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  • The Jazzy Cool One (aka, some guy named J.C. Payne), is a news producer with a news/talk radio station by day, and a passionate cheerleader for business and free enterprise the rest of the time.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Inappropriate Company Behavior Not Best Format For Team Motivation

You might want to check you employee handbook for clarification on inappropriate behavior. Apparently, getting a spanking in front of your coworkers can be considered embarrassing to some employees.

The spankings were a part of a voluntary team building program for the sales teams at Alarm One Inc., a home security company based in Anaheim, California, and were given to all workers indiscriminately--both male and female--along with wearing diapers, throwing pies and calling each other losers.

The spanking in question went to 53-year-old Janet Orlando, who quit her job after the exercise, alleging discrimination, assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress. She is suing for at least $1.2 million, and as her lawyer said in closing arguements:

No reasonable middle-aged woman would want to be put up there before a group of young men, turned around to show her buttocks, get spanked and called abusive names, and told it was to increase sales and motivate employees.

Alarm One officials ceased the practice in 2004, the year Orlando sued, after another employee complained of being injured, according to court records.

- Spanked employee seeks $1.2 million (CNN)

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Everyday Economist: LinkedIn Blog Blast Of The Week

The LinkedIn Bloggers have become a valuable resource to me, especially with the amount of information that can be gleaned from the huge and well-diversified knowledge base. One day, I hope to have gained enough knowledge to be a lot more creative in presenting the blog boost target for the week, but seeing as I have been hopelessly overworked at my day job in the last few weeks (more on that later...if i can find the time to write on it) and have missed many great blogs in the process, we're stuck with a blatant 'Here it is folks...'

And so, this week, they have randomly selected The Everyday Economist as the target for this week's blog boost. What you get from this site is true to the definition of the word, with post about various points of the overall theory as a social science, not just purely dealing in cash.

A topic of discussion that is about to be tackled is using game theory to explain why the U.S. went to war with Iraq, and it was opened by providing a explanation for game theory so basic that I might have actually passed econ the first time if I would have had it. Also check out the economy as God sees it, and how an Easter egg hunt can teach the principles of wealth distribution.

- The Everyday Economist

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Changes In The White House Could Shape Changes For Small Buiness & How 'Business' Is Done

A fair amount of reshuffling has occurred in the White House as Joshua Bolten has taken the reigns as the new Chief of Staff. A new head man is usually a good cover to move unwanted personnel out of positions of prominence and possibly out of the administration.

This is not what is being said by Hector Barreto, who is resigning from his position as the head of the Small Business Administration. Barreto will be taking a job as the head of the Latino Coalition, a small Hispanic advocacy group that has lent support to many of President George W. Bush's business and domestic initiatives. This is all a matter of good timing according to Barreto, who is proud of his time with the SBA and denies that criticisms of his agency or pressure by Bolten had anything to do with his resignation. The White House immediately announced plans to nominate Chicago business executive Steven C. Preston to take over the SBA. He is a senior vice president with ServiceMaster Company (NYSE:SVM).

But the big new of the day is Tony Snow. The as of this morning former Fox News Radio host and weekend anchor for Fox News Channel, two jewels of the News Corporation (NYSE:NWS) empire, is now the White House press secretary, taking over for Scott McClellan. Snow is taking a pay cut for the privilege of taking a beating from former colleagues, after getting a clean bill of health from his doctors for his cancer treatments. Rumors have it that when he agreed to take the position, he was promised special access to the President when shaping policy, and the right to revamp the role of his own office as he sees fit.

- Hector Barreto Resigns As SBA Chief (BusinessWeek)
- Bush Names Fox News Radio's Snow Press Secretary (Reuters)

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Black-Owned Businesses Growing

A report by the US Census Bureau released yesterday is singing the praises of Black Americans as entrepreneur. Black-owned businesses are among the fastest-growing segments of the American economy, with the number of black-owned businesses growing by 45 percent from 1997 to 2002, more than four times the national rate for all businesses. And just as important, revenues from black-owned businesses increased by 25 percent during the period, to about $89 billion.

