Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2011 Social Media trends

Marian Salzman shares this nugget:

Populist frustration crosses from political platforms to consumers. They’ll lash out against brands that fail to meet expectations or that fall down on service. Have a strategy in place in case you misstep, which will be especially important on SoMe (social media), where you’ll need to avoid viral contagion.

Americans are pragmatic; we all know that. But rarely have we seen so much widespread interest in reinvention as we’ll be seeing next year. Boomer Joes and Janes will look to apply “Yes, we can” not to politics, but to their sense of reactualized human potential.

The phenomenon slides from individual to institutional. Just as people confess and redeem their crooked roads through new good works—I see a big trend to volunteerism among boomers.


In 2010, hyperlocalization—people valuing their five-to-10-mile radius where familiar relationships form—was a buzzword I cited in my annual report. In 2011, there’s going to be a lot more of this seeking and probing for deep meaning as we ask ourselves which of our jobs, activities and hobbies feel soul-satisfying.

Our answers will prioritize self-reliance. Respect accrues to brands that can talk to the hands, as the can-do spirit resurges not just in ever-burgeoning DIY movements

Friday, November 26, 2010

Incorporate gratitude into your day

Scott shares this about gratitude,

The way I see it, you don’t need a calendar to tell you when to care. Everyday is Thanksgiving. And if you’re only grateful for one month out of the year, you missed the point. The goal is to make gratitude like exercise: Something you just do, everyday. People will notice. Have you made giving thanks a non-negotiable?

Contribution is the greatest form of gratitude. Every human being has been commissioned to contribute. Interestingly, the word “contribute” comes from the Latin, contributus, which means, “to bring together.”

That’s your challenge: To figure out what you were made to make. To learn what you were designed to cure. To discover what God had in mind when she put you together. This is life’s most critical assignment. Ignore it at your own peril.

Besides: How dare you dedicate your days to anything else? Isn’t that the point? Isn’t the highest way to show gratitude for the gifts you’ve been given to regift them in the service of the world?

You better believe it. That’s how you pay your rent, validate your existence and offer thanks for your natural endowments. By contributing. By adding value. By leaving this cosmic campsite better than how you found it. Do that, and your customers won’t just thank you – they’ll throw your arms around you.

Remember: Usefulness is worship. Learn why you are, or risk losing who you are. What were you born with that you’ve been ungratefully denying?

REMEMBER: Gratitude isn’t just something you do – it’s something you are.

This week, as you sit down to break bread with your loved ones, and as you and celebrate all there is to be thankful for, keep one thing in mind:

What’s being served on the table isn’t as important as who’s sitting around it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 00 plus 10

The Law of Thanksgiving has several principles:

1) "Everything is a gift and we are but humble stewards of those gifts."
2) "The secret to happiness is to accept all that comes along with Thanksgiving and want for nothing else."
3) "The secret to wealth is to give away the first ten percent of all you earn until you can give it all away."

4) "Observe without judgment" 
Happy Thanksgiving!
November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The birth of an idea

Seth explains where ideas come from, here is a sampling,

  1. Ideas often come while reading a book
  2. Good ideas come from bad ideas, but only if there are enough of them
  3. Ideas hate conference rooms, particularly conference rooms where there is a history of criticism, personal attacks or boredom
  4. Ideas occur when dissimilar universes collide
  5. Sometimes ideas come from fear (usually in movies) but often they come from confidence
  6. Useful ideas come from being awake, alert enough to actually notice
  7.  An idea must come from somewhere, because if it merely stays where it is and doesn't join us here, it's hidden. And hidden ideas don't ship, have no influence, no intersection with the market. They die, alone.

Happiness is the result of being present.

Jason Castro's article details a study that indicates,

The happy upshot of this study is that it suggests a wonderfully simple prescription for greater happiness: think about what you’re doing.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The new consumer mentality.

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination." Oscar Wilde

In their book "Spend Shift" John Gerzema and Michael D'Antonio make several arguments that the credit consumer society of the past has been purified by the Great Recession and a new debit culture has taken it's place. Though I agree with the rise of generosity detailed in the book the premise that the credit society has  been altered is completely false. The credit society has not been altered, what has occurred is that the credit facilities that fueled the society have been withdrawn. When the credit flows again and it will, the credit society will come roaring back unabated by the memory of the Great Recession

