Sunday, January 30, 2022

REAL Snake Oil

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

"Snake Oil" has long been shorthand for flimflam, and "snake oil salesman" has been a nickname for someone who is a trader in lies and false cures. The origin of the term dates back to the California Gold Rush. 

Snake Oil - Those two words illicit an immediate response of fraudulent hucksters, traveling salesman with dubious morals, and a host or other suspicious characters, hawking questionable wares across the United States. Today, calling someone a snake oil salesman is the equivalent of calling them a liar, a charlatan, peddling too-good-to-be-true products or ideas to make a quick buck. 

However, Snake Oil is and was a REAL product, and some scientists today acknowledge that it might work to cure bodily ills. Wait, what?

During the 1800s, Chinese immigrants came to the USA to find work. They brought with them their families, their culture, and their medicines. One medicine was snake oil. It came from the Chinese Water Snake, and this particular snake was very rich in omega-3 acids. These acids have been known to help with things like arthritis and other muscle and joint pain. The Chinese immigrants working on the railroad would have been exhausted and probably incredibly sore. The perfect cure? Chinese Water Snake Oil! Wow. This stuff actually worked, due to the omega-3 acids. Go figure!

Know what did not work? Snake Oil from Rattlesnakes. No omega-3 acids. Rattlesnakes only have a little over four percent of the acids. Salmon, which is far easier to procure and much easier to handle, have about eighteen percent omega-3 acids. 

SO: snake oil itself (the good stuff from Chinese Water Snakes) is a great remedy in traditional Chinese Culture, its benefits have been lost when slimy salesman said that "any old snake would do" because - actual Chinese Water Snakes were hard to find in California. But they had lots of Rattlesnakes!!! 

SO: Snake Oil went from Chinese Water Snake Oil (that actually worked) to Rattlesnake Oil (that did not work) to Snake Oil that does not even have any Snake Oil in it at all! Clark Stanley's Snake Oil Liniment - produced by Clark Stanley, the "Rattlesnake King" - was tested and proved to contain: mineral oil, 1% fatty oil, capsaicin from chili peppers, turpentine, and camphor. Nothing from snakes, Chinese or otherwise. 

Land the plane, Tom.......

In the news today is the massive media blow-up of Joe Rogan vs. The World. The debate of "my science is better than your science" is being fought in the public square. Podcaster Joe Rogan got paid $100 million when he signed an exclusive multiyear contract with Spotify. It's always about the money, right? There is a great article here: Why Spotify picked Joe Rogan over Neil Young in its misinformation fight. 

So what to do? 

Controversial comments drive eyeballs. Spotify made a risk vs. reward decision (in the moment) where dropping Rogan vs. Neil Young was all about the numbers. But this could all change if this turns into a movement and Team Neil Young recruits others to leave Spotify. As of this blog, there seems to be such a movement to dump Spotify. Let's see the power of the free market, vs. the power of the soapbox. Funny how ANOTHER decision will be made because of money, not because of truth, or because of science or because of better facts. If Spotify stock price tanks, say good-bye to Joey Rogan. Anyone remember "The New Coke" marketing disaster and then, Coke's embarrassing about face years ago? 

Snake Oil actually used to work. Then, Snake Oil stopped working (due to using the wrong snake). Then it REALLY stopped working (due to using no snakes at all). 

Fox News. Facebook. YouTube. The problems of misinformation (on purpose, or by accident) has been around since Chinese Water Snake Oil sales in California. The thing that changed, was the size of the soapbox

The power of the podcast and global reach of the Internet and main stream media (soapbox) is what changed everything. 

The Pure Food and Drug Act was passed in 1906. It was passed for a reason. There was no Internet and certainly no smartphones in 1906. Might be time to rethink things, due to the power of Fox News, OAN, Facebook, YouTube, and of course, The Joe Rogan Experience: 2022. 

"If I only had a bigger Soapbox"

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Do you have any Sanka?

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

We were watching the comedian Sebastian Maniscalco last night on Netflix. He was talking about having "company" come over. In the comedy bit, he talked about how every household would have "Sanka" in the pantry, waiting for company, and waiting for the company to ask: "Do you have any Sanka?"  

YES! Why yes, OF COURSE we have Sanka! 

