Thursday, May 29, 2008


Question: How does a person become successful?

Certainly goals are important. Lets look at how an individual chooses goals based on available resources. Skills, talents, traits and reputation are the resources of an individual. Build these and any goal is achievable.

What are the Skills, Talents, Traits and Reputational qualities that matter for success and goal attainment?
  • Honesty
  • Humility
  • Strong work ethic
  • Perseverance
  • Persistence
  • Communication [verbal/written]
  • Listening skills
  • Intensity
  • Technology
  • Analytical capacity
  • Reader
  • Flexibility
  • Focus
  • Creativity
  • Imagination
  • Solution based thinking
  • 'Results' attitude
  • Available to assist others [Will you make time for others even when you are pressed for time?]
  • Ability to Teach/Coach/Train
  • Compassionate
  • Caring
  • etc...
What others would you add to the list and why are they important?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Merlin German: 'Miracle' Marine refused to surrender will to live

This is a powerful story. Read it.
This Memorial Day will mean more than those in the past.


As time passes we learn and better understand sacrifice, hard work and perseverance.

What are your thoughts on the sacrifices of those who came before us and those who are still sacrificing for us today?

Friday, May 23, 2008


High Oil Prices: Analysis, Thoughts and Ideas
  • Any price > $100 a barrel is a high price
  • Price was $131.28 at press time. An updated price can be found here.
  • High prices encourage people to conserve
  • Drive less
  • Less leisure driving
  • Combine trips. Wal-Mart and Target may be winners from this consumer behavior
  • Consumers may walk or bike more. It has been overheard that bicycle sales are up so far this year.
  • More exercise leads to better fitness
  • Resource productivity increases
  • People have an incentive to maximize output when input costs are increasing
  • This may create cost differentiation among producers. Those who effectively increase resource productivity make more profits per dollar of sales.
  • Alternative strategies become relevant. When gas was $1.509 people kept buying trucks and SUV's because the cost per mile was so low as to not matter. Now that Gas is >$4.009 in some location people want alternatives.
  • Toyota utilizes hybrid technology that provides excellent fuel economy
  • Honda is well know for efficient and reliable engines.
  • GM has a vehicle called the Chevy Volt. This vehicle will be capable of 40 mile round trips WITHOUT using a drop of fuel. When not in use this vehicle is plugged into the wall. This is the future. This vehicle is the most exciting vehicle from the General in decades [pick your favorite car introduction].
  • As this technology proves itself, reliance on fuel will be lessened. Consumers driving patterns will change to take advantage of the strengths of plug in cars etc.
  • Power firms and suppliers may be the big winners from high oil prices.
  • Plus the firms that patent effective battery technologies

What are your thoughts and idea on oil prices as well as the costs and benefits?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

LA TIMES: Safeway tries downsizing to better fit local needs

The grocer is testing a small-store concept that offers convenience. Wal-Mart has plans to do the same.
By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 17, 2008
Some of the world's retail titans are headed for a battle over smaller grocery stores.

Safeway Stores Inc. jumped into the fray when it quietly opened a 15,000-square-foot store named the Market by Vons in Long Beach on Thursday as part of a test to see whether California shoppers like smaller neighborhood stores.

  • Smaller stores can be closer to consumers
  • Smaller stores have more location options [big store locations have large land requirements]
  • Closer community connections [a community store will draw more local shoppers. Instead of a three mile shopper radius it might be less than half a mile. You will see more people you know.]
  • An aging population prefers smaller stores. [Large stores are hard to navigate and the parking situation can be challenging (are there enough handicap parking spaces for peak shopping times at bigger stores?). Small local stores may be close enough to walk to. This will allow seniors who may not drive or no longer have cars to continue living independently.]
  • Smaller stores will have a smaller selection [The average number of SKU's a person/family buys in a year is around 300 (source). A large assortment is not necessary for most categories. Some categories are dominated by a brand and size (Ex: Ketchup). Store assortment should be determined by the consumers that shop there.

More bicycle racks would be helpful.
  • Stores can serve more customers with a smaller parking lot if people who live close by ride a bike.
  • This reduces traffic as well as improves air quality.
  • The fitness level of people who bike is improved.
Here in the metropolitan Detroit area Kroger dominates in supermarket sales. When Farmer Jack left the market Kroger acquired the best locations. This increased Kroger market share and keeps competitors with similar store size from expanding here. There are few locations where new 40-60,000 square foot stores can locate. The small store format allows location choice for firms that want to enter the metro Detroit market.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Business Week: Inflation Gnaws at Pet Food Companies

Inflationary Pressure

Inflation has been in the news a lot lately. Most of the talk has centered on gasoline and food prices. Pets eat too and feeding them is going to cost more even if prices stay the same.

