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National and Global, United States

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two Mega-bytes (MB) of RAM in an *8 GB World...and AOL

OK. Let's get techie for the moment. RAM, as you know, is Random Access Memory.
In 1987, I had a MAC II. You do remember that machine. It had a total RAM of 2 MB. It was 'dial up'...and it was oh so slow.

To add some perspective, Today's average RAM is somewhere between 512MB and 8GB (gigabytes). Far cry from 1987.

In 1987, I was a beta of AOL, and probably one of its first 100 subscribers. I still use the e-mail: today. Yep, a newbie in the world of digital media. AOL charged by the minute usage at that time. It went 'off air' around midnight and didn't return, if it did at all, until sometime the next morning. If you recall, AOL competed against the likes of Prodigy, CompuServe, and GEnie ... all long gone.

Additionally, different management personas took the company at different break points, into areas not seen before in the new digital environment, without even knowing what they were doing actually.

Nevertheless, after 20 years I still remember a MAC II with 2MB of RAM talking to a software platform that could potentially change the world. In some ways it has. However, we all know that AOL is 'road kill' at the moment, milked of substance, corporate and personal abuse and ambition. Milked to death, so that individuals who knew very little about the new age technology, could take advantage, and take the money and run.

And that has not changed for AOL. Since its merger with Time Warner the value of AOL has dropped significantly from its $240 billion high. Its subscriber base has seen no quarterly growth since 2002. AOL has since attempted to reposition itself as a content provider similar to companies such as Yahoo! as opposed to an Internet service provider. And they have failed miserable at it. From my perspective an 'anolog mind' (TimeWarner) cannot not effectively direct a 'digital future'(aol).

As someone said: “It is an unsustainable economic model. AOL is charging limited rates for unlimited access to a resource that is essentially limited.” And aside from MB, GB, that is a R.I.P for a company that had everything going for it...including greed. Unfortunetly, there were a lot of gigabytes of that.

Extinct: A Return to Normal Business

Understandably, there are still some traditional executives who are waiting for things to return to "normal." It's not going to happen. Constant change is the new norm. You just can't decide to do it better. You've got to do it differently, whatever it is you do. The economy will not bounce-back in the traditional sense of 20th century corporate thinking. If you don't recognize that fact, you have a problem. You need to contact me.

That translates to an entirely new business model, taking into consideration the 'openness' of the digital age, with all its pluses and minuses. It's a redefinition of how business conducts itself, from research, to strategy, to tactical implementation.

It goes further to a transformation to a customer-focused perspective. Most companies say that they are 'customer focused' but in reality, they are not. Take a look at the airline industry, for example. Most companies don't embrace new CRM technologies. They say they do...but they don't. Take a look at the management consulting industry.

Companies still focus 'inside', when they need to be 'outside looking in'. They have no concept of expanding their capabilities, through strategic partnerships, for instance or sub-ventures within their own organization, tied to it, but independent of it.

Companies historically look at their skill-sets, and push them out, rather then looking outward at skill-sets and pushing them in. They retain their comfort zone, rather then asking their customers what they need and want, and going out and getting exactly that. That's uncomfortable for organizations. They are not good at bringing in that 'value add' that extends their brand and increases the effectiveness of what they do. They will tell you they do. They just don't.

In this regard, companies need to open up internal space for new ventures and new ideas. A subset of their core competencies. Instead, what normally happens is that any 'new' venture starts to look like what's been done in the past, rather then what is needed for the future. It still needs to fit the square peg in the square hole. And that, in this new business age, is a death knell for these companies. They think they 'do it' but they don't, and don't know how.

If you take a look at Lockheed's Skunk Works you'd get the picture. A subset of the corporation with a separate place of business and little ties to the parent. I worked as a consultant for 12-months for a satellite communications company in an attempt to work outside the company structure in developing markets and products for IPTV. They even called it 'skunk works'. But it wasn't. When the bottom fell out of the economy, this project was one of the first to go. And even when it was an on-going effort, little attention was paid to it, because the managers assigned to it were all internal, and had other priorities.This was not one of them. It should have been. That company will remember the day, they walked away from the 'skunk works'.