There are two kinds of people in the world today. Those who will say "Oh, yeah... Sanka!" And those who will say "What the heck is Sanka?" 

Decaffeinated coffee was developed in 1903. The brand name Sanka was derived from the French words sans caffeine (without caffeine) and the brand came to the United States and first marketed in the U.S. in 1923. Sanka was initially sold at two Sanka Coffee Houses in New York, but Sanka was soon brought into retail. 

Intense American advertising started in 1927 with radio broadcasts of Sanka After-Dinner Hour. Sanka was a sponsor of I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone and The Andy Griffith Show. James Bond drank Sanka in Live and Let Die. Sanka was mentioned in an episode of Seinfeld in which Jerry, Elaine and George all order Sanka from different cafes. Tony Soprano drank Sanka. And now, in the Netflix series Cobra Kai season 2 episode 1, Johnny says "...and bring me a cup of Sanka, red hot...just like you, doll face." 

I checked, and you can still buy Sanka on Amazon. And Walmart. I bet they have Sanka at our local stores, as well. I'll check. In the 1970s there were 300+ brands of coffee sold in the America, and Sanka was number three out of three hundred. 

Where are you going with this, Tom?

How does a product go from a major brand, something that is on every radio station, every popular TV show, a product that is #3 in its market, to something that a comedian puts in their comedy bit?

"Do you have any Sanka?" from Sebastian Maniscalco makes the crowd howl with laughter. It seems that Sanka was in EVERY RESPECTABLE HOUSEHOLD in America just a few years ago. Today, not so much. Today, Sanka is a punchline. Even asking for Sanka is the setup for a joke in today's media. 

Today, there is no Sanka in our house. I have no memory of Sanka EVER being in our house - but Sanka WAS in our house when I was growing up. When I was a kid growing up in Cedar Grove, New Jersey we were the "We've got company!" family in the Maniscalco comedy bit. 

2022: Sanka was renamed Maxwell House Sanka and sold as a part of the larger, more popular line of Maxwell House coffees that include Colombian, French Roast and Cappuccino products. The original formula for Sanka was NOT changed. 

Here is the point of today's Sunday blog: How does a BRAND go from being the #3 coffee out of 300+ in the country, to being the butt of a joke?  There are hundreds of Sanka Jokes on the Internet: What kind of coffee did they serve on the Titanic? Sanka

To all of my CMO friends out there - what happened to Sanka? I say The Sanka Chronicles should be a Harvard School of Business Marketing Case Study. 

"Sanka Decaffeinated Instant Coffee delivers superb flavor without the caffeine. This decaffeinated coffee is 99.7% caffeine free, so you can relax and rest easy. Add one teaspoon of Sanka decaffeinated instant coffee to 6 fluid ounces of boiling water and stir. Sanka!" ~ Thomas Capone, CEO

Cool. Now I'm a product spokesman for Sanka, just like James Bond and Tony Soprano. 

But this morning, I'll have "a Nespresso" thanks to brand spokesman George Clooney. Alas, there is (still) no Sanka in our house. And we all know, it's not coffee........ it's NESPRESSO. 

Sanka Commercial 1970s - The 3rd Largest Coffee in America!

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Choking Hazards

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

A choking hazard is any object that could be caught in a child's throat blocking their airway and making it difficult or impossible to breathe. 

10 Choking Hazards for Babies and Toddlers are whole grapes, hard candies, taffy, gum, nuts, seeds, popcorn, peanut butter and raw vegetables and cookies. 

Toys, household items and foods can all be a choking hazard for a young child. The most common cause of nonfatal choking in young children is food. At least one child dies from choking on food every five days in the USA. More than 12,000 children are taken to a hospital emergency room each year for food choking injuries. 

What size is a choking hazard in children? 

Avoid marbles, coins, balls, and games that are 1.75 inches (4.4 centimeters) in diameter or less because they get stuck in the throat above the windpipe and make breathing difficult. 

Are wooden blocks a choking hazard? Well, yes - if splinters off wooden blocks are not smoothly finished. Choking on small parts of building block sets or on broken parts of brittle plastic blocks. You can also get cuts from the sharp edges of broken brittle plastic blocks. 

