How Would You Prefer to Get 1,000 Calories?

thickburger

I heard on the news today that Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s will have a new item on their menu starting May 20. The new item will be known as “The Most American Thickburger“.

Here is a description of the sandwich:

“… a beef patty topped with a split hot dog, Lay’s kettle-cooked potato chips, ketchup, mustard, tomato, red onion, pickles and American cheese. All of this inside a hamburger bun.”

To paraphrase from the Jake from State Farm commercial, it sounds hideous.

The Most American Thickburger packs a whopping 1,030 calories, 64 grams of fat, and 2,350 mg. of sodium. The price is expected to be $5.79.

Let’s compare this sandwich to what some people consider nature’s perfect food, the banana. One banana has about 100 calories, with 0.4 grams of fat and 1 mg. of sodium. So to get 1,000 calories, you would need to eat 10 bananas, giving you a total of 4 grams of fat and 10 mg. of sodium. I just bought some organic bananas today for about 30 cents each, so 10 bananas would have cost me about $3.00.

Banana

So for half the price of a Thickburger, you can get a much more nutritious meal (or really the equivalent of almost two meals since they are both about 1,000 calories). So much for those claims that eating healthy, organic food is expensive. Plus think of all the money you’ll save in medical bills as well by eating the bananas.

After hearing about the Thickburger, I decided to do a check of other unhealthy menu items. The Center for Science in the Public Interest puts out a list each year of the 10 worst menu items it has found. Here are a couple of highlights from the list:

Uno Chicago Grill’s Deep Dish Macaroni & 3-Cheese hits 1,980 calories (a day’s worth), 71 grams of saturated fat (3 1/2 days’ worth) and 3,110 mg of sodium (2 days’ worth). It’s like eating a Family Size box of Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese (serves five) with a stick of butter on top.

Cheesecake Factory’s Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake weighs in at three-quarters of a pound. What do you get for all that heft? Just 1,900 calories and 3 days’ worth of saturated fat (62 grams).

If you can stomach reading the rest of the list, here is the link.

It looks like the Most American Thickburger is poised to make it on to this top 10 list in its first year, but I don’t think any of the companies are proud of such a dubious distinction.

And if you decide to try one of these items, I don’t think you should be bragging about it either.

To your health,

GO VEGAN!

Commercial of the Week: Apple’s Think Different

thinkdifferent

The Apple Think Different commercial from 1997 has long been a favorite of mine.

The most recent book about Steve Jobs, “Becoming Steve Jobs” offers some background info on the ad, and notes that another version of the commercial was made with Jobs himself doing the voice-over. That was the version that was planned to be released, but Jobs decided that if the commercial used his voice then the focus might be more on him and not the message of the ad. The alternative version (the one shown above), with Richard Dreyfus, is the one that was aired.

Here is a copy of the one with Jobs, and I think you will agree that the Dreyfus one is much better.

If you are curious who the people are in the commercial, here is the list in order of appearance:

Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard Branson, John Lennon (with Yoko Ono), Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Ted Turner, Maria Callas, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Martha Graham, Jim Henson (with Kermit the Frog), Frank Lloyd Wright and Pablo Picasso. The commercial ends with an image of a young girl opening her closed eyes, as if making a wish. (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Here is the full text of the ad:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

(Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?)

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

The paragraph in parentheses was not part of the TV commercial, but it was part of the print ad. The words still get to me, just as much as the closing words, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish“, in Jobs’s classic commencement speech at Stanford.

If the commercial were remade today, then Jobs should certainly be added to those featured. After reading the latest book about Jobs, I am convinced that Jobs really did want to change the world, and he did it by thinking different.

Another Frivolous Lawsuit?

personal_respons

A University nursing student who twice failed to pass a required course has filed a federal lawsuit against the institution alleging she “broke down and wept more than once” during a final exam because her professor didn’t do enough to help her.

The student began her nursing program in 2010 with an existing predisposition that caused anxiety and depression, and throughout her time at the university she “experienced great anxiety as a result of her many challenges, both socially and academically, as well as medical issues with her family,” the lawsuit contends.

