Out Of My Mind On A Monday Mornin’

What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?

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How did it suddenly become Thanksgiving week, does time  have no respect anymore? Yes, TDAY is still my favorite holiday (all about eating, drinking and spending time with family) but I do miss the Turkey Trot and watching the Lions on TV (yes they are still on TV but there are so many better things to do than waste 3+ hours on a sub-prime team).

And even though the holiday season is here, I think so many people are overwhelmed that they can’t appreciate it and they just want to get through it. I was at Nino’s the other day and a 3-pack of Romaine lettuce was $8.99 and a head lettuce was $5.99. Mind you, Nino’s is known for their selection and prices of fresh veggies. But I think it’s about other factors besides food inflation.

Forecasters are calling for a flat holiday season in terms of purchases. I cannot remember a year such as this one that has absolutely not a single must-have item in any category. Even Apple products have become “boring” and kids fascination’s with toys seems to be ebbing with 3-year olds now streaming on their own devices.

Just as women love ULTA Beauty, I have to say men love Total Wine just the same. I have never seen a liquor store quite like it (Binny’s in Chicago is close). They have the greatest selection of wine, many with mark-ups of a dime, so by far the best prices. But the selection of bourbon, scotch, tequila, and anything alcoholic is overwhelming yet merchandised perfectly. They also have great employees who are very helpful. I will never buy wine and liquor anywhere else.

Sally Beauty reported their most recent quarterly earnings. Another down quarter in sales and lower margins. What is shocking is how well ULTA is doing in the same environment. No doubt inflation is squeezing Sally’s low-income customers but their Cosmoprof division which represents the pro beauty business (what’s left of it) is totally flat with no chance of growth. Go into one of their Cosmoprof stores and you will see the complete opposite of walking into an ULTA store.

Disney lost its magic and fired their CEO just after renewing his contract for three years. Oh well, Chapek ends up with $23 million just like that.

The FTX implosion. Is crypto nothing more than tulip bulbs?

And Musk. The world’s wealthiest guy, what is his end-game strategy? Would you spend $44B for a company and then implode it? Tesla has more problems than ever and Morgan Stanley has a $100 bear case price on it.

Instead of a whole turkey for Thanksgiving, this year doing a turkey breast and whole tenderloin. But when it comes to the feast, it’s the sides that are the stars. Still love candied sweet potatoes and stuffing (most likely because only time of year I eat this stuff).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Larry

The New World Order

On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the lowest, what is your optimism right now?

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It was bad enough after the .com crash in 2000.

It was bad enough after 9/11 in 2001.

It was bad enough after the housing crash in 2007-2009

It was bad enough when Obama became President in 2009

It was bad enough during the pandemic that began March 2020

It was bad enough when Trump and his supporters rioted the capital in 2021

It was bad enough when Russia invaded Ukraine in March 2022

It was bad enough when U.S. inflation hit 8.5% in July 2022

It was bad enough when the FED increased interest rates and continues to do so creating one of the worst bear markets in history

It was bad enough when… (what will be next, recession in 2023?)

It is one thing to count on the Lions losing close games and just about all games.

It is one thing to count on the Spartans losing games even when paying their head coach $95M over 10 years.

With mid-term elections just a few weeks away, can we count on the election results being correct?

The new world order is here and right now we are in the early stages of the first Economic World War. The players include the U.S., China, Russia, U.K., Europe and this war could last through 2026.

We are witnessing worldwide power struggles unlike since WWII. The U.S. Dollar is wreaking havoc on just about every economy outside the U.S. The Euro is below $1.00 U.S. for the first time and the pound touched below $1.00 last week. It’s great for Americans traveling to the U.K. and Europe as prices have never been lower. But for U.S. manufacturers who ship internationally, they are being devastated and one reason profits are down and going down even more.

You have China which is going to give its Premier a lifetime membership later this month and at the same time, seen his country continue to sink lower and lower economically and socially.