It is also a testament to the spirit of small business. 92 percent of these businesses have no employees other than the owners. By comparison, about three-fourths of all US businesses have no employees.

The report is based on administrative records and a survey of 2.4 million businesses.

- Black-Owned Firms Growing At Fast Pace (Houston Chronicle)
- Black Entrepreneurship Expands (Boston Globe)

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Paul Allen Has "Come To Terms" With His NBA Franchise’s Losses

Losing money is a hard thing for a businessman to take. Especially if you are a billionaire, like Paul Allen, who made his billions as a co-founder of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) with Bill Gates.

Being able to own a professional sports franchise has to be one of the coolest things in the world, and Allen has two of them. But after purchasing the Portland Trailblazers in 1988, it has becoming painfully apparent that his NBA team isn’t returning to is glory days, and is going to continue to lose money.

Allen told The Oregonian newspaper in Los Angeles on Friday night that he has come to terms with selling the trailblazers and relieving himself of the burden of losing millions of dollars each year in futile efforts to keep his team afloat. The team has the worst record in the NBA this season, and is stuck with one of the worst contract situations with its home, the Rose Garden. While billionaire owners are always crying foul when it come to wanting public funds to help build facilities for their private franchises, the tactic seemed to work for Allen’s NFL franchise, the defending NFC Champs the Seattle Seahawks.

There was already plenty of heat from fans and financial trouble for Allen to deal with already in his sports ventures. He announced the official hunt for a buyer for The Sporting News magazine and syndicated radio network in February, which has suffered its share of problems with generating revenue and being dealt a mighty blow by the United States Department of Justice after agreeing in January to a $7.2 million settlement after being accused of promoting Internet gambling by taking advertisements for online casinos abroad.

Former Trail Blazers guard Terry Porter is currently the head of an Paul Allen-esque effort to round up potential investors interested in buying the team and the Rose Garden, in a effort to save the franchise and keep it in Oregon. Minus the billions in personal assets, of course.

- Allen Has ‘Come To Terms’ With Selling Blazers (MSNBC)
- Porter Trying To Assemble Group To Buy Trail Blazers (Yahoo! News)
- Sporting News Is Formally Seeking A Buyer (New York Times)
- All Bets Are Off, Online Anyway (Wired News)

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Friday, April 14, 2006

MSO & Macy's: Yes, Kmart Did Notice

In what may become a Friday tradition for Cool Corporate dot COM, Martha Stewart is the center of attention. In an update from last Friday's post 'Is M Diddy Putting Kmart On Notice,' the Chairman of Sears Holdings Corporation (SHLD), Edward Lampert, said this week that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.'s (MSO) plan to partner with the Macy's chain from Federated Department Stores (FD) does raise questions about the future of Martha Stewart Everyday merchandise and Kmart.

Omnimedia announced last week it was launching an exclusive line of home products in Macy's stores for a fall 2007 debut to make an appeal to more upscale clientele. Lampert gave a statement that while it seems like a business deal that makes a lot of since for their company, "it also shows you where their head is at."

Sears Holdings was formed last year when Kmart bought Sears, Roebuck & Company. The new company produced plans to share exclusive brands between the two chains, including longtime Sears staples such as Craftsman tools and Kenmore appliances. But a 'problematic' contract that predates the Sears buyout make it difficult to license Martha Stewart branded merchandise to competitors. Macy's and Sears are were viewed as closer competitors that Macy's and Kmart.

Lambert didn't come out and say that Martha's time on the Kmart shelves were coming to an end, but he did say that the Omnimedia contract with Kmart was "not that great," and made it no secret to his desire to renegotiate the terms. The current licensing deal expires in 2010.

- Sears Chairman Sounds Off Against Martha Stewart (Advertising Age)
- Martha Stewart's Macy's Deal Strains Sears Ties (Reuters)


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ali Sells His Good Name For $50 Million

Billionaire marketing entrepreneur Robert Sillerman thinks he's found the perfect product to market as the next big thing: Muhammad Ali.

