business news in context, analysis with attitude

There is hope for the planet. A new survey by Junior Achievement indicates that Steve Jobs is the nation’s most admired entrepreneur, way ahead of Oprah Winfrey, Tony Hawk and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.

This makes me happy. it is a positive thing when kids admire someone like Jobs as opposed to an entertainer, albeit an entertainer with enormous influence. But Jobs is the real deal - he runs a company that creates products that have a tangible influence on kids’ lives, and it is a good thing when they recognize that. Maybe they’ll channel that admiration into their own entrepreneurial efforts, and create the next product that will have iPod-like impact.

Ironically, it was announced this week that The Walt Disney Company, looking to revitalize its retail stores, has turned to Jobs and the Apple retail division: the New York Times reported that “at a time when many retailers are still cutting back or approaching strategic shifts with extreme caution, Disney is going the other way, getting more aggressive and putting into motion an expensive and ambitious floor-to-ceiling reboot of its 340 stores in the United States and Europe — as well as opening new ones, including a potential flagship in Times Square.” The goal, according to the Times, is to create stores that are more like “entertainment hubs,” offering recreational and interactive activities.

Here’s one quote from the story that I love: “The world does not need another place to sell Disney merchandise — this only works if it’s an experience,” said Jim Fielding, president of Disney Stores Worldwide.

Also in the story is the note that Jobs’ role in the reinvention was to push Disney - where he serves on the board of directors - to “dream bigger.”

Both are sentiments worth taking to heart in almost any retail environment - the importance of always dreaming bigger, and to realize that an experience always works better than a commodity.

This is just one guy’s opinion, but the oatmeal served by Jamba Juice is infinitely better than the oatmeal served by Starbucks. I’ve been on the road a lot lately, so I’m grateful to have either...but sometimes you gotta make a judgement call.

It won’t be for everyone, but I really liked the new Ricky Gervais movie, “The Invention of Lying.” This is what I would call a serious comedy - it is very funny, but has more than just jokes on its mind. It postulates a kind of alternate universe in which nobody knows how to tell an untruth...and what happens when one man discovers how that being able to lie offers him some unusual advantages. Some will find the set-up a little long, but I never got bored...and Gervais remains an unsentimental but bemused critic of the human condition.

My wines of the week: the 2006 Gloria Ferrer Chardonnay Carneros, from Sonoma. Just dry enough, and lovely to sip.

And the 2007 J Lohr South Ridge Syrah, which made me grateful for the colder weather that makes a terrific syrah just about perfect.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

KC's View: