‘Millennials’ Are People Too

Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times: “If your management or marketing theories involve collapsing all millennials into a catchall anthropological category — as if you’re dealing with space aliens or some newly discovered aboriginal tribe that’s suddenly invaded modernity — you’re doing it wrong.”

“Sure, the demographic group exists as an amorphous bloc. But you are as likely to come upon an archetypal millennial as you are to run into Joe Sixpack or be invited to a barbecue at the median American household. It’s hard to believe this even needs to be said, yet here we are: Macroscale demographic trends rarely govern most individuals’ life and work decisions. For most practical purposes — hiring and managing, selling to, creating products for — your company may be better off recognizing more discrete and meaningful characteristics in workers and customers than simply the year of their birth.”

“According to Laszlo Bock, who runs human resources at Google, pigeonholing workers into categories is nothing new, and it’s rarely helpful in running a workplace … Google’s human resources department, which the company calls ‘people operations,’ is famous for collecting and analyzing data about its work force to empirically back up its management techniques. Google’s workers range from recent college grads to people in their 80s. And as far as Mr. Bock has been able to tell, millennials, as a broad category, simply aren’t very different from everyone else.”

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The 6-Day Workweek: A Productivity Builder?

The New York Times: “At Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University Hospital … the orthopedics unit switched 89 nurses and doctors to a six-hour day. It hired 15 new staff members to make up for the lost time and extend operating room hours. At 1 million kroner (about $123,000) a month, the experiment was expensive … But since then, almost no one calls in sick, and nurses and doctors have been more efficient.”

“The unit is performing 20 percent more operations, generating additional business from treatments like hip replacements that would have gone to other hospitals. Surgery waiting times were cut to weeks from months, allowing patients to return to work faster and reducing sick leave elsewhere in the economy.”

Anders Hyltander, the hospital’s executive director, comments: “For years, we’ve been told that an eight-hour workday is optimal. But I think we should let ourselves challenge that view and say, ‘Yes that’s the way it is now, but if you want to increase productivity, be open to new ideas.’”

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Organic Coup: The Costco of Chicken Sandwiches

Business Insider: “The Organic Coup, which is the first USDA-certified organic fast-food chain in the US, just raised $7 million in an initial round of financing led by Costco founder and former CEO Jim Sinegal … The chain, which specializes in fried-chicken sandwiches and chocolate-drizzled caramel popcorn, has two restaurants — one in San Francisco and another in Pleasanton, California.”

One of the restaurant’s co-founders is Erica Welton, a “food buyer for Costco for 14 years before leaving to launch Organic Coup with Dennis Hoover, a 33-year Costco veteran … Welton and Hoover don’t have any prior restaurant experience” but “are modeling the new chain off of Costco in many ways.”

“Organic Coup is paying starting wages of $16 an hour in San Francisco and $14 an hour in Pleasanton. Fast-food workers in the US make $7.98 an hour on average, according to PayScale. The restaurant’s specialty is its spicy fried chicken made from organic, air-chilled chicken breasts fried in coconut oil … The menu is pretty simple. Customers can get the fried chicken with a range of sauces on a bun, in a multigrain wrap, or in a bowl with shredded vegetables … The chain will be adding tator tots to the menu as well.”

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Food & Service: How CFA Beats KFC

Business Insider: “Chick-fil-A restaurants sell three times as much as KFC locations — and it’s made the chicken chain No. 1 in the industry … The reason for Chick-fil-A’s dominance is a mix of excellent food and superior customer service, according to many analysts. The chain consistently ranks first in restaurant customer-service surveys, with customers raving about the restaurants’ cleanliness, quick, convenient service, and hardworking employees.”

“Chick-fil-A’s success on a restaurant-by-restaurant basis can be traced in part to the chain’s peculiar business model. The company accepts just 0.4% of franchisees, one of the most selective chains in the industry … franchisees are encouraged to become ‘entrenched’ in their communities, including involvement in local churches … the company attributes its success to investing in training employees. With only one location for each franchisee and a strongly cultivated company culture, that training may come more easily than at chains like KFC.”

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Elvis Has Left The Cabin

The New York Times: Flight attendants “used to think of themselves … as hosts and hostesses of an exclusive party. But in today’s age of consolidation, when even the uniforms have lost their élan, much of that individual charm has worn off. Still, some flight attendants are not going gently. They are still doing what they can to keep passengers entertained or informed beyond pushing a button to play the video recordings of the in-flight safety videos.”

