Home Leadership Turn Archives Me RampUp Solutions Option Sanity
 


  • Categories

  • Archives
 

Halloween 2014

October 31st, 2014 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wxmom/1809020742I liked Halloween long before it became big business—about a third of what is spent on the highest spending holiday (no, not Christmas; Mother’s Day at $20+ billion).

That said, my Halloweens have shrunk since I left San Francisco for the small town I live in now.

What hasn’t changed is my penchant to write rhymes for the occasion—my contribution to the October 31st fright factor.

So here are this year’s offerings; you can see previous efforts here and here.

Scary News
Halloween’s a spooky night
when people pay to engage in fright.
I’ve never understood that yearning
to scream at something seen on turning.
Witches, warlocks, the walking dead
or someone who has lost their head.
Tonight the scares come by ones and twos—
the rest of the year just read the news.

Black Friday on Halloween
Halloween comes but once a year
a night that’s filled with fun and fear.
It used to be for children small
‘til merchants fell beneath its thrall.
They, in turn, enthralled adults
who willingly spend to provide results.
2014 will prove a record,
with 7 plus billion dollars expected.

Flickr Image credit: WxMom

Halloween 2014

I liked Halloween long before it became big business—about a third of what is spent on the highest spending holiday (no, not Christmas; Mother’s Day at $20+ billion).

That said, my Halloweens have shrunk since I left San Francisco for the small town I live in now.

What hasn’t changed is my penchant to write rhymes for the occasion—my contribution to the October 31st fright factor.

So here are this year’s offerings; you can see previous efforts here and here.

Scary News

Halloween’s a spooky night

when people pay to engage in fright.

I’ve never understood that yearning

to scream at something seen on turning

Witches, warlocks, the walking dead

or someone who has lost their head.

Tonight the scares come by ones and twos

The rest of the year just read the news.

Black Friday for Halloween

Halloween comes but once a year

a night that’s filled with fun and fear.

It used to be for children small

‘til merchants fell beneath its thrall.

They, in turn, enthralled adults

who willingly spend to provide results.

2014 will prove a record,

with more than 7 billion dollars expected.

Flickr Image credit: WxMom

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

Entrepreneurs: the Magic of Urgency

October 30th, 2014 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bullgator0892/11371185513

Steve Jobs is an icon and a beacon to entrepreneurs around the globe, although not as a management role model.

Many have weighed in on what made Jobs so great, but in a recent talk Malcolm Gladwell focused on a trait that anyone, in any field and any position can cultivate and become great at.
It’s not a trait that’s inborn nor does it require any special abilities.

It’s what Jobs had in abundance; it’s what drove him.

It’s what you can have, too.

What is this magical trait?

“Urgency,” Gladwell declared, characterizes Jobs and other immortal entrepreneurs. (…)  “The difference isn’t resources,” Gladwell said. “It’s attitude.”

Cultivate urgency.

Own it.

Flickr image credit: Pati Morris

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

Kip Tindell and The Container Store

October 29th, 2014 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomergabel/4963539052

The hourly base wage for fast-food workers in Denmark is $20USD, yet McDonald’s, Burger King, etc., are still profitable.

Try to sell a minimum wage increase to just $15 and you’ll be told that it would destroy jobs and close businesses.

But, as the song goes, it ain’t necessarily so.

Despite starting out with just a $35,000 investment in 1978, The Container Store founder and CEO Kip Tindell has grown his business to one that has 67 US locations and rings up annual sales of nearly $800 million.

Equally impressive is the fact that he’s done all that while paying his retail employees nearly twice the industry average.

So what does Tindell know that other bosses of retail businesses don’t? You get what you pay for…

  • “The 1=3 rule,” i.e., one great employee is as productive as three OK employees, so he gets three times the productivity of an average worker at only two times the cost.
  • Turnover is lower substantially reducing hiring and training costs.
  • Annual raises up to 8% of their salaries, based on performance, but
  • encourages managers to evaluate employees based on their value to the company.