What the initiative needed was more space which would have offered the venture more freedom to move in new and different directions, but it became difficult to bring that learning and expertise back to the core organization because that group had no 'buy in' to the venture itself. They were responsible for it, but were distant from it.

The fact is, that if an organization is to move towards a true, transparent transformation, leadership must understand the pressures, commitments, and changes that need to be made to achieve that goal. Lip service won't do it. Lack of decision-making won't do it. And certainly not pro-actively allowing that decision-making to be addressed outside the traditional 'management box' surely won't do it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Monty Hall Problem

PRETEND YOU ARE ON A GAME SHOW WITH MONTY HALL and he offers you the following scenario as described in an article from the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

You face three doors and behind one door is a car, while the other two hide goats. Your goal is to pick the door that hides the car. Here are the rules. First, the car and the goats were placed randomly behind the doors. Second, after you choose a door, the door remains closed for now. Third, Monty knows what is behind each door. Fourth, he has to open one of the two remaining doors. Fifth, the door he opens must have a goat behind it. Sixth, if both remaining doors have goats behind them, he chooses one randomly.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Let The Good Times Role...for 10% of Americans

Gallup on October 15, 2009, reported the findings of a poll it conducted that showed that only 10% of Americans feel that now is a "good time" to find a quality job, reflecting no improvement since February 2009. While that stat is not astonishing, where the job creation should go, is more profound. We should be placing much more emphasis on building areas of digital media technology, alternative energy sources, and 'brick and mortar' businesses such as hotels, restaurants, electric cars. Instead, the government builds highways, capitalizes the banking and automotive sector, in hopes of bootstrapping these 'out of touch' and oh so traditional industries.

On the poll's findings, said Gallup:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Alienation of Middle Income Americans

There's a reason for "the alienation and radicalization of white America," said Pat Buchanan in WorldNetDaily, and it has nothing to do with the election of Barack Obama, our first black president. In their lifetimes, traditional, middle-class whites "have seen their Christian faith purged from schools their taxes paid for," they've been mocked in movies and on TV, and now they're watching Wall Street banks bailed out as they "sweat their next paycheck." No wonder they distrust the government.

First, I dislike the term "middle class".

Sunday, October 18, 2009

If You Want to Be A Great Consultant, Go Look at Your Dog

Go look at your dog. Go on, look—perhaps he is sitting by your side right now, lying on his doggie bed, with his feet in the air, or sprawled on his side on the cement floor, or sleeping under the bed, paws flitting through his dog dreams.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Consulting: Take Advantage

Take positive advantage of all new consulting situations.

Reggie Jackson stated in his new book on baseball: "There are at least three kinds of advantages that the pitcher and batter contest. There’s the physical advantage, the strategic advantage, and also the psychological advantage. I didn’t want two out of three. I wanted them all."

And so too should we, when dealing in our business space. We need to demand the physical, strategic, and psychological high road. Not two of three. All three. We need to work towards that goal. Because when you get there, you are in control of your own destiny. It could be short-lived, like three-strikes-your-out; or it could go on for a very long time. It depends on how you position it all, and what kind of presence you have when you stand up to the plate, or walk through the conference room door. So, be prepared.

We need the mental toughness to take control of the uniqueness, the expertise. That 'stake in the sand' mentality.

Reggie also wrote: "When I was facing a great pitcher late in a ballgame, and the ballgame was close, I’d try to get really focused on doing what I do best."

And that's good baseball, or in real life.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Consulting Firms: Staff Attrition as The Economy Improves

According to Consulting Magazine, As the economy improves, most consulting firms will brace themselves for a spike in staff attrition. Firms that have sacrificed firm culture and employee satisfaction in the hopes of driving greater profitability during the downturn, probably have the most to fear. Other firms, who have remained focused on retention efforts throughout the downturn, probably have less to worry about.

So it would logically appear that firms that panicked and only looked at the erosion of their bottom-line, gave up their culture and employee satisfaction, for short term gain would be the hardest hit. And they should be.

