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Archive for March 2015

Let’s Talk Food

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The star of the show

The star of the show

When I started this blog back in 2009 I mentioned that I would alternate between non-business topics and business topics.  One of the non-business topics I mentioned was food and wine.  I have not done a great job in this area and only a few topics have been directly related to food or wine.   A few are found below in case you would like to read them.

Food And Wine Favorites

Christmas And Food

A Simple Treat

Today I thought I would include a recipe for a simple dish that is tasty and low in fat yet passes the average guy’s “fill your belly” test.  It is a three-bean dish with rice that you cook on the stove top in a large shallow pan in about 20 minutes with little preparation time.  I can cook it so you know it is easy.  In a nut shell, all you have to do is throw in all the ingredients and wait. Listed below are the material requirements and the simple directions:

1 – 15 ounce can of kidney beans

1 -14.5 ounce can of diced, Italian style stewed tomatoes

1 -cup of chicken broth

¾ cup of quick cooking brown rice

5 ounces of frozen baby lima beans

5 ounces of frozen cut green beans

You can add additional dried basil, oregano or Italian seasoning to taste

1 -cup of your favorite meatless spaghetti sauce

2 ounces of grated or thinly sliced mozzarella or parmesan cheese (Optional)

You can probably substitute peas or another bean if you want.  I was out of green beans the last time I made this and substituted some peas and it was fine.  This makes 4 servings and has about 250 calories and 4 grams of fat per serving most of which comes from the cheese.  If you ate 2 servings, the 500 calories would be less than an average hamburger and you would be full.

To prepare this you combine the 3 beans (drain the kidney beans), un-drained tomatoes, broth, rice and seasonings in the large shallow pan. Bring the ingredients to a boil and reduce the heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender.  After the rice is done add in the cup of spaghetti sauce and mix it until it is thoroughly heated – about a minute or two.  If you are adding the cheese, remove from heat, top it and cover until it is melted – maybe a minute or two.

Serve and enjoy with your favorite glass of wine.  Even though it has spaghetti sauce as a base I would say any adequately acidic red wine would pair nicely with this.  If no red is available then a white will do or a rose.  If all else fails I hear Boone’s farm wild strawberry wine is drinking very well right now.

Have a great week enjoying a new dish for dinner.

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Written by pacelinebiz

March 30, 2015 at 8:01 am

Is Inertia Your Friend?

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I'm not going anywhere

I’m not going anywhere

Inertia is defined as the property of matter whereby a body remains a rest or in uniform rectilinear motion unless acted upon by an external force.  The second definition is inertness or inactivity.  You may be asking yourself; why am I sharing this information with you.  Let me tell you why.

I have a different take on this concept which I call customer inertia.  A customer will remain as such as long as it is easier (or less painful) than changing product or service providers.  First and foremost I hope you are not counting on customer inertia to maintain your revenue stream.  If you have been following my blog very long you should be aware that I am an advocate of knocking the socks off of your customers with great customer service.

I will let you in on a secret.  Not all companies share my desire to provide great customer service.   These companies are the ones that are relying on the law of customer inertia.  Let me pick on an easy target – cable or satellite TV providers.  They give you a teaser rate which increases in year two of your two-year agreement and then they hope like heck that when it expires and they raise the monthly fee by 7% you decide to stay inactive.  Sure, you will be mad for a few minutes and then after thinking about doing a search for a new provider, returning all their equipment and taking half a day off to be at home for the next provider’s install date you will decide that inertia is well within your comfort zone.  I implore you; don’t let those inertia-loving companies win.  Demand satisfaction from them.  Kick them to the curb if they don’t meet your demands.  Speaking of the curb, I could add trash haulers to the list and while I am naming names I could also mention cell phone providers.

You might think that I am trying to be sneaky and think that what I offer for the lesson today is to count on customer inertia.  Let me be clear; in no way do I advocate that.  I think if you offer great service you will have loyal customers not from inertia but from fear.  Fear of losing the great product or service you provide.  If you can do that, you can get a higher price for what you offer – because it is still a value.

Offer a great product or service and everybody wins.  I am much happier working with customers that treat me like I treat them than ones that would leave me if it wasn’t such a hassle to go elsewhere.  I want to be a partner with my customer and vice versa.   If inertia is one of your friends, you need better friends. 

Have a great week.

 

Written by pacelinebiz

March 23, 2015 at 8:01 am

Stop The Madness!

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A spheroid, not a rhombus

 

For four of the past five years I have written about March madness at about this time of year.  This year I am going to break the cycle. There is no reason for me to continue talking about brackets and Cinderella teams and who will be crowned the champion on April 6th. I will refrain from mentioning that selection Sunday will be on the Ides of March and the tip-off of the “first four” games is on St. Patrick’s Day in Dayton, Ohio.