The result is the average Container Store retail salesperson makes nearly $50,000; about double the national average for retail.

When it comes to wages, Kip Tindell is the Twenty-first Century’s Henry Ford.

Ford astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage ($110 today), which more than doubled the rate of most of his workers. (…) The move proved extremely profitable…

The minimum wage war should become a lot more interesting when Tindell takes over as chair of the National Retail Federation.

It’s a lot harder to argue with success.

Flickr image credit: Tomer Gabel

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

Ducks in a Row: Mark Andreessen’s Views on Diversity

October 28th, 2014 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomastern/10190186943/

For all the talk about the lack of diversity some folks still don’t get it.

It’s a recognized fact that sometimes very smart people do or say very stupid things as reflected in Marc Andreessen’s recent comment explaining that companies actually are diverse.

“When you actually go in these companies, what you find is it’s American people, but it’s also Russians, and Eastern Europeans, and French, and German, and British. And then there are the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Indonesians, and Vietnamese.”

This is a direct contradiction of 2013 research done by Reuters.

A recent Reuters report found that the majority of Silicon Valley startup founders that receive Series A funding come from the same pedigreed cohort: either they previously worked at a large, well-known tech firm, a well-connected smaller tech company, they previously created a successful startup, or they come from one of three universities—Stanford, Harvard, or MIT.

Of course, one image is worth ten thousand words when proving this.

Andreessen also says that the lack of women and people of color in Valley companies is a function of education inequality and not having the right connections; another thought that flies in the face of facts.

Except for the fact that a recent analysis conducted by USA Today found that top universities are graduating black and Hispanic computer science and computer engineering students at twice the rate that technology companies are hiring them. Last year, 4.5% of computer science and engineering graduates from top universities were black and 6.5% were Hispanic. But on average, just 2% of employees at Silicon Valley tech companies (specifically, the seven companies that have released diversity stats) are black and 3% are Hispanic.

The walls around the Valley investor community are far higher now than they were when in 1993 when he happened to meet Jim Clark, who suggested forming a company based on a program Andreessen wrote in college called Mosaic.

The Valley needs to wake up, bite the bullet and follow the lead of Google, instead of pulling Andreessen’s rationalizing over their collective heads.

Flickr image credit: Susanne Nilsson

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

Balance and Common Sense

October 27th, 2014 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesjordan/3423905967

I was reading Oscar de la Renta’s obituary (fascinating guy) and a quote from him caught my eye.

“Being well dressed hasn’t much to do with having good clothes. It’s a question of good balance and good common sense.”

What grabbed me was the second sentence.

Because it doesn’t matter what you set out to do or how much money you spend on accouterments.

It doesn’t matter who you know, where you went to school, how many hours you work or how brilliant your vision.

It doesn’t matter because without balance and common sense you will fail.

Because balance and common sense are the foundation of anything you choose to accomplish.

Flickr image credit: James Jordan

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

If the Shoe Fits: Is San Francisco/Bay Area Really the Promised Land?

October 24th, 2014 by Miki Saxon

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mThe Bay Area is touted for being the best place in the world for startups; the place that all others try to copy.

But is it really the best place?

I live in Washington State, just across the river from Portland, Oregon, AKA, Silicon Forrest. Lots of startups including a few that have jumped ship from San Francisco.

Tilde joins startups like Simple, Panic, and Sprint.ly, which have already set up shop in the city. Big-name companies like Salesforce, eBay, and Airbnb have also opened outposts here in recent months.

New York State offers cushy lures and there’s a lot more to the state than just New York City.

START-UP NY, Governor Cuomo’s groundbreaking initiative, is transforming communities across the state into tax-free sites for new and expanding businesses. Now, businesses can operate 100% tax-free for 10 years. No income tax, business, corporate, state or local taxes, sales and property taxes, or franchise fees.

