Democracy in America. Does anybody care?

Today is an election day on New York State. Primary day to be exact. While we don’t have any hot button referendums on the ballot ( actually no referendums on the ballot at all) we do have a Governor’s race this year. The incumbent, the imperial Andrew Cuomo is facing a primary challenge and given some of the controversy recently around his handling of the Moreland Commission you’d think there might be some passion with the electorate one way or another.

Well, if you thought that you are wrong. I went over to the Voorheesville Fire House to cast my ballot early this afternoon. We have just short of 3,000 eligible voters in my precinct. My ballot cast at 1:30 PM brought the total number of voters so far to 12.That’s right, 12 out of 3,000 potential voters. I’m sure there will be some pick up but still the indifference is deafening.

Teddy’s son: Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt III

I was channel surfing this morning over a coffee and stumbled across the Morning Joe crew and their broadcast from France commemorating the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. Mike Barnicle and Willie Geist were commenting on how as you walked through the graves of the dead and read the info on the stones you witnessed a tapestry of the melting pot that was America in that era. Amazing the number of young men who gave their life for the cause. Anyway, either Barnicle or Geist commented on ranks of the dead soldiers, Private, Private Private.. so many privates and one Brigadier General :Theodore Roosevelt.

I have to say I was totally unfamiliar with General Roosevelt. A quick turn to Wikipedia detailed a remarkable life:

Here is a man born of privilege, TR’s eldest son. yet a man devoted to service. He saw action in World War I, lost his brother in combat and was recognized as the best battalion commander in his division.

A career in both the public and private sector followed. After hat could be described as a hugely successful professional career, he volunteered for duty at the outset of World War II at 53 years of age and was promoted to Brigadier General in 1941.

At 56 he served with his son in the D-Day invasion… 56 years old, the oldest man in the invasion and amongst the first troops off of their landing crafts. Ironically, he died of a heart attack about a month later and was interred at the American Cemetery in Normandy.

A real hero.

Good luck Farmer Mel

The Memorial Day weekend saw me try my hand again at vegetable gardening. This year we hope to have, tomatoes. peppers, squash, eggplant and brussel sprouts. I’m an accomplished weed grower, let’s see if I can make the transition.

Waiting to follow up on an Inquiry. Why Wait ?

As digital publishers,we forward numerous RFQ’s and actionable intelligence daily to our clients. These represent real live engaged visitors to our sites who have reached out and asked to be contacted and followed up with.

I am amazed at how nonchalantly some of these situations are handled. A week doesn’t go by where we aren’t pinged by at least one visitor, complaining that their request had so far been totally ignored.

What got me thinking about this was a situation I encountered earlier today. I reached out to a customer to make sure they had seen an inquiry from the lab manager of a major U.S. University who had expressed interest in a particular piece of equipment.

The answer I got, ” Yeah, I saw that and was going to follow up with them later today”.

Maybe business is booming so much that this kind of approach works. I tend to think though that timely ( why not right now) follow up is a key to winning business and preventing that customer from being engaged with by the competition. Once someone starts asking for a quote they usually don’t stop with just one. Why give your competition the opportunity to be the one that starts to build rapport first? If that happens your sales effort just got a whole lot more complicated.

Why Fat Tuesday?

I realized not too long ago that many things that I think are common knowledge, aren’t really. At the same time many institutions and practices that were sown into our communal fabric no longer retain their true meaning. Take today for example, Mardi Gras.

I was talking with some Israeli friends about visiting Montreal and Quebec City. I suggested that an ideal time to visit Quebec City would be during Carnival. My friends gave me a quizzical look as they didn’t understand what I was referring to. That makes sense. What would a couple ex-Pat Israeli’s know of, Fat Tuesday ( Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday), Carnival and Lent. As I tried to explain I realized I was dealing with an alien subject for them.

It’s sad in our western world that Lent has been minimized to a trite “what are you giving up” affair, if it has any place in conversations. The legalistic framework is frightening. After all, what does God care what we are “ giving up”? While the history of Great Lent and the practices associated with it are well beyond the scope of this post, I find it interesting to explore why we do what we do.

