Another birthday, another year coming up. This year I’m going to celebrate big time and stay up until 10:00PM both Friday and Saturday night! The festivities start Friday with Starbuck’s morning for all TNG talent and then a fab lunch at our corporate headquarters. Saturday the dreadful drive to East Lansing to see the Spartans play Purdue which just clobbered the Buckeyes. After last weeks disastrous loss to the Wolverines along with exiting the stadium for an hour only to endure rain, sleet and wind, is it any wonder Spartan Nation is hurting? Coach Dantonio, how about a V this week and next for my birthday?
My birthday continues on Sunday when I do not have to make brunch or dinner, sorry BUB! And then the real fun is Tuesday when we go to see Stevie Nicks at LCA. Now let me tell you, seeing a concert on a Tuesday night is a big deal especially when I go to sleep at 8:30PM and that is when the music starts playing. Like I said, this is celebrating at the highest level!
Remember back when you had a birthday, you would open the mail box and there would be 10, perhaps even 20 birthday cards with your name on them? These days, kids under 35 only know your cell number for texting, addresses are long gone. At least I know I can count on MGM sending me a $5 Free Play birthday gift. HA!
Here are a few birthday gifts I would really like to see:
- Hotels eliminating those tiny 1 oz. bottles. It’s impossible to read which one is shampoo or body wash.
- OPI shipping an order at least 80% complete and without damages
- The Spartans winning a football game (oops, I already mentioned that)
- Bill Knapp’s chocolate cake
- Carter stopping by Sunday (C is my 6 1/2 year old grandson)
- Max inviting us to fly in his private jet and stay in his new Palisades Park beach house (the joys of selling a company for $175 million, wait, it goes up $25 million each year!) stocked with great red wine and single malts.
- Tony Cuccio running a 5K
- John Barth retiring and writing a book “How to be rep and live the good life without working”
- Elimination of passwords with 8 letters, upper case, lower case, number and !@$# character.
TNG did it again and was the #1 sponsor for American Cancer Society Strides event in Detroit. We raised more than $130,000 and dominated the field. Sorry Kroger, Suburban Collection and Comerica, you need to step up your game!
I have never seen so much Halloween candy at stores as this year. And who eats candy anymore?
What’s better than Costco’s rotisserie chickens? $4.99 and they are huge, tasty and juicy. Costco sells so many of them, they are now building their own chicken farm that will supply at least 25% of their annual needs. Guess how many they sell a year? You weren’t even close, more than 60 million. They lose about $.75 on everyone they sell which has fed their sales and profit growth over the years. Love that.
I was thinking back to when I was in high school. There was only 10th, 11th and 12th grades. Took the bus, although there was a student parking lot. Just walked through the doors, no guards, no metal detectors, no I.D.’s. Hostess baked goods were $.12 and the pies were $.15. School lunch was $.25 and milk was included. We could drink as much soda as we wanted. There were plenty of cliques, none of which I was part of. I did play poker and learn magic tricks. There is nothing in my yearbook about boofing and I cannot remember if I got a couple of girls I had a crush on to sign it. Instead of going to Friday night football games, I went to the arcade and played King Kool and Jack in the Box. My indulgence was a pre-made sub and ice cold Mountain Dew while racking up free games.
I was thinking back to when I was in college. I remember one semester cost $950 and the food in the dorm wasn’t bad so I stayed in the dorms all four years (Wilson and Wonders at MSU). Those were the days of LSD, free-flowing and students tripping. My RA had a good old time, personally, never tried it. Amazing what one little spec of something can do to your body. It was also the time of grass, joints, water bongs, roach clips: All allowed in the dorms, just open the window please. Here indulgence was part of the curriculum. Bean bag chairs, black light posters and lofts were the norm. LP’s were $3.99 and how could anyone pass up Frampton, Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Journey, ELO and so many others? I amassed more than 400 and still have most of them. It was also the time Domino’s started and whole pepperoni pizzas at midnight made a nice snack (double cheese please). Dooley’s was the main bar and pitchers were a buck and mixed drinks half that on Friday’s. Oh, legal drinking was 18 back then. I did have a friend, Jeff S. who loved to burp and could actually sing a song burping. Campus showed the first porn movies, “Behind the Green Door” and “Deep Throat.” But back then, the most extreme activity we did was streaking.