Technomic's 11 for 11

Technomic released these 11 trends for 11

here is a sampling,

4. Social media and technology: evolutionary spurt. We’ll see constant changes in applications for marketing and operations in 2011. Kiosk ordering, wine lists on iPads, tableside payment systems—which technologies will revolutionize operations? Couponing websites and location-based social media will grow, while the apps fad will continue to evolve, while facing new competition from developing formats and technologies. Front-of-house and back-of-house technology and social media are evolving so fast that rewards and risks are high—but the biggest risk of all is failure to innovate.
6. Frugality fatigue. Penny-pinching was a novelty when the recession began; now it’s gotten old. Anyone who can afford it will dip back into luxury dining in 2011. Look for flashy high-end restaurants and some extravagant, indulgent specials even on staid menus. Meanwhile, the middle class will gravitate to reasonably priced but high-experience-value, thrill-a-minute concepts with memorable menus. Pricey full-service concepts will continue to push bar menus, bringing in new customers at a lower price point, and gastropubs will proliferate.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Problem solving basics

Scott Halford explains problem solving
  1. Identify. Identifying the correct problem to work on is often where people trip up. It’s not as simple as you might think — breeze over this step at your own peril. Think about a business that has revenue issues. There could be a few hundred reasons for that issue. Asking the right questions and being a smart detective help you zero in on the problem with precision. The good problem solver asks a lot of questions about what the problem really is, instead of guessing and making snap decisions about it.
  2. Ideate. Now that you have a short list of what the problem might be, brainstorm all the possible solutions. The best brainstorming happens when you have the opportunity to bounce ideas off others. Get the right people in the room and think of as many solutions as you can. This is not the time to evaluate. The physiological brain process of generating ideas is not the same as evaluating them, and they cannot be switched on at the same time. They are both critical processes, but don’t turn off the ideation by turning on the evaluation.
  3. Evaluate. This is when you evaluate the ideas you came up with during the ideation phase. Evaluate ideas first based on their impact on a goal, and secondly, on the complexity of the idea. Complexity is not about difficulty. Instead, it is determined by only two things: time and money. Can the idea bring about successful results in the time constraints you have, and does it fit any known budget constraints you have? Ask yourself how large an impact the idea has. If you’re trying to cut $10,000 out of a budget and you come up with an idea that saves $100, the impact is relatively low. One with $1,000 becomes a higher-impact solution. You are looking for high–impact, low-complexity ideas.
  4. Execute. This is another step average problem solvers often skip. It does no good to come up with a great idea and then bungle execution on it. We’ve all been in those meetings where ideas are brainstormed and funneled into a few doable deeds, only to walk out of the meeting and never know when or how the ideas will be executed. Fruitless. Come up with a plan to get your idea done. You don’t have to be the executor of the full idea, but as a problem solver, you have some responsibility for implementing the solution.
  5. Re-examine. The final step is to check in with the solution’s progress and determine if it is still the right one. There will be times when the problem still exists because the solution wasn’t right. Don’t throw in the towel. Go back to step two and get going on the next solution to try.

Why do people go out?

Seth offers this

  • There are people around you, fellow travelers, magnetic energy, shared joy.
  • Something might go wrong. The artist is like a tightrope walker, taking big chances and the drama it creates is engrossing.
  • You might be surprised. Something new and wonderful might happen and it might jar you awake.
And yet, people in the 'live' business--restaurants, people doing presentations, the concierge at the hotel--often work hard to avoid getting anywhere near any of the three.

Inhouse staff newsletters

A newsletter, daily or weekly keeping the staff apprised on menu changes, staff changes, new services, even some limited financial's keeps them engaged. The technology is ubiquitous so there no valid reason for not implementing it.

Pushback aganist discounting coupons?

Can any business survive a discounting effort, be it Groupon or their ilk? No is the short answer however if the only way to survive in this environment is through traffic than what other options are there? At best the exercise is a break even proposition, at worse it can dilute your brand and the game is lost?

MP Mueller explains

Wow, will discounting be good for this brand?”

As more and more people are learning, social coupons can give businesses exposure to an affluent and educated audience. Rob Solomon, Groupon’s president, told me that the company’s 25 million subscribers are mostly between 30 to 50, college-educated, men and women with a household income north of $50,000. The company is active in 100 markets in North America and just announced a deal with eBay that will highlight Groupon’s regional daily deals on eBay’s pages. 

The two-year-old service is so popular that the term “Groupon anxiety” is now an entry in the Urban Dictionary, and Forbes has called Groupon the fastest-growing Internet company ever (be sure to see the reader comments after the article, which include some interesting first-hand experiences). While there are no upfront costs for businesses that sign on with Groupon, the businesses do have to offer their products or services at a significant discount and they do have to split what consumers pay for the coupon with Groupon, typically 50-50.

Adjust to the customer

William Mullen chronicles the rise of the Eastern Tourist

Many Chicago attractions in the last five years have added amenities in Mandarin, the principal Chinese dialect, to serve Chinese visitors. The Field Museum, for example, offers a map of its exhibit halls in Mandarin.

