Category Archives: Thinking Aloud

You Get What You Pay For

The amount of news and information that comes my way is overwhelming much of the time. I suspect you feel the same way. The hardest part isn’t digesting all of it. Nope. What’s most difficult is knowing what’s fact-based and what’s made up out of whole cloth. One study found that 67% of U.S. respondents said they’re “concerned about what is real and fake on the internet when it comes to news.”

I’m sure you’ve seen the articles about how to spot real news and there are lots of fact-checking sites available to you if you’re willing to use them. And you should. There’s another way of which I’m fond and it seems that during the stay at home period many other folks are figuring this way out as well.

Pay for it!


Yep, shell out a couple of bucks a week and pay for fact-checked news that is written with what we used to call journalistic principles. It turns out this isn’t exactly a revelation to everyone, at least not according to this piece from the Publishers Daily:

The percentage of Americans who pay for online news subscriptions is up 4% compared to last year, according to a new, extensive report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The “Digital News Report” for 2020 surveyed more than 80,000 people in 40 countries about their digital news consumption. The percentage of people in the U.S. who pay for news is 20%, up from 16% last year.

Now, of course, the study also found that 40% in the U.S. say that nothing could persuade them to pay for an online news subscription. Then again, there are folks who still believe that the world is flat. The good news is that many people are using what I’ll call the pay filter to screen out noise. It’s good news for publishers who have been struggling. In fact, Gannett, the biggest newspaper chain in the U.S., saw an 85% yearly jump in net new subscriptions over the last few months. Those are mostly local newspapers. Of course, there is the challenge of keeping those subscribers as they go back to work, etc. but my guess is that getting fact-based news and information will outweigh the cost. Remember, you generally get what you pay for in this world.

We’re coming up on a big election. No matter how you choose to vote, the more you know about the issues and candidates’ positions on the ones that are most important to you, the better. Better information yields better decisions, right? 

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Filed under digital media, Helpful Hints, Thinking Aloud

New Habits

This Foodie Friday, I’d like you to imagine that you went to bed after a lot of reveling this last New Year’s Eve and have just woken up. In any other year, you might be mildly surprised as to what’s gone on for the first 5 months of the year. 2020? You wouldn’t recognize it.

The pandemic has changed many things and people’s relationship with food is one of them. More than 80% of consumers say the coronavirus pandemic has changed their food habits, driving them to cook, eat, shop, and think about food differently, according to the annual Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council. Obviously, with most restaurants closed, many more people are cooking at home. About 60% of people, in fact. But 85% of people say they’re doing something differently, ranging from snacking more to washing produce more often.

They’re also changing what they’re eating. Generally, people are trying to eat more healthy although both KFC and Pizza Hut saw sales soar into the double-digits last month as consumers stayed home and ate more chicken and delivered pizza. Still, cooking more at home tends to be a little bit more healthy than the choices that we might make when eating out. That’s probably why the stuff we cook at home doesn’t taste as good as restaurant food! That said, three out of five people said they consider how healthy items are. And compared to 10 years ago, more than half said the healthiness of food makes more of a difference to them now.

Why am I bringing all of this up? I guess it’s just another reminder that the world we all knew has changed significantly but therein lies opportunity. The reason that we older folks tend not to be targeted by much marketing is that there’s an assumption that our buying habits are locked in stone. A lot more money is spent going after younger consumers whose shopping habits may be more malleable. I’d suggest to you that at this point everyone is rethinking not just how they buy food and eat but also how they spend their money on other things. People who used to travel a lot may find they’re not doing that now. Do those dollars go to home improvement or a shiny new entertainment center?

Habits are changing. You need to be changing with them if you want your business to continue to thrive. 

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Filed under Thinking Aloud, What's Going On

The Out Of Office Message

I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be leading a team during this chaotic interlude. I mean, I had a small taste of it years ago when my team was forced to work remotely during 9/11 and an NYC blackout. Even though the remote working tools were not nearly as good as they are now, it was hard.

Those were brief periods of disruption. This one has gone on for a quarter and might continue for quite some time. So here are a few thoughts based on some things I learned during those brief disruptive times.

First, those periods reinforced the notion that I work for the team and not the other way around. My job is to make their jobs happen. Even folks who are good at what they do and can handle things when you’re all physically connected in the office often need some special attention when they’re out on the home-office island. You can’t look at their needs as interruptions to your day – they actually are your day.

Next, remember that you need to delegate even more but you also need to be extra careful in choosing what to delegate to whom. Because the level of supervision will be reduced, you need to be choosier about who you give what. Don’t take that to mean that you have to take on more yourself because you don’t. Just choose wisely. This isn’t the time to let a junior person get their feet wet because they won’t have a support team around them.

That last thought goes for you as well. with your support team less available, you’re going to admit to yourself what you don’t know and find some resources that can help you.

Finally, change the routine to incorporate more touchpoints between the team. I had a boss once who loved reminding us that meetings were for people who had nothing else to do. I agree with that to a point, but when the team is scattered, a daily meeting, even if ut’s 10 minutes just for everyone to see how everyone else is doing, isn’t a bad idea.

Those are my thoughts, along with this one: it’s going to be exciting to see what changes come out of this experience. This is an important, formative moment. What do you think?

 

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Filed under Consulting, Thinking Aloud