Worthwhile Reading, Viewing, and Listening

The Cathedral of May

But here’s May Day in LA, as celebrated by the Los Angeles Teachers Union, along with other organizations

Cost of the student debt ‘cancellation’ is estimated at .9 trillion to 1.4 trillion.

In addition to paying for those student loans, get ready for much higher electric bills if Biden’s executive order is sustained.

Colorized 1890s videos of daily life in countries around the world

‘Woke’ hierarchy and an upper-class underclass

A former ‘woke’ woman.  And another one.

How much will the campus chaos hurt the Democrats?

Biden compared with Disraeli

Laxman Narasimhan, CEO of Starbucks:

The thing we didn’t do enough of is really attack the occasional customer with delivering and communicating value to them in a more aggressive manner,” said Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan. (speaking on the chain’s declining market share in the U.S.)

Pythia Capital says:

This sentence does not mean anything. One reason to read lots of transcripts is you find 95% of CEOs talk like this. They use jargon because they have not thought deeply about anything; they don’t know how to create value. People who cannot explain a complex subject simply usually do not understand that subject. When you stumble upon a management team that DOES know how to create value it is magical. 

I think 95% is too high an estimate, but blather like the above is depressingly common, and not only reflects a lack of thought but contributes to lack of coherent thought.  Even more than in business, the phenomenon especially common among politicians and among the followers of political ideologies.

Related: see The Costs of Formalism and Credentialism.

13 thoughts on “Worthwhile Reading, Viewing, and Listening”

  1. I am not sure that what the Starbucks CEO said was even a sentence. Not in English, anyway, perhaps in Gibberishese?

  2. i don’t think if you google translated and then ran in back in English, it would make any more sense,

    thats really reaching to compare biden, the most quotidian apparatchik to disraeli,

  3. MC….”thats really reaching to compare biden, the most quotidian apparatchik to disraeli”

    The only real point of similarity he identified was that they had both banged around in the political wilderness for a long time before reaching top leadership positions.

  4. The Starbucks honcho is like a lot of CEO’s, a good organ grinder. He can turn the crank just fine but when conditions change, he can’t change the tune. All he can do is crank faster or slower.

    A daily stop at Starbucks is $100 a month or more. Fewer people making the trip past all the locations, lots of those that do maybe needing that $100 somewhere else, like in the gas tank. Politicians handing out big pay raises right and left. This ain’t the business climate he inherited. Maybe somebody can square that circle but I’m betting it’s not him. If he could, he’d be doing it long since.

    Time to start practicing the plausible sounding nonsense, a career at one of the big name consultants awaits. Maybe he can sell the next CEO on paying his new employer to tell them which locations to close in their future “right sizing”.

  5. It is interesting that the Starbucks guy has a degree in Mechanical Engineering…one would hope that would have had some effect on anchoring him to reality and providing some insulation against blather…but he went on to spend 19 years at McKinsey.

    Before taking on the CEO role, he apparently spent 16 months working as a barista…did he really talk to customers & other employees like the excerpt?

  6. “Before taking on the CEO role, he apparently spent 16 months working as a barista”

    Wonder how often this designated future CEO pulled the short straw on toilet clean-up duty? Anyone want to guess?

  7. The Starbucks quote can be translated into normal English as:

    We have repeat customers and we have one-time customers who just happen to want a coffee when a Starbuck store is convenient. We want to treat the latter in a way which makes them want to come back and to become repeat customers who like the brand. That will happen if they perceive that their purchase was a good value for the money. We should think about how we can make that happen.”

    This is a request for suggestions. His audience might reply with “bigger servings of coffee at the old price” or “free cookies” or “offer cream as well as milk”, or “nicer cups”.

  8. JohnBinNH…I think your phrasing, or something even crisper, would be more likely to actually garner suggestions than would his version. “Delivering and communicating value” is just signaling that he knows consultant-speak.

  9. There are people with engineering degrees and people that do engineering, at times, I wonder if the two groups even intersect. 19 years at McKinsey doesn’t leave much time for engineering. One of the former, not one of the latter. Pretty sure whatever Starbuck’s problems are, they aren’t engineering related.

    I expect a lot of enterprises are headed for trouble as higher interest rates pop a lot of bubbles. Who, in their right mind would pay $80,000 for a pickup when the interest rate puts the payment above $1,500 for 7-8 years. And I’m not talking about one for hauling anything bigger than a small, light boat, those are well north of $100,000. F150’s are at something like 250+ days inventory.

    Then there’s Boeing, it takes great management skill to go from being seen as a builder of dangerous airplanes to people wondering if they’re sending out hit squads. You got to wonder if whatshisname the CEO is keeping the seat warm till the end of the year just because they figure it’ll take that long to find anybody crazy or stupid enough to take the job.

  10. By the way, for most of the good years at Boeing, the CEO was a lawyer. It’s not about what the CEO knows, it’s about where he leads and who he takes along for the trip.

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