They will suffer the most as the economy rebounds, and their professional staff decides they have had enough of the self-indulgent Partners, who selfishly looked at their own personal survival and cared less about their staff...and therefore their clients. Those are the firms that lost their focus, threw the strategy out (or never did have one), and began to lose their 'brand'. And goodbye to those firms, frankly.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I've Been Attacked by a Free Range Chicken...

Yep. I was shopping at Fry's/Kroger today. I was looking for a nice chicken. Well, I found one. A 'free ranger', not enslaved I would surmise. $17.00 for a chicken. That chicken should have stood up and danced for that price!

Have we all gone insane? A two-pound chicken at almost $8.00 per lb? Somebody pinch me please. Actually, I just wanted your average chicken... about two pounds for five bucks. I didn't need a gorilla on top of that! It's a chicken... last I looked.

In any case, in this economic malaise, with the unemployment rate above 10%, why in the world would anyone offer a chicken priced at $17? So, they let the bird run around the yard at his own pace. Only in America.

Free range or enslaved. A chicken is a chicken? Right. I still can't tell the difference.

Where the hell is John Wayne when I need him? Pass me that wing, will ya, Pilgrim? Is that a 'free range' wing? "Oh find me a home where the chickens roam", were his last words.

I gotta go now. I have a 'range chicken' on the phone who needs an agent.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On The Beach. West Africa. Digital Media

I received the hotel brochure from the client. By African standards this was a first class place. On the beach, great restaurant, balconies facing the ocean, swimming pool, outdoor bar, clean rooms, individual bathroom. “Great!” I thought. “On the beach in Nigeria on a great digital media consulting project”.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I’m normally not a praying man, but if you’re up there, please save me, Superman

If “The Simpsons” have taught us anything it’s that two-dimensional characters are funnier than three-dimensional ones. And Playboy Magazine apparently thinks so too.

Marge: Homer! There's someone here who can help us...
Homer: Is it Batman?
Marge: No, he's a scientist.
Homer: Batman's a scientist?!
Marge: It's not Batman!”

"Even if you've only read Playboy for the articles in the past," said Tracy Pepey in iVillage, you'll want to check out the nudity in the November issue -- "cartoon mama Marge Simpson will appear naked(!) on the mag's cover." To celebrate The Simpsons' 20th anniversary, "Homer's honey" will do an interview and a three-page pictorial. No centerfold, though -- Marge is "too classy" for that.

Playboy has nowhere to go, it would seem. "Old and staid" I think is the term. What Playboy is doing by putting Marge Simpson (not a real person, BTW), is what I think I can get in MAD Magazine, or any comic book.

Is this simply a publicity stunt to raise awareness of the Simpson's, as well as create some 'buzz' for Playboy? Plus, did anyone check the demographics of the Simpson's compared to Playboy readers? The marketing genius who came up with this event, is probably a 30-something, who grew up reading "Green Hornet" comic books, and thought it was real life. What next, Wonder Woman?

Homer's response to all of this: "I’m normally not a praying man, but if you’re up there, please save me, Superman."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lettuce Pray

Localization vs Globalization

Localization is the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local "look-and-feel." Ideally, a product or service is developed so that localization is relatively easy to achieve - for example, by creating food products which can be easily adapted to the local culture or even neighborhood, even if you are a chain or a franchise. Then you can “internationalize” the product, by moving it into the mainstream. Then the product becomes easier to ‘localize’.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage: With the economy questionable and no one exactly sure when the markets will rebound, it's a good time to invest in solid, verifiable assets. Banks in Italy take an even more pragmatic approach, accepting as collateral for loans something not only solid and verifiable--but edible, should it come to that. According to a Bloomberg News report, the warehouses of regional bank Credito Emiliano hold about 440,000 wheels of parmesan cheese, two tons of spaghetti, forty pounds of hot peppers, 40,000 pounds of meatballs, and 60,000 pounds of tomatoes. In this case, the economy better turn around fast. And for dinner tonight? Oh Emiliano, not again!

