How Much Is That?

A commodity is something generally purchased solely on price. It’s undifferentiated, and no marketing heft is put behind it except for how inexpensive it is for the purpose intended. However, value is attached to non-commodities, including today: cars, pillows, hair coloring, cosmetic dentistry, pet supplies, lawn services, coffee, and coach seats on airplanes. These and other products and services demand differentiated pricing and purchasing based on factors other than “cheap.” Those factors include comfort, security, speed, quality, and ego. If …



Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 05/08/17

Alan's Monday Morning Memo

The farther removed an event, the less its impact on most of us. We sympathize and send government help to Fukushima, for example, but Three Mile Island dominated our news and national attention. Volkswagen’s unethical actions with emissions was a regrettable problem in Germany unless, of course, you owned one of the vehicles, thus afflicted wherever you live. I admire people who refuse to allow distance to insulate them. My dentist, for example, goes to Haiti yearly to help out …



Are You Feeling What I Feel?

Be sensitive to the fact that on many occasions, you’re trying to influence, cajole, argue with or otherwise obtain something from a person who simply isn’t as bright or capable as you are. That person may be a gate agent, an acquisitions editor, a customer “care” representative, a government functionary at the DMV, or someone serving on a non-profit board with you. Just because you’re interacting with them doesn’t mean they’re peers or equals. They may well be nice people, …


Things I Hate (All Right, Really Dislike)

“Not a problem.” Phone calls in public restrooms. Megyn Kelly. (Much ado about nothing.) The smugness of the comics (Jon Stuart, Bill Maher) who attack people who are not present to defend themselves. The fiction that Hillary Clinton lost the election because she’s a woman. (The Democrats were arrogant and she’s highly unlikeable.) The fiction that Elon Musk is a genius when Tesla is hemorrhaging money. (It will be purchased, which I suspect was always his Plan B.) Servers who …



Excuse Me, Where’s That Chicken From?

There’s pragmatism, and then there’s taste. When we use FedEx or Google as a verb (FedEx the check) we do so because the Google search mechanism and the FedEx overnight network are better than anything else around. However, when people say “It’s Miller time,” or “Weekends were made for Michelob,” they often then conclude with, “So let’s get a Bud”! The product has to have a unique advantage, not just try to appeal to certain tastes. A blind taste test …


Hidden Figures

After wasting hours on La La Land and Moonlight, we finally watched a terrific movie last night, Hidden Figures. I had been told that this was really the top film, and of the ones I’ve seen, it’s no contest. (Synopsis: The story of African-American women who played a vital role in the unprecedented calculations required to launch and retrieve astronauts from orbit after the Sputnik scare put urgency into our space program, and the womens’ shabby treatment in the white, …


How Do You Like These Apples?

If you’ve been reading about Apple, you’ll see that it has more cash than anyone else, including most governments: $250 billion, which is more than the cash reserves of Great Britain and Canada combined. It appears they might have to declare a very large dividend in the near future. For many years, my financial advisors, who do my taxes but also have a wealth management division which I don’t use, urged me bring my investments to them and to sell …