I am SO EXCITED and cannot wait to try this new shopping experience! I was walking past one of the new stores on Franklin Street in Chicago not really sure what it was. I know you can pick up your items from Amazon (why would I want to do that? When anything I buy is delivered in two days free to my door?). Anyway, I saw my favorite Farmers Fridge Salad in the window. Farmer's Fridge prepares salads fresh daily, traditionally sells them through a vending machine (there are not enough vending machines around for me). These salads are an impressively delicious, healthy grab and go item, made with in-season ingredients. There's a spot in the vending machine for the consumer to recycle their salad jar. Whoah selling Farmers Fridge Salads is a game changer! What is THIS new Amazon concept all about?
I asked my much hipper friend who was sure to know what the 411, was to fill me in. He explained that it's a new store concept where you don't have to wait in line and your Amazon account is charged directly to your app. Waiting for a conference call that never came (frustrated!) I downloaded the Amazon Go app. As a writer, I was critiquing the communication. It was very clear. An animated infographic popped up guiding the user through the process. Even if a user couldn't read the words in English, the images were clear. Any image could be paused and replayed. I was kinda glad there was no music in the background which is so popular now.
My only frustration is the store is only open during regular business hours Monday through Friday. I wonder why that is? It can't take much overhead to run the store. One perhaps two employees need to be present. Eventually no employee will likely be required to be present at all. I'm sure there's a risk factor but that can't be too great either. Digital tracking and immediate notification should minimize the risk of theft and personal harm.
As some Chicagoans lament the demise of Sears, I'm celebrating these new concepts maximizing all the technological tools we have available to create a better quality of life for all or at least for some at the start. Sure, jobs will be lost, but jobs will be created. It's up to us to keep reinventing and grabbing the opportunities in front us. Sears helped the world grasp the concept of credit which was incredibly futuristic thinking in it's day. . At one time, not so long ago, it was humiliating to have any sort of debt at all. Sears convinced people by opening up a store credit card that it was "ok" to use credit to get the big ticket item of appliances. It takes a while for social and behavioral change.
Sears lost out when they stopped listening to the marketplace and transforming to utilize available technology and thinking about future potential versus focusing on hanging onto existing profits which ultimately dissolved. .
Is Amazon Go concept here to stay? Will it be used for other shopping experiences? Restaurants? Convenience stores? I hope so.
#I often suggest volunteering as a way to meet people, share your skills and learn new things. I volunteer at HI USA. I take travelers out on tours and also help with their travel scholarship fund. It's a lot of fun and I meet great people and of course, learn a lot.
Today a man from Toronto was telling me how shocked he was to see drivers texting and driving in Chicago. He said in Toronto the driver would get hit with a hefty fine and also receive points.
Not really understanding what 'points' were, I looked them up. Seems the sage Canada doesn't simply suggest that drivers don't engage in extremely dangerous behaviors they sanction the drivers that do. Drivers receive demerit points that will result in even greater fines and driving restrictions based on repeat occurrences. Seems like a really smart and effective idea to me.
One of the most valuable benefits of travel is to learn how other people live. Travel is an extremely effective way of broadening a person's world view, It's been broadening to see my city through new eyes as well. I share the gift of travel every chance I get. #travel #volunteering
#I don't know a thing about sports.
It's really shameful having grown up in Chicago which boasts some of the most amazing, accomplished teams ever, anywhere. Sports somehow escaped me. I thought one day I might learn, I've been to a handful of games and even boxes at the White Sox Games, the Cubs Games and the Blackhawks games when the companies I worked for sponsored them for events.
Although organized sports have never been my thing, sports shapes Corporate America so like it or not, I had lots of exposure. As I started a new year, a boss would hand me a binder with notes stating "here's your playbook" as if everyone spoke in these terms. I learned to adjust and get along and benefitted by being in the presence of some incredibly important sports figures and well-known arenas.
I heard Gale Sayers speak at a business lunch. I knew him from the movie "Brian's Song" which was played regularly on after school TV. It was unusual in the 70s to see an interracial friendship. It was also unusual to see heterosexual men openly express their love for each other in a deep friendship. It was the first Bromance I recall. I was really looking forward to hearing Gale Sayers speak, he owned a tech firm and that was something I could wrap my head around. I remember Mr. Sayers clearly stating 'everyone thinks I have it so easy, because I'm Gale Sayers.' He said, 'well when something goes wrong (and things go wrong in tech all the time) they say AREN'T YOU GALE SAYERS?" His insight stayed with me. We're all dealt a hand in this life, how we play that hand is up to us. From the outside looking in it seemed he had it so easy.
