Monthly Archives: November 2013

On Time And Hot

While today isn’t Foodie Friday, it is a major food day here at the world headquarters.

Thanksgiving at the Trolls

(Photo credit: martha_chapa95)

Cooking in earnest for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast begins.  With that in mind, I want to revisit a post I did almost five years ago that talks about how one gets a massive project – dinner for 20+ – completed on time with all dishes hot.  As I said at the time,  Thanksgiving‘s biggest challenge is time.

“Time?” you’re thinking, “that’s the biggest challenge?”  I’m sure you could put together a list of this week’s challenges which would contain items such as where to stash all the coats, how to fit 25 people around a table made for 12, and how to step over Uncle Elmer to get to the bathroom without waking him up.  However, as the conductor of the Thanksgiving orchestra around old Rancho Deluxe here, let me assure you that the primary challenge of the day is delivering all 39 items on the menu to the table at the same time, appropriately hot or cold as required.

The key to the entire day is a timed checklist.  Seriously.  I take an enormous amount of crap from everyone who sees mine each year until they realize that the meal is being served at exactly the time requested by the Mrs. which happens to coincide nicely with halftime of the football game.  This list is created by using back timing – something TV and radio producers do all the time.  Beginning at the desired end time and factoring in the availability of necessary facilities (ovens, stove burners, etc.), you work backwards and piece together the time required for each dish until you have a road map.  Anything I can knock off ahead of time (baking, prepping all the dressings, parboiling vegetables) is done up to 24 hours in advance.  It even gets down to resting time for the turkeys before carving and the time it takes for the oil to heat up in the fryer.  In fact, we started frying the turkeys in part because it frees up an oven late in the process.  This sounds like a silly bit of overkill to get the meal ready, but it prevents you from leaving the soup in the refrigerator or forgetting you were serving carrots and finding a 20lb bag the next morning.  Which is the business point as well.

Any project needs to start at the end and work backwards.  You take into account the resources you need along with the human resources to produce the final product.  You need to be honest about the time each step will take and once you’ve written each element down along with its appropriate time block you need to keep checking the list to be sure you’re on time every step of the way.  My list even has lunch and shower time scheduled so nothing is overlooked.

I’d be happy to share my list with you but it really would only help you with your dinner a bit.  The cooking facilities here are pretty damn good although we spent the money on them instead of indoor toilets (kidding).  As with every project, you have to tie your back-timed list to the list of desired outcomes, the facilities you have available to you, and your own skills, whether in the kitchen or in the office.

Make sense?

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Why Saying “Thanks” Is Good Business

Let’s say “thanks” this TunesDay, or at least consider how often it’s been said musically.  With Thanksgiving right around the corner it seems appropriate to do so as well as to think about the business point.

We begin with the weekly music video – this is one of my favorite thank you songs and it just happens to be from a guy named Keith.  It reminds us that

People say they’ll stand beside you/They swear they’ll never leave
But when the rain started falling/You know it only fell on me

We all find out who is loyal and who is not and how saying “thanks” may not even be enough to show one’s appreciation. We generally find out when times get rough, as they have for most businesses over the last few years.  The lads in Led Zepplin (“Thank You“) have a similar take, and say thanks for:

Today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walk the miles/Thanks to you it will be done, for you to me are the only one.

It’s nice to make someone’s world smile, but it makes the point that we might not even realize the effect doing so has on the recipient nor the depth of the response it can bring.  Dido (“Thank You“)sort of gives thanks for the same thing:

 I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life/Oh just to be with you is having the best day of my life

Oh sure, her significant other handed her a towel and called her during the day, but mostly this is about how having a strong bond with someone can lift them up just by doing little things and being there.  Natalie Merchant (Kind & Generous) has an even longer list:

I want to thank you/For so many gifts
You gave with love and tenderness
I want to thank you

I want to thank you/For your generosity
The love and the honesty
That you gave me

I want to thank you/Show my gratitude
My love and my respect for you
I want to thank you

There is more thanks offered in the song but it shows that when we stop to think about it, we have quite a bit for which to be thankful.  It could be as simple as letting someone be themselves (Sly & The Family Stone – “Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin“) or for being a friend (Andrew Gold and also the theme to Golden Girls!) or even for music (ABBA).  Which raises the business point.

Every business has a lot for which to be thankful.  Loyal customers, hard-working employees, honest partners.  How often and in what ways do we say “thank you?”  As the above lyrics show, a little thanks can go a long way, we might not realize the powerful effect it can have on the recipient, and this is probably a great time to spread some around, don’t you think?

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Music, Reality checks

Vampire Media

Let’s begin the week with another look at the declining state of my former business, television.

iPad 2 - Home Screen

(Photo credit: William Hook)

Now you might find it odd that I feel the business is in decline given that viewing of content created for TV (both network and cable) is pretty solid in the aggregate.  I agree.  I’m not one of those folks that thinks there’s nothing good on TV.  In fact, I think there’s more really excellent programming on than maybe ever before.  The issue is that it’s spread out among hundreds of channels, each of which we consumers are paying for in some way.  Unless, of course, they’re on a pay channel such as HBO in which case only a minority of homes have a chance to see it.

But that’s not our topic.  Instead, I want to talk about vampire media and their role in all of this.  No, it’s not a tome about “True Blood” and its ilk.  Vampire media refers to iPads, other tablets, and other devices which come out at night, generally in the home.  It’s through these devices that much of what was primetime viewing has shifted from the big screen and the major content providers to the small screen and other providers.  You’ll notice I’m not saying “small providers.”  YouTube is bigger than any TV network in terms of viewership and reach.  Most importantly for our discussion today, these devices do not require a cable to deliver video, just an internet connection.  The effect?

In just a year and a half, cable television providers’ share of the video market has declines from around 52% to 47%.  In fact, Nielsen‘s estimate of TV households has declined each of the last two years, the first time I can ever remember it ever declining at all.  Sure, the business remains solid for now, but that’s due to two factors – high ad rates masking the audience declines and the subscriber fees the content distributors take in.  In my opinion, that too will change in the not too distant future.  Higher fees are coming from a smaller user base.  At some point the economics of paying for a lot of content you never consume don’t make sense.  This admittedly long piece does an excellent job of summarizing all the numbers.  You should check it out.

The holidays are here.  More tablets, Roku boxes, Chromecasts, and new video consoles, all of which permit the viewing of most of the same content available via traditional programming services will be sold and received.  The vampires are coming out.  Have they landed at your house?

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