business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

One year ago, the New York Mets were in first place. Granted they weren’t playing great, but they still had the look of a team headed to the playoffs. One year ago, they had no idea they were actually headed for an historic collapse, a weak opening to the following year, the firing of their manager and more.

Stuff, as we all know, happens.

No doubt, we’ve all noticed a considerable amount of change in the last year. We don’t like to think about how much the price of gasoline has increased or how much the stock market has declined. We don’t like to dwell on the on-going collapse of consumer confidence or the skyrocketing rate of housing foreclosures.

And doubtlessly, we don’t want to dwell on how much of this bad news (the Mets excepted) happened since January 1, 2008. Somehow it doesn’t seem possible that so much happened so fast even though we all want it to turn around equally quickly.

I’ve been reflecting on the one-year time period this week because it was one year ago that I started writing my weekly columns for MorningNewsBeat. And despite all the bad news of the past year, I haven’t regretted for a single moment joining this e-community. Your feedback (praise at times, criticism at times) has been intelligent, well stated and usually provocative.

However, the best lesson of all came from a friend at the food management school of St. Joseph’s University in the form of one line: “Don’t breathe your own exhaust.” It’s a lesson that deserves sharing.

The comment came in response to a discussion about MorningNewsBeat and the glee with which I, weekly, and Kevin, incredibly, daily, pull this together. Kevin and I were feeling pretty good about our growing community, its passion and its connection. But our friend reminded us a lesson we should never forget.

Don’t get satisfied and certainly, don’t sprain your wrist patting yourself on the back.

It’s a lesson I can’t repeat to myself enough. My goal a year ago remains the same goal I have today: to share w each week some bit of knowledge, information or opinion that I hope can help. It has to be important, useful and challenging. More than anything, it has to be worth your time to read it.

And in truth, the celebration of my one-year anniversary doesn’t rise to that standard except for this: In one year—in six months, actually—a lot of stuff changed. That means the level of performance required by all of us is higher today than ever.

It means that more than ever, retailers and suppliers have to deliver true value to the shopper. It means our industry has to navigate tough times to figure out ways to reduce costs, while continuing to supply shoppers nutritious, convenient, good tasting and varied choices. It means we need to find way to embrace the growing environmental challenges and concerns, while we cope with tough economic times. It means we have to find new ways to attract top quality workers, while keeping an eye on cost containment.

It means, in short, being willing to challenge all the old rules in order to find new, creative and winning solutions. And it means we have plenty of work to do.

Sure the industry could congratulate itself on all the good things that have been done and all the steps that have been taken. Then we’d face the same question we have at MorningNewsBeat: Are we breathing our own exhaust or could we do more?

It’s not an easy question, but success never comes from coping with easy questions. It’s the hard ones that matter most.

So, Happy Anniversary to me. Now let’s move on to year two…

Except that people talking on their Bluetooth headsets in public spaces still rankles me. I’m not quitting until we get that one solved.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at .
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