Just look at me! In most cultures, the guru is a special person. He benefits from unique access to the mysterious forces of chaos lurking just under the deceptive surfaces of our world. Thus, he has the ability to intuit the movements of the cosmos and so to foretell our destiny. He doesn't have to prove what he says-he has the luxury of using what the medieval theologians called "the argument from authority." The guru, in fact, ceases to be a simple human being and becomes a representative of his own brand. He may grow out his hair, dress up in underwear, retire to the hills, or otherwise cultivate eccentricities. I know lots of people who grow out their hair and dress up in their underwear. In my neighborhood, they ain’t called ‘gurus’.

“ You can't visit any time before your time machine was built”. This is not according to Yogi Berra. According to the Einstein Brothers (I know Albert, but who is Louie?) picture of the universe, space and time are curved and very closely related to each other. This means that traveling through time would be much like traveling through a tunnel in space—in which case you'd need both an entrance and an exit. As a time traveler, you can't visit an era unless there's already a time machine when you get there—an off-ramp. This helps explain why we're not visited more often from people from the future.
And certainly, I don't want to visit the past. And don't bagels go stale after a day or so?

Consulting Firms: Revenue Still In Decline....

Dante once said "that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of crisis maintain their neutrality”.

More than half of global business executives say that the current economic crisis has revealed shortcomings in their organization and two-thirds say their organization is using the crisis as an opportunity to drive change, according to new research by Celerant Consulting.

Nevertheless, Consulting Magazine reports that many public consulting firms continue to struggle. At least three companies reported double-digit declines in consulting revenue for the latest quarter.

Watson Wyatt: Firmwide revenue fell 13 percent, to $396.5 million, in its most recent quarter. More alarming is that profit fell 25 percent in that three month span, down to $31.2 million from $41.7 million a year ago. Analysts blamed the declines on the economy, stressing that many HR consultancies are seeing significant declines in compensation consulting work.

With the economy limiting the number of high level job openings, fewer companies are worrying about compensation competitiveness. While the earnings news is sobering, it’s actually better than Wall Street anticipated. And the firm’s stock price continues to climb in anticipation of its upcoming merger with Towers Perrin.

Hewitt: In its most recently completed quarter, Hewitt’s consulting revenue fell by 13.8 percent and profits sank by 7.5 percent. Overall, the firm’s revenue fell to $729 million, down a modest two percent after adjusting for currency effects.

The firmwide number was bolstered by modest growth from its benefits outsourcing business, which now accounts for almost 27 percent of the firm. The firm’s HR BPO business saw revenue decline by almost 12 percent in the quarter. The good news for that unit was that it managed to post a profit, a positive sign after a loss last year.

CIBER: CIBER’s consulting revenues took a hit in its most recent quarter, falling from just over $300 million in the three months ending June 30, 2008 to just over $250 million in the same three months of 2009. The year-over-year 17 percent decline comes after a 11 percent decline in the firm’s consulting business between the first three months of 2009 and the same period of 2008.

Costs associated with the consulting business accounted for about 75 percent of revenue in the three months ending June 30, 2009, that’s up from 72 percent in the same period of 2008. The challenges facing CIBER’s consulting practice speak to the highly commoditized nature of many segments of IT consulting. Average hourly rates fell from $89/hour to $83/hour. Consultant utilization dipped from 90 percent to 87 percent. As a result, the firm’s headcount has also been reduced, down from 7,445 to 7,150.

And now there seems to be an apparent disjoint here: Why would More than half of global business executives say that the current economic crisis has revealed shortcomings in their organization and two-thirds say their organization is using the crisis as an opportunity to drive change, while most large consulting firms are seeing substantive reductions in revenues (new/more work) and headcount? Why are consulting firms not taking this crisis (business/personal) and addressing it from a strategic and business development perspective? You can't grow your business by reducing headcount. There's no math in that. It doesn't resonate! More then that, it does not work.

Perhaps it is time for these firms to start to 'outsource' their strategy and business development efforts to smaller, more flexible, agile firms who respond quicker to market changes, and can deliver new business without the high overhead.