You have Russia who has a dictator that will not accept defeat and will continue the war for as long as it takes even if his army is no more (he is now recruiting 300,000 citizens into the army). This will affect the cost of energy and food while the war continues and keep inflation high while Europe is wondering how it is going to keep warm this winter. In fact, many countries are telling their citizens to buy wood stoves and firewood which is the most inefficient source of heat. So much for the Green Deal.

You have the U.K. with a new prime minister that wants to cut taxes while inflation is raging at record levels.

You have the new Italian prime minister which is as right as you can get but at least understands the situation her country is in today.

And finally, you have the U.S. which is the best spot in the world and the envy of every citizen not living in the U.S. But with the recent hurricane, drought situation in the west, mortgage rates approaching 7% and inflation still over 7%, life is not a cake-walk. Even Mickey Mouse has raised the cost of attending his parks so much that many can no longer afford to visit to the ire of loyal fans.

So here we are in the last quarter of 2022 thinking that after the pandemic life would get back to normal. HA! The only thing normal is all of Detroit’s sport teams still losing. And the fans continuing to support them.

As we prepare for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, 2023 happens to be right around the corner. Ready or not, here it comes and what if 2022 turns out be a great year compared to 2023? YIKES! Everyone is predicting a recession next year and then we have to wait until the end of 2024 to see who our next President is going to be. That is a long time in-between for shit to happen.

What can we do to prepare for the inevitable? Well, if you haven’t prepared by now, forget it. It is too late. And for the issues in front of us, what can we individually do to help change the outcome? Pretty much nothing.

Here is my strategy for the rest of the year and into 2023: Optimism. I say fuck the pessimists. What have the pessimists done for you lately? It is no wonder mental health is at the lowest level in the U.S. in history.

Optimism is the only solution to the current bullshit. How do you stay optimistic? Drive by any hospital and think about how lucky that you are not inside. Look at the number of beggars on the street corners and on the sidewalks and think about how lucky that is not you. Think about that more than half of Americans are on some sort of social welfare and how lucky you are that you are not.

Optimism is mostly about that you get to do things in life and that you don’t have to do things in life. You get to work out, you get to go to work, you get to go raise money for charity, you get to enjoy the sunshine when the sun is out and you get to decide what you want to watch on TV (or better yet, not turning the TV on and flipping open a book).

In the meantime, all is good at TNG and we are ready to tackle anything that comes our way. Check out our website to see the latest new products (my next blog will focus on them). When it comes to survival of the fittest, only the fittest will win.

Larry

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!

Out Of My Mind On A Wednesday Mornin’

We all have a smartphone. Now when will you have your first electronic car?

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CBD this, CBD that.  Why all the buzz on CBD products especially with the FDA regulating all of them? Even Kroger just announced they are putting CBD products into nearly 1000 stores. Biotone were the first CBD products we started carrying, priced at $89.95 for a small cream or ointment. We sold a few jars and then I tested it on myself and compared to Biofreeze and arnica oil. At least with Biofreeze, you feel that cool sensation for a few minutes telling your mind that it is actually doing something good for your body. Arnica oil goes on smooth, smells good and actually has some benefits although not enough for arthritis. CBD cream and ointment? Nothing good that I could sense. No coolness, no smell, no tingling, no benefit. We will see, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, how long will consumers pay a huge premium for CBD beauty products?

American or Canadian cannabis is best? Then again, who needs CBD products when you can just smoke or eat cannabis? The new strains are so strong, one hit is all you need. But don’t ask me, haven’t touched the stuff in decades but if they had this while I was at MSU, not sure I would have graduated. Hmm, wondering if there is a resurgence in bean bag chairs and black light posters.

