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We have so much to be thankful for, including the sheer luck that keeps us out of trouble.
Not everyone was lucky this week.
The day before Thanksgiving, Eric Wyatt, Boston Market’s Chief Operating Officer, appeared on CNBC to tout the company’s catering business.
He revealed that the company would be selling over a million turkeys for Thanksgiving.
Minus a few, apparently.
One store in Southern California closed its doors Thanksgiving Day, stranding customers who came to pick up their pre-ordered turkey dinners.
“No employees showing up today… we are unable to fulfill the orders!!! We are sorry!!!” read a sign on the door in Rancho Cucamonga. Customers said they could see their orders stacked up inside, but there was not a soul in sight to hand them out.
No employees showed up at all? Where’s the person who wrote the sign? Out gathering more exclamation points??!!!
The local CBS station says a shift manager who’d recently quit took to Facebook to explain just how bad it is at this particular Boston Market (allegedly): “[T]he store has been without a working water heater for three weeks, has only one point-of-sale system that works, [the] general manager was hospitalized last week, and the area manager who had been helping with some catering orders had already put in his notice and is leaving at the end of Thanksgiving week.”
I guess someone didn’t send that Facebook post to the COO. Wyatt told CNBC that Boston Market has raised wages and hired more than 2,000 workers for the holidays, exclaiming, “I’m super proud of the organization.”
Elizabeth Holmes has chosen to testify in her own defense against charges she lied to investors and customers about Theranos’ blood testing technology. She faces 20 years in prison if convicted.
First, kudos to the entrepreneur who showed up outside the courthouse this week to sell $100 Holmes costumes made up of a blonde wig, black turtleneck, red lipstick and a “blood energy drink.”
God Bless America.
Back inside court, some of the most damaging evidence presented by prosecutors involves glowing reviews of Theranos’ lab, reviews which bore the logos of Pfizer and Schering-Plough. These reports were used to win business for and investments in Theranos, because the people receiving the reports assumed the two pharma giants wrote them.
But Pfizer and Schering did not write the reports, nor did they support the upbeat conclusions about Theranos within them. Instead, Theranos wrote the reports and slapped on the logos on them, without permission.
In bombshell testimony this week, Holmes admitted under questioning from her own attorney that she put the logos on the reports. She testified she never intended to mislead anyone. “This work was done in partnership with those companies and I was trying to convey that,” Holmes told the court. "I wish I had done it differently.”
Interesting defense strategy. Or incredibly stupid. Hubris, thy name is Elizabeth.
But what do I know? This is a woman who convinced Rupert Murdoch and the Walton family to give her an estimated $275 million dollars. Maybe she feels confident she can convince the 12 non-billionaires sitting in the jury box that she’s telling the truth. Just don’t look directly into her eyes. Avoid the eyes!!
Michael Bolte is the 70-year-old owner of the Feedlot Steakhouse in Shepherd, Montana. Yes, he named his steakhouse “Feedlot,” but that’s not the dumberer part of this story.
This week Bolte pleaded guilty to using a $75,000 Covid disaster relief loan from the Small Business Administration to buy vintage cars, including a 1916 Studebaker. Studebaker? No one will notice!
The government claims that even before Bolte received the loan, he was already researching classic cars from an estate sale. “Eleven days after Bolte received the check from the government for his restaurant, he bought four cars from the estate for $75,000,” writes MarketWatch reporter Lukas Alpert. “The vehicles included the Studebaker, a 1929 Franklin, a 1939 Ford Deluxe and a 1941 Ford Super Deluxe.”
Bolte apparently thought the cars would be a good investment. Here’s a 1916 Studebaker I found on the market for only $7,400, and its resale potential seems… obvious...
If you agree, you’ll soon have your chance at a federal auction. Bolte faces a year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine, and he has to turn over the cars.
The west coast used to be the best coast, but from my beloved California up through Washington state, coastal cities have become magnets for homelessness, anarchists, and general mayhem.
I was in Portland this past week. At breakfast one morning I saw the five remaining police officers willing to protect a city that wants to defund them. This was the sign outside the restaurant. I provided the blackout.
Finally, California’s 20th-century utility grids are finding it difficult to deal with the state’s 21st-century climate. As winds howled on Thanksgiving Day, 68,000 households had their power shut off pre-emptively to avoid the fire danger posed by wind-whipped power lines.