I think Dante also once said" "Give 'em hell, Harry!" Or perhaps 'go to hell Harry'... or something to that effect. Maybe not.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gas Station Television...

IPTV or Fun at the Pump? In the midst of a a cruel recession for Americans, there's a diversion: TV at the gas station.

The number of televisions atop gas pumps has skyrocketed since their introduction at a handful of stations in 2006. Now, three privately held companies have placed more than 20,000 screens at thousands of stations across the country.

"We try to bring some fun to the pump," says the vice president of sales and marketing for PumpTop TV, an Irvine, Calif., company that provides screens and content at nearly 600 stations nationwide.

The TVs are also bringing in added revenue for gas retailers, who have recently seen their margins shrink because of an increase in fuel-load costs and credit-card fees.

When the owners advertise anything from candy bars to car washes on the TVs, they say in-store sales rise compared to stations without the screens.

Gas Station TV says that in tracking its retailers' sales, stores with screens installed on pumps report selling 75 percent more car washes and 69 percent more snacks if those items are advertised.

TV programming at the pumps varies by location and provider.

One company provides real-time traffic, local sports scores, headlines and weather.

Another carries trivia and NBC content. Gas station TV broadcasts CBS programming and carried an American Idol-type search earlier this year.

These companies pay gas-station owners "rent" in exchange for placing the flat screens above the pumps, and the retailers also can advertise specials or products inside the convenience store.

Once a customer starts the pump, the TV comes on - and stays on.

There's no way to change the channel or mute the volume. So people usually tune in.

"The customer is tied to the screen with an 8-foot rubber hose for five minutes."

It also appears that people remember what they see on the pump TVs: According to a Gas Station TV and Nielsen Media Research study, 70 percent of the people who watched the ads remembered the products advertised, and 89 percent of consumers surveyed were willing to buy a product after seeing an ad atop the pump.

Finally, if I could just figure a way to vend prepared food at the pump...'Fun at the pump'.

California Needs A Consultant

"Help me Rhonda, help, help me Rhonda". The "Beach Boys" and Rhonda are no where to be found these days. The former home of the "Beach Boys" is about to fail...and badly.

The Golden State is so tarnished, said Paul Harris in Britain’s The Guardian, that we can’t dismiss Kenneth Starr’s warning: “California is on the verge of becoming the first failed state in America.” This matters because California is the world’s eighth-largest economy: If it were a country, it would be in the G8. But that economy is such a mess, "if it were a company, it would likely be declared bankrupt.” What happened to the “California dream?” Where did it go? How did it evolve into this?

Liberals, said Victor Davis Hanson in National Review Online. Sure, there are the “usual symptoms” for what ails California—foreclosures, unemployment, “mega-state deficits,” layoffs—but also the things nobody talks about: High taxes with limited results, illegal immigration, overregulation, and rampant environmentalism that cuts off water to farmers.

Perhaps the state should look at "interim management" as a strategy. If it were like a business, the entire board and its Chairman would be unemployed, and the staff would be replaced.

Hey do-run-run, as the song goes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gourmet Magazine Hits the Garbage Dump...

"Gourmet will speak that Esperanto of the palate that makes the whole world kin..."
from the first issue, 1941.
In other words, pass me the cheeseburger, or in this case 'the McKinsey burger'.

Condé Nast just underwent a three-month study by McKinsey & Co. to see how it could cut costs (three other titles— Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, and Cookie—also will be closed). Well, tells you something about modern day marriage. There are "similarities between Gourmet and Condé’s other food title, Bon Appétit—and in this economy redundancy is death." You wanna say that again?

It's chilling (think refrig) to think what the food world will be like without Gourmet (you listening McDonald's), said Gabriella Gershenson in Time Out New York. "What will young people today who love food aspire to? Chinese tak-e-out-e, Cheaply won celebrity chefdom?" Reality TV? Blogs with nothing but restaurant gossip (did you see what's she is eating?). Let's hope people who "crave quality" find a way to fill the void, like dollar meals and KFC.

