May 6

Sierra Madre Canyon

Posted by Simon

Back in the 1970’s Sierra Madre Canyon used to be full of Hippies.  It still has a few remaining Hippies but it is now mostly Hipsters and Yuppies.  I took my friend Ken G. up there for lunch at Mary’s Market (see last weeks post) and he quick as a wink drew this sketch:

Brilliant (but I thing my shirt was darker)

WDITOT (Why Didn’t I Think of That)

Apr 29

Mary’s Market Marketing

Posted by Simon

In Sierra Madre Canyon there is a tiny restaurant named Mary’s Market.  It is hard to find and when you get there it is even harder to find parking.  The canyon is full of tiny houses and lots of canyon tumbled stones.  Charlotte the proprietor has an excellent and low cost marketing idea.  She gathers up a few hundred of these rocks and has her customers paint advertising slogans on them.  Later she give than to new patrons to put in their yards or use as doorstops.  What a great low cost marketing idea.  It builds her patron community and brings in new people.

Lots of people want to paint Mary’s rocks:


WDITOT (Why Didn’t I Think of That)

Apr 22

At the B’nai Simcha Preschool in Pasadena Jenn L. a teacher and the students created an igloo out of one plastic milk cartons.

Brilliantly Creative.

It could have been a Henge.

Another view:

And a construction detail:

This is actually a very nice commentary on a potential consequence of global warming.

The first in an occasional series of non-business creative ideas that have come into my view.

Mar 24

Change is Good

Posted by Simon

Many years ago when we were in the frantic first days of building our company one of my slogans was Change is Good.  Until that is someone pointed out to me that some changes are not good like droughts or getting fired.  So we changed the slogan to Change is…… Implying not that it is bad or good but it is going to happen.

As we age we tend to get more resistant to change.  We want to keep things the way they were.  It turns out that even though I’m aware of this tendency I also resist change.  Here are two examples of changes that I was forced to make that turned out to be very good.

I was forced to get a new razor.  I’d had a Gillette Sensor for about 30 years and it was getting harder to find replacement blades for it.  So finally reluctantly I changes over to a Gillette Mach 3.  Wow! It gives a better shave, is much more comfortable to use and it looks and feels good.  Design genius.

I lost my wire cutters/strippers, which is another story, so I had to buy some new ones.  The new wire stripper is much better made it actually works.  I don’t know why I stuck with the old ones so long.

Now I’m constantly on the alert for other things that I can upgrade.  The pleasure of a simple upgrades to your life should not be underrated.

Here are a few that we have benefited from in recent years:  back up cameras in cars, smart phones, electric toothbrushes, WiFi everywhere, memory sticks instead of floppy discs, iTunes, nonstick pans, detergent pods and many more.


Nov 15

A New Collectable

Posted by Simon

Do you recognize what is in this picture? You can click on the picture to see a larger image.


They are the little label that come on fruit, you know, with the secret code number. I predict that they will become a serious collectable in the next few years. I checked e-bay and there are already a few for sale in amongst the vintage orange crate labels. Imagine the joy of having a 1995 Gala Apple 3548 from Oregon in mint condition. I think they will be the postage stamps of the future.

This would be a great project for elementary school teachers. The kids could collect a free thing that would relate to geography, health and math.  It would be a fun learning experience.  They could stick them all on a world map board for instance or try to figure out the secret behind the code numbers.

The reason I have such great ideas is that I am an Ideapreneur.

Oct 13

Football Every Night

Posted by Simon

The Movement for Football Every Night

Has a theme song and it is perfect.

YouTube Preview Image
Sep 2

Labor Day at $15/Hour

Posted by Simon

This year to celebrate Labor Day many in the labor movement are demanding that we raise the minimum wage.  Beware the urge to do good when it violates the laws of economics.

Cowpeople working

This year the major cry we are hearing on Labor Day is that we should raise the minimum wage to $15.00/hour.  I say don’t do it.  If you raise the price of something you are going to sell less of it.  Raising the minimum wage is a sure way to kill jobs, increase unemployment and decrease opportunity for the most disadvantaged.  It is a terrible idea and I can show you why.

