Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg's Soda Rule: Right Move, Poor Outreach

If you ask a nutrition expert what the single most effective thing that you can do to be healthier is to cut sugary drinks. It is all to easy to fill up a Big Gulp and pound down 800 calories of sugar without even thinking about it.

Mayor Bloomberg of New York City, realizing that the toxic American food environment is literally killing America, where 1 in 2 New Yorkers are obese, and 1 in 3 Americans are Diabetic or Pre-Diabetic, is moving to ban sugary drinks over 16 ounces. If you carefully avoid the news, read these short articles to get a rundown:

Yeshiva World News
NBC New York

Also useful to read before my commentary is this post by Craig Fear, nutritional expert from Northampton, Massachusetts. Sugar: Why It's Killing Us and What We Should Do About It

The first thing that I notice about both news articles is that they fail to mention Diabetes. Until I met Craig Fear and read his blog, I thought that sugar was harmless as long as one exercised enough to burn it off. After all, it metabolizes into energy which you consume. What could go wrong with that? Well, what goes wrong with it is that every bit of sugar you take in has to be dealt with by the Pancreas, which is only built to take so much. Like any other piece of equipment, if you put it under constant strain, it wears out more quickly than it should causing Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer.

No matter what form our health care industry takes in the future, ultimately, society carries the cost of health epidemics. The epidemic of Diabetes will cause a massive spike in disability, meaning reducing the productivity of the American population, while, at the same time, increasing greatly the cost of care for the American population. You don't need a degree in economics to realize that this is a long term recipe for economic disaster far worse than anything that the Republicans or Democrats could cook up in their wildest dreams.

When you see 16 oz for $0.89, 32 oz for $0.99 and 64 oz for $1.09, you will buy the 64 oz. I know I used to before I learned the consequences. Once you have the 64 oz of sugary soda (that's half a gallon, by the way, also all the fluid you need for the day), you will drink it because otherwise you'd be wasting it. You just consumed about as much sugar as your body is built to handle in a month. Imagine what it would do to your body to do this every day?

The new regulations would not prevent you from getting 32 oz, it would just make it cost twice as much as 16 oz, eliminating the marketing ploy which makes you buy and drink far more sugar than you really want or need.

Mayor Bloomberg, in taking this action in the face of public opposition, is making a very brave move with the kind of integrity and courage that is too often sadly lacking in politicians. I personally applaud him for this, and you should too.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


In the game Legend of the Five Rings, based on a fanciful version of medieval Japan, there is a concept called Sincerity. The idea is that it is more important to appear sincere than to actually tell the truth. Our culture has a bit of this as well. It is very important to appear to care, often more important than actually caring.

What do I mean by this? I care about my customers. I would never want to sell a customer a car that would not meet their needs because, although the consequences might not come to me, I would know that I had done something to harm my customer, and it is my duty to make my customer better off. Even if there is more money to be made, I must do what is best for the customer.

The customer does not know this. While, in the long run, this will benefit me, most customers will never realize that this is going on in my head. This means that all the true caring in the world will not generate the benefits of appearing to care with acts like calling on a customer’s birthday, sending thank you notes, and remembering small details.

This is why we have a Customer Response Management software or CRM. It keeps track of things like birthdays, purchase anniversaries, and little Jimmy’s dog’s name. Of course, I need to actually care enough to use the CRM to prompt me to send those birthday cards, but the fact is that it’s not me remembering these details.

This has important implications for both customers and salespeople. For customers, the takeaway is that it is very easy to appear to care, to appear sincere, without having any concern for the customer’s well being. The fact that your realtor calls you on your birthday means that she is smart and has a good CRM system. It may mean that she cares, or it may mean that she knows good business.

For salespeople, the takeaway is that, while some customers will see that you care about their well being, those little touches will make a lot more difference to how many orders you write up than the good, ethical thoughts in your head.

While being a good person and caring about people makes you a good person, crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s makes you a good salesperson.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Greenness of The Grass

It has been a while since I last wrote in this blog. That is what happens when you have a job that takes up so much of your time and so much of your energy that you have nothing left for any other projects. Fortunately, I have left that line of work to go to car sales. If you know anything about car sales, you'll know that it says something when one goes to car sales for the more relaxed hours.

While this transition has worked out very well for me, it is not always better on the other side of the fence. I work at one dealership and have a limited idea of what other dealerships are like. Some things about this dealership are excellent and others could use improvement. Like every working person in the history of work, I have thought about if I should consider looking at other employment.

I sell high end vehicles, and am looking for a less expensive car for my fiancee, so I took occasion to visit the local Honda dealership. One funny thing about the car business is that if you visit a dealership and they find out that you sell cars... or used to sell cars... or ever watched a movie containing a car salesman, they may well offer you a job, as they did here. In the course of our conversation, I found out that they sell almost the exact same number of units as us, but probably for less commission per car. I also found out that they have a daily sales meeting at 8:30 AM and that anyone who is not on time to this meeting cannot take customers for the day. The place I currently work suddenly looks a lot more appealing.

Sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side, such as when I came to work here, but often, the green is just an illusion.