business news in context, analysis with attitude

I got a number of emails about last week's MNB/In Conversation segment with Dr. Charles Steinberg, president of the Worcester Red Sox, in which we talked about minor league baseball and explored business lessons that it can offer retailers.

Among them…

One MNB reader wrote:

Enjoyed your conversation with Dr. Charles, he was not only very articulate, you can also instantly tell that he is passionate about everyone experiencing baseball and the lessons baseball can teach us. Everyone is a consumer and I have found that consumers will gravitate to and therefore return to positive shopping experiences. Technology can be a catalyst to frictionless transactions, but let us not forget that ultimately we all strive for recognition and positive human interactions.

Keep posting life’s lessons as they are all around us! Play Ball!

MNB reader Tim Callahan wrote:

I will travel from Philadelphia to Worcester, MA this weekend and have tickets for the game on Saturday.  I am now looking forward to the game more than ever.

Thanks for a great preview.

My pleasure.

From another reader:

I really enjoyed your interview with Dr. Charles. What a delight and way to think outside the box. I have two take a ways from that call that both came right at the end.

First is that I couldn’t agree more that I have no idea why more hitters don’t beat the shift by going the other way? That’s all that’s needed to change that pattern, no need to regulate it. Being a baseball purist I have struggled for the last several years with all the changes that have been made, ostensibly to shorten the game or increase viewership and attendance. I believe that the people watching now like the game and the people that think it’s too slow or boring are not the audience that you're going to change the minds of anyway because they really don’t understand the game at the strategic level, like understanding what every position player should be doing in any situation with any pitch count, or even anticipating the pitch to be thrown based on the defensive alignment.

Second, I thought Dr. Charles’s opened minded answer to your question about the changes was enlightening! “Let’s give it a try,” and , “it’s not bad,” can be used in our everyday lives for a host of situations going on in our world, even dare I say politically!

From another reader:

Thanks to you, I have Apt (on Cape Cod) on my list of places to visit once the Covid 19 numbers improve.

Reading the “Your Views” section this morning and the comments regarding employee knowledge and customer service, I couldn’t help but think about this TED Talk from Louise Evans entitled “Own Your Behaviours, Master Your Communication, Determine Your Success”---many refer to it as the “5 Chairs” talk.  One of the many benefits of this talk is that it isn’t just business, but all communication……wondering if you’ve ever seen it?  I have had some great customer service and made a comment about “chair”…..many times the response is along the lines of “YES, I love that TED Talk!”

I was first introduced to this TED Talk by my best friend.  She’d patiently listened to me vent and, instead of blasting me, suggested that this might be helpful.  That is a true friend!  And, it was very helpful and continues to be……..

Thanks for the work you are doing……..and the positives you insert in this crazy time.

On an entirely different subject from an MNB reader:

I live in a small upper middle class Columbus, OH neighborhood not far from downtown.  There is a Dollar General 1/2 mile from me in a small strip center at the edge with less affluent areas to the north and east that I suspect is their core audience.   For me it has served as a bargain super convenient store.  I stopped there today mainly to get bread and buns.  To my amazement one entire side of the store wrapping around the end is now refrigerated/frozen.  (But there were huge out of stocks in dry grocery.)  

What an evolution.  Fresh produce next?  I can see me probably buying more there.

Regarding the decision by several trade shows to limit attendance to people who can prove they are fully vaccinated, one MNB reader wrote:

I agree with you this is a smart move, but I hope people that are vaccinated (like myself) do not kid themselves they can’t catch the virus and then retransmit it to someone else.  That is very possible reality.  These shows could still be “spreader” type of events, just at a different level for those there.  The after the event and those they are in contact with could be impacted.  Be responsible, be careful and live your life the best you can with respect for others.

One of the comments I made last week was that the last thing the National Grocers Association (NGA) and Groceryshop - each of which is holding a conference next month in Las Vegas) - need is to have Lester Holt using their names and "super-spreader event" in the same sentence.

Prompting one MNB reader to write:

Does anyone listen to Lester, “what’s his name again”, or if they do, can they believe it?

A response that, I have to admit, annoys the hell out of me.

First of all, let's be clear.  "The NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt" garners an average of about eight million viewers each night.  Now, those aren't Walter Cronkite numbers - he averaged somewhere around 25 million viewers a night - but Cronkite only had to compete against ABC and NBC - not the plethora of online and cable news sources that exist today.   (I'll be honest here.  Holt even gets slightly better numbers than I do with MNB.  Pains me to admit it, but so it goes.)

But what really annoys me about this response is so wrong-headed it is, focusing on the thing that doesn't matter rather than the thing that does.  The reader takes a shot at a mainstream evening news broadcast rather than dealing with the point I really was making - that the food industry cannot afford to be seen as being irresponsible in town it grapples with Covid-19 and its variants.

Retailers actually have done a very good job of dealing with all these issues.  The trade associations that represent them have to be careful not to put all that hard work at risk.