Fast forward to today and you have to give Domino’s credit, they are perhaps the most successful pizza chain in the world. Grass is more popular on campus than ever before. Rock and rollers are making more money touring than when they were in their prime. Alas, pinball has faded but let me tell you, is destined for a comeback!
So what about sex back then you may ask? And I may answer back to you, “Well, what about it?” Do you think my stories are any different than your stories? You went to high school to get a diploma, wear a cap & gown, and have a party. You went to college for the same reason. But now, the country and perhaps much of the world is riveted on the events of last week and how they will play out. Will students ever be the same moving forward? Back then we had no phones, no video cameras, heck, a calculator cost more than $100 and did nothing more than basic math. We were naïve. And truth is, weren’t we supposed to be?
If you are still reading this blog, you know I’m a business guy, not a politician, not a lawyer, and certainly not a government employee. When I started TNG, our employee manual was one sheet of paper. Today it is a binder. I get it, there are laws and rules for a reason: That is what makes a democracy work.
My biggest concern right now? Certainly not the FBI investigation and if Kavanaugh makes it to the Supreme Court. It’s the tariffs. Last week half the goods from China were taxed 10% on top of tariffs already in place. Already many vendors have increased their prices by 10%. Companies are scrambling to decide what to do with prices as we are, and yet, the true uncertainty is what happens this January when Trump has threatened to take the entire lot to 10% and even 25% if China retaliates. You have already seen how tariffs have affected the automakers, but like everything else these days, winners and losers are more apparent than ever before.
Bottom line: I can only focus on what I do best. MSU hasn’t won a national championship since 1966 and that drives me crazy but there is nothing I can do about it. When it comes to running a business, focus is more important than ever and while the curve balls keep on coming, you can act like the Detroit Tigers or the Boston Red Sox. Sorry Tigers, you lost 98 games and Boston won 108 games. Winning matters.
Bob Woodward has now penned his eighth presidential book, FEAR: Trump In The White House. Working for the Washington Post (now owned by Jeff Bezos)since 1971, Woodward was among the first to investigate Watergate (along with Carl Bernstein) and has written 18 books, 12 of which are best-sellers. No doubt FEAR will be among the top of the list which debuts September 11 of all days. Trump has already tweeted that most of the book is made up of lies, fabrications and other Trump phrases. Bottom line: Woodward is a true investigator reporter who is now the associate editor for the Washington Post. At the age of 75, who is kidding whom?
And speaking of Trump, will he or won’t he impose an additional $200B in tariffs on Chinese goods? Today the U.S. announced a record trade deficit with China and of course that is due to the economy on track for its longest expansion ever. Like I have said previously, tariffs will do nothing but harm virtually every company that produces a product and will cause prices to go up.
Then again we are living in the age of “no one cares a shit about anything.” Respect is out the window. Communication between people is at the lowest levels ever. Phones on desks are slated for the Smithsonian. People don’t get back to you or even respond when you ask them something. Service at restaurants and hotels is terrible and no one cares. We now trust Amazon more than we trust anyone else, hence Amazon’s trillion dollar valuation. I can see it now: New apartment and condo buildings will have Amazon access for drivers who make non-stop deliveries day and night.
Is it any wonder that suicides are at an all-time high, up 30% since 1999? Marijuana use on college campuses is at a 30 year high. Opioid addiction and deaths are at an all-time high. And should I mention alcohol sales?
OK enough of this! What is wrong with just being happy? Who cares what Trump tweets? Who cares who Nike hires? But of course there is a company that rates happiness and guess what, America is 108 out of 140 according to the Happy Planet Index. In fact, we rank pretty dismal in all categories. That is why I proclaim the new TGIF, TGFB! Thank Goodness For Beauty provokes happy thoughts. After all, we spend quite a bit of our life doing the following: Showering (wash and condition hair, wash body, shave, daydream), apply makeup, apply deodorant, brush and whiten teeth, spray fragrance, style hair, file nails, get hair cut & colored, get mani’s & pedi’s, brows, bikini wax, visit dermatologist, visit dentist, visit spa. Oh should I mention the going to bed routine? TGFB is all about being happy! Most of the time you are by yourself and can listen to music and daydream. And it’s all for looking good!
