Friday, October 19, 2018

THE SOFTER SIDE OF SEARS


Big deal
Many years ago I was lucky enough to be
given an opportunity to join Stone & Adler,
a major Chicago advertising agency. I was
hired to work on their then biggest account
Sears Roebuck & Company. Soon thereafter
I was walking down Wacker Drive daily to
attend client meetings at what was then the
world's tallest building - Sears Tower. A few
years later, a co-worker and I were offered
a chance to open our own agency. Due to a
promise of business from our former client
at Sears. Hence for almost ten years Sears
paid my bills and fueled my own success.
Emergency exit
Back in those days the culture at Sears was akin
to a major government entity. Most of the folks
I knew had worked there forever. Climbing up
the ranks from the "field" to  the"home office."
Long before I came on the scene the Big Book
(catalog) had been usurped by retail operations
plus a plethora of purchased entities including
Allstate Insurance and the Discover Card. One
of our agency's big jobs was implementing an
"exit communications strategy" for the closing
of the catalog. A phenomena I later repeated at
Montgomery Ward and J.C. Penney. Thus I've
been pall bearer at many a retail funeral prior.
Over and out
This week the media announced that Sears has
filed for bankruptcy. Sad news that wasn't very
surprising to someone like me. That's because
I've been there... done that. And long ago knew
that it was only a matter of time before America
rejected a brand that had once been considered
an "institution." Further more, it's failure can be
attributed those in power years ago. All because
rather than nurture innovation they maintained
a structure fueled by complacency, fear, and
resistance to change. All built on an assumption
that they knew it all. When in truth, knew nada.
And therefore did little to protect Sears future.
Self inflicted punishment
I've often stated that the most lethal corporate
cocktail is arrogance laced with ignorance. It's
been said that "assume makes an ass out of u
and me." A quite trite saying that in my opinion
couldn't be wiser. Having spent the bulk of my
career attempting to revive venerable retailers,
I can assure you of one thing - THEY DID IT
TO THEMSELVES. Consider Sears. It's very
start was based in entrepreneurship, innovation,
and technological breakthroughs. Mr. Sears and
Mr. Roebuck were two ordinary guys who built
a business fueled by the western expansion of
these United States. The saw a gap and filled it.
History in the making
From the end of 19th century until the Great
Depression two hundred and seventy million
acres were awarded FREE to "homesteaders."
Hence millions of former urbanites suddenly
found themselves living in the middle of no
where. Far from the conveniences, resources,
and niceties they were accustomed to. Soon
along came somebody able to sell and send
them all they desired. With their promise of
"SATISFACTION GUARANTEED OR
YOUR MONEY BACK." And while such a
statement may seems hollow in today's world,
back then it gave Americans a reason to buy!
Good, better, best
Soon Sears Roebuck & Company grew into a
gigantic operation with proprietary factories,
warehouses, and distribution centers across
America. By leveraging their buying power
Sears Roebuck & Co. was able to offer equal
or better quality merchandise for LESS. And
quickly they were selling everything from
farm equipment to fur coats to encyclopedias
to pre-fabricated houses. So in essence, Sears
was the AMAZON of the early 20th century.
And only later did they decide to expand by
opening retail stores. Hence for a generation
they could do no wrong. Then reality hit...
Down and out
Somewhere along the way they forgot what
made them great. Resting upon the success
of prior leaders, they became complacent.
Assuming that growth was inevitable. Only
to exit their Sears Tower offices in droves
when it became all to obvious that tough
times were ahead. Over several decades a
great many "experts" tried to stem the tide
of decay. However most did so by rejecting
the past rather than celebrating it. Therefore
in the end, they ignored the magic formula.
The special sauce that fueled initial success.
Sears Roebuck & Co became a dinosaur.
New and improved
Extinction is the inevitable path of evolution.
New always usurps the old. Each generation
creates it's own mantra, battle cry, or Magna
Carta. Believing that their way is better than
prior incarnations. Yet in reality, nothing is
new. From the beginning of time we humans
have been hunters and gatherers. Needing all
sorts of accoutrements in order to survive or
thrive. With each challenge the smart ones
figured out how to give us what we wanted.
While others held onto their past imperfect.
Only to learn that change can't be stopped.
And that is what makes America GREAT!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

TABULA RASA


What's new?
Who doesn't need a pick me up?
That extra something that makes
life fun. Immediate gratification
doesn't have to cost a fortune. A
room makeover can be achieved
by injecting a few new elements
into an all to mundane space...