And here are some of the reader comments aimed squarely at McKinsey:

This choice was nothing but cheap cynicism motivated by a bunch of young semiliterate MBAs from McKinsey. Can you hear them? Nobody reads long articles. The type is too small. Cooking isn't about being a gourmet, it's about takeout food. A food magazine is about aspiring to set a nice table, not actually cook. When will somebody do an expose about McKinsey?

More than sad. Pathetic that publishing experts would rely on nonreading, nonpracticing, nonhuman MBAs who profess to know about magazines.

As we say, “Consultants are like the bottom half of a double boiler: They get all heated up but don't know what's cooking.”

IMS Research: Tier 1 telco TV in 40 million homes by 2014

It may not come as a shock, but IMS Research suggests in a new study that Tier 1 telcos are becoming the new behemoths of the pay TV landscape. These firms, such as AT&T, China Telecom and France Telecom, will serve about 40.1 million households with their TV services by the end of 2014, the study says.

According to a report at, Rebecca Kurlak, research analyst at IMS and author of the study, adds that "Tier 2 and 3 telcos will continue to experience subscriber growth as well. In 2008, tier 2 and tier 3 telcos comprised almost 46% of subscribers. Throughout the forecast, the larger telcos will essentially be stealing honey from the smaller telcos' bee hives by providing more services, deeper discounts and more compelling content from major studios. Hence the reason why the small telcos will only garner close to 23 million TV households by the end of 2014, half the potential of what Tier 1 telcos are anticipated to achieve."

If I'm reading that correctly--and tell me if I'm not--the suggestion is that Tier 1 telcos actually pose a competitive threat to the smaller telcos, a notion that may come as a surprise to the smaller telcos themselves, who I think perceive satellite TV companies and, less so, cable TV companies, as the obvious competitive threats to their young pay TV offerings. If anything, it has appeared so far that large telcos don't really care about either telephone or TV customers in the more rural markets usually served by the Tier 2 and Tier 3 guys.

Meanwhile, the Tier 2 and Tier 3 telcos are starting to see more affordable and accessible infrastructure and content choices to support their pay TV service, a trend which seems to stengthen the odds for their ongoing success in pay TV.

Clever People

The authors of 'Clever' show how organizations can better serve their most valuable employees. The authors of "Clever: Leading Your Smartest, Most Creative People" -- Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones make some points.

Clever people need teams in which to operate. They may not always be team players, but they cannot flourish as soloists either.

So managers must make sure their teams allow their clever people's talents to be exploited. "In our experience," the authors say, "the best clever teams are not designed; they find each other."

The challenge is clear. In the future, the authors say: "The most effective clever organizations will be collections of value networks, or . . . temporary value chains. These deliver a particular project or perform as a particular team and then, once they have completed their work, are reabsorbed in other places."

So this is the central task for leaders and managers: "Creating attractive places for clever people to express themselves."

The authors provide an insightful description of the anatomy of clever employees. Clever people know their worth, they say. They ask difficult questions. Cleverness is central to their identity. And they are not impressed by corporate hierarchy. "They claim they do not want to be led, and they are absolutely certain that they don't want to be managed," Goffee and Jones say.

Clever people do need boundaries and simple rules. Leaders should protect their "clevers" from "organizational rain" -- the nonsense, the politics and the aggravation of organizational life. If not they will leave, and form their own 'clever organization'.

Then again, "Sometimes I am so clever that I don't understand a single word of what I am saying. "

Monday, October 5, 2009

This Recession Lasted Six Years: Sound Familiar?

The Panic of 1796-1797 was a series of downturns in Atlantic credit markets that led to broader commercial downturns in both Britain and the United States.The recession lasted for six years.

In the US, problems first emerged with the Bubble of land speculation bursting in 1796. The crisis deepened into a broader depression when the Bank of England, which faced insolvency due to the exploding cost of the French Revolutionary Wars, suspended specie payments in February 1797. In combination with the unfolding collapse of the U.S. real estate market, the Bank of England's action had developing disflationary repercussions in the financial and commercial markets of the coastal United States and the Caribbean through the turn of the century.

