I recently wrote about humble bosses. This post is about a different kind.
Many bosses don’t realize—or don’t care–that they are doing themselves a disservice in the long run to take credit for or steal their staffers’ ideas. It doesn’t cost anything to give due credit but some can’t help themselves. That was the topic of Sue Shellenbarger’s article in The Wall Street Journal, “Hey, That’s My Idea! When Your Boss Steals Your Work.”
Eventually, the people who report to such a superior ask for a transfer, leave the company or save their ideas, divulging them only at an opportune moment, such as when they walk out of the office with the boss’s boss or when they substitute for the boss at a meeting.
A close cousin of this behavior is what has happened to women in meetings for generations and still does. They’ll propose an idea, nobody reacts and a few minutes later a man makes the same suggestion. At this point the team leader goes bonkers with praise and the strategy is added to the “to do” list. Joanne Lipman, author of “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together,” addresses it.
If you’re chairman of a volunteer committee and you pull either stunt you’ll eventually find yourself to be a committee of one.
How have you handled a credit-grabbing boss? Have you manipulated such a boss into proposing something that benefited you? Do you think it’s the boss’s prerogative to take all the credit for a good idea as he/she would be given the blame should a project in the department go south?
I am gleeful when I see a clever marketing campaign and am almost offended when what I thought was a smart organization falls short.
Here are two good ones and one not so.
I enjoyed a witty set of advertising posters on the Lexington Avenue express subway produced by Seamless, a food ordering and delivery service that’s part of the GrubHub family. It reminded readers that it knows its neighbors and what they most like to eat.
The campaign, written in a New York-y voice is eye-catching, and a mini relief for passengers in uncomfortable circumstances, inspiring them to smile.
Some of the headlines were:
- “The Most Potassium-Rich Neighborhood –Murray Hill– based on the number of banana orders. No one’s cramping here”
- “The Loudest Neighborhood–Park Slope Brooklyn –based on the number of chip orders. Your neighbors can actually hear you crunching”
- “The Neighborhood in Most Need of a Vacation–Dyker Heights Brooklyn– based on the number of tropical smoothies ordered. Just take one already.
Another subway campaign hit the spot. Coca-Cola: Happiness starts with a smile – YouTube was produced by a Belgian agency. An actor looking at something on his tablet on a crowded train begins to laugh and his giggles are contagious. The tagline is “Happiness starts with a smile.” Towards the end of the ride people wearing red tee-shirts with the Coke logo hand passengers cans of soda and a postcard with the theme.
The Long and the Short of It
The second Obama Foundation Summit produced a lame campaign as far as its outreach to me is concerned. It came via email. The subject line “I want to hear your story Jeanne.” The theme: “Common Hope Uncommon Stories.”
Janelle Monáe, who signed the email, wrote: “No matter how different each of our tales are, we must do what we can to help each other achieve the extraordinary. When someone shares their story, we see the world through their eyes. That’s why I’m reaching out today. I want to hear your tale. Tell me your story in 10 words or less: How do you work towards a better future?”
I can be succinct but 10 words on a serious subject doth not a serious request make–even for an elevator pitch. Think that was a typo? Its impact on me: I stopped reading well before the bright red DONATE link at the bottom. I can think of some snarky 10 word retorts, such as “Get rid of the president,” though I’m not sure that they reflect me and my story. How many personal stories “work towards a better future?” Am I being persnickety and too literal? Have I lost my sense of humor?
Have you seen any clever ad campaigns on public transportation—trains, busses, subways? Was the Obama Foundation’s communication a fundraiser for the hip and therefore way over my head?
I was born and grew up in NYC and consider it a beloved relative that makes me glow with pride sometimes and bristle other times. On my walk to work my eye caught a menorah installed right next to a Christmas wreath [photo above] illustrating the comfortable diversity I admire. I turned around to see a homeless person huddled in the cold on a nearby bench, [photo right, below], striking my heart, but in the opposite way.
