Turns out I’m pretty clueless at hiring people.

According to a million blogs out there, that’s a cardinal sin for CEOs, akin to not waking up every day at 4 am or not reading a Malcolm Gladwell book every week, which I don’t do either.

But hiring is super-important. And I haven’t interviewed a new employee in three years. Well, not including the final “interview,” where my role is to get the person excited about working here – to soften their comp demands – after the rest of our team has picked who they want.

The problem is that I like people too much. I walk out of interviews thinking everyone is awesome, generally oblivious to the shortcomings that are clear to the more discerning eye. My sister says I have hyperbole disease.

And damn have I been burned by it. Not just at work – though those scars are aplenty and deep. Don’t get me started on my long-ago disasters with dating. That’s an email for another day. Actually, never.

At a fast-growing-but-still-not-out-of-the-woods company like ours, the stakes are too high to whiff. The wrong hire can set you back precious months and dollars, potentially poisoning the very people you need to keep. We can’t afford that.

Luckily, I have two saving graces: One, I diagnosed this deficiency early enough in my career to make a difference. And two, I’ve surrounded myself with people who are really, really good at it. My job is to set a vision and standards for everyone to follow. Then, I get out of the way.

I can say, with all humility, that seeing the good in people is one of my prouder traits. If you’ve spent more than a few hours with me, I’ve probably hugged you or told you I love you or both. Hell, I love you just for reading this and we’ve likely never even met.

Alas, that kind of blind, naïve adoration is anathema to scrutinizing professional talent. You can’t have it both ways and I’ve decided I’m okay with that tradeoff – scars and all.

People are awesome. They just can’t all work here.

Here’s what we’re seeing this week:

Waning consumer and investor confidence is becoming a thing. Both of our economic indices took a troubling dive in their latest readings. The PNC Investor Sentiment numbers fell for the second consecutive month, driven largely by investors’ concerns over trade with China and volatile equity markets. Our Economic Sentiment Index fell even more severely, showing the lowest level of consumer confidence we’ve seen in well over a year. All five metrics sunk for the first time in as long as I can remember. The only good news is that retail sales tend to lag our indices by about three months – so maybe holiday retail will escape unscathed. But maybe not.

Maybe Millennials would be more optimistic if they had a couple drinks every now and again. In one of the more persistent trends we’ve monitored over the years, Millennials continue to cut back on the booze. Most often, they’re citing health consciousness as the main reason but it’s also evident that marijuana consumption is munching away at it. Budgetary concerns are keeping 20 and 30-somethings out of the saloon too. As I’m writing at a bar in New York this very minute, looking at a $17 glass of house wine, I completely understand.

In other sobering news, people are really cynical about data privacy and security. Americans have become fully desensitized to all of the company data breaches in the news. They also expect them to become more prevalent and don’t believe anyone can do anything to stop it. In fact, only 5% of people say they feel very safe about their personal data and a whopping 73% aren’t even surprised when retailers or other companies announce news of a data breach. Basically, everyone has given up.

Orthodontia is on the rise among U.S. adults and I just found out today that orthodontia is a word. I’ve noticed more and more adults with braces these days and it looks like the data back that up. 11% of Americans have had some kind of orthodontic experience as a grownup and the numbers are climbing among younger generations. Obviously, access to health insurance is highly correlated with late-life dental fix-ups but my favorite correlation was job type. People in professional/management gigs – people like most of you – are the largest group, by far, to beautify their adult smile. No thanks. I couldn’t go through braces again. That sucked.

The Amazon-Whole Foods marriage had huge early returns but may have reached a plateau. The chart below shows the frequency of shopping at Whole Foods among Amazon Prime members going back to 2015. As you can see, the percentage of Prime members who frequently shop at WF jumped like crazy in the months following the acquisition. But those numbers seem to have held fairly steady since. One notable data point that our team wrote about this week is that the Amazon Prime Member still looks a lot more like a Trader Joe’s customer than a Whole Foods one. That seems to be a correlation Amazon will want to change.

Some Random (Game) Stats of the Week

  • 44% of people prefer playing cards, 39% board games, and 17% don’t like either (Boo!);
  • Favorite Board Game: Monopoly (36%), Scrabble (22%), Chess (12%), Life (7%);
  • Pick One: Chess (37%), Checkers (36%), Neither (27%);
  • Favorite Monopoly Token: Car (25%), Scottie Dog (24%), Battleship (15%), Hat (8%);
  • Favorite Card Game: Rummy (29%), War (10%), Go Fish (9%), Crazy Eights (7%).



Hoping you get to play some games this weekend.