This meant that 400 years after the original Thanksgiving feast, the Pilgrims had a better chance of enjoying a fully-cooked bird in 1621 than some Americans did in 2021.
Holy cow, are we still on the west coast?
The Los Angeles Rams and the NFL have agreed to pay St. Louis a whopping $790 million to settle a lawsuit which claims that the team’s move back to L.A. violated the NFL’s relocation policy.
To give you an idea of how massive that settlement is, it’s only a little more than the $750 million the whole friggin' team was worth when Stan Kroenke took full control in 2010.
The attorneys representing St. Louis will get 35% of that payday (why didn’t I go to law school??), and the entire settlement has to be paid by Christmas Eve.
Here’s my favorite part. The Los Angeles Times says it’s “still to be determined” how much of the money will be paid by the Rams (er, Kroenke), and how much will be paid by “the league and other owners.”
Oh, no no no.
NFL Roger Goodell never pays. He is the one who knocks. And if you think for one minute that Jerry Jones is going to put up a dime, well, I have a 1916 Studebaker I’ll sell you for $75,000.
Oh, and look! The New York Times now says Kroenke is expected to pay the entire amount! On top of the $550 million he paid the league to move the team to Los Angeles. On top of the $5 billion he spent to build a new stadium. Even Roger and Jerry are probably astounded they pulled this one off, and they’ve pulled off a lot of shi-, um, stuff.
Wells Fargo is again accused of putting fees ahead of customers.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
This time the bank charged a $30 “wire transfer fee” to a customer who paid off his Wells Fargo mortgage with a cashier’s check from his Wells Fargo bank account.
The guy — who actually used to be a Wells Fargo loan officer — complained and never heard back.
Then he called a reporter. The reporter called Wells Fargo. The reporter heard back. The fee is now gone! Though it’s not clear how many previous customers paid the fee to close out loans with money at the same bank.
"We are changing our process so in the future customers won’t be charged this type of fee when transferring funds from a Wells Fargo deposit account to pay off a Wells Fargo mortgage,” the bank told Los Angeles Times reporter David Lazarus.
One mole whacked!
Will it soon be “game over” for Activision CEO Bobby Kotick?
In the world of PR warcraft, it’s not looking good.
The Wall Street Journal unleashed an onslaught of allegations against Kotick’s company from hundreds of current and former employees. They claim the atmosphere for women working at the videogame giant is somewhere between awful and dangerous.
Claims of rape, groping, harassment, pay disparity, and coverups were detailed by the Journal. They also showed evidence suggesting Kotick knew about many of the problems.
The SEC is investigating, and even console makers Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft are expressing concerns. You don’t want those guys concerned (although, let’s be real, they need each other).
Kotick denies that Activision is toxic for women, though he’s apologized for an angry voicemail in 2006 telling an assistant he could have her killed.
He’s announced a zero tolerance policy for harassment and vows to make Activision inclusive and welcoming. After the Journal pointed out he’s one of the highest paid CEOs on Wall Street, Kotick asked for a pay cut from $154 million to $62,500.
But dumbest of all is Activision’s board of directors, which continues to express confidence in him.
This week the board created a Workplace Responsibility Committee — made up of the only two women on the board — to “ensure implementation of programs that eliminate harassment and discrimination.” Kotick and his top lieutenants will make “regular reports” to the committee about progress.
Seems to me one “program” they might want to “implement” is new leadership, especially since one in six Activision employees has reportedly signed a petition demanding Kotick resign.
Changing gears, here’s a delightfully probiotic, gut-healthy snack to make you feel better.
Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya calls himself the “anti-CEO,” and he’s certainly different. A few years back he granted internal stock awards to all 2,000 employees, many of them factory workers who make about $19 an hour. Those awards could be cashed in if the company was ever sold or went public, and their total value would equal 10% of the value of the company.
Now the yogurt company has filed to go public, and Forbes calculates those factory floor workers could receive paydays ranging from six figures to well over $1 million apiece.
Ulukaya once gave a TED talk about his management style in which he referenced the stock grants. “I said it’s not a gift,” he told the audience. “They’ve earned it with their talents and their hard work and I don’t see any other way.”
For lessons in risk-taking and leadership, I encourage you to watch his speech. If you wanna know how to retain talent in a tight labor market, don’t just share the wealth with your highly prized, well-paid top performers.
Share the wealth with everyone.
Cover image from “World of Warcraft” (owned by Activision) at Comic-Con 2019, by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images.
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