Sillerman's company, CKX Inc. (NASDAQ:CKXE), has paid the champ $50 million for an 80 percent stake in the 64-year-old former heavyweight champion's name and likeness. It will be handled by an operating company to be named G.O.A.T. LLC, an acronym for "The Greatest of All Time."

In a world where Michael Jackson owns a chunk of the Beatles music catalog, its not such a strange thing to know that somebody literally owns you, or at least part of you, and is able to make good money on it.

More proof that an monster ego may be the greatest motivator ever known to man, Ali, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, is expected to work with CKX and G.O.A.T. to effectively market himself and the trademarks he owns, ensuring that all deals done in his name are still in his best interest. Anybody that would challenge that Muhammad Ali, despite the toll Parkinson's has taken on his body, is not still just sharp in the mind as he was in his fighting days deserves to go back in time and spar a few rounds with the old Cassius Clay.

Although you might question the company he will keep. CKX also holds the rights to the IDOLS television brand, which includes the show "American Idol," and the rights to Elvis Presley's marketing.

- What's In A name? Ali Knocks Down $50 million (Louisville Courier-Journal)
- $50 Million Puts Ali In Ring With Elvis and 'American Idol' (New York Times)

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

More On Elle Girl: Embracing Change Early

In an update to my post from last week, Elle Girl To Transform Into Online Only Magazine, we get a little insight on why print version Elle Girl magazine is going away in May, despite the magazine's progress this year in increasing ad pages by nearly 50% and its paid circulation almost 20%.

First a correction. Elle Girl is not a publication of American Media, Inc., which just shut down operations of Celebrity Living, Shape en Espanol and MPH magazines due to normal slump factors. Elle Girl belongs to Hachette Filipacchi Médias, who despite growth is getting rid of the paper mag and going to go online only, expanding its ellegirl.com web site.

While no one seem to know (or at least no one is willing to tell) whether it was a matter of turning a profit, Hachette Chairman and CEO wouldn't Jack Kliger says the move is a matter of keeping up with the teen lifestyle Elle Girl was aimed at, and their moving a away from paper and toward computers and PDAs.

He sees a move to more internet and digital content as extending his brands. Hachette is already making all its titles available on the Zinio digital distribution platform, and its forthcoming Shock magazine will depend in large part on Web and mobile content in addition to paper.

- Why Jack Kliger Killed The Successful Magazine 'Elle Girl' (Advertising Age)

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King Of All Media Now Missing 8-10 Million Followers

Howard Stern made such a big commotion over leaving terrestrial airwaves of CBS Radio to be available exclusively on Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. (NASDAQ:SIRI), that he was sued by his former bosses at Viacom, Inc. (NYSE:VIA) for using their medium to promote his exodus. The problem is, seems like nobody is winning in the end. Stern didn't sell to as many paying customers as he would have liked, and the two guys brought in to fill his shoes aren't living up to the half of hype they were supposed to share.

Stern long ago proclaimed himself the 'King of All Media,' and it was once a kingdom that commanded a national audience of 12 million daily listeners. Since his big jump to Sirius in January, he has lost quite a few subjects. A estimated 8 million to 10 million radio listeners nationwide don't want to pay a satellite subscription fee to get what they once got for free, and don't like the free replacements, David Lee Roth and Adam Corolla.

The listeners are currently living as radio morning show nomads, wandering the dial looking for someone to sell them something. In a time when terrestrial radio is already worrying about the sales of Apple Computer, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) branded iPods and other portable media players, and both Sirius and XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:XMSR) still in the debate as to whether they're profitable, 10 million non-committed customers could lead to that many or more headaches for media companies.

- Trying to Corral Stern's Lost Herd (LA Times)

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Is M Diddy Putting Kmart On Notice?

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (MSO) and Federated Department Stores (FD) have inked a deal that will get an exclusive line of Martha Stewart branded home goods on the shelves of Macy's Department Stores starting in the fall of 2007. Gaining access to a more upscale batch of clientele is a move that investors and analysts like and I'm sure Martha loves.