By 1800, the crisis had resulted in the imprisonment of many American debtors including the famed financier of the revolution Robert Morris and his partner James Greenleaf who were investors in a large tract of land in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. James Wilson was forced to spend the rest of his life literally fleeing from creditors until he died at a friend's home in Edenton, North Carolina.

George Meade, the grandfather of the American Civil War general George Gordon Meade was ruined by investments in Western land deals and died in bankruptcy due to the panic. The scandals associated with these and other incidents resulted in the U.S. Congress passing the Bankruptcy Act of 1800, which basically ended this panic; the Bankruptcy Act of 1800 would later be repealed after its three-year duration expired in 1803.

Britain's economy was also hurt, as Britain was fighting France in the French Revolutionary Wars.

The names change, but not the circumstance. What goes around, comes around. And again, we can blame it all on the French and the EU. Why? I don't know. How about 'bad wine' that inhibited our real estate investment strategy.

REAL Unemployment rate: How about 20%

That's 20 million people 'outta work'. So, the logical question is, 'who is acutally working'? Do I need to be in the military, a 'beltway bandit', or in someway related to healthcare or solar; a collection agency? The stimulus package? What happened to that? The only stimuli I see is going to Wall Street, Car manufacturers, and in some strange way...road construction. The rest of us are up to our ears in boondoogle politics.

Friday's unemployment report produced growing economic concerns over the likelihood of an economic recovery that fails to produce job growth. Despite billions of dollars in stimulus spending that continues to flow out of Washington, the Department of Labor report pointed to job loss numbers that have failed to improve amid the spending.

The Department of Labor reported a rise in the adjusted non-farm unemployment rate to a new high of 9.8% after the economy shed another 263,000. However, beyond the adjusted payroll number lies a host of employment numbers including the disturbing reality that 1 in every 6 Americans is now unable to find full-time employment.

One in six out of work. That's probably not going to get any better anytime soon.

Economists also warn that if consumer spending does not recover prior the holiday season, then we are once again likely to see a drastic increase in January and February unemployment data and an adjusted unemployment rate approaching 11.0% by Spring. Subsequently, the real unemployment rate is likely to approach 18%-19% during the same period.

Frankly, I think it's already at 20%. And that's a problem for me and you. As a management consultant, potential clients are more difficult to find, and when you do find them, they offer a retainer that is less than adequate for the time.

One bright spot: Greeters at WalMart. Those jobs saw a 15% increase. Now, we know it is WalMart and it is part-time, and you wave your hand a lot. But hey, if you are a structural engineer looking to connect and add to your network, it might be a way to go. Just bring a sign and your resume. Hi, welcome to WalMart. BTW, here's my resume. Of course, one in six people you hand your resume to, will be handing you... theirs!

So, You Want Move to Arizona

Compared with the rest of the country, Arizona has an unusually large percentage of retirees and service workers, pays its women better and has among the nation's highest percentage of stay-at-home spouses and parents, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

That the state has a high percentage of retirees and service workers isn't surprising. But the fact that it still shows up in data as recent as 2008 suggests Arizona hasn't made a lot of progress diversifying that picture.

The state placed fifth in the nation for the percentage of workers (19 percent) 16 and older who have service jobs, such as retail, according to the bureau's recent 2008 American Community Survey.

Thus, the bottom-line here is that if you are female, retired, and want to be a 'greeter' at the local WalMart, the door is wide-open.

On the other hand, if you have school age childen, are into advanced technologies, or don't want to work retail or hospitality, think twice. And don't move there for the scenery. Without excellent education, professional political leadership, solid healthcare, and a good paying job, you'll be looking at the cacti far too long, for it to be worth the effort.

Racist Babies?

Sorry, new parents, your babies are racist, said Matt Coker in California's Orange County Weekly. That "unwelcome news" comes from a Newsweek story about a study by University of Texas researcher Brigitte Vittrup, who found that small white children had negative ideas about racial differences, even though their parents were raising them to be "colorblind." The study found that 14 percent of those kids—ages 5 to 7—said their parents didn't like black people; 38 percent said they didn't know how their parents felt.