How wide is a 3 year old's esophagus? Well, the opening is slightly wider than a quarter, or about the width of two fingers. Some parents use a toilet paper roll tube as a practical alternative to a small parts tester. If it fits down the tube, it's too small. 

Where are you going with this Tom?

Well, is there ANYTHING that I said so far that you would call fake news? Is there anything that I said so far that you could twist into a political argument? Is there anything about child choking hazards that should be (could be) blocked, or hidden or twisted into misinformation

Again: At least one child dies from choking on food every five days in the USA.

Fact. Not fake news, sadly

Now ask yourself: regardless of your political affiliation, regardless of your age, your religion, is there ANYTHING I said so far in this Sunday Blog that you would take offense? Is there anything in this blog that you would not share immediately with a new parent, or someone that you cared about? Is there anything in this blog that should not be read by everyone in the USA?

Or, are there people out there fighting for their FREEDOM! Don't tell me what my kid can put in his mouth! Don't push your science or research on me! I'll decide what my kid can and cannot eat, or play with! Fake Science! You are anti-toy! You are anti-grape!!!! 

My guess, is that there are very (very) few people who are Pro-Choking Hazard in the USA. What do you think? 

So why does SCIENCE and RESEARCH make so much sense, and feel so right for combating Childhood Choking, and not for combating a pandemic? 

I guess we should just be thankful that the Anti-Anti-Choking coalition never took hold in this country, am I right? 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Batteries, Bulbs, Blogs and Bucks

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

When the kids were little, we always made sure that we had plenty of batteries around the house during the holidays and birthdays. Because it was always a mood killer when one of the boys got a cool toy that they cannot use because the batteries were not included. Ah, but how many batteries should we stockpile?

Well, it was always more than five, but less than fifty. In other words, it was never imagined that we would EVER need more than FIFTY batteries in a single day.

And, hording batteries is not a good idea, because having MORE than you could ever need, does not give you an incremental peace of mind. MORE batteries in the junk drawer in the kitchen did not help anything. And, the money spent on hoarding batteries could be spent on something else, something more useful. And, batteries will slowly lose their power when sitting in the junk drawer. So the rule became: more than five, less than fifty. 

Similar but different rules for light bulbs. In our house, we don't have a major surplus of light bulbs in storage. In our house, we have normal light bulbs, low voltage bulbs, and some lights where they are fancy, high intensity floodlights. "Hey, the light is out in the master bedroom shower". Well if we don't have THAT BULB, we can take the bulb out of the guest bathroom, swap them out, and then put on the shopping list: light bulbs. Very low stress transaction. Now, the light bulb for the floodlight on the deck is expensive. And the package says lasts for 1,000+ hours guaranteed. And it is long, not round, so technically is it even a "bulb" at all? We never have spares for the deck floodlight. None. Damn, is it light bulb or lightbulb???

Spoiler Alert: you are currently reading my Sunday Blog. I was on a Seth Godin LinkedIn Live session yesterday, at noon - on Saturday. There was around 3,000+ attending LIVE. At noon. On a Saturday. But the recording of the session is now available. What is the difference between attending LIVE, vs. watching the archive? I predict that there is a small percentage of people who attended the LinkedIn LIVE yesterday (a Saturday) AND they will watch the archive of that LinkedIn LIVE AGAIN

I noticed that the New York Times just charged my card (again) $17 for my monthly access to their online subscription. I cannot remember the last time I actually used it. 

Then I started to think about money. You know, bucks. Is money more like batteries or light bulbs or blogs? Don't even get me started on podcasts. 

Money seems to be more like batteries. If you have MORE than you can possibly need or use, having EXCESS will not produce additional peace of mind. And, the time you spend acquiring the surplus could be spent on something more useful (your family, your health, your community). And, the surplus dollars will slowly lose their buying power while sitting in storage. The world needs more George Bailey, less Mr. Potter. 

OK, land the plane Tom...

It's all about time. Not money. Time is the only measure that matters. How much TIME it takes to run to the store (on a Christmas morning?) to buy batteries for the toys. Or to get the light bulbs for the bathroom or the deck floodlight. You cannot read two blogs at once. If you are reading THIS right now, you are NOT reading someone else's blog - right now. It's impossible. 

How many audio books do you have in your Audible library? How many blogs enter your inbox every day? How many subscriptions do you pay for, and then never use? 

