I really don’t envy all of you VIPs. How many emails, LinkedIn messages, and phone calls do you get from people trying to sell you something every day? It must be awful.

At least a dozen people hit me up on an average business day and I’m nobody compared to you. I used to respond to all of them – for karma’s sake – but now I’m drowning.

It’s particularly annoying when people do zero homework about me or my business. Do most CEOs oversee software outsourcing, HR services, and trade magazine ads? If they do, I’m a total slacker because I don’t do any of that here.

Or these:

  • The lead-gen gurus asking me to connect them with the best person in my company to discuss their services. If you’re that awesome at sales, shouldn’t you be able to do that on your own?
  • The survey panel companies selling access to their network of paid panelists. We not only compete with you – we actively disparage your methodology. It’s literally front-and-center on our homepage.

Two years ago, I banished cold-calling at our company. At best, it had an extremely low probability of success. At worst, it was doing inestimable damage to our brand by getting on people’s nerves. If you want to make sure I NEVER buy your shit, call my cell phone over and over again. I don’t care if you’re peddling half-priced Hamilton tickets. You’re dead to me.

To all of my client-side friends, I apologize for my fellow vendors and business-starters. Most of us believe deeply in our capabilities and genuinely think you would be better off with them. Nobody likes being a pest or having emails ignored but payroll and sales quotas need to be met. Investors need to be satisfied. I know that’s not your problem. Sadly, there’s just no better way.

For now, I’ll just keep writing this email every week and hoping something piques your interest. I’ll take your call, I promise.

Especially if you have cheap Hamilton tickets.

Here’s what we’re seeing this week:

The idea that Google is rigging search results for political reasons is asinine, just stop. We have so much data to explain why left-leaning content might percolate to the top of search rankings, it would take me three Saturdays to write about it. Just know that most Americans are not right-leaning, relatively speaking. The right-leaners only tend to vote more regularly and organize better – and use the internet less. You know Google is too smart to let politics get in the way of the rocket ship they’ve built.

One company that’s smarter than you realize is Arby’s. It wasn’t long ago that the only time I heard Arby’s name was when Jon Stewart skewered them regularly on The Daily Show. And, when they went public with their Ving-Rhames-voiced “We Have the Meats” campaign, most people laughed it off. Then the company rattled off 25 straight quarters of same-store-sales growth. Did they win over a ton of new fans? Maybe a little. But they definitely locked down the fans they do have and steadily chipped away at the stigma surrounding the brand. One thing that’s certain in our brand data today: It’s more important to NOT be disliked than to be loved. Love is fickle. Hate is forever. (PS– Arby’s gyro is killer. PPS– No, they’re not a client)

Don’t jump to any conclusions about Amazon’s initial success with Whole Foods, at least yet. Bloomberg published a provocative article this week citing data that Whole Foods is stealing foot traffic from Trader Joe’s and others. Our data seems to confirm that. But we also think the results have been more mixed. While favorability toward the brand has indeed climbed in the past several months, so too has negative sentiment. It seems that new people are walking into Whole Foods but not everyone loves it when they do. Does that matter? See: Arby’s.

Millennials are more likely than past generations to talk about money with their friends. One interesting outcome of the social media age could be that younger people are just more comfortable sharing everything. Millennials are over twice as likely as Boomers to talk finances with their peers. It’s still a small group, but it could unlock new opportunities for banks and investment firms to harness the evangelism of their happiest customers. Incidentally, the same study found that 19% of married couples don’t talk about money with each other. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.

News Flash: People are much more likely to like their boss if they’re paid well. When your team starts publishing a string of studies about unkindness in the workplace and asshole bosses, it does make you a little paranoid, I must admit. The good news is that 58% of people (more here, I hope) like their direct manager “a lot.” The bad news is 42% don’t. Women are more likely to dislike their boss, as are Baby Boomers. People in operations or sales gigs have the least favorable opinion of their managers. And, in the least-surprising-data-ever department, the higher income people make, the more they dig their manager. Money can buy admiration.

Minimalism is an important emerging trend to watch. You should read this little study for yourself – or just take my word for it – but over 1 in 3 U.S. adults either currently consider themselves a minimalist (10%) or aspire to be one (25%). This is particularly true among women and Millennials, driven largely by environmental and economic concerns. Given that those are the two biggest and most important consumer groups in our country right now, I probably should have made this the first topic of this email, not the last.

Some Random Labor Day Stats

  • 63% of people consider summer to be over after Labor Day;
  • 44% say the best part of Labor Day is the extra day off;
  • 21% say the best part of Labor Day is the short work week after;
  • 26% of people did some binge-watching last Labor Day weekend;
  • 60% of people say they’re ready for it to be fall.

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, I hope it’s awesome.


In case you’re wondering, this is an informal email I write to CivicScience clients, friends, and other VIPs every Saturday morning. If you’re getting this, you’re either one of those people or were referred to me by one of them. I always love your comments and feedback.

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