Consider Jack Sullivan, a Southwest Airways flight attendant who impersonates Elvis, complete with the sunglasses and scarves. Or the Spirit Airlines flight attendant who has taken to singing safety instructions to the tune of … Leaving on a Jet Plane. But few can match the worldwide appeal of Marty Cobb, a 10-year Southwest Airlines flight attendant, after a video of her comedic spinoff of the mundane safety directions spread quickly online in 2014.”

“Not all airlines are enamored of such displays of personality. Delta and American … said in statements that the airline appreciated it when flight attendants humanized their interactions, but that flight attendants were reminded that less was more when it came to in-flight announcements.” However: “A spokeswoman for Southwest also said that the company considered its crew to be its in-flight entertainment and that it hired flight attendants primarily because of their attitude.”

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Study: LEGO ‘Guns’ For Greater Violence

Quartz: “The number of toy weapons such as miniature guns, knives, and harpoons featured in sets of tiny plastic LEGO building blocks has increased by 30% from 1978 to 2014, according to a study published last week in PLOS ONE by researchers at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury. The increase was primarily driven by higher numbers of weapons offered in film-themed packs, most recently in 2012 with Lord of the Rings LEGO sets.”

“The authors say this reflects a growing trend among children’s toymakers, and hypothesize that toy manufacturers add more depictions of violence to their products in order to stay relevant alongside increasingly violent movies and video games.”

“In an unrelated blog post, LEGO has argued that “conflict play” allows kids to use toys to creatively act out variations of their own disagreements, in a way that helps develop their own conflict-resolution skills.”

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Consignment Retail: What’s Old Is New Again

The New York Times: “Clothing resellers like Material Wrld, Crossroads and thredUP propose to make ‘refreshing’ your wardrobe more joyful, with their own trade-in kits and cash incentives to shop their wares to keep the cycle going. Ethical elimination is a theme (a corollary to ethical consumption). The manifesto of Crossroads, a favorite of college students who worry that their Urban Outfitter discards may end up in a landfill, is that ‘fashion shouldn’t come at a cost.’ Material Wrld aims to alleviate ‘fashion guilt’ with its own promise: ‘We’ll handle yesterday’s fashion so you can focus on tomorrow’.”

“Tradesy is like a dating site for your old clothes: You can post a photo, tell its story and the site will price your garment (a button invites online shoppers to ‘love’ your listings). Move Loot will do the same for your furniture; if a piece sells, the company will handle the exchange and arrange for pickup. So will Lofty, Chairish and Viyet, which sell high-end furniture, decorative items and artwork; curators from Lofty and Viyet will vet your items in your home. The luxury site the RealReal, a favorite of fashion-conscious New Yorkers, trades in artwork, designer clothing and jewelry.”

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Are You Smart Enough for Warby Parker?

The New York Times: “As an aesthetic, antifashion as fashion is annoying and alienating, as many people who are over 40, not particularly slender or less prestigiously schooled can attest when visiting a Warby Parker outlet. There is democracy in a relatively low price, but a sense of exclusion is woven into the gestalt.”

“Are you really smart enough to be shopping at Warby Parker? Have you read even a fraction of the books displayed? It’s dispiriting in a way to see old-fashioned chain stores feel as if they must contort themselves to stay vital in what is becoming an ever more polarized retail culture. A store like Cohen’s never makes you feel like a loser. Maybe it should post that outside of every branch, and declare a social victory.”

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Manhattan Saddlery: The Past as the Future

The New York Times: “When horseback riding was the dominant mode of transportation, equestrian shops were as common as fresh-pressed juice bars are today. East 24th Street was so populated with places to outfit and care for horses that it came to be known as Old Stable Row. Times have changed. And for the city equestrian, a rare breed in itself, the only remaining shop of its kind on Old Stable Row is Manhattan Saddlery.”

“The smell of leather permeates the sprawling two-story shop, greeting customers who arrive looking for saddles, bridles, halters, crops, stirrups and riding pants … Charlotte Kullen was shopping on a recent Saturday, as she does about once a week. At the shop she finds a receptive audience for her latest stories about Asantro, her horse. ‘It was his birthday yesterday,’ she said, displaying photos on her phone of the Dutch Warmblood, an athletic breed often used in competitions.”

Another shopper, Alex Roy, comments: “It’s funny, like any brick-and-mortar shop, if you think about it, you can buy anything they carry online … But you come here to talk to the people and to see the place.”

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