Yep, hip replacement surgery July 23. I guess never missing a day of exercise in 30 years will do that to you. Or maybe it was genetics. One thing for certain: I will miss Cosmoprof for the first time but after reviewing the exhibitor list, looks like I won’t be missing anything except for John Barth (we don’t even have a stand this year). This show like the trade magazines are indicative of the pro beauty business. Funny thing is when it comes to hair care, what are the most popular brands today? The same brands that were launched in the late 70’s and early 80’s. What are the most popular personal care products today? The same brands that were launched after WWII. Looks like some things never change after all.

I test drove the new AUDI E-Tron SUV. Very impressive, 200 miles on a single charge, ultra quiet, 0-60 in 5.6 seconds and interior totally AUDI. Definitely competition for Tesla.

Finishing up thebeautybook Fall 2019 edition, seems like six months goes by in two. Love the new edition, more than 150 new TNG products that will rock our customer’s world. Good thing since none of our vendors had anything worthwhile to add.

What is going on at Universal Companies? They haven’t published their catalog since 2017 and I just received their “What’s New Edition” piece. I am not sure if it is a magazine or catalog but it is one of the worst printed pieces I have ever seen. And really, they now have “Signature brands.”

Privacy? What’s that? If you vote, you have to give your driver’s license to ID yourself. Voting records have your address. Now voting records have been made public so just about everyone’s home address is on Google. And I don’t know about you, but the amount of junk email I get each day is growing exponentially. I’m wondering when junk texts will start coming.

Wait! Is that the sun? OMG, it is. Wait! Where did it go? How can summer be here next week with the days starting to get shorter when we have yet to enjoy more than two nice consecutive nice days!

Just finishing the last book in a long series by Dean Koontz, his latest and greatest superstar, Jane Hawk. The best summer reading for sure! And love the latest season of BILLIONS.

Happy Wednesday!

Out Of My Mind On A Wednesday Mornin’

How you feeling overall?

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The Premier Orlando show was last weekend, the last-gasp of what remains of the pro beauty industry show circuit. The flea market buyers were out in full force and any resemblance of the show from years past was impossible to recognize. As with all shows, the rumor mill and concession stands were the winners. Rumors floating around: BSG pulled out of the 2019 Chicago beauty show; Orly laid off 80 people (how old is Jeff Pink anyway and who buys Orly?); Harmony is awash in debt with no where to go; Backscratchers is itching to sell; and mixed reviews on Shellac LUXE. By the way, THE INDUSTRY SOURCE is officially launching it July 1 and today is the last day for pre-orders, contrary to what was said at the show. 

America is the most prosperous country in the world and I could not imagine living anywhere else. However 90,000 Americans died last year from opioids, suicides are up 40% and depression is exploding. What is up with all this when the unemployment rate is near an all-time low, inflation is low, the stock market is up more than any other President in office for the same time period and home building is soaring? And I must point out spas have never been busier and hospitality companies are opening up new resorts at a frantic pace. So I did a little research and found out the following:

  • 50% of Americans are obese and by 2020, 75% will be obese. Women 40 years ago weighted 105 and wore a size 6 dress. Today the average is 160 and size 14 dress.
  • 16M suffer depression
  • 16% of adults are alcoholics
  • 23M are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol
  • 2.3M are in jail and 4.8M are on parole
  • 30M have diabetes and 100M have diabetes or pre-diabetes
  • 57M are on disability. Of those 2.2M use wheelchairs and 6.5M use canes/walkers
  • 1.3M are in nursing homes
  • 47M are in poverty, 30% increase in just a few years; 16.7M kids
  • 1.7M will be diagnosed with cancer this year

What is not taken into consideration of the above is how many Americans fit into more than one category. However it got me wondering: If America is #1, what are the numbers for countries behind us? Sad but true, I am sure the numbers for Asian countries are much better and the root core of all issues I think is education. Overall, America ranks #17 in education, 23rd in math and 27th in reading. Detroit alone is the worst city out of 40 and due to this, 53% of its population doesn’t even seek work. Asia consistently ranks in the top 5 in education. The question is who is going to fix our education system?