Detroit should be up for consideration, too, thanks to Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loan’s billionaire owner who bought 60 skyscrapers totaling nine million square feet.

He has brought 12,500 employees with him to downtown, and along with other private investors is funding the construction of a light-rail system that will connect the central business district with the neighboring Midtown district. Through his umbrella company, Rock Ventures, he formed a start-up incubator called Bizdom and a venture-capital firm, with some of the funded companies already expanding into other Gilbert-owned office space.

Or you might prefer the new Las Vegas being guided by Tony Hsieh, using $350 million of his own money, because he deeply believes that some of the best ideas come from the unplanned interactions of dissimilar people.

He has brought 12,500 employees with him to downtown, and along with other private investors is funding the construction of a light-rail system that will connect the central business district with the neighboring Midtown district. (…) Around the same time, the Las Vegas city government was also about to move, and Hsieh saw his opportunity. He leased the former City Hall — smack in the middle of downtown Vegas — for 15 years. Then he got to thinking: If he was going to move at least 1,200 employees, why not make it possible for them to live nearby? And if they could live nearby, why not create an urban community aligned with the culture of Zappos, which encourages the kind of “serendipitous interactions” that happen in offices without walls?

One thing all of these areas have in common is diversity; because living costs are lower their populations reflect real-world attitudes and concerns, as opposed to the more homogenized views of the wealthy, super-educated white males that dominate the Bay Area.

More on them next Tuesday.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

Entrepreneurs: the Importance of Intros

October 23rd, 2014 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewbasterfield/5543166503I was reading Mark Suster’s Both Sides of the Table about how Seriously came to be funded.

It’s a good read, as most of them are, but towards the end he says something that is both a fact and a fault in funding.

So I hope that offers you insights into how companies move through the VC system. Intros. Vision. Domain Knowledge. Clear path to execution. Ability to build without a massive budget. Execute.

The bold emphasis on ‘intros’ is mine, because they are why many valid, worthwhile, game-changing startups will not get funding.

No matter how brilliant, the founders are outsiders and/or don’t fit the accepted profile.

In short, they don’t fit investor bias.

But mostly, they don’t have the connections who are able to pick up the phone and evangelize to someone like Suster.

All of which means that the pool of fundable startups keeps shrinking.

Flickr image credit: Andrew Basterfield

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

Legalized Corruption

October 22nd, 2014 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/5502905667

I rarely write about politics, but it’s that time of year; I live on the border between two states and have to listen to political ads from both. So please, if this post offends you accept my apologies and wield your delete key.

My feelings are driven by the smugness I see across the political spectrum irregardless of parties and beliefs.

Smugness regarding the rarity of corruption in the US vs. its prevalence in other countries.

The way I see it, corruption in the US is rare primarily because it’s been legalized in the form of lobbying and PACs.

Lobbying has long influenced legislation, but as of 2010, when the Supreme Court effectively eliminated restrictions on outside groups, elections themselves went up for sale.

If you doubt me look no farther than the Americans for Prosperity, owned and run by the Koch brothers, which will spend at least $125 million this year, and the growth of super PACs overall.

In 2000, outside groups spent $52 million on campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. By 2012, that number had increased to $1 billion. (…) In 2014, as of early October, when the campaigns

had yet to do their big final pushes, overall spending was already more than $444 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Roughly $231 million was from the parties and their congressional committees, the rest from outside spending. The biggest chunk of that by far came from super PACs — more than $196 million.

What each of these wealthy individuals have in common is passion, but unbridled passion is the hallmark of the fanatic—and fanaticism paves the road to a closed mind—one that is evidenced by fear, hate and bigotry.

Legal corruption or not, voting is important—if for no other reason than not voting precludes your right to complain.

Or, as my mom used to say when faced with two bad choices, just “hold your nose” and vote against X as opposed to for Y.

And you can avoid the corruption by ignoring ads, whether pro or con, and evaluating candidates and issues in a holistic and pragmatic way that looks at what makes the most long-term sense.

