hulu Live was the right mix.
Still, I did not make the move. I decided I would downgrade to basic cable first — incrementalism people! I logged into my cable account where I was promptly asked if I wanted to upgrade with HBO. I then looked for how to change my services — it was nowhere to be found. They were ready and willing with a “team member” available to chat if I wanted to upgrade. So, I clicked yes, assuming if they could add services they could also take services away. Wrong. “That is not my department.”More
Under the heading of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” news, we get this item. A cafe that introduced an 18% surcharge for male customers, and priority seating for women has gone belly up: https://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/australian-cafe-that-charged-a-man-tax-and-gave-women-priority-seating-goes-out-of-business More
I have been noticing that menus of all kinds–from websites to restaurants–have become more complicated and thus more and more difficult to navigate. The trend toward clean and simple seems to be reversing. Now, I would say most of the time when I go to a website, I am overwhelmed with visual tiles on the landing page, plus information revealed only to the enthusiastic scroller, menus layered under other menus, and pages that do not deliver as promised. It can take several minutes of clicking around to figure out what to do next.
This now widespread tendency to present the customer with confusing arrays of choices, and make it difficult to complete such simple actions as viewing a product sample, makes me wonder whether sprawling menus are not some kind of marketing strategy that increases sales. Non-profits are guilty of it–note the inscrutable internal workings of the College Board site–but most private companies are doing it, too. Just the other day my index finger got a big workout with the mouse merely trying to locate a demo for a tech product that the company was presumably wanting to sell to interested schools. Also, our school’s online portfolio and PD credits system is not really something one could teach to a colleague. You simply make selections and click the mouse, because neither logic nor intuition helps with the opaque setup. You just keep boldly advancing, and somehow the work gets done.More
I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday. More
The number of female CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies has dropped from 32 in 2017 to 24 in 2018. That 25 percent decline has spurred deep consternation among feminists and liberals. Writing about the New York Times’ New Rules Summit, a conference about women in leadership, journalists Rebecca Blumenstein and Jessica Bennett concluded: “For women, the climb to the top has sputtered.” Feminists claim that this decline has ominous consequences not only for the cause of gender equality, but also for the overall level of growth in the economy. Indeed, the McKinsey Global Institute’s (MGI) influential 2015 study, “The Power of Parity,” makes the astonishing claim that the achievement of gender equality in the workforce may “add $12 trillion to global wealth” by the year 2025, which for the United States translates into a 26 percent increase in gross domestic product by that year.
Studies like the MGI’s have fueled the recent passage of a California law that requires publicly traded corporations headquartered within the state to include a minimum number of women on their boards or face substantial financial penalties. California Governor Jerry Brown signed the law with a defiant message. He cited the 1886 Supreme Court case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, which held that corporations should be treated as persons entitled to protection against the deprivation of property without due process of law. “Given all the special privileges that corporations have enjoyed for so long,” Brown said, “it’s high time corporate boards include the people who constitute more than half the ‘persons’ in America.”More
A Harvard survey last month found that a slim majority of millennials reject capitalism, and with the quality of media reporting about business and the economy, it’s not hard to guess why. (Not to mention the pitiful state of economics education in public high schools.) The Washington Post published a story today that perfectly illustrates the extent of the problem in a single sentence.
The story is about single women in China who have passed their early 20s without a husband, which they say brings shame to their families and have turned to “love markets” as a last resort. Turns out that some entrepreneurs have started companies to help these women find husbands. These are more than dating websites. The companies train the women in man-finding techniques and search cities to help them locate eligible men.More
There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else. – Sam Walton Sam Walton understood something the woke school of CEOs seems to have forgotten: If customers do not buy your product you go out of business. […]
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America celebrate the booming economy that hit second quarter growth of 4.1 percent. They also notice the Democrats want to institute five years of jail time for spreading false information about elections dates and locations. And they see that Michael Avenatti was invited to speak […]
Here’s a bit of trivia: New Hampshire’s tallest building was erected by a general contractor unlicensed by the state. Before you decide to avoid forever Manchester’s 20-story City Hall Plaza, you should know no building in the state, including every house, was built by a state-licensed general contractor — because New Hampshire doesn’t license general contractors. I’ll be focusing on New Hampshire here, but the crazy quilt of occupational licenses smothers opportunity in every state.
The state doesn’t license carpenters, auto mechanics, welders or asphalt layers either. Yet your home does not fall apart, commercial buildings don’t tumble down, roads don’t dissolve in the rain.More
People everywhere are debating Trump’s mental and emotional state. Is he delusional? Is he a narcissist? Why is he out of control? Doesn’t he have empathy? Is he cognitively impaired? The list goes on and on. Finally, why does he keep doing the things he does? It came to me in a flash: what people […]
Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for January 3, 2018 – O.M.G. it’s 2018! It is the Crimson Crystal Ball edition of the show with your hosts fortune-teller Todd Feinburg and Swami Mike Stopa. We will peer into the future, part the enveloping mists of chaos and tell you what you can expect […]
I wonder how many New York Times and Washington Post subscriptions aren’t business expenses? Anybody know? More
The CEO’s who resigned from the President’s business councils are abdicating their duties to their corporations. They are putting a higher priority on signaling virtue to those who already agree with them than creating a better environment for their companies to succeed. The fine points of the President’s remarks about the riot in Charlottesville have […]
This week on Banter, University of North Dakota president and former Member of Congress Mark Kennedy discusses his new book “Shapeholders: Business Success in the Age of Activism.” The book discusses how businesses engage with “shapeholders”—regulators, the media, and social and political activists who don’t necessarily have a stake in a company’s success but who […]
It is the depth of the great depression, and yet business is booming at Warren Sons and Mortimer, merchant bankers, in the City of London. Henry Warren, descendant of the founder of the bank in 1750 and managing director, has never been busier. Despite the general contraction in the economy, firms failing, unemployment hitting record […]
From the WSJ, an elaboration on one of James Lileks’s pet peeves: lavish corporate HQ, and how they foretell a company’s decline Why does the HQ Indicator work? Investors in public companies have no control and are at the whims of management. Are a company’s leaders frugal, or do they spend shareholders’ money like drunken […]
As I have been writing, fears of a stagnationary New Normal seem to have receded, at least for now. Just ask the booming stock market, right? Also ask the suits. “Leaders of the largest US companies are becoming more optimistic about sales growth, hiring and capital investment, causing a measure of chief-executive sentiment to increase by the most in seven years,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
The simplistic, US-centric explantion is that the Trump fiscal and regulatory agenda deserve a good bit of the credit. But I find that explanation curious given the deep uncertainty about, for instance, the state of tax reform and infrastructure spending. Not to mention Trump trade policy. Also, things are looking bright beyond America’s shores. From the Economist:More
A cornerstone of childhood education is learning by example while an adult or elder sibling tackles a problem or task. Often, these lessons involve nothing more on the student’s part than carrying materials, fetching tools, or shining a light. An extra pair of hands, however small or weak, can be very helpful. Occasionally, small hands […]
I come across this truth frequently: Just because someone is an expert in one area it doesn’t mean they’re an expert in another area. More