You say 'How is THAT possible'?

The folks that sell pet food to your local supermarket will soon be selling less product for the same price. You will have to buy more packages in a given year. Continue reading and see Math Analysis below.

You may have to make extra trips if the food doesn't last as long as before. In the past you might have been able to go two weeks between purchases. With the smaller packages you might run out a few days early and have to drive to the store to purchase more.

What Might Consumers Do?
  • They may buy an extra bag when purchasing. This may lead to increased out-of-stocks. [lost sales to the brand?] [store reputation is damaged by out-of-stocks leading to channel, chain or store switching]
  • They may buy a bag of store brand as a hedge against running out. [Big Brand sales decline] [Store brand and retailer gain margin points and dollar profits]
  • They may switch to the next size up [Big Brand volume, market share and dollar share increase] [Store gets bigger basket size / register ring].
  • They may move category purchases to Wal-Mart, Costco or specialty pet stores to take advantage of larger package sizes and lower cost per unit. [Big Brands lose pricing power as buyers gain more market share] [Supermarkets lose as high dollar item purchases move to other sales channels]
  • They may try another brand [Big Brand A loses sales to Big Brand B,C, D, E or F]
There are certainly other consumer behavior possibilities.

Math Analysis

If the consumer makes no changes in purchase behavior and buys the Big Brand they will buy a few extra packages per year. An example is as follows. Before the cost/size changes the customer buys a 4lb bag at $5.89, lets call that $6. We will also assume that this amount lasts two weeks [14 days]. In a year they will buy 26 packages at $6. Total yearly spending is $156.
With the package size reduction perhaps the consumer can only get 13 days out of it. With a 13 cycle per package the consumer will need to buy 28 packages in the same 52 weeks. This means this consumer will be spending about $12 more per year for pet food.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Monday, May 12, 2008


There is an interesting post on the Freakonomics blog today. It concerns a new program Chrysler is offering buyers of vehicles that have marginal to poor fuel economy. These vehicles would have to be discounted considerably to sell at current fuel prices.

My comments are below. Read the original post. There are already quite a few comments.

Dear Steven Levitt,
A few comments concerning your post "$2.99 Gas".

"I believe consumers systematically exaggerate the importance of gas prices to their budgets. The typical American just doesn’t spend that much money on gas."

Below is another way of looking at fuel cost impact on consumers.
Average miles of 12,000 per year.
21 miles per gallon @$2.10 = 10 cents of fuel per mile. Cost per year, 12,000 miles. @ $2.10 = yearly cost of $1,200.
21 miles per gallon @ $4.20 = 20 cents of fuel per mile. Cost per year, 12,000miles. @ $4.20 = yearly cost of $2,400.

Where in the household budget does this $1,200 come from? Certainly not from a HELOC [Home Equity Line of Credit]. Possible answer: Consumer credit cards. Other readers may want to look into this.

Ways this could be worse for a group of drivers, perhaps 10% of total.
  • Driving a vehicle that gets less than 21 MPG [16 MPG?]
  • Driving more miles per year [20,000?]

This group will see the costs below.
  • @ $2.10 a gallon, 16 MPG, 20,000 miles per year = $2,625
  • @ $4.20 a gallon, 16 MPG, 20,000 miles per year = $5,250

This group sees a > $2,000 increase in yearly fuel costs. Certainly not a paltry sum.

A very interesting article can be found at
A few selected sentences are below.
  • "SUV sales for the month of April alone fell 32.3 percent from a year earlier and small car sales rose 18.6 percent."
  • "For example, wholesale prices of used small cars increased from $8,480 to $9,240 between December and March as gas prices rose from $2.98 to $3.22 per gallon."
THE MARKET is indicating that small cars are more valuable. Consumers are responding to fuel price signals.

Regarding the credit card program that Chrysler is offering. This is just a financial product. There are few to no barriers that keep Ford and GM from offering the same product. The credit card issuers are probably having high level sales meetings with them right now. The Chrysler gas program could and probably will be matched in days and weeks [just like 0% financing and employee pricing programs].

"Average New Vehicle Gets 21 MPG" [2006 data]

The number of miles driven per year is assumed to be 12,000 miles for all passenger vehicles."