There are Mandarin guides to
Millennium Park, a great favorite among Chinese visitors, and to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park. Macy's department stores offer "savings passes" in Mandarin. The Wendella boat cruises' Web site has a Mandarin section listing its schedules and prices. The John Hancock Tower offers a Mandarin language audio guide to its observation deck.

"This lake is a great attraction for Chinese people," said Wang Suqi, a visitor from Beijing looking down on Lake Michigan from the Hancock last week. "It seems as vast as an ocean."

Wang, 58, was touring the city with a group of Chinese travel agents to better familiarize themselves with Chicago's attractions. Chinese culture helped explain his fascination with the lake.

"For us, water symbolizes luck and hope, and it symbolizes money," he said.

Most Chinese coming to Chicago in the past have combined tourism with business and convention trips, Wang said. They return home impressed with the city's architecture, museums, music, dining and shopping, he said.

It also doesn't hurt that two airlines, United and American, now fly nonstop daily between
O'Hare International Airport and China.

Social Media during the meal

Back in the dark ages B.S.M. (before social media), if a customer had a question about the meal, how long it was taking or the difference in the expectations they would call the server or the manager over. Not any more, in the A.S.M reality the customer will simply tweet the question or request? Restaurants can monitor guests in this fashion and respond accordingly. (can I get a refill on my Diet Coke). Individuals waiting for a table can monitor social media to get a feel for how events are unfolding during the shift. They can get updates as to how long before their table is ready, what the kitchen times are, which server is in a good mood or the quality of the dishwasher that day. No more will you be handed one of those square flashing devices to alert you to when your table is ready. Your status before, during and after the meal will be available for the whole of the universe to see on their smartphones.

do you want a sense of what a restaurant looks like before you go in?

enifer Van Grove introduces us to Eats

Using Eats, application users can essentially explore the interior of local restaurants in a virtual walk-a-round fashion, similar in style to Google Streetview for mobile, but infinitely more practical for would-be restaurant diners. Eats also includes visual search options, social sharing features and filters for users to find restaurants by location, price or rating.

The EveryScape custom-built technology powering Eats is capable of transforming photo stills into three dimensional, user-controlled internal store tours. The application is designed to further the connection between patron and business owner, and business owners can use the service to customize their venue information.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eat more ice cream

Wonderful news, cold melts fat cells. That is why some people feel slimmer in winter than in summer. It is cold out there and you are reducing fat cells. Also eating ice cream makes your face gaunt because you're  affecting fat cells.

I can see the restaurant ads. Eat more ice cream and slim down!

Chris Woolston's article explains

Maybe it's all a matter of degrees. Instead of burning fat, should you be trying to freeze it instead?

He adds that interest in cold therapy for fat removal got its start in the early 1970s when doctors noticed that children who spent a lot of time sucking on popsicles tended to have unusually hollow cheeks.

"There are worse ways to spend your money," he adds. "There's very little risk, except you might get a little chilly."

Learn confidence

Jessica Stillman explains why some people seem so confident,

according to a long and fascinating article recently published on Psychology Today. According to author Erika Casriel, “the reality is that most socially confident people deliberately learn specific skills.”
So what exercises do the experts recommend for the confidence-challenged who are keen to learn to keep cool in front of others? First, forget about simply repressing your anxiety, which simply makes you more self-conscious. Then, consider honing the following skills:
  • Read your body right: “You can create a crisis of confidence by overreacting to your own normal heightened alertness. But if you can work yourself up simply by misinterpreting your body’s signals, you can chill yourself out by reading them correctly. The irony of misreading your nervous system’s cues is that far from harming you, your natural excitement can enhance your performance. Increased activation is not a sign that you’re failing, but that you want to do well and your body is ready to help.”
  • Focus on helping others: “Mastering social skills requires tuning in to your self-esteem. But instead of being self-conscious and fixating on your anxiety, work on creating positive interactions that make the people around you feel engaged and happy. Focusing less on yourself and more on others will yield big payoffs in expanded social opportunities.” Also, “feeling allegiance to a larger cause can make your discomfort more tolerable”

Michelin discovers Chicago

Press release 
On Nov. 17, Michelin will announce the selection for its first-ever MICHELIN Guide Chicago. Today, however, Michelin offers a sneak peek at the first collection of what's in store from MICHELIN Guide Chicago 2011 – the Bib Gourmand selection. The Bib Gourmand designation denotes good cuisine at a reasonable price in a variety of comfort categories. Defined as "Inspectors' Favorites for Good Value," Bib Gourmand restaurants offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included), and are often of most value to a city's residents, who regularly dine in neighborhood restaurants.

Some good restaurants are on this list

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The continuing storm.

The stock market has risen 16% in two months, a fairly good run, however the overarching issue is still real estate mortgages and declining credit facilities. Until credit and faith in a banking system is restored it is unlikely that a sustained recovery can occur.