The New Year will bring with it two ham-fisted decisions that impact transportation and will punch the Big Apple in the gut. Worse: Nobody seems to be directing the big picture.
Congestion Pricing Will Give Yellow Taxis the Flu
The January 1, 2019 $2.50 congestion pricing fee will help destroy the already limping yellow cab industry and hurt citizens of modest or microscopic means who rely on traditional cabs. Many can’t manage busses or subways, can’t afford limos or don’t have smartphones to hire car services like Uber or Lyft. The fee impacts “any yellow cab, e-hail or other for-hire vehicle trips that start, pass through or end in a designated ‘congestion zone’ below 96th Street in Manhattan,” Vincent Barone wrote in amny.com.
What’s the destination of the some $400 million the tax man anticipates collecting? According to Barone, it will help the Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA] which is “financially strapped.”
Services like Lyft and Uber are charged a $2.75 fee but because they can fiddle with their basic price which yellow taxis can’t, they could make rides cheaper than traditional cabs—another stab to the financial heart of their competitor.
Barone reported: “‘The fact that it will cost $5.80 to step into a taxi cab now is going to be devastating for the taxi industry,’ TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi said after a City Council oversight hearing on the surcharges, referencing the existing fees on taxi trips. ‘The other sectors … have more flexibility. They have to add $2.75 on but they’re not bound to a metered fare, so they can reduce the price of the trip so that the passenger doesn’t feel the effect of the $2.75.’”
Pay More Get Less on Trains & Busses
And what about the Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA] that, in addition to benefiting from the congestion pricing taxi fee is fighting to get a 4 percent increase in subway and bus fares next year? Here are highlights of its cost-cutting proposal, according to 710 WOR radio new: “Among the plans is to change the temperature on subway trains, providing riders with less heat in the winter and less air conditioner in the summer. The proposal would also result in fewer trains and buses on some lines that could lead to overcrowding. Trains would also be cleaned less frequently.” Good plan: Charge more, give less.
What and/or who is to blame for the MTA’s financial woes? Fare beaters according to Andy Byford the president of NYC Transit.
Who’s Running the Place?
Bill de Blasio. Photo: en.wikipedia.org
William Neuman in a New York Times article may have hit on a reason for the shambles hitting transportation and, I suspect, other sectors in the city. He reported that New York Mayor de Blasio “rarely meets with many of his commissioners, according to the schedules, at times making it difficult for department heads to advance new ideas at City Hall, or to inform the mayor about problems at their agencies.”
Worse, his City Hall attendance record shocked me. Neuman reported that he averaged 19 days a month in the office in 2014; 17 days a month the next year falling to 14 in 2016 and last year, 9—only 5 in July! It’s up to 10 on average this year. Further, wrote Neuman, he “was at City Hall just four of the first 39 Fridays this year, according to the schedules.” [Remember when Mayor Bloomberg was creamed for being out of town once, for a major snowstorm?]
Will congestion pricing to hit cabs positively impact the city’s severe traffic challenges? Is the potential increase in public transit fares along with a decrease in comfort for riders badly timed? Do these moves tell citizens “If you can’t afford the city and can’t handle a nasty subway ride, get out” even louder than ever before? Would strong leadership avert or lessen the transportation tangle? Do you live in a town or city that works seamlessly?
A recent Facebook conversation I followed was about coins. The writer said coins drove him nuts and suggested they should be canned. Most of the respondents disagreed for reasons ranging from saved coins helped pay for vacations to fondness for them. I pay for less and less with cash but am nevertheless on the side of saving coins if only for nostalgic reasons.
As I use my credit card a lot I’m fine with paying for food or anything else with mine. But plenty of folks are paid in cash or don’t have one for whatever reason. They also might not own a smartphone to access digital payment via Apple Pay for example.
Ritchie J. Torres, a New York City Council Member, says “the [cashless] business model is classist and racist,” according to Chris Fuhrmeister on eater.com. Torres said he sees the trend “as a way to gentrify the marketplace.”