Her lawyer also noted that she struggled throughout the program, but appeared to be making progress towards her nursing degree, although with primarily below average grades.

In the spring of 2014, the student failed Functional Health Patterns of Adults IV, a required course that nursing students must pass with at least a C. She then took the course again that summer.

For the final exam that summer, the student was given some accommodations — she was allowed more time to complete the test and could take it in a “distraction-free environment,” according to the suit. The teacher also offered to allow her to ask questions during the test, the complaint says.

However, during the test, the student repeatedly called the teacher on her cellphone and got no response. Her lawyer states that the teacher’s failure to be available to during the examination created an even more stressful environment for the student, leading her to break down and cry.

In the end, the student did not receive a sufficient score to pass the course and graduate with a nursing degree.

The student filed suit this month alleging the University — along with the school President, the chairwoman of the nursing department, and the nursing professor — violated the Federal Rehabilitation Act and should be liable for unspecified damages in excess of $75,000.

There’s a few issues here.

First, I cannot imagine a teacher not doing whatever they can to help accommodate a student who has special needs, while still maintaining the integrity of the learning process.

Second, students need to do some personal reflection occasionally and ask themselves if what they are studying best matches their strengths. If this student already has anxiety and depression issues, and is earning below average grades in nursing courses, should she really be pursuing a nursing degree?

I would imagine the stress of actually being a nurse is greater than the stress of studying to be a nurse, and I doubt that her employer would be able to give her any accommodations that would be more helpful than what she received during college.

I also can’t imagine how difficult the national nursing licensing exam would likely be for this student, and the tremendous amount of stress that is going to cause her.

The college also needs to accept some responsibility (which they may have). With all of the data analytics that are available these days, I am sure it would be easy enough for college administrators to get periodic reports on struggling students. The college should offer counseling to such students, in the form of suggesting other majors, or setting periodic goals that the student must meet.

Perhaps the nursing program could set minimum GPA guidelines that need to be met each semester, and if they are not, then a student is put on probation. If the student does not get his or her grades above the minimum, then he or she can no longer be enrolled in that particular program.

Again, it may be that the college in question is already has such counseling and support programs in place.

But at the end of the day, at least based on what I have read so far, this is another case of someone not taking personal responsibility for their actions and performance.

I am not questioning the student’s work ethic; I assume that she is working as hard as she can, but maybe she’s just not working smart.

I understand wanting to pursue a dream, but if such pursuit is causing anxiety and depression, then you may need to look for other ways to achieve your dream. There are likely many options available to her if she wants to work in health care – perhaps as a CNA or a technician – that would not be as stressful as a nurse, but could still give the same sense of helping others.

I wish her the best, but I also hope that she drops her lawsuit. It’s time to move on.

(General) Doolittle Did a Lot, and So Have Many Others

doolittle

This is the eighth in a collection of newspaper ads from United Technologies that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. The link to the original ad is at the end of this post.

The ad is a tribute to General Jimmy Doolittle who at the time was promoted by Congress to the rank of full 4-star General (O-10) on the U.S. Air Force retired list.

I must admit when I went back to read this particular ad from 1985, I did not know who General Doolittle was. Names like Eisenhower, Patton, and MacArthur easily come to mind when I think of heroes of World War II, but Doolittle’s name did not ring a bell.

According to Wikipedia, Doolittle was an American aviation pioneer. He served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army Air Forces during the Second World War and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor and leadership as commander of the Doolittle Raid while a Lieutenant Colonel.

As I read through what he accomplished, I realized what an amazing man Doolittle was, and just as important to America’s success in the war as the previously mentioned men.

And so it made me wonder about other people who have accomplished great things, but may not be as well known for their efforts as others.

I am currently reading “Becoming Steve Jobs”, another fascinating look at one of my heroes. However, the book also looks at other people who were just as critical in helping Apple stage its amazing comeback in the late 1990s. For example, have you ever heard of Fred Anderson?

Fred became the CFO at Apple in the mid-1990s, and had primary responsibility for getting Apple on stable financial footing. Doing so enabled the company to begin executing on its strategic plan. Without that stability, it is likely Apple would have never survived those difficult times.

