Is the Work World Getting Ruder?
Those who think so tend to blame the pandemic, a tight labor market, Gen Z, and the internet.
Here are today’s highlights:
The fight to block California’s new fast-food wage law has already begun.
Researchers think they know why VCs keep funding screw-ups like Adam Neumann.
Could this be the time that MoviePass actually works?
Anyone can own a business. The cool thing now is to own a town.
What the #@$%! happened to our manners? “You’re cursing more and handshaking less, quitting on shorter notice, and waiting longer to answer emails and texts. At least, that’s how it feels to the self-appointed etiquette police among your co-workers and business associates. Politeness is tough to measure, and, sure, certain norms are overdue for updates. Still, I keep hearing from business people who swear (as in attest, not cuss) that the working world is getting ruder. Hiring managers lament that job candidates skip cover letters whenever possible, seldom follow up on interviews with thank-you notes, and can’t be counted on to show up once they’ve accepted offers.”
“Job seekers, for their part, complain that computers screen those cover letters, anyway, and that too few recruiters are considerate enough to send rejection letters, leaving hopefuls to wonder for weeks about where they stand with potential employers.”
“Many workers, particularly younger ones, claim they aren’t interested in bonding with colleagues and act accordingly.”
“Those mourning the supposed decline of business etiquette blame the pandemic, a tight labor market, Gen Z, and the internet.” READ MORE
The fight to block California’s new fast-food wage law is already under way: “Restaurant owners, business groups and other opponents of a new California law that could set the minimum wage for the fast-food industry as high as $22 an hour next year have begun an effort to postpone its implementation and let voters decide whether to permanently block it in 2024. A proposed referendum seeking to overturn the law, known as the FAST Recovery Act, was filed with the California Attorney General’s office Tuesday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the state’s top lawyer confirmed.”
“Organized labor backed the new law as a way to improve wages in an industry that unions have struggled to organize in part due to the large number of franchisees. They said they were now prepared to defend it.”
“Fast-food corporations and their franchisees accused legislators of singling them out and said forcing them to raise wages so quickly would increase their operating costs abruptly and cause prices to rise industrywide.” READ MORE
These are not easy times for tech recruiters: “Seemingly overnight, the tech industry flipped from aggressive growth, hiring sprees, lavish perks, and boundless opportunity to layoffs, hiring freezes, and doing more with less. Nora Hamada, a 35-year-old who works with recruiters who hire employees for tech companies, is trying to be optimistic. But the change upended her online business, Recruit Rise, which teaches people how to become recruiters and helps them find jobs. In June, after layoffs trickled through tech companies, Ms. Hamada stopped taking new customers and shifted her focus away from high-growth start-ups.”
“Recruiters know the industry is cyclical, said Bryce Rattner Keithley, founder of Great Team Partners, a talent advisory firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. There’s an expression about gumdrops — or ‘nice to have’ hires — versus painkillers, who are employees that solve an acute problem, she said.”
“‘A lot of the gumdrops — that’s where you’re going to see impact,’ she said. ‘You can’t buy as many toys or shiny things.’” READ MORE
Researchers think they know why Silicon Valley keeps funding screw-ups: “In the world of tech, you would think the most effective pitches would be the most logical ones. Silicon Valley, after all, prides itself on being an ultra-rational place for data-driven decisions, made by people with the brains and intestinal fortitude to identify disruptive winners. And that's, you know, a nice story. But it doesn't really explain how, say, someone like Adam Neumann can come back from orchestrating a billion-dollar meltdown at WeWork and be rewarded with $350 million to launch another real-estate business. The academic research into successful pitching tells a different story. Winning pitches aren't about business fundamentals — size of the market, potential for revenue, experience of the founder team, exclusivity of the enabling tech, and so on. What works is a performance designed to inspire trust.”
“The trouble is, once you start valuing things like trustworthiness, you're relying less on data points and more on personal preferences.”
“In one 2008 paper, a researcher asked 24 investors to evaluate pitches from three entrepreneurs and report on which elements made them most interested to invest in the startups.”
“The things that correlated most highly to a willingness to throw some money at these guys, it turns out, were all ‘presentational’ — things like personal style and speaking ability. Economic stuff had almost nothing to do with it.” READ MORE
Could this be the time that MoviePass actually works? “The people who drove MoviePass into a glorious crater are no longer in charge, and maybe [Stacy] Spikes can at least beat the existing bar by performing the relatively simple task of not losing $250 million in nine months while a nation of cinephiles squeals with glee. For one thing, the business plan this time around looks a little bit more thought through than ‘charge people $10 a month for nearly unlimited movies and pray they don’t take you up on it.’”
“This time, Spikes says, MoviePass has pre-negotiated ticket deals with theater chains, though it sounds from this NPR interview like mega-chains AMC, Regal, and Cinemark are not included.”
“Spikes also says there will be varying subscription prices from $10 to $20 to $30 per month, and they’ll involve a credit system that makes it pricier to go to popular movies at peak times.”