Click below to read the latest
C+V HOME Montana Blog


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

CAVEAT EMPTOR



Bargain basement
In days of yore the pursuit of a bargain was
viewed as rather tawdry. The kind of affair
that involved a bevy of housewives battling
over a bin of bras in some store basement.
The right kind of people didn't care about
the cost of living. If they wanted it, they just
bought it. And if per chance they were got
a deal, it was secured a week prior in the
privacy of a dressing room filled with "pre-
sale" goodies. All of which were rung up on
the appointed day and delivered soon after.
Thus the art of the deal insured nobody
knew who saved what, when, or where.
Thrill of the hunt
My dear Mother loved getting everything for
nothing. Said compulsion was not driven by
need alone. Rather Ethel savored the hunt and
peck process that if successful yielded untold
treasures. Nobody was safe from her elegantly
stealth pursuit. In her later years said need to
save was fueled by double coupons, senior
discount days, manufacturer rebates, along
with complaints to the management. All in
order to get something - anything for nothing.
Whether she needed it or not. And rather than
admire her prowess, nothing embarrassed me
more than Mom's "deals." Or so I thought.
Secret sale
It's been said that the apple rarely falls far from
the tree. Thus ultimately I've spent most of my
adult life trying to get more for less. Which for
years meant shopping store sale racks or at off-
price retailers when they really did have great
deals. Insuring that even on a pauper's salary,
I was able to make the right impression. Even
if a season or two off. Back then one kept such
opportunities a secret. In part because one didn't
want added competition. Nor did I really want
anybody to know how hard up we really were.
Hence for much of my life, my "affluence" has
been nothing but an illusion. A fool's dream?!
Over indulged
Most of us make too much of a first impression.
Meaning that when we see others well dressed
or living in posh abodes - we assume that they're
"rich." However invariably nothing is farther
from the truth. Experience indicates that most
flush folks are barely holding on. Rather than
sitting on a pile of cash, they spend every day
and waking moment leveraging their limited
assets. Anything to imply that they have money
to burn. Even when they can barely afford to
keep the thermostat at sixty eight degrees. You
see, no matter what one has it's never enough.
And while more is more, is more than less?!
Life's a beach
Hmm... who are we trying to fool? Could it
be that the art of the deal depends on who's
dealing? Our millennial children now live
in a world where FEW pay retail except for
technology. Hence they secretly comparison
shop the internet for the lowest price possible.
The difference between them and their folks
being they have nothing to prove. They don't
look at possessions in the same way as we
did. Rather "stuff" is a necessary evil. And in
their desire to eat, drink, and see all that they
desire material possessions are a hinderance.
They prefer to "invest" in experiences.
Inventory reduction
Our parents believed in investing in the future.
As products of the great depression they spent
their lives saving for a rainy day. Whereas we
boomers craved immediate gratification at all
costs. Unwilling to wait until our fifties, we
overspent voraciously. Anything to prove that
we were equals if not superior than our elders.
The result being an over abundance of debt,
homes, walk-in closets, and assorted flotsam
and jetsam. Most of which we are now trying
to get rid of. So in the end it's obvious that we
got more than we bargained for. The question
is whether any of it was worth the effort...

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

RUNNING ON EMPTY


Presto chango
Why is everything so damned hard? For some
reason every modern "convenience" seems to
be anything but convenient. Or could it be that
the user is simply obsolete? Take my keyless
remote car "fob." For months my car has been
telling me that my remote key battery was low.
So I went to the local locksmith and they told
me they couldn't recharge or replace my "luxe"
vehicle's remote. Assuming that my one choice
was driving to Calgary (our nearest dealer) I
googled "low battery". Where I immediately
found a video showing how to remove the old
and then install a new. It was like MAGIC!

Danger Will Robinson
Talk about feeling stupid. After driving over
four hundred miles and paying a service fees
to get a charge prior, I realized how dumb I
had been. All I needed was a standard watch
battery. Nothing more. Easy huh? Or... so I
thought. Fully loaded with my new battery,
my smart car is still telling me my battery is
low. So now I have to figure out how to shut
it up or at least reset it's preconceived notion.
Post scanning the web I now have a variety
of options as to how to do that. All of which
are somewhat confusing and in my opinion
somewhat risky. I'm praying it fixes itself!