Thanks for covering this timely and interesting topic.

David Damore

Friday, May 9, 2008


The Boston Celtics analyze game events in a systematic way. The use some sort of tagging or labeling system. This allows them to analyze what is working and what is not for individual players, situations and floor locations etc.

Should the analyst get credit if Boston wins?

The coaching staff does analysis; they get credit when they analyze, strategize and effectively implement a wining game plan.

My Reply to the Freakonomics post is below

The point may be that when events are labeled or tagged in a system they can be analyzed. Proper analysis leads to learning. Learning leads to knowledge. Applied knowledge leads to desirable results.

The Freakonomics post may spur the imagination of a reader and they will create the next _____ [fill in the blank].

Too many people think there are no opportunities. Thinking, creativity, ideas, analysis and applied efforts will lead to…

Mr. Zarren is attempting to do something that may or may not be successful. But he is DOing something.

People should be encouraged to THINK and be Creative and to give it a shot, win or lose.

What do you think?


— Posted by David Damore

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

WSJ: THE JUGGLE - Why We Now Have No TV: And (Kind Of) Like It

From The Juggle on choices and tradeoffs people make as they juggle work and family.
Posted by Sara Schaefer Munoz

Great article in the Wall Street Journal.

One columnist and her family go TV free.

Read the article and a bazillion comments HERE.

My comments are below.

Do you get paid to watch TV?
If not why waste your time with it?
You live more, learn more and become more by investing your time in activities that benefit YOU & YOUR FAMILY.
Read, learn, do, succeed... Try it.
You might actually enjoy a life free from the grips of the boob tube.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008 Frustrated owners try to unload their guzzlers

Good luck selling vehicles that have low fuel mileage.
  • Good buying opportunity if you need a truck or SUV for business
  • Drive few miles per year <10,000
  • Three fill ups a week @ $75 is a ton of money per year, greater than $5,000 a year for sure
Numbers to ponder...
  • @ $4 a gallon a 10 MPG vehicle costs 40 cents in gas per mile.
  • @ $3 a gallon a 15 MPG vehicle costs 20 cents in gas per mile.
Selling now is like...
  • Selling a stock when it is at its lowest price
  • Ending a bad situation before it gets worse
  • Cutting ones losses
  • Learning there are costs to everything

What are your thoughts?

WSJ: NBC Super Bowl Ads to Cost $3 Million

May 6, 2008; Page B8

The Super Bowl has always been a tough ticket, but now NBC is telling advertisers it will cost them $3 million just to get into the game -- for 30 seconds.


  • Guess it is not to early to tell people how much $$$$$ they need to get to run ads
  • Especially when we are talking $3 million for 30 seconds
  • "It represents a price increase of more than 10%, roughly double the usual annual rise."
  • How are they going to convince marketers that this is reasonable?
  • Is there going to be some ads on the website [included in the price]?
  • This would be helpful if it brings additional exposures and dwell time on viewers.
  • Gonna be interesting to see how buyers react to this.
  • Are they under the gun to buy time no mater the price?
  • How is effectiveness per dollar spent going to be measured?
  • The key for the marketer is a profitable response; profits generated must greater than the investment.
What are your thoughts?

Monday, May 5, 2008


There is a good conversation going on in the Wall Street Journal about thought leaders in business.

The first article is...
New Breed of Business Gurus Rises
There is an obvious lack of women on this list. The methodology probably has a lot to do with the lack of women on the list.
There is another column that looks at why this is. It also looks like there will be lots of comments.

The second article is...
Ayn Rand, Where Are You?
This is definitely worth checking out. My comments are below.

"There are lots of women who are successful thought leaders.

Their ideas, creativity etc are opening new ways to think and succeed.

When I have been to conferences some of the best speakers and presenters have been women.

If you create a list of the top 20 Women [thinkers, analysts, leaders etc, there will be lots of people interested in reading it.

If you are interested, go to Twitter and look for the top 100 people by followers. You will find some extremely talented women.

A few you will want to check out are Pistachio & missrogue
There are probably about 10 women in the list.

Also recommended is smallbiztrends / Anita Campbell, she is not yet on the list…"


Comment by David Damore - May 5, 2008 at 5:29 pm

WSJ: Microsoft-Yahoo: A Snappy Comeback?

May 4, 2008, 11:54 pm

Will Microsoft make a comeback bid?

