I’ve told you I went to Rollins College, right?
Rollins was the party school to end all party schools. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure the keggers at your D1 state school were epic. Rollins is a different planet.
We used to tell our daughters it burned down. The last thing they (or I) need is four years of rich boarding school brats, year-round-bathing-suit-season eating disorders, and cocaine flying at them from every direction. No thanks.
That place is intense.
Which is why it’s so ironic that I was introduced to Rollins by Mr. Rogers. Yes, that Mr. Rogers. He was a Rollins alum and, super-ironically, a member of X Club, the frat where everyone bought drugs when I was there, I’m told.
My dad worked for Pittsburgh National Bank (now PNC) for 30 years, in the Charitable Endowments division, where his biggest client was the Mr. Rogers Neighborhood Foundation. Over the years, Fred and his wife Joanne became family friends – the only famous people I knew well enough to forget they were famous.
I still have the promo VHS Fred mailed us. There was a helicopter, flying across a lake toward an island, and a swimming pool, speckled with bikini-clad coeds. I didn’t pay attention after that. Six months later, I set foot on campus for the first time and moved into my dorm.
As Pittsburghers know, Fred Rogers was exactly the person he was on television. Once, I took a friend to their winter home (just blocks from Rollins, where he would notoriously swim every morning in his Speedo) for lunch. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And chocolate milk. We held hands and prayed.
As cocky, aloof, probably-hungover college jerks, we felt like little kids and we loved it. That’s how he made everyone feel.
I’ve heard many people wonder what Fred would say about this ugly world we’re in. And, whether he could have been a voice of reason when nobody else – certainly nobody in Washington or the media – can. I’d like to think so, but maybe we’re too far gone.
There’s a Mr. Rogers movie starring Tom Hanks coming out next week. And if I was President, I would make it required viewing for everyone in America, no exceptions.
Alas, I’m not President. Not even close.
But I know we need more Mr. Rogers.
Here’s what we’re seeing this week:
Consumer confidence is showing signs of improvement, hopefully carrying into the holiday retail season. The Microsoft News-CivicScience Economic Sentiment Index had its second consecutive positive reading, reaching heights we haven’t seen since August. Enthusiasm about major purchases showed the biggest climb, which is especially good news for retail. In related news, we made a huge discovery in our macro-sentiment data last week. Hopefully, I can tell you all about it after our paying passengers get everything they need out of it first.
If you were conscious, you probably heard Disney launched a new streaming service this week. Disney+ came in with a splash on Tuesday and, despite some overblown technical hiccups (only 26% of users experienced them), the subscription volume was almost as impressive as how quickly we published data about it. Just under 7% of U.S. adults lived in a Disney+ household by the end of launch day. Five percent had pre-registered. The most notable stat, in my not-so-humble opinion, is the huge number of consumers who are waiting on feedback from their early-adopting friends and family before signing up. A huge wave could be coming. And yes, we’ll be studying the hell out of it.
Cyber Monday is setting up to be huge this year. We’re still a week away from publishing our annual Holiday Spending Report but I can share a few interesting tidbits already. Consumers are uncannily on pace for the amount of shopping we expect to see pre-Thanksgiving. A big difference this year, however, is the number of shoppers who tell us they’ll be participating in the Black Friday weekend – and especially Cyber Monday. While I’m freezing my ass off in the woods “hunting,” 28% of Americans plan to be shopping from the cozy confines of their desks. That’s a net projection 27% higher than we saw this time last year.
Nike may be left out of the Cyber Monday rush, because apparently their fans love to buy fake gear. Nike is pulling its products out of the Amazon universe, claiming they can’t control the sale of counterfeit goods on the platform. According to Casey Taylor on our team – who apparently knows more about sneaker culture than I know about anything – this is a Nike problem, not an Amazon one. Nike shoe buyers willingly buy counterfeits at a much higher rate than fans of other brands. Nearly 2X as much as Adidas fans, for example. I had no idea.
Intermittent fasting is a much bigger thing than I realized, especially among dudes. We published a fascinating study about dieting this week, with a particular focus on the trend of intermittent fasting, which a whopping 25% of Americans have tried. It’s huge among Millennials, guys in particular, which is unusual considering that most fad diets tend to pick up with women first. The combo of intermittent fasting and high-protein diets is a clear pattern when you dive into the numbers. This feels pretty important to keep an eye on, if you’re anywhere in the food service or health/wellness category.
We published a couple other studies this week worth checking out. There’s more on Disney+, which won’t be the Netflix cannibalizer (no, that’s not a word) others fear; we found proof that I’m basically the last person in America not walking around with wireless ear buds; and, believe it or not, physical books are making a modest comeback among young people – and so is Barnes & Noble.
Here are the most popular questions on our platform this week:
- Will you buy your pet(s) holiday gifts this year?
- Skin on or skin off mashed potatoes?
- Is the television always on at your house?
- When is your usual bedtime?
- Do you think you could successfully build a campfire, if necessary?
Answer Key: Yes, Off, No, Midnight, With My Eyes Closed
Hoping you’re well.