I never did blog about the Cosmoprof Vegas show that came and went last July. Perhaps because there wasn’t much to write about. Once again, they claim record booths but c’mon, what really has this show become? It is now 1/3 pro beauty (shrinking quickly), 1/3 retail and 1/3 packaging. There is not enough of anything for a serious buyer to attend, hence, attendance keeps dropping. Next year will be even more interesting as NAHA finally moves out and heads to Long Beach. Finally there will no longer be hairdressers walking the floor so the show floor will be that much less busy. Next up for us: Natural Expo in Baltimore and ISPA in Phoenix.
Most-wanted APP’s that have yet to be developed that have the greatest potential: Self-directed garbage cans that move to the curb and back to the garage; self-emptying dishwashers; self-folding laundry; and self-washing cars.
I passed level 2800 of Candy Crush and not proud of it. They say video games will be even more addictive in the next five years as consoles go away (bye-bye Gamestop) and all games are downloaded. Next fad: Live game rooms for gamers. One opened at Luxor.
I read about 10 books this summer and stayed away from the all-additive TV as much as possible. Only watched The Affair, Allison is dead but the series still has one more season to go. Also watched Sharp Objects starring Amy Adams who plays a terribly dark character. Only 8 episodes, but with so many flashbacks, each episode was slow and agonizing. Great ending and as of right now, no chance of a second season especially since Adams won’t come back.
George Gilder is a tech visionary with a few good thoughts on where technology is headed. His new book, Life After Google, is quite the read although too many stretches of very technical stuff that is quite boring. But the gist of the book is amazing, so much so, I thought it was worth sharing with you.
Executive summary: Google within 20 years will not be around and the Blockchain Economy will be the reason behind its fall. The main reason: Google doesn’t care about your privacy and Blockchain is all about privacy.
Best tip from reading the book: You have to read below!
Fun tidbits you might find interesting:
- Security is the foundation of all other services and crucial to all financial transactions. It is the most basic and indispensable component of any information technology. Current computer and network architecture cannot solve security issues.
- Newton helped to establish the gold standard
- All wealth is a product of knowledge
- Google is a new system of the world and the first company to create such a system. It combines science, commerce, religion, philosophy, economics and epistemology.
- Everything Google offers to its customers is free: Internet searches, email, data centers, YouTube, Earth, Waze, Maps, Music, Calendars, Android apps, games, images. But nothing is free, how annoying to watch an ad to watch a video. Google third most valuable company giving everything away for free.
- Google got its name from “googol,” meaning ten to the one-hundredth power, the symbol of the company’s reach and ambition.
- Google digitized every book in the world (2005), every language and translation (2010), topography of the planet (2007), traffic (Waze 2016) and now digital facial recognition is next.
- Google makes it money from advertising. But we hate advertising: Ad-blockers, ad-filters, mutes, Tivos, ad-voids all tricks we try to use since everything is free. 85.5 million Americans use ad-blockers.
- But not only is “free” a lie, but a price of zero signifies a return to the barter system. You pay not with money but with your attention. Above all, you pay in time.
- Google handles a billion YouTube videos and 3.5 billion searches every day, 1.5 trillion a year. If it charged just a penny per search it would earn $15 billion a year.
- Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, blockchain app platform. Second most valuable bitcoin but most interested in blockchain to control the Internet.
- Satoshi Nakamoto released Bitcoin in 2009, a new electronic cash system that uses a peer-to-peer network to prevent double-spending. Completely decentralized with no server or central authority. Total circulation: 21,000,000 coins distributed to network nodes when they make blocks with the amount cut in half every 4 years (there are about 18,000,000 coins in circulation, average value $6500). Note: Bitcoin peaked at about $19,000 just a few months ago.
- When information becomes abundant, time becomes scarce.