Flickr image credit: DonkeyHotey

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

Ducks in a Row: the Problem with Change

October 21st, 2014 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/anemoneprojectors/5620251974

After 40 years the architectural profession isn’t any more open to women than it was.

In 1974, Ada Louise Huxtable, architecture critic for The New York Times, wrote that it was “appalling” that the institute’s national membership consisted of 24,000 men and 300 women.

Although women now account for half of all graduates of American architecture schools, they represent only 20 percent of licensed practitioners and an even lower proportion of partners in firms…

It took pressure from Millennial men in search of better work-life balance to force some law firms to effect change, in spite of the fact that losing a second-year associate costs $200,000 – $500,000 and nearly 50% of women lawyers quit.

Paying for women to freeze their eggs is the latest perk being offered, including by Apple and Facebook.

Many in tech believe that organizations such as Girls that Code and mentoring groups like WEST will change the dismal gender diversity numbers.

Facebook, Box and Pinterest announced on Wednesday that they have gotten together to launch a new mentorship program called WEST (Women Entering and Staying in Tech). The idea is to get more women interested in computer science, and to help them be prepared for the tech jobs of the future.

Google is ahead of the pack by taking a different approach and addressing unconscious bias.

Will any of these initiatives work long-term?

Doubtful.

Because, other than Google, none address the need for cultural change.

Changing culture is hard and it needs to start from the top, which means that leadership must change its MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™).

But considering the example set by the architectural profession I’m not holding my breath.

Flickr image credit: Peter aka anemoneprojectors

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

The Destruction of American Workers

October 20th, 2014 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dpurdy/2954271099What’s going on?

Why is there such a disconnect between management and minimum wage workers?

A disconnect that goes beyond all logic.

A disconnect that treats low wage workers more like serfs.

Two weeks ago it was Walmart’s efforts to enforce a dress code at their employees’ expense.

Now it’s companies such as Jimmy John’s sub shops requiring minimum wage workers to sign noncompete agreements.

But who knows, perhaps there is a proprietary trick to spreading mayo that I’m not aware of.

California outlawed most non-compete clauses on the basis that people have a right to earn a living.

And then there is the sexual harassment of low wage women workers.

The study showed that women reliant on tips made up the highest share of those who had experienced harassment and that those who lived in states where the tipped minimum wage was $2.13 an hour (the federal minimum for tipped workers) were twice as likely to experience sexual harassment as those who lived in places where a single minimum wage standard applied to all workers.

Whether large corporation or small business, it seems that those in the upper levels, who are financially secure, place little-to-no value on those who actually keep their company running.

And as for morality, well, that comes down to whether more employers decide that basic human decency requires viewing their workers not as interchangeable cogs to be paid as little as possible and worked to the bone but as valuable partners in building a company for the long term.

Centuries ago, when describing the actions of leaders, Lao Tzu ended by saying,

To lead the people, walk behind them.

Today it reads,

To lead the people, walk upon them.

Flickr image credit: Derek Purdy

Your comments-priceless

Don’t miss a post! Subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

  • What did you think of this article?
Show Results

RSS2 Subscribe to
MAPping Company Success

Enter your Email
Powered by FeedBlitz

About Miki View Miki Saxon's profile on LinkedIn

About KG View KG Charles-Harris' profile on LinkedIn

Clarify your exec summary, website, etc.

Have a quick question or just want to chat? Feel free to write or call me at 360.335.8054

Download useful assistance now.

Give your mind a rest. Here are 4 quick ways to get rid of kinks, break a logjam or juice your creativity!

Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and tornadoes in the Midwest; don't wait to help, contribute now!
 
Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation or call 800.733.2767.
 
$10 really does make a difference and you'll never miss it.
 
Always donate what you can whenever you can.

The following accept cash and in-kind donations:

Web site development: NTR Lab
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.