Out Of My Mind On A Tuesday Mornin’

Out Of My Mind On A Tuesday Mornin’

Your thoughts on the economy in 2020?

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Happy & Healthy New Year! We are two weeks into January and have the entire year ahead of us. What are you most excited about this year?

The economy? Looks like 2020 will be another good year with zero chance of recession. And that means the stock market should stay strong too.

The elections? There are plenty of elections to go around but we know the big one is coming in November. Perhaps March the Democrats will decide who their candidate will be. Will it be Biden or Warren? Suddenly Warren is promising all student debt to be wiped off the books to the tune of $1.8 Trillion. In the end, Trump will prevail and the conservatives will roll on for another four years.

The weather? Freezing in LA and LAS, warm in Detroit and who cares? We did have a record rainfall in January already but we haven’t seen serious snow since early November. Very happy not to own an outdoor business like a ski resort.

5G? Yep, it is finally coming and Apple will unveil its first ever 5G phones later this year. But the real fun won’t begin until 2021 and beyond. The next decade will bring on more change than the previous three combined.

The beauty business? All depends what hat you are wearing. Consumers are still in love with beauty and always will be. Ulta continues to open more stores and department stores continue to lose market share. Coty & Revlon are still looking for buyers and the pro business will continue to shrink.

What I am most excited about is the opportunity TNG has to continue to increase its presence and organically grow its brands. EMMA Beauty is all the rage and just getting started. Ginger Lily Farms Botanicals is in the right spot at the right time. And ForPro Professional Collection continues to grow its #1 position among salon professionals. Everyone is loving thebeautybook Spring 2020 edition and nothing like celebrating 35 years in business.

Tesla just roared past $500 and on its way to $600 per share, worth more than both GM and Ford combined. Soon, it will be worth more than GM, Ford and Fiat combined. The worst performing auto maker over the past 20 years has been Ford, any surprise that they own the Detroit Lions, the worst ranked team in football?

Howard Stern is one of my mentors not because he can say f—k anytime he wants and get away with it, but he just turned 66 and still loves what he is doing. Jimmy Buffett is another and he just turned 71. Love what you do and life is good. And sorry Howard, if you ate your veggies instead of shrimp pasta every night you wouldn’t need Metamucil.

Delta reported record revenues and profits. I can attest to that, its planes are always full just like the airports. Instead of going to malls, people are traveling everywhere. It is amazing to think that in four hours time, you can be sitting on a beach in Mexico from Detroit OR just arriving in Petoskey. Hmm, what sounds better to you? If you are JB, you are in the minority!

Have you heard of the World War Zero website? The global climate activists are doing their best to stir the pot, then again, ask them for evidence on their findings, and you understand why this war is going to go nowhere. Most interesting? Americans were surveyed how much they would be willing to spend to fight global warming. How much do you think? $100 per month? $10 per month? The answer was $1 per month. That tells you the priority level. We have more important things to contemplate, like getting into seeing the doctor for our latest ailment!

Happy Tuesday!

Larry

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!

Are you staying home or going out for NYE?

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Here we are, in the last hurrah of the 2010 decade, wondering where the last ten years went. Hey, I still think about Y2K and 12/31/1999. That seems like forever ago and it seems like yesterday at the same time.

The next two weeks are slow and easy with most of us taking holiday time off, shopping, getting ready for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, college football bowl games and our favorite activity of all: Eating and drinking. No school busses, traffic is light and hey, next weeks temps are in the 40’s and sunshine. It won’t be a White Christmas, but it surely will be enjoyable.

With New Year’s Day falling on Wednesday, even the 2nd and 3rd will be slow with schools still closed and people extending their vacation time. The real action starts Monday, January 6. So what is the action going to look like?

That depends whom you are talking too. Look, it’s a new year and the start of a new decade. The optimist in me looks at this being one of the best times to move forward, embrace change and start off fast. And that is exactly what TNG is going to do. The pessimist in others might look at this time period as just another week, another month, another year that is going to be no different than last year or any other year. Those individuals will fall further behind.