The other notable sports figure I saw speak at a lunch was Coach Joel Quenneville. It was just as he accepted the job to coach the Blackhawks. I didn't have any after school movie that would shed any light on who Coach Quenneville was. I did know about the Blackhawks heyday though and the rockstar- like reputation Bobby Hull has. Before Coach Quenneville took over. the Blackhawks were lethargic for a long time. I heard stories though of people having long-time season tickets back in the heyday, the games they saw, and lots and lots of stories about Bobby Hull.
Coach Quenneville was leading the Blackhawks at the beginning of what is referred to in business as a 'transformation'. He was taking the sleepy current state and building a future state we couldn't even imagine in 2008. Coach Quenneville brought the Chicago Blackhawks to not one, not two but three Stanley Cup wins. It seems unimaginable from the vantagepoint of 2008.
I was interested to hear the new Coach Quenneville speak. I found a man who was humble and straightforward. He said, The first thing I did was invite Bobby Hull in and apologize to him. We spent time talking about every painful issue. We put it on the table, and created a pathway to start building trust. We argued, we yelled, and then we started over. Then I apologized to the fans' (paraprhased , this is all from my memory long ago). I was really impressed. Coach Quenneville's message was soft but hard. Having the skill and ability to face the soft, hard things is quite a talent. Apparently it's a talent that earns three Stanley Cups.
I dont' know the backstory of why Coach Quenneville got fired. I heard something about Rocky Wirtz saying "we're not going to be sentimental about these decisions anymore." I have a feeling Coach Quenneville was somewhat difficult to deal with over the last several years. I have no idea what kind of pressures, constraints or demands he was under. I do know, though, it was wrong to part ways with someone who did so much for the Blackhawks so unceremoniously. A man who brought an unnoticed team, where you couldn't give a ticket away, to winning three Stanley Cups deserved more than the way he was treated. Even if the termination was justified, parting of the ways could've been administered more thoughtfully perhaps showing appreciation for all he had done and accomplished. It seems not everyone was listening at Coach Quenneville's lunch presentation.
One day, I hope Coach Quenneville gets the apology he deserves. How he was treated was wrong. Until then, he will remain a hero in Chicago stories and his very well-deserved Rockstar status will live on. #Leadership
I've got the Amazon Prime 36 hour sale on my calendar. I buy from Amazon all the time, might as well get the deals. Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com have transformed how we shop. Accessible processes and affordable prices have closed the expense gap for many, created jobs and fostered small businesses, globally. Amazon has brought a lot of goodness to the world on a very large scale.
This past lazy Sunday afternoon, however, I had a different shopping experience. I decided to head over to Macy's on State Street. An afternoon at Macy's is not a task, it's an event, one to prepare for and savor. I carved out a good part of my day so I wouldn't be rushed. I wore a summer dress, strappy sandals and a little makeup. I bet my doorman thought I had a date - and I did.
A native Chicagoan, I remember when Macy's was Marshall Field's. Luckily to the relief of Chicagoans citywide, Macy's has respectfully kept the essence of Marshall Fields. They maintained the intangible "good will" found on the balance sheet that they likely paid for. Smart business. We all have a Marshall Field's story, whether it's coming to see the Holiday Windows, having lunch in the Walnut Room, being assisted by a personal shopper, buying an item you still have and treasure or meeting under the ornate clock at the corners of Washington & State.
I was going for shoes but Macy's is not a one stop shop. I started in the hat department. While I live in the Millennial my soul is in the 40s. I love hats. I played, trying on all of the most outrageous summer hats with feathers and flowers. A man walking by with his family smiled at me kindly . . . who doesn't love hats? As I left, I had every good intention of going to the shoe department. I was seduced by the dresses, long elegant evening gowns. Many I knew were perfect for me. The same floor houses business attire so I went there - hey there might be a deal? While there, I snapped photos of the intricate mosaic-designed ceiling.
I dawdled at the lingerie department remembering what a treat nice lingerie is and then felt myself drawn to the wedding dresses. Still no shoes, I'm getting there, I'm getting there. The voice inside my head said "don't go, this is silly, you are not going to buy a dress, you'll waste the staff's time." My heart whispered "I bet there are some really pretty dresses inspired by Meghan the Duchess of Sussex' recent wedding. Don't you just want to see?" I did. Christopher caught my eye and invited me in. When I told him I wasn't in the market but just wanted to admire the styles, he then insisted I step in. We had a lovely chat and were later joined by Jessica. We reminisced about movies from the 80s, styles and the future of retail.
