Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sweet Bags o' Money!

Image result for pet halloween costumes 
We are going to spend over $8.4 Billion on Halloween this year. This is the total for all spending on costumes for adults, children, and pets. Plus the parties, the candy and the pumpkins. 

Adult costumes are expected to outsell children’s costumes, with spending reaching $1.2 billion and $950 million, respectively. And pet owners will drop $350 million on costumes for their animals. 

"Ethan" of Bedford-Stuyvesant poses for a photo as he "Trick or Treats" in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn on October 31, 2013 in New York City.

candy corn Linda Vital (L) passes out candy to halloween revelers as they stop at a private residence on Greene St. in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn to "Trick or Treat" in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn on October 31, 2013 in New York City.

bowl of halloween candy
10 Billion pieces of candy corn that will be produced this year. Candy corn was introduced by the Wunderlee Candy Company in the 1880s, before the Goelitz Candy Company (now Jelly Belly Candy Company) started making it in 1900. It has remained largely unchanged, except for the pace of its production: In the early years, its arduous creation process meant it was only available in the fall; now, with modern machinery, it’s available year-round.  

Americans will spend at least $3.1 billion on candy, according to the National Retail Federation (the National Confectioners Association puts the number slightly higher) with 71% of consumers surveyed saying they will be passing out some of the sweet stuff this year.

HALLOWEEN movie, 1978
$400 Million: this is the worldwide box office revenues for all 10 movies in the Halloween franchise. The original, released in 1978, was shot for $300,000 in just 20 days and took in $47 million at the box office (equivalent to around $99.1 million today), making it the highest-grossing independent movie ever at the time.

$300 Million is the worth of the haunted house industry. There are 2,500 haunted attractions worldwide, according to NBC News, and prices for entry range from $15 to $40. The larger haunted houses can earn between $2 million and $3 million a season.

An actor depicting a deranged homeless man living with rats in a New York City alley is seen inside Nightmare: New York, a haunted house for adults, in New York October 22, 2014.
1.5 Billion pounds of pumpkin is produced each year in the U.S., making it one of the country’s most popular crops. At the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze (pictured) in New York’s Van Cortlandt Manor, more than 7,000 hand-carved pumpkins line the grounds of the riverside estate.

Yes, we are setting a record for spending $8.4 Billion on Halloween this year. I wonder if Milton Hersey ever thought that his empire would become as big as it is today. 

Or if William Henry Atkinson the founder of the American Dental Association (established in 1859) would have thought that his organization would grow to more than 155,000 members.

The Hershey Company president and CEO J.P. Bilbrey (C) rings the NYSE Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange on October 31, 2014 in New York City.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

What's your favorite candy?

With Halloween just around the corner, thoughts of candy come to mind. If I asked you "what is your favorite candy?" how long would it take you to answer? I quickly named five. I am definitely a Almond Joy kinda guy. But I have been know to get a paper cut or two opening Reese's Peanut Butter Cup wrappers too fast. And I won't turn down a YORK Peppermint Pattie with the cool, refreshing taste of mint dipped in smooth dark chocolate.

Now, you can probably do the same with sports teams, cars, beer, food. It is probably easy to answer these questions, because we have been asked many times. What if I asked you this: what is your favorite charity? This seems to be a harder question to answer. At least, it is for me. 

Charity Navigator works to guide intelligent giving. I'm a fan, and in full disclosure, I donate my time and my money to the cause. 

By guiding intelligent giving, their aim is to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome our nation’s and the world’s most persistent challengesCharity Navigator was originally funded by the New York philanthropists, John and Marion Dugan, who believed that an unbiased charity evaluation tool needed to be created to help benevolent citizens make informed giving decisions. 

Charity Navigator has become the nation's largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. In our quest to help donors, our team of professional analysts has examined tens of thousands of non-profit financial documents. We've used this knowledge to develop an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system to assess over 8,000 of America's best-known and some lesser known, but worthy, charities.

Charity Navigator's rating system examines two broad areas of a charity's performance; their Financial Health and their Accountability & Transparency. Ratings show givers how efficiently a charity will use their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time and their level of commitment to good governance, best practices and openness with information. 