We are going to see a new era of change unlike any other era. The likes of Tesla, Amazon, 5G, AI, biotechnology are just in the early adopter phases of product and technology roll-outs. By the end of this decade, everything we own today in technology will be obsolete and most likely, so will our SUV’s and pickup trucks. Biotech drugs will be introduced at a much faster pace and many cancers will become curable or at least manageable. The average life expectancy in 2100 will be 115 due to all the changes that will take place.

But for now, none of the excitement that will change our world will happen in the beauty business. It will continue to be product driven by celebrities and influencers. Surely this too will change but what new medium will appear to make that change happen? When Coty buys a 51% interest in Kylie’s company for $600 million, you know we are near a tipping point. And speaking of Coty, they are still trying to unload the P&G brands they bought just a few years ago along with OPI, GhD and a few others. It looks they will have to wait until 2020 just like Revlon who has yet to find a buyer. One thing is for certain, the beauty business will not get easier in the new decade.

For TNG, I am staking the company on product innovation, best-in-class customer service (we are like Delta, best service year after year), and best value proposition. If you look at most successful brands moving into 2020, they are all brands that sell their products at list price (no discounts), offer the highest quality and are in stock. These brands include Costco, Trader Joe’s, Lululemon, Apple, and ALDI. And for a peak at the master of branding building, look no further than LVMH who just bought Tiffany for a cool $16B. In fact, Bernard Arnault is the richest man on earth amassing a fortune over $100B and growing faster than Jeff Bezo’s or Bill Gate’s.

I’m super excited about 2020 and at my age, there are not many decades left to get excited about so this is perfect timing! Regardless of what the new era of change takes place, one thing is for certain: Girls from the ages of 6 to 96 will continue to get their mani’s, pedi’s, hair cut-colored-highlighted, and take in the occasional massage and facial. That is the sweet spot, beauty services, and we will continue to lead the way in nurturing this niche segment.

Safe travels whether you are staying home or on the road, safe and healthy new  year and look forward to connecting in 2020.

Happy Wednesday!

Larry

Happy Thanksgiving!

What is your favorite holiday of the year?

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It’s that magical time of the year in which in a very short time window we have so much to celebrate starting with Thanksgiving. Two of my kids and two of my grandchildren are coming in for the holiday and only because the third kid isn’t coming in, can we talk about politics without casserole dishes being tossed around. Then again, does anyone really want to talk about politics anymore?

It is the perfect time to be thankful for so many things. Here is a partial list, please feel free to add to it with your comments:

  • Not spending the holiday in the hospital
  • Not being homeless
  • Not being an alcoholic or drug addict
  • Not having any mental illnesses
  • Not owning any guns and no plans to
  • Having a car/SUV
  • No credit card debt in double figures
  • Having a job that pays more than $10/hr
  • Happily married to the best person on earth (OK, I’m a little biased!)
  • Working out daily
  • No longer having to waste Saturday’s watching Spartan football
  • Not having cancer and being able to support ACS (TNG raised more than $100K this year once again)
  • Being able to walk normal again after hip surgery
  • Not being hungry and able to enjoy turkey, whipped potatoes, whipped sweet potatoes, veggie casserole, salad, rolls, condiments, stuffing, gravy, pumpkin pie, key lime pie, apple pie, red wine, single malt Scotch and not having to clean up afterwards!
  • More than 100 of the greatest talent working at TNG
  • Crackling fire on a cold night
  • Ass on the beach with a cold one in each hand (OK, the cold ones are not going to happen!) looking at the ocean
  • Delta, Starbucks, Apple and Costco
  • My dedicated blog readers who read my bullshit each month
  • Not living in California
  • Duolingo and Candy Crush
  • Buddy’s Pizza
  • Dean Sanjay who got away with $3M

As human beings we love to complain, toss out our opinions, pretend we are the best coaches and appreciate that misery loves company. But in the end, it’s all noise and one more thing I am thankful for: Ability to filter out noise. After all, we are on this side of the grass for a very short time and why not enjoy that time instead of bitching about it?