Everything, everything, EVERYTHING is about Time Management. Not money management. Time. You can make more money, you cannot make more time. And Leadership is about Options Management. Good leaders help their people make the best possible decisions, on what and where to spend - their TIME. 

There is a cool Navy SEAL saying: "Two is one and one is none". In other words, have two knives, one is a backup. Have two guns, one is a backup. Have two of anything important, because if you only had ONE and lose that are toast. So, two is one and one is none makes good sense. But not twenty - just two. This idea simply emphasizes the importance of a backup plan. That having one of something is like having none at all and that having two of anything is the same as what you think having one is.

OH TOM! You can never have too much money! 

OK Google: how many hours are in 72 years (the average life expectancy) 

631,139 hours. That is how much time you have to make the money - to then - buy the batteries, the light bulbs, read the blogs or listen to those Audible books. And don't even get me started on listening to podcasts. You can always make more money, but you cannot (ever) make more time

Batteries, Bulbs, Blogs and Bucks: it's all really about time management. 

OK, see you right here next Sunday! Now, please excuse me while I go cancel that New York Times subscription. I can use that $17 to buy... well, not light bulbs. Or batteries. 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

One, Two, Twenty Twenty Two

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

I am told via the Twitterverse that 2022 is the only year that will have 3 numbers the same, until 2111. So that is 89 years from now. Cool. 

And then, I thought: Hey - I won't be here for that. And my wife and kids will not be here for that! And that was slightly depressing. Slightly distressing, dreary, gloomy, dispiriting, disheartening, discouraging, upsetting and even somewhat sad. I said out loud "OK Google, what are the SYNONYMS for depressing? And you can see the Googleverse response above.

And then, THAT response made me pause, reflect and then ask: "OK Google: what are the ANTONYMS for depressing?

Bright, cheerful, comforting, encouraging, exhilarating, glad, happy, joyful, light, pleasant, sunny, cheering. 

One of my favorite humans is Seth Godin. He blogs DAILY. I myself, blog on Sundays. Seth writes a blog if the sun comes up. I blog EVERY Sunday without fail - sorta. is all about how Time doesn't scale. And why Time is worth so much. 

"OK, Google. What was big news in 1922?"

1) The Harlem Renaissance. 2) The Dedication of the Lincoln Memorial. 3) The Teapot Dome Scandal. 4) The Great Railroad Strike of 1922. 5) The Disarmament Conference 6) Sinclair Lewis published Babbitt. 7) Amelia Earhart Sets Altitude Record for Females. 8) T.S. Eliot "The Wasteland" is published. 9) Rebecca Felton becomes the First Female Senator. 10) First Automated Telephone Service. 

Wow, right? Saying "OK Google" over my shoulder (the smart speaker is behind me) is like my own personal time machine. 

On October 14th, 1922 the first automated telephones began service at the Pennsylvania exchange in NYC. The purpose of the automated telephone service was to replace the human operators necessary to connect calls. 

Did you catch that? Replace. The. Humans. In 1922. Wow, they have been talking about replacing humans with technology for 100+ years, eh? A few years ago, before COVID hit, the big news was all about Climate Change, and Crypto, and Cyber, and  AI, and how robots were going to take all of our jobs. 

Right now, if you are so inclined, you can ask Google about Rebecca Felton, or learn more about The Teapot Dome Scandal, or better understand The Great Railroad Strike. And instantly, you will have way more knowledge, way more information, way more....( do I need to Google "way more")? 

So I was (slightly) depressed when I thought about how I won't be around in 2111. And, there is a 99% chance that every fully-formed adult that knows me will also not be around in 2111. But something that I worked on, something that I created, something that I contributed to - might be. 

Maybe something that I worked on, or created, or made or supported WILL be around in 2111. Cool! 

As we celebrate a New Year, what we are really celebrating is Time. A snapshot of time, a window of time. The next 12 months - who will you spend time with? What will you spend time on

Your time, my time, their time - we all get the same number of minutes per day. We all can have our own George Bailey Moment (It's a Wonderful Life) if we spend our time well. If you read this far, you just invested TIME in reading my blog. Sorry? (Not Sorry....). 

"OK, Google, how can I better manage my time?"

You, Tom? Or people in general? 

No one likes a smartass robot.