Empty promises
Years ago I knew a guy who kept a log that
recorded every time he bought gas plus the
mile market when he'd need to refill. That's
because his gas gauge had long ago stopped
functioning. Hence what's new is old given
I now solve similar information gaps a la
cyber phenomena. Thus all too frequently
an overwhelming feeling hits via modern
technology. Yet for reasons beyond rational
thought we old folks can't seem to connect
the dots. How did idiots such as we evolve
into obsolete relics of the past? Or are we
simply victims of planned obsolescence?

Out of service
Recently we got a call from the lovely lady
who rents our condo. Sadly her microwave
was on the fritz. Said news was surprising
given it seemed like we had replaced just
a few years ago. Post further consideration
we realized that meant a decade ago at least.
Upon consultation with a repair professional
we were advised it was better to purchase a
new oven than bother to repair the old one.
The very idea which seems wasteful at best.
Especially given Frank's childhood fridge
is still chilling down in the basement at the
old homestead. Seventy years later that is...

Do it yourself
What's new grows old all too quickly. And
while I appreciate the latest gadget as much
as the next guy, I find endless "upgrades"
exasperating. If only we could return to the
days when things were built to last. Tried
and true resources that never let us down.
I'm confident that just like our not so old
microwave, my value to the world at large
will soon be considered over. It's been said
that with age comes wisdom. Thus have we
reached a point where it's time to stop trying
to fix what can't be fixed or upgraded? And
just maybe be able stop and finally RELAX?

Monday, October 15, 2018

MONTANA ON MY MIND




Love song
It's funny how music strikes a chord.
Personally I find the song "You Must
Love Me" from Evita (talk about gay)
rather evocative. The melody, lyrics,
and specifically Madonna's rendition
resonate deeply within me. Click here
to listen...  NOW STOP. At this point
I'm certain some of you are beyond
incredulous at the idea that I somehow
find this aged diva relevant. Thus most
of my dear readers are eager to ask -
What does Madonna have to do with
Montana?! The answer... follows...
Doing what comes naturally
Let me explain. Initially I spent my life
doing what was expected and in theory
"right". My choices were driven by a
dire need for acceptance and approval
of others. Only to find that they really
didn't care all that much. That lesson
taught me that each of us must do what
is right for us. Living for others never
works. It hurts all involved. Hence my
challenge has been - can Greg be Greg
and live in rural Montana? The answer
to which is a resounding yes. The only
question being how long can this last?!
Lack of depth perception
Not everybody fits in therefore I'm not
alone. Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor
HATED being "stuck" in the Bahamas
during WWII. She didn't care that the
world was LIVID given she'd stolen the
heart (and throne) of King Edward VII.
As far as Wallis was concerned it didn't
matter nor that many worried that Adolf
Hitler was her buddy. Her only concern
was that her silver, china, linens, were
hidden in storage behind enemy lines in
France. What could be more shallow?!
Yet what's important to some may not...
From here to there 
You see, it's easy to get your priorities
screwed up.  Unless you're willing to
shift your focus from flippant foolery
to empowering transformation - one
can easily be bitter. Millicent Rogers
had it all. Filthy rich AND beautiful -
she wasn't happy. In the mid 1940's
she came upon a small adobe in the
New Mexican desert. There in Taos
she found her groove and went on to
become a champion for indigenous
people's art, history, and rights. Only
to die too early. Well before her time.
Mountain standard time 
I relate much more to Millicent
than Wallis. You see, I believe
we each control our own destiny.
Everybody makes choices. And
nothing can change the course of
one's life more than ill conceived
notions. The key to happiness is
making the decision that's right
for you and no one else.  In the
end other's opinions don't matter.
Hence every day that I look at the
Judith mountains I know I'm in
the right place... for me. WOW!
Back to the future
The older I get the more I respect the
power of my "gut". That deep, inner
voice never steers me wrong. I know
that ultimately living one's truth is the
secret to success. Sounds easy - but
it's hard to stop and listen to what your
soul is saying. One must allow for the
time and space to enable destiny to
happen naturally. Everybody can find
their personal Montana - discover the
place where it's easiest to be true to
yourself. Where is your paradise?
More important - are you there yet?

Sunday, October 14, 2018

7th Day Surprise: Dance-a-thon



SHALL WE DANCE?

Sometimes music moves one in mysterious ways.
And while it's been suggested the I'm "rhythm blind"
there are times when even I like to
get down and boogie!
So whether it's the box step, twist, or the hustle...
SHAKE YOUR BOOTIE!