So there you go. Happy Thanksgiving and I will enjoy every minute of it and eat too much too quickly. Will I get up for that second plate? Absolutely. Will I have seconds on dessert? Absolutely. Will I enjoy that glass of single malt? Absolutely. My wishes for you is that get to enjoy the same.

Larry

Out Of My Mind On My Birthday

Out Of My Mind On My Birthday

If the 2020 election was held next week, who would you vote for?

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You know you are getting old as Jimmy Buffett says in one of his songs, “Girls start calling you sir,” and when you get cards that state there are too many candles to fit on top of the cake and even lewd cards like this one: The nurse is talking to an elderly couple and addresses the man, “The doctor would like a urine sample, stool sample and semen sample.” The man says “What does he want?” The wife answers, “Your underwear.” OK, love the happy birthday wishes but at the end of the day, it is just another day and I love quoting Buffett, “I’m getting older but never growing up.”

Loved the cookies that magically appeared today as well! Thank you to the mystery gift buyer!

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What category is bigger: Baby diapers or adult diapers? Good answer, adult diapers and growing past $10B a year. The biggest issue the product has: It’s name. Perhaps they can make birthday cards with them or start advertising during NFL games. Women actually have bigger needs for these than men, so perhaps give them away on the Ellen show. More joys of getting old.

My hip is doing great, thanks for asking.

Now that Coty has put most of the P&G brands it bought for $12B and OPI up for sale (now that is a big markdown), who is going to buy them? And with Revlon still for sale, what is that saying about the pro beauty business? Let’s see if private equity steps in or one of the large public companies like L’Oreal or Henkel.

Not a good day to be in the food delivery business. Grubhub wrote a 16-page letter to its shareholders explicitly stating they no longer had a competitive edge in the business. Everyone and anyone can deliver food from restaurants. Their stock plunged 40%. Even Amazon got out of the business. And what about Uber and Lyft? The entire WeWork story is something for TV. No wonder key brands are doing so well, makes perfect sense for LVMH to add Tiffany to their collection.

Speaking of TV, finished season 2 of Succession, one of the best series ever. Now watching The Loudest Voice on Showtime, the true story about Roger Ailes life who started Fox News with Robert Murdoch. Utterly fascinating.

Consumer spending is targeted at $1456 this holiday season, about a 5-6% increase over last year. What holiday gift do you want this year? For me the new Apple Pro Ear Pods are it, matching Midnight Green for my iPhone. Have to get them now!

Barron’s magazine came out with its 2020 predictions and among them, who is going to be our next president. In a landslide, they forecast Elizabeth Warren to win the Democratic nomination and Trump to win another term by more than a 2 to 1 margin. And that is with half the USA favoring Trump being impeached. Even the NY Times who wants Trump impeached perhaps more than CNN is learning the tricks of the trade Trump has used his entire life will delay or avoid this altogether. Utterly fascinating and we’re living the moment.

Sorry but have to brag about the best powder dipping system out there and its EMMA ZIP DIP. Nothing like it  with the most amazing odorless glue system and ultra fine powders. Everyone is loving it!

Last parting shot about getting “older:” You go to the mall and nothing in the stores excite you anymore. No wonder advertisers seek those 18-49 years old.

Happy Tuesday!

Go Green! Go White! The Inside View at MSU

Who will win the MSU-U-M football game?

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September was a remarkable month for me and the Broad College of Business. I got to speak at the new Gaynor Entrepreneurial Lab (GEL) in front of 80 or so students for nearly 80 minutes (longer than the actual playing time of a football game) and it was a truly engaging time. You can listen to the podcast, just Goggle search.