- Cookies, not chocolate chip: Memory element on your computer that a website can control. They can be sweet when they remember you after you leave a site and allow you toggle back to it without reentering your user name and password. They are a menace when they are used by rogue websites to insert malware on your machine.
- Crytocurrency total market only $200 billion, but experts expert it to hit more than $3 trillion sooner than later.
One last interesting statistic from the book. The average speed in which we expect results from a Google search: 1/20 second. Is it really possible for Google to fall?
We head out to Vegas Saturday for the annual Cosmoprof show. Reviewing the newly updated floor plan (it gets updated each year due to exhibitor mix), the show is now divided equally between “pro” beauty and consumer/packaging. Pro beauty is now in the area that packaging used to be in, planned that way since that is the section that will continue to shrink while the other two sections will continue to expand. It will be an interesting show for sure. If you are around, come visit us at stand 39087.
My latest revelation and wonderment is the attention given to reviews and “THE BEST OF.” Let’s take review sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp. You would think that everyone is an expert that posts a review. And does anyone Google-search the worst hotel or the worst restaurant? We all want the BEST and we want to pay the cheapest price to get it. Interesting enough, many reviews are bullshit and you have to become an expert to know which reviews to ponder and which reviews to skip. When it comes to finding recipes, I was looking for curry cauliflower. I typed in BEST curry cauliflower and up came pages of recipes. Then I typed in WORST curry cauliflower and just about the same recipes appeared.
Amazon is the most bizarre when it comes to reviews. I wanted to buy a vent mounted iPhone holder. I found one for $6.99 and it had 25,000 reviews. Really? No kidding. No one has time for nothing anymore, but they certainly have time to post reviews.
Sergio Marchionne, what a terrible end of life story. What he did for Chrysler is Harvard case study material. I mean look at Ford whose stock is about to go below $10. And even GM whose stock can’t get past $45. Fiat stock more than doubled in less than one years and Sergio spun off Ferrari which as tripled. 66 years old is way too young but cancer knows no age. The auto world will certainly miss him.
Is there any hotter color than green? Green is great: Go instead of stop. Fully charged or charging instead of drained or about to drain. Stocks up instead of stocks down. Green is organic, natural. Green is MSU (sorry I had to toss that in).
Here’s one for you. I was speaking to a Vietnamese nail spa owner who has 7 locations. His biggest concern? Finding qualified nail techs. With Vietnam booming (7% GNP growth vs. 2.2% USA), young people are working in factories and making more money than ever before. No longer do they need to come to the USA to find work in a nail salon. They now come with a skillset where they can get quality jobs without working 6 days a week, 10 hours a day.
I visited the new MGM National Harbor property last month and was totally impressed. As nice as any Vegas property and very comparable to ARIA but with only 300 rooms. Casino is smoke-free and features more than 60 poker tables. Location is perfect and if you are thinking about a great weekend getaway, check this place out.
The fitness craze is nutsy-cookoo. It seems like every new strip center has some kind of workout place that offers pop-in classes. Truly appealing to Millennial’s, I can’t even list all the names but places like Orangetheory already have 1000 locations. My take is that personal trainers are opening their own joints and willing to work 7 days a week to have their own business. This is one business that burnout will certainly take place down the road.
Here is a question for you: If the fitness craze is nutsy-cookoo, why is the obesity rate in the USA at it highest level ever?
Are you moving to Denver to take advantage of legal weed? Fastest growing city in the USA and weed bed and breakfasts are one of the hottest trends around since smoking it in public or in hotels is still illegal. Now on the breakfast buffet besides O.J., donuts and cereal, your choice of Sour Tangle, Ghost Train Haze and Gorilla Glue #4. The only caveat is that prices per night are higher due to the amount of food inhaled at breakfast!
Sorry Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Neiman and Saks. Ulta wins, you lose. Estee Lauder, master of premium cosmetics and skin care (MAC is still hot, hot, hot) is opening stand alone boutiques in Ulta stores as fast as they can build them. Department stores will yet again need to reinvent themselves. Perhaps first floor makeup counters will move upstairs but what will take its place?
Is there anything better than good pizza?