Another example I recall was being at the funeral for a father of one of my friends. As I listened to the eulogy, I was amazed at how much this person had accomplished, and I had no idea about any of it.

I’m slowly learning that everyone has a story, and the better I can learn and acknowledge such stories, the richer my life will be.

Here is the United Technologies ad that inspired this post.

Happy Mothers’ Day!

happymothersday

I’ve been blessed knowing many great women in my life; my mom, my two sisters, my aunt, teachers, friends, and best of all, my wife.

All of them have played a key role in my life, and for that I am grateful.

I am glad that there is a day meant to honor them, and so I just want to take a moment to wish all of them a Happy Mothers’ Day.

By the way, as I wrote about previously, I’m not sure if that is a picture of a rose or a carnation

Reader Comments and Questions

youvegotmail

It’s been a while since I’ve answered reader’s emails, and as a result they have really piled up. I’ll try to answer a few here that may be of most interest to my readers, and I apologize if I cannot respond to your email personally.


Dear Blogger,
Heplo everyone, it’s my first pay a quick visit at this website, and post is really fruitful in favor of me, keep up posting such articles. Also visit my homepage:
Most greatfully, Dmitri

Dear Dmitri,
Thank you for your words kind and for your encouragement me. I’m glad you found the post about personality types fruitful in favor of you.


Dearest Jim,

It was great seeing you today! I was hoping you could do me a favor. Would you be able to give a shout out to my new movie that comes out this week?
Sincerely, Anna K. (Pitch Perfect 2)

Dearest Anna,
No problem. I can’t say enough good things about your new movie; I know it will be another big hit, and I encourage all of my readers to go see it later this week. And thanks again for inviting my wife and I to the premiere, we had a great time!


Dear Borden,
The intruder was “tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave. I learnt to identity the symptoms of the “psychic flu” several decades ago. The developer announced on Friday that they reached the milestone number last month.
Signed, Chris Brown

Dear Chris, Are you drunk texting again?


Dear Jim,

Seth Godin and I were hoping that you could give a brief talk at our upcoming conference that will focus on how to successfully blog on a daily basis. We thought we could use your blog as an example of how not to do things.
Signed, Fred Wilson

Dear Fred (and Seth),
I would be honored to do so. I also want to make you aware that I give seminars on “How Not to Run a Personal Training Studio”,”How to Attract a Massive Twitter Following“, or “How to Put a Group of High Energy College Students to Sleep in Less Than 10 Minutes” (hint – it’s got something to do with accounting). Please let me know if you would be interested in any of these other topics.

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”

vessyl

The quote is from Ken Olsen, the founder, and at the time of the quote, chairman of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).

This statement was made in 1977, and is often repeated to show how far off predictions about technology and the future have been. There are several other such statements like this, a list of which can be found here.

The problem with the list, as the article notes, is that none of the statements were actually ever made, except for the one by Olsen, and as the author points out, even then Olsen’s statement was taken out of context.

Olsen made the comment during a talk at a 1977 meeting of the World Future Society in Boston. However, he was not referring to what we think of as “personal computers” today, but rather the concept of powerful central computers that controlled every aspect of home life; turning lights on and off, regulating temperature, choosing entertainments, monitoring food supplies and preparing meals, etc.

Olsen clarified that point to Digital historian Edgar H. Schein for Schein’s 2003 history of Digital:

“As Olsen explained to me at length and attempted to make clear, he thought it would be unacceptable to have the computer in the home controlling everything. Why would anyone want that? He did not object to the concept of a PC at all . . .”

So while Olsen’s quote was taken out of context with respect to the modern PC, it seems like we are certainly heading in a direction that will actually make his 1977 prediction completely wrong.

Smart homes and home automation systems are becoming much more common today. Appliances, lights, home security, thermostats, and entertainment systems that can be controlled by a PC, tablet, or smartphone are featured in many smart homes.

My guess is that Olsen would admit that he did not foresee such developments, and would likely be an early adopter of such technologies.

However, just because you can connect something to a network or the Internet, doesn’t mean you should.

Christopher Mims had a great story in the Wall Street Journal the other day titled “Dumb ‘Smart’ Gadgets: The Bubble Is Set to Burst“. In the article, Mims points out many of the devices that have been created under the broad category of “The Internet of Things”.