Some 22 million Americans don’t have a bank account Furhmeister reported. An early adopter whose restaurant is now closed told him that if customers didn’t even have a debit card they most likely didn’t have a bank account and shouldn’t expect to eat in his [now defunct] restaurant.
Celebrity restaurateur Danny Meyer gave up the model in his Shake Shack burger chain because of customer complaints according to Fuhrmeister. His pricey Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants such as Union Square Café and Gramercy Tavern remain cash-free.
The impact goes beyond the poor. Furhmeister wrote: “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter and critic, and former Eater NY editor, Melissa McCart made a salient point in her report on the topic earlier this year: ‘[I]n an era when an increasing number of restaurants no longer accept legal tender, it’s useful to think about who this system benefits most: the businesses and banks, at the expense of consumers.’ Do businesses and banks really need more power? It’s a question more local governments may want to consider.”
There are other issues to consider, good and bad. A cashless retail business won’t be robbed. Also, many people pay the restaurant bill by credit card and leave tips in cash so that the right person gets the money. Would this continue or would the restaurant owner continue to control the tips? [Meyer, mentioned above, runs tipless restaurants as well.] The government must love the concept as there’s no revenue to hide from the tax man.
Do you pay for things mostly in cash, credit card or digitally? Do you like coins? Would you miss cash if it no longer existed? Do you agree with McCart that big time beneficiaries of the credit card/debit card only model are businesses and banks–Uncle Sam too–with consumers the losers? Will the cashless trend spread to other retail industries if it’s not stopped? Should the cashless retail model be outlawed?
A childhood neighbor used to tell me “You have to suffer to be beautiful.” In the day she was right. Women slept on giant rollers while now dryers whip hair styles into shape in minutes and fashions are also more relaxed. We’d never have dreamed of wearing sneakers or flip flops for any reason other than for gym class or to walk on the beach. Now both are the uniform of many in towns, cities and airports.
Christian Louboutin Baila spike flat. Photo: pinterest.com
With obvious exceptions—facelifts for example which I’m told are very painful and make deep dents in pocketbooks too–comfort over vanity seems to have won in many of the best places. “Why Smart, Chic Women Are Abandoning High Heels [Forever],” wrote Chloe Malle recently in The Wall Street Journal.
Victoria’s Secret’s drooping bra business is the main reason L Brands’ stock is down 41 percent this year according to Elizabeth Winkler in the same paper. Bras represent 35 percent of their sales she reported. Customers are looking to the competition for “comfort and ease, not airbrushed fantasy,” she wrote. “In July, Victoria’s Secret’s semiannual sale was so weak the retailer was forced to extend it by two weeks and offer steeper discounts, leading analysts to declare the brand broken.
Sports bra. Photo senitathletics.com
“Instead of $60 padded bras that sell male fantasies, women are opting for cheaper undergarments that prioritize their own comfort. Victoria’s Secret has tried to adapt with the times, ending its catalog, doubling down on sports bras and even releasing a collection of ‘bralettes’—bras without underwire and padding.”
Competition features different body types in its ads as compared to the Victoria’s Secret “traditional sex-infused marketing,” they wrote.
I wonder if the new team will adjust this image. The Christmas direct mail piece that landed in mailboxes this week [photos right and below left] featured the old Victoria’s Secret image and none of the sports bras and bralettes they claimed to have adopted. Clearly designed to inspire men to buy gifts and enjoy, it nevertheless ignored the reasons for the downturn in sales.
Victoria’s Secret’s November 2018 direct mail piece
In a subsequent article in The Journal, Khadeeja Safdar and Maria Armental reported on additional moves the brand is taking to regain its momentum from adding a Tory Burch veteran/former president to run the lingerie division to halving its dividend.
Are you surprised that Victoria’s Secret was knocked off its pedestal in part by the drive for comfort? Do you shun uncomfortable clothes and shoes? Are you surprised by the trends for fashion conscious women identified by Journal reporters regarding flats over stilettos and less challenging underwear? Do you miss the formal days of yore?
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