Lunch Shaming


My last post was about an innovative food waste solution – food-waste diversion.  Today I would like to share insight about a source of food waste that is a result of lunch shaming, a byproduct of our government’s inability to manage school meal debt.

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What is lunch shaming?  It is when a school cafeteria employee is instructed to either substitute a hot lunch with an alternative (e.g., white bread cheese sandwich) or throw out the meal if the student has an unpaid school lunch bill.  In some cases, it has been reported, cafeteria workers stamp the arms of children (“I Need Lunch Money”). Embarrassment, embarrassment, embarrassment – lunch shaming!

In 2014, the Department of Agriculture reported that approximately half of all school districts used some form of shaming to compel parents to pay bills.  Last year, the School Nutrition Association surveyed 1,000 school lunch programs and reported that 75 percent of the districts had unpaid meal debt.

School meal debt management is a serious and debatable issue that needs to be resolved.  Lunch shaming (especially throwing out hot lunches which is contributing to the current food waste problem here in America) is mean spirited!

All comments welcomed!


Food Waste (a.k.a. Garbage) Diversion


I have expressed my concerns regarding food waste, thus praise innovative solutions to reducing America’s food waste – the last time was LeanPath and their leader Andrew Shakman back in 2015.  Today I would like to address the successful trends in the food-waste diversion industry.

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An innovative solution that is gaining momentum is known as food-waste diversion, converting what is considered waste (e.g., spent grain the byproduct of brewing beer, juice pulp, ugly fruit, etc.) into viable food products (e.g., snacks, jams, etc.).  ReFED, a non-profit coalition recently released some food-waste diversion data which revealed that only 11 companies existed in 2011; currently there are 64 established companies.  Overall these enterprises have diverted thousands of pounds of waste that normally goes to landfills, a major source of greenhouse emissions.  Note: It is estimated that 63 million tons of food are wasted per year in the U.S.

Food-waste (a.k.a. garbage) diversion is a starting point.  Do you have any innovative food waste stories to share?



Forever Relevant – Lessons from Great Artists & Architects (4/9/09)

Some posts – forever relevant!  Back in 2009 I indicated I have been inspired by some great people I never met, artists and architects that have guided me on my business journey. The list is long: Leger, Matisse, Picasso, Chagall, Miro, Calder, Dali, Neel, I. M. Pei and Frank Gehry.

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Detailed below are the lessons I have learned from my favorite artists and architects:

– You must start with traditional training before you can breakout and create new ideas.
– Simplicity.
– Scale – sketches that lead to large masterpieces.
– There is no instant gratification when it comes to artistic creation.
– Artists serve people and live in a commercial world, but they need to discover how they can step outside the norm, take risks and slice their sliver/niche.
– When artists/creative people step outside the norm they must accept criticism, wear it like an article of clothing for a while, then toss it and move on.
– What makes it all worth it (the thrill) is the process of pulling together an achievement.
– Don’t compromise your values.
– Treat each client differently and special.
Harmony = Balance.

One final thought. Each one of the individuals on my list were larger than life, thus taught me the value of Joie de Vivre, the Joy of Living.



Social Listening – Part Two


Earlier this week I addressed the impact social media has had on consumerism.  Today I want to share some insight how social media has impacted geo-politics and created global negativity.

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There is an official list of real world issues compiled by the United Nations – terrorism, racism, human rights, disease, climate change, etc.  Recently the SOAS University of London analyzed the number of tweets for these topics, more than 150 million in 2016.  By the numbers, 88 percent of the recorded tweets (152.9 million) contained negative words or had an overall negative tonality; 7 percent were either neutral or context related; only 5 percent were positive.  The number one discussion topic was society (60 percent), followed by the environment (slightly less than 20 percent).

Their overall conclusion: Social media has become an important destination for reading, and aggregating news; people are interested and engaged in current events.  However, there is a rise of negativity that might reflect a lack of optimism around the world.

Are you listening today?

Social Listening – Part One


Positive (Oreos during Super Bowl 2013) or negative (United Airlines and Pepsi earlier this month), it has become obvious social media is ubiquitous and has led to real-time brand transparency.  Welcome the rise of influence marketing.  Consequently, smart marketers are adapting to a new level of social listening.

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Fact: In 2005 5% of adults in the U.S. were on social media.  Today it is approximately 70%.  As a result, buyers thanks to the collaborative tools of Web 2.0 now have greater influence on purchase decisions.  Consequently, brand marketers recognize the need to identify brand ambassadors/key influencers, a concept I read about back in 2016 in a post written by social marketing leader Steve Goldner titled Brand Ambassadors and Influence Marketing.

How do you find brand ambassadors?  For starters, real-time social listening.  Brands will have to develop the resources that will be listening to conversations around keywords or trending topics on all the different social platforms.  Furthermore, in the future AI (Artificial Intelligence) will be utilized to interpret relevant brand content.  Finally, smart marketers will take the information they monitor, get proactive and craft their brand’s conversations to achieve greater buyer engagement.

In closing, I have detailed how social media has impacted consumerism.  In my next post, I am going to share how social media has ushered in an era of global negativity.

Asia Loves Tiffany’s


Last month, luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. exceeded industry analysts fourth quarter (Jan. 31) per-share earnings expectations thanks to some financial gymnastics (a.k.a. adjusted asset impairment costs) and Asian customers!

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Over the years, I have posted about the growth of luxury brands in Asia: Luxury Brands Rock Asia and Asian Tiger Cubs.  Total Asia-Pacific fourth quarter sales were $284 million; 9% above the prior year.  In Japan, total fourth quarter sales rose 15% versus the prior year to $185 million.  Tiffany operates 140 stores in Asia (85 in Asia-Pacific; 55 in Japan) or 45% of their worldwide 313 stores.

Note: In the Americas, total Tiffany’s sales in the quarter declined 3% to $587 million due to lower spending by U.S. customers and tourists.

Asia Loves Tiffany’s!

Exotic Travel


“And What’s Your Idea of Happiness?” – Club Med’s current advertising slogan.  Club Med was the forerunner of exotic vacations.  Exotic travel has now evolved into everything from expeditions to the Antarctica, personal health & wellness retreats for HoopYogini, destination cooking schools, etc.

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What is HoopYogini?  It is the combination of yoga and hula hoop.  Currently it is part of the regime at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.  A premium five-day workshop for a couple which includes accommodations, meals, use of facilities and movement programs like transformative practices (Gestalt, massage, yoga, etc.) costs $4,025.  Sounds expensive!  According to the Global Wellness Institute’s Global Wellness Economy Monitor (January 2017), wellness tourism now accounts for $563 billion of the worldwide $3.7 trillion “wellness industry.”

Being in the food business, destination cooking schools pique my interest.  Here are some exotic options:

  • Beijing cooking classes at the HuTong Cuisine Kitchen. Image mastering dim sum or learning to make the perfect Peking duck.
  • Wake up at a retreat, enjoy a blast of morning wellness and forage for vegetables high in the mountains of Mexico. At the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende’s A Sense of Tasteprogram, guests take a morning trip to walk the fields and pick produce from local organic farms, before attending a cooking lesson from the hotel’s Executive Chef, capped off by a celebratory dinner.
  • Exclusive cooking classes at the La Canonica Cooking School in Tuscany on the 4,000-acre estate owned by the Ferragamo fashion family. Approximately $250 per person or $1,400 for a private lesson (note: excludes travel).  I always did want to learn how to make Scottiglia (wild boar stew) served with a side of home-made gnocchi.

“And What’s Your Idea of Happiness?”