Here are some examples of such “smart things”: socks, toothbrush, plate, cup, fork, cutting board, stove knob, jump rope, shoes, shirt, aquarium, frying pan.

One of the specific products mentioned by Mims is Vessyl, a smart cup that can instantly recognize what beverage you pour into the cup. Stephen Colbert has a great satire on the virtues of the Vessyl. While the technology behind such an invention is incredible, I am not sure of how broad its appeal will be to individual consumers.

Todd Lemmon and Andy Bobrow have even created a web site that tracks these types of smart devices, called We Put a Chip In It, with the tagline “It was just a dumb thing. Then we put a chip in it. Now it’s a smart thing.”

One final device worth mentioning that is also highlighted in the WSJ article is the world’s first smart detector of the gas that we pass. That’s right, there’s a device (known as CH4) that you can clip on to your back pocket that will measure your gases and tell you what foods to avoid.

It seems like such a product is something Google would have dreamed up for April Fool’s Day, but it seems real, and here’s the Kickstarter campaign.

I can’t imagine the fun Saturday Night Live will have with such a product. It seems like the perfect companion to the classic remote controlled fart machine. (And just imagine the possibilities if you could create a smartphone controlled fart machine!)

fartmachine

I think if Olsen were alive today, he may have modified his famous quote a bit by saying, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in everything he uses in his home. That would be dumb.”

And he would be oh so right.

 

Read to Lead

winnersdream

For the past several years, the Villanova School of Business (VSB) has selected a book for the incoming freshmen to read over the summer. The program is known as the Read to Lead program, and the cost of the books is generously funded by EY, one of the Big 4 public accounting firms.

Examples from the Read to Lead book are then integrated into the Intro to Business course all business students take during their first semester. Such an approach enables students to see the practical applications of the concepts that are being studied in class.

Here is the list of the books that have been used in the Read to Lead program:

  • Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time
  • Googled: The End of the World as We Know It
  • Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose (Zappos)
  • Start Something That Matters (Tom’s Shoes)
  • Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business (Whole Foods)
  • Wawa: How a Funny name and Six Core Values Revolutionized Convenience

If you haven’t heard of Wawa, then just imagine what the ultimate convenience store would be like, and that’s Wawa. It’s better than 7-Eleven, Sheetz, or any regional convenience store chain you can think of. It’s a Philadelphia based chain, with stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida. If you ever visit the Philly area, then Wawa has to be on your list of places to visit.

The book that we have selected for this year’s incoming freshmen is “Winners Dream: A Journey From Corner Store to Corner Office” by Bill McDermott, current CEO of software giant SAP, Inc.

The book tells the story of Bill’s career path, starting at 17 years old with his purchase of a deli while still in high school and then running the store until he graduated college. After college, Bill joined the sales team at Xerox, where he stayed for 17 years, becoming the company’s youngest executive vice president. He then left Xerox to serve as president at Gartner, Inc., followed by a job at Siebel Systems as executive VP of worldwide sales and operations. He then joined SAP as CEO of SAP America, became co-CEO in 2010, and was named CEO in 2014.

It is a remarkable story, and Bill shares many of the defining moments of his life with the reader, as well as useful words of advice for success in sales, business, and life. The faculty are confident that the students will find the book informative and enjoyable to read.

One interesting side note is that Bill’s grandfather was Bobby McDermott, a professional basketball player considered by many to be the greatest long-distance shooter in the history of the game.

It looks like we may also have the book chosen for the following year – “Do the KIND Thing” by the founder of the KIND Healthy Snacks company, Daniel Lubetzky. This is an inspiring story of the struggles and successes of being an entrepreneur and wanting to make a difference.

 

 

Forget about Flash Crashes, Flash Mobs Are Way Cooler

flashmob

Today is the five year anniversary of when U.S. stock markets experienced unprecedented price volatility, known as a flash crash. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 600 points in less than five minutes, but 20 minutes later had recovered most of that 600 point loss.