The fact that the tournament expanded in recent years to 68 teams and has a cutesy “first four” and “final four” book end theme to it is also not worth noting. I never understood how my mighty Pitt Panthers were routinely placed in the western or southern bracket. Maybe this is why they have had such bad luck and have underperformed in the tournament.

If find it rather unremarkable and barely worth mentioning that this year the distance between the “first four” games in Dayton, Ohio and the “final four” games in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium is a measly 115 miles apart on Interstate 70. That 115 miles is a far cry from the distance from the 4 regional championship locations. If you are the East regional champ you will travel from Syracuse New York, from Cleveland, a robust 315 miles, if you are the Midwest champ. You will depart from Houston if you prevail from the South region and all the way from L.A. in the West region.

Can anyone explain to me how the Midwest usurped the North region’s right to representation in the tournament? Is Minneapolis, Milwaukee or Marquette, Michigan not north enough to qualify? I suppose this is not worth questioning but it does give me mild agita when I take the time to think about it. In case you are the least bit interested you may want to see some key tournament dates which can be found by clicking here.

Now on to today’s interesting topic – is a rhombus a diamond in the rough or just a square…

Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

March 16, 2015 at 8:01 am

Learning From The Past

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...and that's where babies come from

…and that’s where babies come from

Today marks 6 years since the bottom of the stock market crash that took place in late 2008 and early 2009.  The Dow closed at 6,547 that day and things looked bleak.  That closing value was more than 50% below the October 2007 high of 14,164.  Since then it has been grinding up slowly and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is now hovering around 18,000.  It has not been straight up however it has had many fits and starts and that is normal even during bull market runs.

About a year after the March 9, 2009 low, I wrote a blog suggesting that maybe within another year interest rates would increase by as much as 5%.  I was dead wrong.  It is now 5 years since I wrote that blog and we sit at the same rate.  It seems like at some point this year the Fed will finally increase rates – but not by much.  I am not in the business of predicting changes in economic cycles nor am I an expert on the Fed.  Frankly, what I was suggesting was conventional wisdom at the time.  No one could have predicted how things played out.

Today’s point is; learn from the past so you do not repeat your mistakes.  My suggestion is to take an inventory of your own business lessons and write them down or commit them to memory.  Use these mileposts in your business experiences so you can refer to them when faced with a decision in the future.  What did I do and how did that work out?   Also, if you have a close group of business friends you rely on, ask them about their experiences.

I think it is best if you create a “diary” of your lessons so you can use yourself as a sounding board.  Take notes and go into detail what went on and what issues you considered and what you did not consider that you should have.   Most importantly of all, do it when it is fresh in your mind so you have the most accurate recollection.  If you do this, you may find out that you are a pretty good advisor to your future self.

Have a great week learning from the past and trusting in yourself.

Written by pacelinebiz

March 9, 2015 at 8:01 am

When Disaster Strikes

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I should have known better

I should have known better

The last time it happened was October 31, 2011 and I told you about it.  It happened again today and I am going to warn you again of this menace.   Coffee spills on your desk.  Yes, that seemingly benign cup of steaming slurry of coffee beans can rush over your desk and take no prisoners.  It is an equal opportunity destroyer.  It will engulf a useless note from 3 years ago or a well-crafted, hand written memo to a client that you saved because it was so brilliant.  (I am waiting to write one of those by the way.)

This is how it went down. (Nice pun)  I was writing at my desk and was moving some random objects out of my way to make some space when I knocked over the cup of coffee.  One thing I have learned from this experience is to be careful of the choice of cup you use.  If it is the cup of standard size and shape that is your best bet.  That shape is roughly about a three-inch diameter base with a height of three and a half inches.  That is a very safe height to base (H:B) ratio of 1.17 when determining spill probability.

The evil vessel I was using had a skimpy base of two and a half inches and a horrific height of six inches.  The height to base ratio of that cup is an astounding 2.4.  That is not a cup; that is a glass!  What was I thinking?  I should not have taken that anywhere near my desk.  At least I have finally learned to avoid coffee cups with an H:B ratio greater than 1.17.

The first thing that should have warned me to avoid this cup was the warning contained on its side.  You can view the cup in the picture at the top of the page.  This was a Christmas gift from my youngest sister several years ago.   I don’t blame her, how could she have known…

Have great week.  I know I will. I am sure things will begin to look up for me after this disaster.

 

Written by pacelinebiz

March 2, 2015 at 8:01 am