I forced myself to break away and enjoy the shoe department.(Sarcasm :-) I struck up a conversation with a lady and her husband as we tried on shoes, and compared and contrasted the styles. One of the great things about the store the size of Macy's (8 floors!) is the massive amount of inventory. You're very likely to find your size and when the season changes, even get a good deal. They need to move the inventory to make room for the new items and if you play it right, (signing up for the text message deals!) you'll walk out with armloads of shopping bags!
Mission accomplished, I couldn't leave just yet - there's the furniture department! Visiting the furniture department is a stand alone experience. The creative staging is inspiring. As I disembarked the 8th floor escalator, I was greeted by Kewsi (pronounced Kwazi) who stopped, introduced himself, asked my name and shook my hand. He reminded me of my Dad, an Eastern European Immigrant, who worked in a steel factory but on the weekends was never without a tie. My Dad would often say 'there are two things you can control in life, how you speak and how you dress."
The subtle impact of thoughtful presence and presentation are worth investing in. (My Dad said so) I look forward to my next indulgent Sunday afternoon at Macy's. They've nurtured and sustained the soul of Chicago. I'm grateful.
Content Marketing is defined by me as using communication to further your product by providing value to your community. It's ok to 'subtly sell' however there's a delicate line. I think of it as a panting dog. You know type, you can feel that a sales rep needs to make a sales goal or earn a commission and is just not going to let you walk out of the door.
It takes courage to let your content sell. It takes courage to share information you know you should be charging for.
Let me help you to look at content marketing in a new way. Consider that it is relationship building. Relationships are built on trust and have a delicate balance. When you give away valuable information you are trusting that your audience will use it properly. You are trusting that when the time is right, and when you ask in an inviting and engaging way, the customer will buy from you. You take the risk that they may not.
How do you build that courage? Know your value and know your audience. If you are truly building a sound relationship with your audience it is highly unlikely your target customer will buy from someone else.
As you continue to give valuable information away you are building a relationship, a partnership so to speak. In our fluid world of constant change there is a pretty high likelihood something may not go perfectly. If your audience is engaged, they know it was a blip and you'll fix it.
These are the kinds of customers you want, partners that are in for the long haul. Invest in your relationships by having the courage to use content marketing wisely. As you start building and sustaining a solid customer base, it won't feel courageous anymore, it'll seem smart -- because it is.
I saw a car accident yesterday. It came out of no where. A vehicle seemed to cross several lanes to turn on a side street. He cut another vehicle off that was proceeding straight ahead in their own lane, as they should. The loud crash made me stop and look in wonder "what could've happened" It's as if this guy thought he had the whole lane to himself and just decided to take the turn. He got the worst of the accident. The front of his vehicle was laying in the street. The woman who was hit out of no where was wondering what I was wondering "how did this happen?" Except she was angry, she opened her door slowly and headed toward the man, I could see an angry confrontation was about to take place.
As the man was exiting his vehicle, something odd happened. I saw them both slow down and look at each other. They knew each other. They stopped to embrace. At this point I moved on.
The minimum wage has increased, there's high employee turnover, you do your best to attract long-term employees that will help grow your business. How do you manage the risk of ensuring your new hire has the right to work in your state?
Some restaurateurs do their own background checks, verifying the data that was supplied to them and then have the new hire sign documentation ensuring that all of the information they have provided is accurate to the best of their knowledge. This process will likely involve the participation of an attorney and any associated costs that are included in that process.
Other restaurateurs outsource verifying employment application information to local employment agencies that charge a monthly, annual or per-use fee.
Another perhaps less well-known service is provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDOHS) which offers E-Verify service. The impressively thorough website lists that "E-Verify is a web-based system that allows enrolled employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify employers verify the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees by electronically matching information provided by employees on the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, against records available to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)."
E-Verify is the only free, fast, online service of its kind that electronically confirms an employee’s information against millions of government records and provides results within as little as three to five seconds. As of March 31, 2018 722 food services and drinking places around the country have enrolled. A list of currently enrolled employers can be found on the USDOH website and even downloaded in an excel spreadsheet.
The services available to get any employer started are local outreach offices, webinars, a very robust website, a customer service number and an online assistant, Emma, that is available and ready to chat with you providing answers to your questions any time.
According to Jennifer Nelson, Management and Program Analyst Outreach Branch Verification Division in Lincoln, NE, whom I met at the National Restaurant Association Show, “Some might consider the greatest benefit of using E-Verify is that when used correctly it lessens the risk of liability because they are checking government records and getting a response from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to make sure an employee is authorized to work.”
