“Fuck Trump”

Yo Robert, I get it. I hate the guy too. His attitude, his policies, they way he handles the press. But it might be time to hold elected officials to the standards you set for the attendees of the Tony Awards, or better yet change voters’ minds.

As progressives we need to preach an American message that appeals to the public beyond the (let’s be honest) saturated echo-chamber of social media and comedy programs. To be clear, I LOVE The OppositionLast Week Tonight, and the occasional Rachel Maddow Show, but we need to switch it up.

The issues that Americans care about are economic, education, and safety; while social issues tend to take a back seat. Weirdly enough, our Twitter debates tend to take a different approach. To begin I’d like to acknowledge that there is a cost associated with education, education for a medical degree, an electrician’s license, and complex socio-economic issues. Some Americans still grow up, myself included, operating within a paradigm where the amount of genders is as constant as the number of fingers. That the family unit of male female and child is as old as time itself, and that equality of opportunity means there is not a system of privilege, because they themselves experience hardships. If we merely stop there it is understandable that many Americans make mistakes when misusing pronouns, are hesitant to relationships that have been deemed “other”, and shy away from admitting they are given a leg up even though they are not the 1%. Let’s just start there.

To convince the American public that a progressive future is the right one, we need to appeal to their sense of history, culture, and pride. We need to preach messages that capitalism and global trade teach us, such as a rising tide lifts all ships. On that same token, we need to show how a healthy and responsible relationship with other nations are a benefit to this generation and those to come. We need to condemn corporate welfare in many forms to show that we stand for a fair and balanced (thanks for ruining that one, Bill) view of innovation and economic mobility. And we need to be inclusive. Look to Queer Eye for inspiration. They do not change peoples minds through attacks, name calling, or twitter rants, they change peoples’ minds through understanding and compassion.

The next time that your friend from high school posts a video about “destroying liberal snowflakes” treat him or her like any ole’ bully. Look past the language and understand where it comes from. Maybe they’re tired of being yelled at for things they don’t understand. Maybe they’re scared about the social fallout that questioning the status quo might cause in their friend group. Or maybe they’re just an asshole. But try and see where they’re coming from.

Very few people are like Tomi Lahren and Sean Hannity, but many are like Shepard Smith. Don’t conflate the two, but rather attempt to find common ground with the Smiths. Discuss how supporting unions give workers an edge when they are treated unfairly by their bosses. Discuss tariffs and trade wars in the context of how those initiatives harm U.S. businesses, and even discuss a mutual friend’s hardship and why policies should be put in place to protect them.

I love love LOVE throwing easy punches on Twitter as much as the next guy, but saying “Fuck Trump” doesn’t change anything. If anything it solidifies support and isolates voters who feel ignored, insulted, and lesser-than because of the constant berate on social media.

International House of Business Bullshit

IHOb. No it’s not the new Apple device, rather it’s the International House of Pancake’s latest grab for attention and rebranding effort. Most commentators, myself included, assume it’s going to become the International House of Breakfast. Other than breakfast, how many “B” words could it realistically be, no pun intended. Brunch? Bacon? Biscuits? Bullshit? Who really knows. But why I’m commenting on this is less because of the impact it will have on my life (local diners and breakfast eateries are far superior anyways) but because it sheds a light on how boardrooms and consultants can do some stupid shit.

Following Q1 2018 results Wall Street learned that Dine Brands (IHOP’s and Applebee’s parent) outperformed expectations for the 5th straight quarter. The core business is doing well, the economy is doing gang-busters, and other than some minor location closings to make room for a new franchise, there should be nothing to worry about, no box to check. For confirmation I look to Dine Brand’s CEO, Stephen Joyce, for their strategic goals:

  • Evolve strong brands and drive same-restaurant sales growth
  • Facilitate franchisee restaurant development
  • Maintain strong financial discipline

They have achieved many of these goals, same-restaurant sales growth for both Applebees and IHOP has increased, franchisee restaurants have expanded over 25% for IHOP and since 2013 DB has returned over $500 million to shareholders. In addition both Applebees and IHOP have held their spot as the number one restaurant in their category for the 10th year running.

By all accounts IHOP should continue to be the 24 hour safe haven for pancake and breakfast lovers everywhere. But business, and specifically consulting firms often can’t let be what they could instead profit off of. I can see the meeting now…

Consultant: As you can see, your current brand does not align with your name. You offer much more than merely pancakes to your customers. It is off-brand and hinders the potential acquisition of millennial consumers who might be averse to pancakes.

IHOP: But our customers know we serve breakfast, pancakes are only a breakfast food. For over 60 years we’ve had this name and America has continue to make it the #1 in its respective category regardless of name.

Consultant: No, it’s important in the digital era to be consistent with your branding to ensure consumers know what they are getting. Millennials need to be marketed to and we believe this is the best way to do it.

This kind of unnecessary rebranding is a leech on American businesses and represents what gives professionals services such a bad name. I hope this was merely a publicity stunt to encourage last-minute IHOP visits before the name change à la Twinkies. Or maybe IHOP is just pulling a prank and instead wants to remake their twitter account to be as active and clever as Wendy’s. Either way I hate everything this rebranding stands for and hope that businesses can resist the always present pressure to be viral and instead focus on providing quality products and services, that’s how business should be run and in turn how they should be judged by consumers.