Yahoo shareholders, likely reeling from the Internet company’s decision to refuse a $33-a-share takeover offer, may want to take solace in a couple of deals where “no” really meant “maybe.” In the past, Oracle and PepsiCo backed away from takeover attempts, only to return to the negotiating table after their prey twisted in the wind.


Really nice article. It documents some other mergers that looked like they were dead, that later went through.

Take a few minutes to read the whole story.

Time will tell how this one ends.

Where do you think this story will end?

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Business Week article here.

Wall Street Journal article here.

Where does Microsoft go from here?
If this acquisition was a key part of the strategy how can they walk away?

Right now I am guessing that Yahoo was pressing to maximize the price they received. Microsoft has essentially called that bluff. This deal, if it is going to happen will occur early next week.
Yahoo will send feelers back to Microsoft and a deal will happen.

Could be completely wrong on this. The egos involved are too big to let this situation look like a disaster.

What do you think?

WSJ: A Final Farewell

How Randy Pausch, a 47-year-old college professor, came to teach his family about love, courage -- and saying goodbye

May 3, 2008; Page R1

Saying goodbye. It's a part of the human experience that we encounter every day, sometimes nonchalantly, sometimes with great emotion.

This is a follow up article about Randy Pausch and The Last Lecture.

Recommend both this story and the video.

A few other sites to visit are The Last Lecture and Randy Pausch's Update page.

A few notes from the article. As you read, think about what they mean.

  • Pittsburgh Bureau chief
  • $850 airfare
  • 300 mile drive
  • Bottle on a beach
This is a very touching story.

What struck you about this article, the book or the Last Lecture presentation?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Business Week: Exxon: Profit Pirate or Tax Victim?

The oil giant paid $9.3 billion, or 49% of its first-quarter gross income, in income taxes. Is that enough? Depends on who you talk to

  • Taxes make up a big percentage of profits
  • That $9.3 billion in taxes does not include taxes paid by consumers at the pump
  • Michigan: The gasoline tax is reported as 54.4 cents per gallon
  • What is the rate in your state?
  • "...Russia and Libya charge companies up to 90% of the revenues they collect for extracting oil..."
  • Nice to see MJ Perry get some recognition
  • His website is HERE
What are your thoughts on Exxon, Fuel Prices, or CAFE Standards?


Investment Manager Tackles Stress With Rugby Matches
'It's a fairly brutal sport and a great way to relieve the stress of the markets'
April 30, 2008

The Executive


This is one of my favorite Walls Street Journal columns. It usually appears every two weeks or so. Somehow I missed it in this weeks paper. Had to look for it on Google.

Hopefully you can read the whole article and see the 100+ articles in the archive. This a great way to find new exercise ideas.

  • Sometimes people get bored with what they are doing
  • Sometimes people say 'I am on the road in a hotel, I can't exercise here."
  • There are many ways to do a workout or to get some physical activity
  • You will notice a general pattern on what the profiled people eat
There is a Forum with Jen set up HERE, check it out
Hope you enjoy the column by Jen Murphy as much as I have.
If you enjoy her column, send her an email.

Feel free to leave some exercise, diet and health tips here.

WSJ: Microsoft Appears to Lean Toward Hostile Yahoo Bid

Software Giant May Make Announcement Friday,
But People Familiar With Situation Call It Fluid
May 2, 2008

Microsoft Corp. late Thursday was leaning toward going hostile in its pursuit of Yahoo Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, with an announcement likely Friday.

  • Thought the price would get raised a few dollars and not get hostile.
  • Looks like it is going to be an interesting Friday.
What are your thoughts?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

WSJ: Coke, Pepsi Bottlers Try New Sizes To Boost Sales

May 2, 2008

Hoping to pump up soda sales, several U.S. soft-drink bottlers are testing alternatives to a convenience-store icon: the 20-ounce bottle.


  • Lower prices are better price points for consumers
  • Smaller package may have better results on buy 2 promotions
  • A variety of sizes to meet customer demand is a good thing
  • Some consumers do not want 20oz
  • 16.9oz was the glass bottle size back when I was a child

What are your thoughts?



These two states will probably decide the outcome of the presidential election.

Living in Michigan and having family in Ohio has made me aware that Ohio has a weak economy. Saw a story on Google Finance about Home Depot closing some stores in Ohio. It struck me the Ohio economy may be struggling even more than I thought. Link to story is HERE and below.

Problems in Ohio &/or Florida
  • Shrinking job base
  • High fuel costs
  • Slowdown in tourism
  • Rapid decline in home prices [condos included]
  • Foreclosures occurring at a elevated rate