Congrats to Dawn who just moved into her new home, now only 6.4 miles from TNG! It’s time for a house party!!

I’m finally getting my new sports car nearly a year-and-a-half later than planned. I originally ordered my new Porsche August 2016 for April 2017 delivery. When April came and no car I called the salesperson. Ooops, he forgot to order the car. Soonest I could get was in the fall. Then I was in Chicago and fell in love with the NSX by Acura. So I ordered that. Then they stopped production and I had to cancel. Finally I met with Porsche last September and they promised delivery early April this year. When April came and no car I called the salesperson. Oh, production slowdown and I should have in July. Mind you, they never called me to update me. This is what customer service in 2018 is all about. Good news is the salesman did call back and I should have it this month. Joy to the world!

Sorry I have to shout out Happy Birthday to Kristin who is turning 30 and she is scared to death about it. All I can think about is doubling her age and wishing upon a star. . . .Enjoy 30 Kristin, 60 comes very quick!

Happy Wednesday!

Out Of My Mind On A Wednesday Mornin’

With summer coming, how do you feel about fitting into your bathing suit?

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Is there anything like a tooth ache or broken tooth to get you to the dentist post haste? There are few pains that demand immediate attention like that inside the mouth. Today I go for Phase 2 of my implant, this after waiting four months for the dried bones they inserted into my gums to take root so they could screw a post into my mouth. Jolly good news is that I get to wait another two months for the post to heal. Then the good dentist can mount the crown in Phase 3.

What is it with “Resort Fees?” First you pay for the hotel room, then you pay the various taxes, then you pay a resort fee which is typically $35 per day for hotels in the USA and between 10%-15% for hotels in Mexico and other tourist spots. I asked the last hotel what I received for the resort fee and they told me use of the facilities (pool) and bottled water in the room. Total profit generator.

Baseball season should start April 16, a true celebration considering the day after tax day. And playing baseball beforehand especially in this unending winter is craziness.

Sally Beauty Holdings announced a Cost Reduction Plan April 4. What does that mean? About 500 layoffs. With $1.9 BILLION in debt, could Sally become another Toys R Us? And with Pureology the latest hair care company just announcing its strategic direction to partner with Amazon (thank you Harlan), what chances do salons have to retail products in the future?  It’s no wonder why companies such as L’Oreal and Paul Mitchell do everything possible to point consumers to their direct websites and Amazon, they understand hairdressers could care less.

I had the joy of going to Knott’s Berry Farm in California with my two grandkids. One didn’t want to go on rides and one only wanted to throw tantrums. Kiddie ride lines were about 45 minutes for a 60-second ride. Adult rides were about one hour but you could buy a fast pass for $63 per adult to skip the lines. Amusement park enjoyment must be at an all-time low. I’ll stick to zoos, aquariums and beaches.

Who needs to watch the current seasons of Homeland and Billions when you have Trump in the White House? Got to love it when a lawyer needs a lawyer.

Got to love the fact about tariffs too. Just when Trump announced 10% additional duties on aluminum, Reynolds America announced a 6% price increase. Another fact about tariffs: Most goods made in China cannot be made in the USA due to labor, pollution, materials and other factors. Can you imagine Millennial’s making cotton swabs and rounds?

I tossed out my Centrum’s. Confirmed research: Not only no benefit in taking daily supplements, but there is research pointing that supplements can do just the opposite for your health. Eat right and no worries.

And so much for hot yoga, infrared studios and extreme exercising. Research out that sweating does not release toxins from the body. Oh well, it’s all about the state of mind after sweating.

Last but not least, the new Little Caesar’s Arena hardly performed any magic for the Pistons and Red Wings. Neither team made the playoffs, and not to make the playoffs is pitiful considering about 75% of the teams make it. The last time this happened: 1982-1983 season. Oh well as they say, there is always next year.

Happy Wednesday!