05/30/19

Dollar General Revisited

As you know I am enamored with Dollar General — America’s neighborhood store. I wrote about them about nine months ago when their stock was at $107.84/share.

Dollar General, A Love Affair

Now, it is at $127.10 and they have announced an additional 900 stores to be opened in the 44 states in which they operate. This is an example of simple execution. Nothing more.

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Simple plan. Steady execution. Recognition and reward from Wall Street.

Dollar General’s chart looks excellent and it is likely to continue to grow in the same direction. Bravo!

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05/21/19

The Energy Source v The Energy Sink Theory of Life

Big Red Car here on a wet Austin By God Texas day. It is May, y’all, and it is time to contemplate the Memorial Day floods.

Here is a pic from the 1981 Memorial Day floods, my first personal intro to the phenomenon. This pic is taken at the bridge in front of Hut’s Hamburgers, home of some of the best burgers on the planet. There were car lots next to Shoal Creek and hundreds of cars ended up in the creek.

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When you come to Austin, you are going to want to get a Hut’s Hamburger. Trust me on this. Get the hickory burger.

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05/10/19

Harry’s and the Subscription Wizard

In case you have not heard, Harry’s has been sold to Edgewell Personal Care Company in a $1,370,000,000 stock-and-cash deal.

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The founders of Harry’s — Andy Katz-Matfield and Jeff Raider — will head up Edgewell’s US operations as co-presidents.

Edgewell is also the owner of Schick and Wilkinson shaving products and thus this is a strategic acquisition.

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04/8/19

Peter Drucker

The other day I was reading a blog in which a particular management methodology was discussed. It seemed noticeably similar to Peter Drucker’s concept of Management by Objectives contained in his excellent book, The Practice of Management (1954). It got me thinking about Peter Drucker.

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One of the phenomenon in business, particularly in the venture capital funded startup business world, is a complete lack of appreciation that businesses existed long before the invention of the personal computer or the Internet.

I often joke, “Your generation did not invent sex or business” by which I mean it is worthwhile to have knowledge of things from before the Internet.

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03/30/19

Managing Expectations and Messaging

I wish I were not using President Donald J Trump as an exemplar for part of my blog post, as it is not intended for a political discussion, but rather for the CEO and his/her slice of capitalism.

As a CEO, two of the elements of your company that can be (must be?) managed are expectations and messaging. They are intimately related.

As a CEO, you are converting a Vision into a Mission and creating Strategy, Tactics, Objectives in a framework of Values which define a Culture.

Click on this graphic to see it at larger scale. It shows how these things are related. There is both structure and process at work here.

I often find that CEOs are comforted when they are able to see how all of these concepts are related and work together. It proves up the structural elements of your rapidly evolving process.

 

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03/20/19

The Unions Come For Tech

Bit of a gray day out here in the ATX which is a great day to be viewing the bluebonnets. Bluebonnets do not belong to a union. If they did, they would require more rain, no?

Today, however, we speak of the unionization of tech companies. A pal of mine (tip of the hat to LE of the City of Brotherly Love) sent me an article announcing that the staff of Kickstarter is going to become members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 153.

In announcing this bold step, the union had this to say:

Kickstarter United is proud to start the process of unionizing to safeguard and enrich Kickstarter’s charter commitments to creativity, equity, and a positive impact on society. We trust in the democratic process and are confident that the leadership of Kickstarter stands with us in that effort. Kickstarter has always been a trailblazer, and this is a pivotal moment for tech. We want to set the standard for the entire industry. Now is the time. Come together. Unionize.

Kickstarter is the first notable tech company to embrace the idea of a union, but in the last few years employees have begun to speak with a louder voice at some of the other companies on issues such as sexual harassment [talking to you, Uber] and selling technology to the Pentagon [talking to you, Amazon, Sales Force].

These louder voices are what has attracted OPEIU to come calling.

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03/13/19

You Are All Alone

Nice warm day in the ATX after a morning of rain. Ahh, On Earth as it is in Texas! It’s SXSW time in the ATX.

As a founder, entrepreneur, CEO there are times — most of the time — when you must rely solely upon yourself. You are all alone.

Even when you are a member of a team, at times you are all alone because you are the decider.

This is not a bad thing; it is just a thing. You can relax knowing that every other founder, entrepreneur, CEO has had the same feeling.

That feeling — when the butterflies in your gut become condors and they try to slice their way out with their sharp talons. Your stomach is an acid pit and your breath is like kerosene.

It is real, but you can handle it. Learning to rely upon your own judgment is critical.

I am not counseling you to ignore advice. Solicit advice, but know that sometimes, you will jump alone.

Here is a video of a stick of paratroopers (with equipment) getting ready to jump over White Sands as part of a training exercise. Every soldier who approaches that door is a member of a team, but when they jump they make that decision alone. You as a founder, entrepreneur, CEO will make that same decision.

You got this, trust me.

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03/12/19

Half a Loaf

As a leader of a startup, a public company, a charity — you will find yourself dealing with the planning for, advocacy of, and implementation of change. Change is the constant.

As change is the constant, resistance to change is also a given. People do not like change in the workplace. They like to settle in, do their jobs, and become expert at what they do. They want the comfort of a known gig and a known operating model.

Change, by its very nature, creates discomfort. This discomfort gives rise to resistance. Resistance becomes an internal barrier to the success of the change.

So, what is a leader to do?

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03/7/19

Bullshitters v Doers

I have been traveling to see Baby Tempe for a few days so I have been MIA. When I travel, it gives me a good chance to think. One of the reasons I adore road trips.

Here is Baby T working the marketing end of her mother’s hot startup Weezie Towels. You will want to get over to www.weezietowels.com when you can.

It is hard to be an effective marketer when you can’t speak yet. But, she’s on the case.

So, here’s something I have been thinking about for a long time, but have never really articulated in an intelligible way — the world is filled to overflowing with bullshitters, but has only a handful of real doers.

I am going to peg the comparative percentages at 98% bullshitters and 2% doers. A pal put it at 99% v 1%, but he was always a hard grader.

Before you condemn the coarseness of my observation, let me say there is nothing inherently bad or evil about being a bullshitter, as long as you know it and make way for the doers who are ultimately going to solve the problems.

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10/24/18

Canadian Softwood Lumber Tariff Revisited

Canadian Softwood Lumber Tariff — what ever happened?

Big Red Car here on a drippy and rainy gray ATX day. It has been raining for almost a month.

Today, we talk about what really happened by the imposition of the Canadian Softwood Lumber 20.8% tariff back in May 2017.

Of course, the Canadians and the Americans – National Association of Home Builders – immediately began to cry foul predicting that the price of a US home would go up by $9000.

The business press said “Trump is an idiot. This will cause a huge trade war.”

Now, of course, we have some firm evidence as to what did happen. In fact, after hitting a peak of $653 per thousand board feet, the current price of lumber is $313.40/thousand board feet.

That’s right lumber has gone DOWN after the imposition of the tariff. Here is the price of a thousand board feet of lumber from the inception of the tariff until today.

Chart

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