A couple days later I was part of the ribbon cutting for the Pavilion, the new $62 million dollar building that will make the Broad College competitive with the best of business schools and has created a space for students I could only have dreamt about way back then. For $3 million, the BUB and I scored front row seats.

Academics is alive and well at MSU. 2019 marks the highest incoming freshman class in history, the highest number of students overall and highest GPA and ACT scores required. With all the scandals, students still want to invest four years at MSU.

The flip side of all this is athletics. I knew it, when I said athletics, your mind immediately went to football! The irony of the situation is that MSU has more than 100 athletic programs but no one cares about any of them except for football and basketball. That got me to thinking: Why are there four years to a college degree? Why not three, why not five? Why are there four quarters to a football game?

I’ve been going to MSU football games for enough years that I now have second row seats near the 50. The games always started at Noon, tailgating at 9:30AM. I never drank alcohol then but Turkeyman was a treat. So was watching the marching band and the cheerleaders. The game lasted three hours and perfect timing to get home and enjoy Saturday night.

Lately MSU hasn’t had many noon games, in fact, not a single one this year. We had to play Western at 7:00PM if you can believe. Why? The NCAA dictates each team’s schedule meaning it’s all about money. Now the games last more than 3.5 hours and the scoreboard even shows the commercial time left in green. At home you can at least go to the bathroom, grab a snack, scan your phone or switch channels. Not so in a stadium especially when it is cold, rainy, windy or even sunny. Those 2:40 minutes go by very slow.

But what the heck, we’re talking smack down football. Football is the sport that changes man like no other sport. State makes a first down, fans high five. State runs an offensive play without fumbling or being intercepted or losing yardage or being penalized, fans high five. State scores a touchdown, a new world of order just happened and the stadium erupts. Fans are so easily manipulated. We will put up with anything when the team wins, even those f—–ing commercials.

Let me tell you this: At the ribbon cutting, we had the new President on stage, Sam Stanley, a fine young man of 65 who I had the pleasure of having breakfast with. We had Sanjay Gupta on stage (he was full of smiles!), the Dean of the business school. We had Minskoff on stage, the guy from NY that gave $30 million, the biggest gift to MSU of all time. Not once during any of their presentations did the spectators high five. Behind the stage area were more than 100 MSU students. Sure they clapped politely, but not a single high five.

That my friends is the difference between academics and athletics. That my friends is the power of football and somewhat basketball. High fives.

Now that academics is better than ever and the Broad College of Business is on the way to competing with the Ross School of Business, it is time to clean up athletics, specifically football and leadership. We all know athletics is the root problem of the Nasser tragedy that cost the then President and then Athletic Director among others, their jobs. We now know there are more stories from a couple years ago that both Dantonio and Simon have to testify after the football schedule is over with. And sadly we know that the MSU football team are losers with no offense, no defense, no special teams and certainly no coaching. The team is pathetic and look, MSU hasn’t won a national championship since 1966. We deserve better. MSU fans deserve better. The state of Michigan deserves better.

I for one decided to give up my season tickets. I will not be alone. Certainly Dantonio will retire after this season. Hopefully a new AD will be hired so we can start fresh. And everyone else in-between, time to clean house.

I’m proud to be a Spartan and clearly, academics rules at MSU. But all the crap that has gone on at athletics over the past few years has damaged MSU’s reputation and we need to get that back and that is what Sam Stanley is going to do. I’m just a donor who bleeds green but come on, we cannot watch another football game in which we lose 38-0 and when the Detroit Free Press gives out 0’s to the coaching staff, offense and defense teams.

Until something drastically changes, I’ll forgo my annual donation, second row seats and eight hours of Saturday misery and once again enjoy my fall Saturday’s.

In the meantime, go visit the Pavilion. It is truly one of the best college buildings you will ever see, complete with Panera Bread, team meeting rooms, high tech team rooms, classrooms, lounges, free space and so much more. That my friends is an investment worth making.

Happy Thursday!