If you eat Halloween candy that has peanuts, and if you have a peanut allergy, you could find yourself in distress. You certainly would not want your child eating candy that would cause them harm. Maybe we need a "Charity Navigator" for candy?

Which charities qualify as “America’s 50 worst”? The Center for Investigative Reporting developed a methodology to compile the list that focused on those charities that, during the past decade, reported paying professional solicitation companies to troll for donations (groups with relatively few such fundraising campaigns or receiving  most of their funding from other sources were excluded from the analysis).  It’s a pretty horrifying and disgusting list. For example, Kids Wish spends less than three cents on every dollar raised to help kids, but has paid $4.8 million to the founder of the charity and his consulting firms. They are so abominable in their approaches that they truly give a bad name to the entire nonprofit sector.

Yes. I am a fan of the technology based evaluation systems that allows Charity Navigator to intelligently guide us. We want to make sure that our money is put to good use. After all, if we make a mistake, we have no one to blame but ourselves, right?  If there was only a "Charity Navigator" to guide us with true, accurate information for other key decisions in life. 

If there was only some way to get the facts - the true facts - when voting - for a piece of candy, or for supporting a charity. Or when donating money to a political party. Or when voting for the leader of the free world.    

It turns out that ALL CANDY is bad for you. There is NO GOOD CANDY. Some candy is better than others, but some candy, has nuts. 

And the nuts can kill you. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The time to get cloudy is before it gets cloudy

Matthew, the deadly storm that is spreading misery from the Caribbean to the Carolina coast, is no longer a hurricane. But it's still packing a powerful punch. The storm whipped North Carolina Sunday morning, causing "record-breaking" flooding and blowing powerful winds after killing at least 17 people in four states. As of 2 p.m. Sunday Matthew was about 150 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and heading east at 15 mph.

When a business has a loss of customer data, it might never recover. Any data loss could result in a loss of income. Missing one billing cycle can be enough to devastate a business. It is too late to preach to those who were in the path of Hurricane Matthew about backing up their business data, scanning paper documents, or moving phone and computer systems - moving a copy of everything - to the cloud.

Here on the east coast of the USA, we have been hit many times by severe storms in the past ten years. When a business suffers a loss of its records, its books, its data - this becomes the #1 reason for business to close its doors and never reopen.

This can all be avoided. Buildings can be rebuilt. Vehicles can be replaced. But once the data of a business is gone, it is gone forever.  

We live in a digital world. Our lives are now digital. Photos, contracts, records, anything on “paper” can be scanned, digitized and archived. This has been true for years. And yet, so many in business will have shuttered their doors before Matthew arrived, and they will never reopen when Matthew is just a bad memory. Over the next few weeks, companies all along the east coast of the USA will file for bankruptcy. All because they lost their data.

Hurricane Katrina – 2005
The Category 5 Hurricane Katrina by far tops this list. In the U.S., areas up and down the eastern seaboard felt Katrina. However, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and especially Louisiana were hit incredibly hard. The image of the levy breaking in New Orleans is one that will stay with many of us for a long time. Hurricane Katrina was not only the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, incurring about $108 billion in damage, but it was also the 5th deadliest, claiming approximately 1,833 deaths.

Hurricane Sandy – 2012
If you were on the east coast of the United States in October of 2012, you definitely felt at least some effects of Hurricane Sandy. New York and New Jersey residents felt the full impact of the storm, with much of Manhattan being evacuated and significant portions of the Jersey Shore being completely destroyed. While Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic storm season it was also the 2nd costliest hurricane in U.S. history. To date, Sandy has cost about $85 billion dollars, however the total cost is still being evaluated. Most of that cost is due to the 650,000 houses either damaged or destroyed by Sandy.

Loss of life is tragic during any Hurricane. But a storm can take the life of a business, too. Years ago, storms hit without warning. With the technology of today, we have advanced warning. We have time to prepare, time to get our families to safety. You can evacuate - but you cannot bring your business files with you. You cannot load filing cabinets into your car when you leave for higher ground.

Buildings can be replaced. Insurance policies can help a business to rebuild. But once your business data is gone, it is gone forever. It’s never coming back.

In business, some things can easily be replaced. 
Others, not so much.