How J.C. Penney could benefit, struggle from Sears’ Amazon partnership

With its partnership to sell Kenmore appliances on Amazon, Sears Holding Corp. hopes to rival other hard good retailers like J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP). But both companies stand to fight for more than appliance sales as they go head-to-head over hard goods.

Sears (Nasdaq: SHLD) announced July 20 an agreement to sell its Kenmore line on Amazon.com as the company struggles to bring customers into stores, and as its Canadian arm has gone into default.

The Kenmore name is more than a century old, and one of the country’s most iconic appliance brands. While selling the products on Amazon means Sears loses its exclusivity with Kenmore, the move may help bring much-needed revenue to the department store.

“The launch of Kenmore products on Amazon.com will significantly expand the distribution and availability of the Kenmore brand in the U.S.,” Sears CEO Eddie Lampert said in a prepared statement about the partnership.

Stocks of other appliance retailers stumbled the day of the Sears/Amazon announcement. Home Depot’s shares took a 4.5 percent hit, while Lowe’s Cos. Inc. declined 5.9 percent. Best Buy decreased 4.2 percent.

In comparison, shares of Sears were up 13 percent on the news.

J.C. Penney saw a much smaller impact, with its shares decreasing less than 1 percent. But the announcement has more ramifications for the Plano retailer than its stock price.

In January 2016, J.C. Penney began re-introducing appliances into its brick and mortar stores after a more than 30-year hiatus from the sales category. Since then, the company has introduced the products online and said it plans to roll out appliance showrooms to 600 stores by the end of 2017.

J.C. Penney declined to comment on how its appliance business is faring so far and does not separate appliance sales from overall revenue. In its first quarter 2017 earnings, reported May 12, the company said improvements in several departments, including appliances “ provide us with the confidence to maintain our sales guidance for the full year.”

The company’s second quarter earnings will be reported on Friday before market open.

While J.C. Penney has competed with Sears for appliance dollars since introducing the products, Sears’ Amazon partnership gives the rival company a larger platform to market its goods.

“That deal gives Sears the opportunity to remain somewhat relevant in a space where they have been completely marginalized otherwise,” said Jason Moser, an analyst with Million Dollar Portfolio at The Motley Fool. “This deal keeps Sears somewhat current, at least in the consumer’s eyes, which is a plus.”

To keep up, analysts say J.C. Penney must continue pushing its own e-commerce efforts.

And to differentiate itself, the retailer should continue improving its home department, which has been expanded to include Ashley Furniture; pilots of Empire Flooring and Trane heating, ventilation and air conditioning services; bathroom remodeling; quick-ship and installed blinds; home water solutions; awnings and smart home technology.

It also offers washers, dryers, refrigerators and microwaves to commercial and residential property groups.

“I think they can leverage their strength in home with window treatments and other things to create a back-to-front home design service that includes not only treatments and decor, but appliances and smart home features,” added Ed Fox, associate professor of marketing at the W.R. and Judy Howell director of the J.C. Penney Center for Retail Excellence at Southern Methodist University.

However, pushing appliances may hurt Sears and J.C. Penney in areas that both have been pushing to improve – in-store traffic and comparable sales. Because consumers buy appliances infrequently and usually have them delivered, they have little incentive to visit brick and mortar stores. And offering appliances online further reduces the need for a store visit.

In its first quarter earnings, J.C. Penney saw a 3.5 percent decrease in same-store sales, while Sears, which reported first quarter earnings on May 25, saw a roughly 12 percent dip.

“While they have a high-dollar value don’t bring people in stores frequently,” Fox said. “Now people can get competitive products rather than walking into a store.”

The good news for J.C. Penney is that while it continues to work on appliances other initiatives to return to profitability, analysts are unsure Sears will be able to battle store closures and lagging profits to stay in business.

“It’s becoming apparent that Sears is in what’s becoming a death spiral,” Fox said in January. “J.C. Penney will be around in three to five years, and Sears may very well not.”

That means while J.C. Penney might currently be losing customers now to the Sears/Amazon partnership, it could pick up those clients again in the case of a Sears bankruptcy.

