business news in context, analysis with attitude

The other day we took note of a Harvard Institute of Politics poll with some troubling revelations about people age 30 and younger - many feel unsafe, worried about being victims of gun violence or sexual assault, and it is taking a toll on their mental health.  "Nearly half (47%) of young adults under 30 report 'feeling down, depressed, or hopeless,' and 24% have had thoughts that they would be 'better off dead,' or of hurting themselves in some way at least several days in the last two week."

MNB reader Tom Gordon responded:

I was reading your Eye-Opener today about people feeling unsafe in their everyday lives.

I’m not going to lie, as soon as I read it, I was immediately transported to an article I read yesterday in the NY Times:  "At Sandy Hook, Crime-Scene Investigators Saw the Unimaginable."

As a former teacher, someone who is married to an educator, and honestly, just a concerned American, this article literally brought me to my knees.

I think the only way I get through the day is by trying not to think about what happened to Sandy Hook.

I’m not sure if there is a way to tie this article into what you do, but I feel like we need to get a wider audience to consider what our reticence to deal with both the gun issue and mental health in this country is doing to people.

I couldn’t sleep last night, just had excerpts of this article running through my head. 

I’m not sure if this is something you want to address or not, but as someone who I respect and appreciate addressing challenging topics, I at least wanted to share it with you.

I read the story, and suggest that everyone should.  You can access it here.

It is an extraordinary piece of journalism - managing to be both matter-of-fact and heartbreaking, and deeply disturbing on a number of levels.  

My wife is a retired teacher.  My daughter is a teacher.  My father was a teacher and principal.  I have a brother and sister who are teachers.  And I've spent a little time in the classroom (I'd never describe myself as a teacher - I'm more an educational dilettante).  So I understand how you feel.  You wait for the moment.  You wait for the phone call.  It feels inevitable.

I vividly remember the day that Sandy Hook happened.  I was in Washington, DC, and had a meeting at FMI's offices.  I walked into the lobby, and there was a TV on, with the headline, "Mass Shooting In Connecticut Public School."  My wife was a Connecticut public school teacher, and my heart sank;  it took a few minutes to ascertain that it was not her school, but those were long, long minutes.

The Times story refers to the "corrosive reality" of what the crime scene investigators had to deal with at Sandy Hook.  In some ways, that understates the reality of what is happening all over the country with what seems like increasing frequency.  In grocery stores.  Malls.  Churches.  Concerts.

I don't understand the world.  Children die, and many people continue to celebrate guns and say they should be more available with fewer restrictions, less training.  Sure, there should be a greater emphasis on mental health - but how many people who say that also vote to reduce spending on such programs?

Corrosive reality, indeed.  And so we all wait for the moment.  We wait for the phone call.  We wait for the inevitable.

Responding to Michael Sansolo's column yesterday about the power of mentorship, one MNB reader wrote:

Loved this article. I have been in the retail business for over 50 years. If not for Tom Testa, my store manager at the Liverpool Big M, I would probably not have pursued a career in supermarket/c-store retail.

Another MNB reader wrote:

Amen ! I feel that those of us at a more “advanced”level of our careers have both the privilege and responsibility to reach back and help those who come behind us. 

Regarding the speculation that Amazon should buy all the stores that might be divested as a result of a Kroger-Albertsons merger, one MNB reader wrote:

Amazon should stay out of the retail store business.

I live between a Lowe’s and a Home Depot each 1/4 mi away in opposite directions. I is much easier to order from Amazon, than trying to find something in the store many times. Not try to be all things to all people!

On another subject, MNB reader Howard Schneider wrote:

The piece on Gen Z workers, and your response – that perhaps managers just aren’t interested in understanding folks who are different from them – brought back my experience in the 1960s as a box boy at Ralphs in Southern California. The managers were mostly Korean War-era veterans, and they ran a tight ship. During the “summer of love,” when I was sixteen, the dress code required black slacks, shined black shoes, a white shirt, and a black bow tie. (Long hair or facial hair strictly prohibited.) All covered by an ankle-length red-and-yellow striped apron. I was once sent home because I wore dark navy blue slacks under my apron. There was no chatting with the checkers or other fellow employees. It was a stifling environment. Fast forward to today’s casual dress and cordial attitude, and you’ll see that the generational culture tends to win out over time. Managers, resist Gen Z’s style and values at your risk – your atavistic efforts are doomed.

And MNB reader Mackenzie Anderson chimed in:

I am in the upper age range of Gen Z and while the technology issues with Gen Z being discussed may be surprising at first, it’s not as crazy as it sounds. My generation may have grown up with near-ubiquitous technology, but that technology was much more user-friendly than what Millennials grew up with. Building and working on computers has been a hobby of mine since high school, but most of my generation is nowhere near that technically inclined.

On the other side of it, being more comfortable with technology does not remove the need for training on systems that you have never used before. I think a lot of managers expect Gen Z to require much less training on various software and computer systems because of the reputation of the generation.

As for the workplace issues, that’s a more complex problem. You made a great point about the pandemic; Gen Z is pretty new to the workplace with many still in college. Most of Gen Z lost at least one (and usually around two) “normal” college years and that has definitely hurt the development that helps build career skills in college, such as in-person group work, normal classes and the social interaction that helps people learn how to get a long in a shared space.

Additionally, I have also noticed a very different perspective on working and careers both in terms of work-life balance and even ideologically regarding how this generation feels about business and companies overall.

More discussion of the Bud Light marketing fiasco.

One MNB reader wrote:

I think you miss the Marketing Point.  A-B has spent years and billions of dollars training their consumers that drinking their products makes you more manly, more attractive to women, more virile and more successful.  In one small gesture, they shattered that illusion for a lot of people who unfortunately believed the advertising.

I'm not missing anything.  At a pure business level, I'm arguing that two marketing people were turned into scapegoats for a strategy that everybody in the organization, especially the CEO, had to sign of on.  I'm saying that the A-B CEO threw his people under the bus, which is not my definition of leadership.

The points I've been making about bigotry, and A-B's willingness to knuckle under to it, is a separate issue.

MNB reader Alan Shepherd wrote:

Hey Kevin, 1000% agree with you on the Bud Light issue, has nothing to do with anything except hatred and bigotry. Kinda brave of you to stick your neck out on the issue, which is a sad commentary on our times.

I did get this other email which, while I don't completely understand it, seems to disagree with you:

Pathetic.  Bud has made their decision in advertising will never rebound from the loses currently and in the future.  1%....enough said.

And no, Kid Rock didn't write that email.