Robert Reich has this,

According to a recent Washington Post poll, more than half of all Americans — 53 percent — are worried about making their mortgage payments. This is many more than were worried two years ago, when the Great Recession hit bottom. Then, 37 percent expressed worry.
Delinquency rates on home loans are rising. Distressed sales are up as a percent of total sales.
Most people in the Average Worker economy own few shares of stock, if any. Their equity is in their homes. But with all the delinquencies and distressed sales, the housing market has a glut of homes for sale. As a result, home prices are still dropping. So the net worth of most Americans is still dropping.
And even though interest rates are falling, most people in the Average Worker economy can’t refinance their homes. They can’t get home equity loans. Banks don’t want to lend to the Average Worker economy because people in it are considered bad credit risks. They still owe lots of money, their family incomes are down, and their net worth has fallen.


James Galbraith takes the administration to task for not doing enough.

But one cannot defend the actions of Team Obama on taking office. Law, policy and politics all pointed in one direction: turn the systemically dangerous banks over to Sheila Bair and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Insure the depositors, replace the management, fire the lobbyists, audit the books, prosecute the frauds, and restructure and downsize the institutions. The financial system would have been cleaned up. And the big bankers would have been beaten as a political force.


Michael Perelman reprints a letter sent to the President by John Maynard Keyes,

“You have made yourself the Trustee for those in every country who seek to mend the evils of our condition by reasoned experiment within the framework of the existing social system. If you fail, rational change will be gravely prejudiced throughout the world, leaving orthodoxy and revolution to fight it out. But if you succeed, new and bolder methods will be tried everywhere, and we may date the first chapter of a new economic era from your accession to office.”

How to data mine information about your customer?

Clarissa Cruz explains,

1. What you look like. Julian Niccolini, the famed maitre d' at the Four Seasons in New York City, says he regularly uses Google Images to identify new guests, which allows him and his staff to greet diners personally when they arrive. 

2. How many times you've stood them up. Ann Shepherd of OpenTable, which handles online reservations for more than 15,000 restaurants, says the site does track data on diners who have a habit of blowing off their reservations. "If a diner has a certain number of accumulated 'no shows' their account is closed," she says. The system also notes—and prevents—a customer from double-booking at two different restaurants. 

3. What you ate the day before. New York City's Eleven Madison Park recently served a customer a mini lamb burger after he tweeted, "Burger King in the airport waiting for my flight to NYC. I'll consider this my amuse-bouche for Eleven Madison Park!" 
5. Whether you're cheating on your wife (or husband). Let's say you are a regular at a restaurant—and you regularly alternate between dinner with the spouse and dinner with, well, someone who is not your spouse. The great maitre d's discreetly take notice. "As part of our pre-shift meeting, we review the [reservation] books with the staff," says Welch. "And where there's a situation where a guest comes in with somebody new, it's 'Lovely to see you again.' It's not about what happened yesterday and who the individual was with then. We're not here to judge."

The internet provides a wealth of information about your guests, some is relevant, some is not and like mining it require some effort to extract.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lessons from a midterm

The first lesson is that if there is not a foreign threat sailing toward us, the first, second and third concerns of the electorate is the the economy. The lack of jobs and any discernible improvement in an individual's financial condition caused by the Great Contraction has the electorate looking for new players to provide answers. The economic devastation on Main Street is real and there really has been no concerted effort to improve the situation. It is unfathomable to me that a administration that rose to prominence on the south side of Chicago does not see  

The second lesson is that if your are going to change, then change big because the result is the same. In too many cases the administration and the congressional leadership acted timidly because they were afraid of backlash. Well I am here to tell you that it is better to flame white hot across the sky and die out than to sit on the shelf of indifference and collect dust.

The third lesson is that this is only one election, there will be another. The politicking has already started. Keep Calm and Carry On!

IF you can, finish with a flourish

Lisa Fickenscher chronicles the closing of a restaurant,

Now the author of the best-selling Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business is raising the bar on how to shutter a restaurant by orchestrating a three-month sendoff. And in a field in which employees are lucky to receive a few days' warning that they're losing their jobs, Mr. Meyer is going to extraordinary lengths to help Tabla's 90 full-time staff find new positions before the last meal is served on Dec. 30.

“It's not something I necessarily want to become an expert in,” Mr. Meyer says, laughing. “But the measure of our company should not just be about how we open restaurants. We need to distinguish ourselves by how we close a place.”

Restaurants typically close with little or no notice. Some skip out in the middle of the night to avoid creditors. Some—like La Caravelle, which closed in 2004 after a 43-year run—give customers a grace period of a week or so to enjoy a final meal.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Go out and Vote

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"

NO matter the current state of your finances, you have a hard fought right and a duty to make your voice heard.

Go out and VOTE!