Today is the last day before the beginning of Lent for Western Christians ( the Eastern Orthodox Church began lent on Monday). The day is referred to as Fat Tuesday. In many locals it has turned into a bacchanalian event. The reason for Fat Tuesday is much more practical however. In many Christian communities, the onset of Lent meant a radical change in diet, an increase in prayer life and an emphasis on acts of mercy ( Almsgiving). Fasting meant abstaining from meats, dairy and fats. As Lent was on the horizon households took to using up those ingredients that they would soon be abstaining from . Thus, the day before the beginning of Lent became the day to use up all of the fats in the cupboard. Very practical behaviour if you think about. Now we have just another Hallmark, commercialized event.

Nicely Done!

What do Wall Street Analysts Do All Day?

The first Friday of every month is known in Wall Street parlance as ” jobs report Friday”. At 8:30 am the BLS issues the non farm payrolls report. This report provides an overview of jobs created over the past month in the US economy.

Investment Bank analysts issue all kinds of reports leading up to the release, offering their views on the economy and predictions on what the report will offer. This morning was the first ” jobs report Friday” of 2014. Here’s what various banks were looking for on the jobs number:

Citigroup 165K
Barclays 175K
UBS 185K
Goldman Sachs 200K
JP Morgan 215K
Bank of America 220K
Deutsche Bank 250K

We came in at at 74K. These knuckleheads weren’t even close. Again, I ask what do these analysts do all day and why do we bother to listen to them?

Happy New Year!

Most of us know that this week marks the celebration of Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. What is not so well known however, is that September marks the beginning of the Christian Church “ New Year” as well. It’s not surprising given the huge Judaic influence on the early Christian community that that a similar ecclesiastical calendar would be adopted. September 1, “ in the tradition” marks the beginning of Christ’s ministry as documented in the Gospel of Luke 4: 16-21. Imagine what it must have been like to be in the synagogue on that Sabbath. Wow.

[16] And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
[17] And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

[18] The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
[19] To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.( Isaiah 61: 1-2)

[20] And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
[21] And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Unfunded Pension Liabilities: A Big Problem

Jim Sinclair mentions MOPE often in his writings ( Management Of Perception Economics). It’s all about media and political spin to create the illusion that everything is under control. This NYTImes story about the dark clouds up ahead for the Chicago pension system tries bravely to plant a MOPE seed. Note the opening sentence:

Corporations are moving in, and housing prices are looking better across the region. There has been a slight uptick in population.

What does that have to do with a multi-billion dollar unfunded liability?
The ugly truth is that politicians promised future benefits to their constituents for years and years. They won votes. When tough budget choices needed to be made as far as actually funding these promises the proverbial can was kicked down the road. In effect,letting the next guy deal with the problem.

Well, we are at that stage where something has to give. In Chicago’s case they are $19+ billion underfunded. There is no money to pay these pension benefits. Do you think th population at large will stomach a 150% property tax hike? Not likely.

There is pain coming.I am no fan of Rahm Emmanuel, but one thing he says is true; ” What the system needs is a hard, cold dose of honesty,”
Let’s see if anyone is willing to deliver.

Contact Us

What a strange Friday afternoon in early August. I have had some interesting and strange customer interaction over the past 10 years or so, but my experience today has given me pause. I work for a digital publisher specializing in the materials science, nanotech and medical spaces. We strive to be a knowledge base for each community we serve.

Part of that involves having as complete a database of suppliers in our directory as possible. It’s really a service to our audience.If we find a supplier that is relevant to what we cover,we add a profile page for them. It is another point of contact for a potential customer…. and it is free.

Anyway, I was reprimanded this morning by a prospect because we had the wrong e-mail address listed for them on their Profile page. Here’s the bizarre part of this. I spent 5 minutes or so on their website looking for an e-mail address that a potential customer could use to reach out and engage with them. Guess what, there is none.

The only way a customer or potential customer can interact with them is via a Contact US form that has 4 or 5 required fields to fill in before you can even ask a question.I am amazed on a daily basis on how many companies i see in the B2B space that it make it so difficult for their customers to try to do business with them. What’s amazing is that there are people at the company who actually have the term “marketing” in their job title.