OK. Now, we are conducting 'gallup polls' with 5-7 year old children to ascertain 'racism' in their families. I'd like to know how you actually position the question to kids who are somewhere between kindergarten and first grade? 38% stated that they didn't know how their parents felt. When I was 7, I don't think I knew either. The issue was not on the agenda. I think I was more concerned about other things, like 'finger painting' and playdough. Do we actually think that kids this young have a real position on the subject? Are kids,both 'black and white', colorblind to the issue at that age? Or is it 'black and white' to them?

James Balwin wrote:
"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."

In that, I would surmise that it is not the 'question', but the action that determines the adult outcome of this issue.

Friday, October 2, 2009

More Bad News For Consulting Firms

According to a recent article in Consulting Magazine, half of all consultants plan to leave their current firm within the next four years, according to a survey of nearly 10,000 consultants conducted by Consulting Magazine. And, according to the same poll, three out of four consultants say that when they leave their current employer, they do not plan to work for another consultancy.

Given the anticipated exodus of consulting talent from consulting firms into industry, the more successful firms may be those that can reverse that talent drain by attracting professionals out of industry and into consulting.

So, in addition to serious business development and internal strategic planning issues, today's consultancies face the further challenge of professionals who just don't want to do it anymore. Serious challenges for a professional industry that has seen its 'bumps and bruises' in this economic malaise.

I'd like to know how they will handle it. Without 'reaching out' for the right people, challenging I would surmise.

NOTE: Updated Client Profiles on Linkedin: Slideshare ppt.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ratso Rizzo and other Tidbits...

How do you lose 80% of your food supply to Rats?
DHAKA, Bangladesh - Bangladesh on Wednesday awarded a farmer who killed more than 83,000 rats and launched a month long campaign nationwide to kill millions more, to protect crops and reduce the need for food imports.

Officials say the impoverished nation imports some 3 million tons of food annually, while the Ministry of Agriculture estimates that rodents annually destroy 1.5 million to 2 million tons of food. That's a lot of cheese.

A larger question here is how do you kill 83,000 rats? This guy is a professional.The real "Ratso Rizzo". They should have given him a medal. Instead, he received a TV. When asked about that he replied, "I don't give a rat's arsh". Ah, 'rats'!

MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin tourism lobbying group is changing its name after realizing its initials formed a crude acronym.

The Wisconsin Tourism Federation group did a quiet rebranding in July, changing its name to the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin and updating its logo from WTF to TFW after it was featured on Web sites and blogs poking fun at it. It had no way of knowing 30 years ago that the letters would go on to take on a crude association.

Julie Hertel, a spokesperson for the Federation stated that 'they will try the new acronym, TFW, until such time, they will simply change their name to Tourism Federation of Somewhere in the Midwest' (TFSM).
TFW? Now let's see if we can come up with another definition for this acronym.

Whatever happened to the Native American as 'environmentalist'?
The President of the Navajo Nation joined Hopi leaders this week in assailing environmentalists who have sought to block or shut down coal-fired power plants considered vital to the economic future of northern Arizona tribes.

On Monday, the Hopis' Tribal Council adopted a resolution telling the Sierra Club and several other conservation organizations to stay off the reservation.
Gee, how times and thinking change. Iron Eyes Cody is shedding some tears on this one.
NOTE: At one time, Advertisers estimated Americans had seen the face of Iron Eyes Cody 14 billion times through television, giving him the most recognizable face in the country.

And you thought what?

The Boston Globe says that although it hasn’t been true for years, many people believe that government employees receive lavish employment and retirement benefits in order to compensate for their meager paychecks. The reality is that their paychecks aren’t meager at all: Government jobs often pay more than those in the private sector, and the difference between the two is growing.
There is a backlash coming, and it gets closer with each new revelation of public employees enriching themselves at taxpayer expense. When questioned on this topic, Gene Dodaro, head of the Government Accounting Office (GAO), stated: "I know nothing".
We knew it all the time, didn't we?


Some Thinkers