O J Way Oren Rosenthal Austin,TX

Times Square Yoga. Should I believe this?

Posted in News and Events by OJWay on September 12th, 2009 permalink

Yoga in Times Square - Summer Solstice 2009

I saw this picture of a giant yoga event in Times Square, and it’s hysterical. But I couldn’t decide whether or not it was a staged photo. On the one hand, New York is the kind of city where you might find a babushka curious enough to try out this “yoga thingy”. On the other hand, New York is also the kind of city where a marketing professional or an enterprising photographer might seize the opportunity to set up a shot like this.

The photographer is Gus Powell, so I decided to try to contact him. Sure enough he responded, and this is what he said:

it was a serendipitous moment . . . something that i think new york is rather generous with. i don’t know where that fine lady came from but was certainly delighted to see her there. she was at a prime spot - so perhaps some soul in group that was running the event might have encouraged her to take that spot . . . or maybe she just got there early. . . who knows . . . i kept looking for other folks who might have been there with her but never found them . . . she had a wonderful giggle . . .

i took a mess of pictures that day and there were a few that i liked but i knew that that frame was probably gonna make the page . . . and was delighted that TNY was able to use it. it’s been great to get so many warm responses to the image.

Thanks Gus!

Dry Cleaners’ Name Keeps Pace with Inflation

Posted in News and Events by OJWay on August 15th, 2009 permalink

When we last left Rick’s $1.99 Cleaners back in September ‘08, they’d had to change their name after they raised their price from $1.99 to $2.09. Inflationary pressures have declined since then on account of the deep recession. So imagine my surprise when I drove by the other day and saw that they’ve changed their name again, this time to Rick’s $2.39 Cleaners! The moral of the story is don’t name your business for something that changes as often as your prices.

Size and Speed Beat the Full Court Press

Posted in News and Events, Technology by OJWay on May 27th, 2009 permalink

Everybody’s talking about Malcolm Gladwell’s recent article, How David Beats Goliath. For example, my company’s chairman, Eddie Lampert, has been tweeting about it. The central premise is that by eschewing traditional rules of engagement underdogs can predictably triumph over larger and more established foes. He begins with an exciting example of a 12-year-old girls’ basketball team that built their strategy around using full-court pressure defense all the time. They made it to the National Finals.

I can’t argue with Gladwell on the main argument, so I will pick on his example. The way David beats Goliath is that he turns Goliath’s strength into a weakness. However, it’s easy for well-trained players to beat the full court press. If you ask the 7′7″ Manute Bol, he’ll tell you that you can beat the press with size, just by throwing the ball over the defense. Or if you ask the 5′3″ Muggsy Bogues, he’ll tell you to do it with speed, by cutting for the fast break.

So long as they don’t get rattled, superior players will beat the press every time to get easy baskets. 12-year-old girls will get rattled, but college and pro-level players won’t. Rick Pitino, the college coach famous for using the press, only won an NCAA tourney when he had All-Star Antoine Walker on his team. He has a losing record as an NBA coach.

I’ll stop nitpicking Gladwell now, because he is my favorite nonfiction author. In his defense, another point he was making about the girls’ basketball team is that they worked much harder than their opponents and attacked in unexpected places. Other examples, such as Lawrence of Arabia, illustrate the point better. But they’re not nearly as much fun.

A Sign of Price Inflation

Posted in Austin, News and Events by OJWay on September 15th, 2008 permalink

It looks like Rick’s $1.99 Cleaners on Bee Caves Rd. has now changed their name to Rick’s $2.09 Cleaners. I wonder if they changed the corporate letterhead and web site too!

A Report Card: Does Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz Make The Grade?

Posted in News and Events by OJWay on August 23rd, 2008 permalink

Conde Nast Portfolio ran a fantastic profile by David Margolick on Schultz in the July issue. In fact, his celebrity has generated a lot of press. Some other articles I’ve seen recently include an explanation of Starbucks’ store closing strategy in Slate, and a preview of their new Clover coffee maker in Wired.

The original Starbucks story is a brilliant tale of outrageous success. CEO Howard Schultz started with coffee - an addictive product. Then he created a market for espresso-based drinks at premium pricing. The company systematically expanded into high-income locales in the US and beyond. Starbucks created an aspirational brand that was strong enough to cross over into the music business. It all fit into the lifestyle they were selling: Upscale, urban, hip, and epicurean.

Overview

When recession hit, expansion slowed, and same-store sales dropped. Even worse, the stock was down 40% and the brand was in trouble. David Margolick quotes an anonymous blog contributor:

” . . . the place has become the McDonald’s of the industry, with worse coffee than McDonald’s itself.”

Schultz’s problem is that he needs to make the Starbucks experience so good that people are happy to pay $4 instead of $1.50 for a cup of traditional coffee. In a recession.

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