And if you're one to believe rumors, you may also believe that Martha has a thing for flexing her muscles to show just how much power a domestic goddess can wield. While I can't confirm she is getting any actual enjoyment from this business move, it does create a bit of a quandary for Kmart Stores and parent company Sears Holdings Corporation (SHLD), with their current licensing deal with Omnimedia ending in 2010.

As much as I do believe Martha appreciates the revenue that she earns from the masses that are keeping Kmart alive by buying Martha Stewart Everyday products, I see nothing wrong with shrewd business woman M Diddy not showing love for the shareholders that roll with Sears. If the Macy deal works out a little better than expected, and so good that loss of Kmart money can be mostly made up, why not focus on the upscale and force the average house wife to drive the extra 15 minute to go to the mall? They might not mind.

As Kmart fights for basic business survival and to keep some market share against the likes of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) and Target Corporation (TGT), having the exclusive lines from not only Martha Stewart, but brand names like Jaclyn Smith and Joe Boxer is key. What will it take to keep the Omnimedia powers that be happy, and ensure they keep the Everyday line on the Kmart shelves?

- The Martha-Macy's marriage: A good thing? (MSN Money)
- Martha, Macy's Ink Swank Household Goods Deal (Forbes)

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Elle Girl To Transform Into Online Only Magazine

American Media, Inc. is shutting down the operations of four of the magazines it publishes: Celebrity Living, Elle Girl, Shape en Español and the automobile magazine MPH. The company is also moving the operations of long standing supermarket tabloid, The National Enquirer, out of New York City and back Boca Raton, Florida. After about a year of operating in New York while trying to revamp the 'nutty' tabloid image of the Enquirer, the city was too deemed expensive of an environment in which to operate.

American Media Chairman and CEO David Pecker gave a statement that "the magazine industry is in a very challenging time for both advertising and circulation." While growing concerns from the companies creditors didn't help, the ultimate culprit is the crowded market that is the nature of the magazine industry. When you do business in a world where dozens of new magazines are launched each year when it is also expected that dozens are expected to fold, you might end up doing some of the folding.

But Elle Girl isn't going away as quietly as the others. The company plans to redesign the web site ellegirl.com, and continue to update it with editorial content. Elle Girl, the paper magazine, suffered from the same proliferation and success of the celebrity weeklies as its sister mag Celebrity Living did, but had the luxury of a little more history (started in 2001 as opposed to being launched last year) and having almost three times the circulation (600,000 to 225,000) to warrant the attempt at an second life. A limited life with much less fanfare, but a life.

- Elle Girl and Celebrity Living Will Shut Down (New York Times)

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Fortune 500: Someone New In The Top Spot

There is a new number one in the annual Fortune magazine's 500 list. Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM) has beat out Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT) for the top spot on the Fortune 500 list, which was released this morning. Exxon's top billing was based on rising oil prices that drove up the company's revenues, up 25 percent from the previous year, at 340 (b) billion dollars.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart had held the spot for four years, but at least for now has slipped to the number-two spot in the ranking of the nation's largest publicly traded companies. Wal-Mart, is still the world's largest retailer, and not to far behind Exxon with nearly 316 (b) billion dollars worth of revenues.

As a now Arkansas, I have to give props to many companies that fuel my state's economy that are staples of this list: Springdale-based Tyson Foods Inc (TSN), El Dorado-based Murphy Oil Corp(MUR), Little Rock based telecommunications company Alltel Corp (AT) and retailer Dillard's Inc (DDS). Lowell-based trucking company JB Hunt Transport Services Inc (JBHT), and Fort Smith-based trucking firm Arkansas Best Corp (ABFS) are two more companies of note making the magazine's top 1,000.

- Exxon Dethrones Wal-Mart On Fortune 500 (MSN Money)
- FORTUNE 500: A New Number One (CNN Money/Fortune Magazine)

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