Example One:  You run a fast food restaurant called Paul’s Burgers and the minimum wage goes up by 50% so you decide to buy an automated order entry system.  It will be like the ones they have installed at airports for boarding passes.  That way you don’t have to raise prices because you can eliminate most of the order writer jobs at the counter.  Good news for your customers: their burgers and the price stay the same.  Bad news for your future employees: there are four or five less entry level jobs at Paul’s.

Example Two: You work in a garment factory in Los Angeles, on a sewing assembly line, sewing sleeves on bridesmaids dresses.  You make just above the minimum wage but during busy times you get lots of overtime.  You welcome the increase in the minimum wage because it means more money for you right away.  But then you notice that the overtime has gone away and during the slow times your only working three days a week.  It turns out that the bosses have started sending the long lead time orders to a contractor in Mexico (or China or Myanmar).  Since labor cost went up it makes sense to organize to send more of the work to places where labor is cheaper.

Example Three:  You run a non-profit business that provides intensive English language and cultural training to recent immigrants from around the world.  Most of your trainers are college student who you train and pay roughly $10/hour for the mostly evening work.  Your source of funds is government grants, corporate sponsorships and private donations.  You welcome the minimum wage increase because it will promote “social justice.”  What you didn’t expect was that now your pretty constant sources of funding will only pay for about 60% as much of your services.  You have to lay off a third of your trainers and can now serve a third less clients.

A higher minimum wage is a trick.  It seems like it will help the poorest people but all it does in the long run is reduce their opportunities and therefore their net earnings.

BTW I think it is hypocritical to support a higher minimum wage and then to buy things on sale.  When you buy something based on price you are sending a signal to the marketplace that you want it to be cheaper.  So you are telling the supply chain that they should lower the cost of the item out of one side of your mouth and out of the other telling them to pay higher wages.  Make up your mind don’t be a hypocrite.



Jul 10


Posted by Simon

“It’s time to get in touch and get outgoing.”

is the opening line in the glossy full color brochure from


On the website it says:

“Welcome to Sherpa -an innovative membership community

and your bridge to a world of new opportunities.”

It appears that it is an organized meetup type of organization that will help people (probably retired people) find new activities, friends and places.

Will it work.  Even if it doesn’t it is a good idea.  Baby boomers are retiring in droves and not all of them golf, hike or quilt.  This type of organization might be just the thing.  I’ll report back in a year or so and let you know.

Jan 28

Carnegie Libraries

Posted by Simon

On our drive from Santa Fe to visit the Pecos Pueblo we visited the Carnegie Library in Las Vegas, New Mexico.  It was Sunday so the library was closed but as we drove up the sky cleared and I got this great photo.

Yes it was designed as a copy of Monticello.  The building of the Carnegie Libraries was an amazing thing.  It seems that someone like Stephen Fried who wrote Appetite for America about Fred Harvey and the Harvey Houses could do a great job telling the Carnegie Library story and sell a lot of books.

From the Wikipedia article: ” 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929″

When in Las Vegas NM eat at Charlies Spic & Span.  They have excellent Sopapillas and even better freshly made flour tortillas.

Dec 7

Smart Phone Holiday

Posted by Simon

If you have a smart phone here are a few easy things you can do to with it to improve the holidays:

  • When you get a gift from Aunt Sally in Coral Gables immediately take a photo of it and email her  a thank you. The photo email is the new thank you note.
  • Take a photo of a particularly nice Christmas display and email it to the oldest person in your family.  Say “I saw this and wanted to share it with you.”  Be sure to copy or blind copy your Mom.
  • Set your ring tone to a holiday jingle
  • Give the gift of Apps.
  • Learn to dictate and transcribe notes.  Then teach someone else.
  • Use a holiday symbol, Tree, Star etc as your background in December.
  • Use Postagram to send some real cards without ever going to the post office.
  • Share pictures of a few things that made you laugh.
  • Email your grandmother a picture of you having fun.

“Thanks Aunt Sally.”