While not a huge fan of soy sauce, the post below highlights the history of the ubiquitous little package of sodium laden sauce that many of you may have stashed somewhere in your kitchen. While I found the history interesting, what really caught my attention was the blurb at the end of the article about innovation (packaging in this case) being applied to this ho-hum product. Product innovation to non-glamorous products continue to both fascinate and surprise. My favorite non-glamorous innovations include: 1. Bottled water and 2. Pre-packaged lettuce. Who would have thought we needed bottled water? Bottled water is a very large industry ($100B by some estimates), but in the grand scheme of things it is relatively new – some estimate that the bottled water craze started in the 1990’s. The same holds true with pre-packaged lettuce / salads. I was content with buying a head of lettuce and doing the shredding myself. Clearly someone understood this to be a pain point and innovated. Hats off to all innovators who are able to recognize that a staid product may ripe for growth via innovation. Hopefully, Little Soya will find success with their innovation.
Enjoy the article.
The Mysterious, Murky Story Behind Soy-Sauce Packets — Atlantic Mobile.
Maybe it is just me, but I am heartened to learn that LP sales (yes I said LP as in vinyl) have had another robust year in terms of sales. It might just be time to go ahead and purchase another record player so I can listen to my vinyl (most of which has been digitized) once again. With LP sales on the rise, I imagine that manufacturers of record players, record cleaning systems, needle manufacturers, etc are also doing well. Enjoy the brief article and have a Great Thanksgiving…Gobble Gobble!
• Chart: Vinyl Comes Back From Near-Extinction | Statista.
Why reviving the Arthur Andersen brand isn’t as crazy as it sounds – Quartz.
Enron issue aside, AA was a great firm. As an alumnus of the firm, I wish the team responsible for re-branding the most success.
Walmart’s ‘Made in USA’ push exposes strains of manufacturing rebirth | Reuters.
Several months ago, I shared an article on Walmart’s push to re-ignite manufacturing in the US. I’m glad to see the continued push in this area. Per the article, it is interesting to note that one of the biggest issues facing manufacturers is the lack of local component suppliers. It seems as if many component suppliers were driven out of business or moved overseas. I’m looking forward to the results that come out of the latest Walmart confab on said subject. Along those lines, I am in the midst of reading a book by the name of Factory Man – very good book that provides a decent overview of how (and why) U.S. furniture makers moved a majority of their manufacturing overseas.
How Steinway (Still) Makes Pianos | Mental Floss.
For those of you who have the time (8 minutes), watch the video of how Steinway manufactures pianos in NY. Great video describing the craftsmanship that goes into each piano. I’m not sure how many new pianos they manufacture each year (as you will see they are a job shop with very manual processes), but the process described and captured in the video is very impressive. What they do at Steinway is clearly a work of art.
I’ll cut to the chase on this post. Recruiting customer facing employees with the “Right Attitude” drives customer satisfaction and increased spend. The genesis of this post is based on my grocery shopping experiences. I frequent a number of grocery stores on a regular basis. There are several, though, that I am going to comment on in this post. I am always impressed when I interact with employees from the following grocery stores: Market Street, Whole Foods, and Central Market. In my experience, these stores generally have higher prices and in some cases less selection than other grocery stores I frequent. Even with higher prices and less selection of the foodstuffs that interest me, I continue to frequent these stores. Why? The employees. When I interact with employees from these stores, I am always impressed with their customer facing skills. The employees exhibit a number of traits that I do not find in other grocery store employees. These traits are as follow:
- A positive attitude
- Knowledge about the products in their store
- Willingness to assist
- Provide customer service with a smile
I have a recruited a number of employees in the past and while you can teach employees technical skills, I am not sure you can teach them the traits outlined above. What I find interesting is that the majority of the employees I come across in said stores seem to all have the same type of positive attitude. Hats off to the leaders of these stores for recruiting front line employees with the “right attitude”. I suspect employee pay at these grocery stores is higher than at others. If so, this is a great example of why paying more to recruit talented employees is worth it. I am sure there are many other factors at play beyond salary. Whatever they are, there is something to be learned from these companies and their recruiting policies. People often talk about the great service provided by Nordstrom. I believe employees at Central Market, Whole Foods, and Market Street are another example of how recruiting employees with the right attitude can positively impact financials. Because of these employees, I gladly drive out of my way and spend more than I typically would on groceries. I think the image I found below drives home the point. Your thoughts?
Just read the following blog posting Howard Marks: Dare to Be Great II | The Big Picture. – that is focused on on what makes one a superior investor. As I read through the article the points that the author covered are applicable to more than just being a successful or superior investor. The points he covered can be applied to any area or profession. It is not limited to the field of investment. Some of the key areas covered in memo are:
- Dare to Be Different
- It Isn’t Easy Being Different
- Dare to Be Wrong
- Dare to Look Wrong
- Looking Right Can Be Harder Than Being Right
The dare to be different point rang true for me since I have always marched to a somewhat different beat (and some might argue that I dance to a different beat as well, but that is a different story). I have always counseled my kids to not follow the crowd. Along those lines, though, many of us realize that being and doing things differently is not easy and never will be. It takes a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to “be different”. The other points highlighted in the memo are all insightful and once again are applicable to all walks of life. Hats off to Howard Marks for his second installment on the subject of “Dare to be Great”. The posting is a little lengthy, but worth the effort – scroll to the middle of the blog posting to see the memo from Marks.