“In addition to the less obviously ridiculous business plan, MoviePass has a lot of name recognition, an email list of what should be several million possible return customers, and presumably some sense of who the people behind those email addresses are ...”
“Can MoviePass succeed this time? I wouldn’t bet on it.” READ MORE
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Don’t let your website get out of date: “For starters, your site must be mobile-friendly. Most visitors — particularly younger visitors — are getting their content on their phones. Visitors on these devices need to be able to read your site easily, or they will quickly go somewhere else. ... Because of the popularity of mobile browsing, homepage design has changed significantly over the last few years. Back in the day, websites had a homepage with many links to other pages. But thanks to the proliferation of mobile browsers, designers today like to keep visitors on the homepage, scrolling down for more content, instead of clicking elsewhere.”
“Good websites are also search-engine-optimized. To make sure your site is acceptable to Google and other search engine services, check any links on your site frequently to make sure they are not broken. That goes for links to your own pages and to other websites.”
“And although the dominant, scrolling homepage approach is popular, there’s still a need for stand-alone landing pages on a website to receive — and then measure — the traffic from your online advertising campaigns.”
“‘I think that business owners need to put it on their calendar once a quarter to look at their website,’ said [Ross Cohen, founder and CEO of GetPhound, a website design agency in Pennsylvania],. ‘It doesn’t take very long and there’s always going to be something that needs to be corrected. You could be losing visitors — and business — otherwise.’” READ MORE
Supply chains face yet another looming threat: “Chinese factories were shuttered again in late August, a frequent occurrence in a country that has imposed intermittent lockdowns to fight the coronavirus. But this time, the culprit was not the pandemic. Instead, a record-setting drought crippled economic activity across southwestern China, freezing international supply chains for automobiles, electronics, and other goods that have been routinely disrupted over the past three years. Such interruptions could soon become more frequent for companies that source parts and products from around the world as climate change, and the extreme weather events that accompany it, continue to disrupt the global delivery system for goods in highly unpredictable ways, economists and trade experts warn.”
“‘What we just went through with Covid is a window to what climate could do,’ said Kyle Meng, an associate professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and the department of economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.”
“These frequent disruptions in Chinese manufacturing and logistics have added to concerns among global executives and policymakers that many of the world’s factories are far too geographically concentrated, which leaves them vulnerable to pandemics and natural disasters.” READ MORE
The energy crisis poses a grave economic threat to Europe: “Several countries, including Germany, the region’s largest economy, built up a decades-long dependence on Russian energy. The eightfold increase in natural gas prices since the war began presents a historic threat to Europe’s industrial might, living standards, and social peace and cohesion. Plans for factory closings, rolling blackouts, and rationing are being drawn up in case of severe shortages this winter. The risk of sinking incomes, growing inequality and rising social tensions could lead ‘not only to a fractured society but a fractured world,’ said Ian Goldin, a professor of globalization and development at Oxford University. ‘We haven’t faced anything like this since the 1970s, and it’s not ending soon.’” READ MORE
Anyone can own a business. The cool thing now is to own a town: “With their purchase, [Saji] Daniel and [Shannon] McGauley entered the ranks of a small number of people across the U.S. who have purchased a town or village. A rare subset of the real-estate market, town sales crop up across the country from time to time. Recently, ‘Shark Tank’ star and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban bought a small town in Texas as a favor to a friend. (He has said he has no plans for it yet.) Water Valley, a 7-acre town in central Tennessee, also made headlines last year when a group of YouTubers tried to pool their money to buy it.”
“After a brief trip to Foxburg, Mr. Daniel agreed to buy Dr. Steffee’s home, known as the RiverStone Estate, which had been asking $15 million. Then, over the next few months, he and Ms. McGauley agreed to acquire all of Dr. Steffee’s holdings in downtown Foxburg: multiple local businesses and around 50 residential lots, all of which had quietly been on the market for a total of more than $3 million.”
“Before they knew it, they owned most of the town. Since then, he and Ms. McGauley have invested over $500,000 in renovating downtown Foxburg, and plan on investing over $3 million in the next few years.”
“The couple’s friends and family thought they had lost their minds. ‘Our lawyers and financial advisers, too,’ Mr. Daniel said with a laugh.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
We have a meeting with Costco! This week, Hans Schrei and Sarah Segal talk about what it takes to break into Costco. How do you get on their shelves? If you do get there, how do you make sure your product will fly off of those shelves? And if you succeed, will you have the financing you’ll need to ramp up production? Along the way, Sarah offers some tips on enlisting Costco influencers, and Hans explains the inner workings of Wunderkeks’ equity crowdfunding campaign, where you can invest as little as $150 and where the company hopes to raise $1 million. Plus: Sarah responds to listener Buzz Park’s suggestion of how to avoid getting ghosted by potential clients after you’ve prepared elaborate and expensive proposals.
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