"Wise use of money is more important than it's possession" - Fortune Cookie
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
To blame the poor for subsisting on welfare has no justice unless we are also willing to judge every rich member of society by how productive he or she is. Taken individual by individual, it is likely that there's more idleness and abuse of government favors among the economically privileged than among the ranks of the disadvantaged. -Norman Mailer, author (31 Jan 1923-2007)
Two weeks ago I'm pretty sure we had snow on the ground, or at least torrential downpours. Our ability to deal with inclement and constantly changing weather is probably why Chicagoans are such hearty and resilient stock. Are you listening @amazon? There's nothing we can't accomplish in this town. Some of us even sail in all of these conditions @3rdcoastcruisin.
Because it is going to be incredibly hot and humid day, I decided to take my 2 chihuahuas out on a nice long walk early in the a.m. That way they'll veg all day as I go on about all the things I have to do. As I crossed a small almost empty street in downtown Chicago I was witness to another bicycle/black suv incident. I was crossing in accordance with the suggestion of the 'walk' street line, something that is generally optional, for commuters of any kind, in this town.
Yet again, I see a black SUV turning left. A bicyclist comes whizzing by and almost gets creamed by the SUV. The bicyclist screams at the SUV - I turn around and yell at the bicyclist 'he had the right of way!' Admittedly the signage for bicyclists, pedestrians and vehicles is not intuitive. It's getting better as people grasp concept that the street sign will not flash at the same time for bikes as the sign for vehicles. There will be a handful of casualties no doubt as it continues to get ironed out.
Two days ago I feared getting shot. Today, I could have had to live with the horror of seeing a young man hit, thrown from has bicycle and attempt to calm the hysteria of the driver who unknowingly him it. Again, I didn't bring my phone. I just need a break from my digital leash sometimes. I didn't want to hear it pinging while walking my dogs on a pleasant Sunday morning.
What's different in these two stories? The first bicyclist was riding a really old bike, he had no helmet. His total investment was probably $50 bucks. The second bicyclist was totally sculpted, he was wearing a spandex body suit with shorts that came to the knee. He had a helmet. His investment was probably $10k. They were both whizzing around with no attention to traffic or their surroundings. The first black SUV was driven by an angry man, mad at the world for some reason. The second black SUV was driven by, I think a woman, (can't verify as I was visually seeing the bicyclist thrown from his bike while I was screaming) who was totally unaware.
So how do we govern for lack of awareness, dismissal of rules, apathy, anger, manipulation? Right now, I think the answer is 'we don't'. There's no way we could create any set of stringent rules that could possibly cover every situation. We each have to do the best we can in the moment and hope for the best from there.
I saw a road rage incident yesterday. An angry man driving a black SUV was arguing with a bicyclist whizzing around him. The SUV was bobbing and weaving through traffic on a busy Chicago street. The bicyclist could've easily gotten killed. I watched in horror screaming "NO!" Another car got involved, a little brown sedan. The man in the sedan was now driving side by side with the SUV. They were shouting at each other as they waived their free arm out the window. All during rush hour traffic as the constant commuting for the long Memorial Holiday weekend was about to begin. I didn't have my phone. As the crowd gathered around, I asked 'can anyone call 911?' A woman with her family, her mother and a child in a wheelchair, shouted "don't get involved!" I responded? "WHY?!" Sirens started to blare. The SUV dodged and weaved, he got in front of the little brown sedan and slammed on his breaks. The little car couldn't do much damage to his massive vehicle. The sedan crashed into the SUV. The men jumped out of the car and chased each other. As I watched, I thought 'if one of those guys has a gun, today could be my last day." The SUV driver threw his body on the ground and rolled. He accused the other man of having a knife. The other man did not have a knife.
When the police arrived the sedan took off. The SUV driver was waiving his arms with great drama telling the story of how he was victimized. As more officers walked toward him, I said "I saw the whole thing. What he's saying is not true.' An officer stopped to listen telling me I was being recorded. I agreed.
On paper the SUV driver was a victim. He was clearly hit by another car. If the sedan driver would've stayed would he have gotten a ticket?
How can we govern for manipulation? How do we hold people accountable when their story seems plausible? When the facts as they are documented seem to indicate a clear path -- when the path is not so clear? What if the bicyclist was severely injured? Or died? I saw what I saw but could I be wrong? Sure I could. I don't think so but it's possible. Faced with documented facts and a constant barrage of alternative opinions and arguments, could my story be changed? Possibly. How can we influence the SUV driver not to do what he did?
Alicia Dale is a strategic thinking Creative that understands the power of words to influence, change and build new infrastructures. This Blog is to capture ideas that have no where else to go at this very moment. Who knows how they will be developed? Or where they will go? For now they are sparkles of light easily stored where I can search and find them when they call my name again.