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Re; The New Student Sushi Bar

April 28, 2017

What is a college to do when rock-climbing walls and in-room yoga mats become standard equipment among your competitors?  How to differentiate? How do you up your value proposition for your most highly valuable consumer targets? Let’s face it, it’s a cut-throat world out there in student marketing. And it’s no wonder. These market targets are worth a minimum of $200,000 over four years, at very high margins, and with many added revenue opportunities over that time.  Value-adds like safe spaces for confessing crimes against correctness come with a premium price tag, after all. This is almost guaranteed income.  Nobody flunks out of college any more.  That would be really bad business. Failing is totally passé. Many of these consumers will go on to the same school for graduate degrees.  Ka-ching!  And as alumni, in order to protect the image of their school as a smart choice, most can be…

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I Want to Be a Distraction.

March 29, 2017

Many Democrats, as well as a few Republicans, like Senator John McCain, have said that Congressman Devin Nunes should step down from his position as head of the House Intelligence Committee, because he is becoming “a distraction.” This is a word with meaning that is peculiar to Washington, like “reconciliation” or “sequester.” It means your desk has been moved close to the Exit door. The public official, one important enough to rate a podium, stands at the podium with wife or husband beside them, looking stoic and stony. Yes, they’ve been banging the intern. Or, more often, never admitting to banging the intern, they say that, yes, they’ve failed their spouse and family and their Lord. And, “blah, blah, blah, don’t want to become a distraction.” Exit left. General Flynn was becoming a distraction. Exit right. What’s a distraction? To me, Chuck Schumer’s hair plugs are a distraction. And our…

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Most Companies Love Innovation But Hate Change.

March 16, 2017

These days, the start-up incubator run by big companies has become a kind of corporate fashion accessory. All the cool guys have one. I assume there are two objectives: first, maybe they will come up with an idea that can be developed in their sector; second, maybe this will create a more innovative atmosphere around the company, generally. Everybody wants a little of that start-up vibe within their organization. Every CEO loves innovation. Just note how many times they mention the word in the annual report’s CEO letter. But there’s a problem. Those “two kids in a garage” or in the incubator want to change the world; but most big companies don’t want to change much of anything. After all, they are very, very successful, and have been for a long time. Okay, sales are softening up and competition is stiffening. Still, why would they want to change anything? “The…

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The Velvet Rope Revolution

February 16, 2017

Almost every successful revolution, including that of Donald Trump, has expanded its base with a growing refrain: “You are not alone!” This is what allows it to grow and shape itself into something meaningful. With Trump’s election, the Democrats and progressive commentariat have settled into what they call “The Resistance.” And the overwhelming refrain of this movement is clear: “You are not allowed.” That’s why I call it “The Velvet Rope Revolution.” You are not outraged enough. You are not feminist enough. You are not Black enough. You are not socialist enough. You can’t apologize enough, if you happen to say something in support of Trump. By the way, you are also not enough of a celebrity for this huge celebrity selfie opportunity. You can’t come in. “The Resistance” is not a strategy, as much as it’s an emotional discharge. And, okay, I get it: Trump has a bad haircut…

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Most Companies Are Training Their Leaders To Fail.

January 19, 2017

The model for training leaders in most businesses today is broken; it’s hopelessly obsolete – developed for a different age, a different business environment and a different work force than we have today. It was developed by and for market leading companies, by business incumbents, but it’s even failing them today. For many decades, those incumbents have benefitted from the tendency of others in their sectors playing “follow the leader” in their strategies. In trying to slipstream the leaders, the pack instead pushed them ahead. That effect is taking down whole categories in this turbulent new business environment. The situation in leadership training is like that facing Douglas McArthur when he was appointed superintendent of West Point: “We keep teaching our cadets to win the War of 1812.” And it’s that much worse for women or minorities rising in management today, still being trained by the “old boy” rules. That’s…

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