Navinder Singh Sarao, a trader from the U.K,  is accused of masterminding a stock market spoofs scam which triggered the 2010 flash crash, and currently faces extradition to the U.S. over allegations of wire fraud, commodities fraud, and market manipulation.

Fortunately safeguards have been put in place to hopefully protect from similar flash crashes in the future, so something positive has come out of the experience.

But enough about flash crashes, let me talk about something much more enjoyable, flash mobs. Flash mobs have been around for a little over 10 years, the first one occurring at a Macy’s in New York City in 2003.

According to Wikipedia, a flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, before quickly dispersing. There has been some debate about whether the term flash mob should be applied to events and performances organized for the purposes of politics (such as protests), commercial advertisement, publicity stunts that involve public relation firms, or paid professionals. In these cases of a planned purpose for the social activity in question, the term smart mobs is often applied instead.

I don’t really care what name is applied to such gatherings. To me, flash mobs are just fun to watch. It does seem like they are not as popular as they once were (I haven’t seen a video of a good flash mob in a while), so I thought I would share a couple of my favorite flash mob videos.

The first video is of 200 people taking over Antwerpen’s Centraal Station in Belgium dancing to the song Do Re Mi from the Sound of Music. The video turned out to be a publicity stunt for a reality show, but it does not diminish the pure joy that one experiences when watching the video.

The second flash mob video took place much closer to home, in fact it was filmed where I work, Villanova University. The song in this video is Katy Perry’s Firework, and features not only several Villanova students, but also the President of the University, Father Peter Donohue, and Jay Wright, the coach of the men’s basketball team. You may recognize Coach Wright, and it won’t be hard to pick out Father Peter either:)

The video was filmed in conjunction with the University’s new campaign to tell the Villanova story, using the slogan “Ignite Change, Go Nova”

If you look hard enough in the background, you may see me in my office, hunched over a laptop, grading cash flow statements prepared by my students. I can’t imagine why I wasn’t invited to take part in the flash mob…

And one final video, also from Villanova, is of the Harlem Shake. This craze seemed to replace flash mobs, and while they may not be as well planned out as the flash mob videos above, some of them are still fun to watch.

The Harlem Shake craze seems to have died out as well, so I’m looking forward to whatever the next flash mob thing will be. Perhaps it will be large groups of people doing the Cups song

 

 

 

Is This Any Way To Run a Business?

waiting

Yesterday, my Aunt had a doctor’s appointment at 4:00, and we made sure to arrive at the right time for this visit. The first thing we noticed was how crowded the office was, and my Aunt asked the receptionist if it was usually this busy, and she said yes. My Aunt then asked if there was going to be a delay, and the receptionist said that the doctor was about an hour behind.

I appreciated the honesty from the receptionist; she could have just said, “He’s a few minutes behind schedule.” That still doesn’t make it right or any less annoying, but an hour wait is doable.

Well 5:00 came and went, as did 5:30, and 6:00. Finally, at 6:05, my Aunt was called into one of the treatment rooms.

Now I understand that delays are common in other situations, like waiting for the cable guy, or a repairman, or an airline to take-off. But at the same time, those professions/industries are also generally ridiculed by the public for their poor customer service.

But I think a doctor should be held to a higher standard, and that there is no excuse for falling that far behind in your schedule. I understand that emergencies may crop up, but that did not appear to be the case yesterday.

I really can’t say what the problem was, but it seems like the situation could be easily fixed. If, as the receptionist told us, the office is like this every Monday, then something should be done to change that. Schedule fewer appointments, or make more realistic appointment times.

I also felt bad for the office staff. The women working in the office were quite nice, but it appeared as if they had to stay until the final patient was finished. We didn’t get out of the office until 7:00, even though the posted office hours are 8:00-5:00.

So my Aunt was there for a total of three hours, of which 15 minutes was spent with the doctor.

Now the doctor seems to be a nice guy, and the treatment he provided to my Aunt seemed to be effective, but I think there is more to being a doctor than just medical skill.

The following is from a modern version of the Hippocratic Oath:

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

And in this case, a sincere “Sorry I made you wait” from the doctor to my Aunt could have made yesterday’s experience so much better.

Like I said earlier, the solution to many problems is often pretty simple.