“The core customers for the apparel and home businesses at Sears and J.C. Penney were quite similar,” Steve Dennis, president of retail strategy firm SageBerry Consulting, said earlier this year. “They were pretty price sensitive with fairly constrained incomes.”

Source:-bizjournals.

‘Modern,Family’,Creator,Hints,At,How,And,When,The,Show,Will,End

If you think Modern Family’s been on for-freakin’-ever, you’re not wrong. The show already has eight seasons and was recently renewed by ABC for two more seasons after that. But even Emmy-winning shows must end someday, and according to Modern Family co-creator/executive producer Steve Levitan, the end is near. In an interview with Deadline, Levitan got candid about when and how Modern Family will end.

First, Levitan basically confirmed Modern Family will conclude after 10 seasons. He said a decade was not the original goal he and fellow co-creator Christopher Lloyd (no, not that one) had in mind — not until they realized it was possible, at least.

“Our original goal was to just stay on the air,” Levitan said. “But after awhile we though we may be in control our own fate, and 10 sounded like a nice round number.”

Ten seasons is certainly an impressive run. Other hit sitcoms like Friendsand Happy Days also capped off their success off at 10 seasons. Others. though, have kept going even longer — The Big Bang Theory is in its 11th season, and is already planning Season 12.

Of course, having children as some of the main characters on the show does put more of a timeline on things — this season Alex was off at college, and we have to assume Hayley, Luke, and Manny will also move out eventually.

NOLAN GOULD, RICO RODRIGUEZ, ARIEL WINTER, AUBREY ANDERSON-EMMON MODERN FAMILY – “The Graduates” – In the season finale, Manny's father, Javier (guest-star Benjamin Bratt), shows up for his graduation and takes him out on a wild night of celebration, and then Jay steps in to pick-up the pieces. Meanwhile, the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan is getting ready for Luke and Manny's big day and dealing with the emotions that come with seeing your kids grow up and leave the nest.

ABC/Richard Cartwright

Though he didn’t have specifics, Levitan did drop some hints on where the final season of Modern Family will leave the Dunphys and Pritchetts.

Levitan said,

We haven’t had that exact conversation yet how we want to end the show episode-wise. We’ve talked about areas that we want to go and tonally what we want to do. I think we will end the show the way we started it in the pilot, with a big family event.

He didn’t elaborate on what that “family event” might be. The family event in the pilot episode was Cameron and Mitchell introducing their newly adopted daughter, Lily, to the family, so it might be fitting to have the family come together around Lily again. But I’m just spit-balling here.

Levitan said he and Lloyd also considering ending the show on a death or a crazy twist, so let’s just all keep praying that doesn’t happen. I don’t think I could handle it if Jay dies.

[Source”cnbc”]

Modern Family co-creator confirms how show will end, says season 10 will ‘likely’ be the last

modern-family-2.jpg

Modern Family co-creator Steven Levitan has confirmed plans to end the series with its tenth season.

ABC renewed the long-running sitcom for two more seasons in May bringing its overall count to ten – the same number Friendsran for – with Levitan telling Deadline that sounds “…like a nice round number.”

He even went so far as to express how he plans to wrap the series with co-writer Christopher Lloyd.

“We haven’t had that exact conversation yet how we want to end the show episode-wise. We’ve talked about areas that we want to go and tonally what we want to do.”

He added that, after considering ending the show with a shock death or twist, they will ultimately “…end the show the way we started it in the pilot, with a big family event,”

Modern Family – which began in 2009 – follows the stories of different members of the Pritchett family including Jay (Ed O’Neill), wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara), daughter Claire (Julie Bowen), son Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and sons-in-law Phil (Ty Burrell) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet).

Cameras are now rolling on season nine and Levitan confirmed that the tenth run will be mapped out during the latest season’s second half.

Over its eight years on the air, Modern Family has won 22 Emmy awards, five of which were for Outstanding Comedy Series for its first five seasons.

[Source”cnbc”]

‘Modern Family’ Co-Creator Steve Levitan On When & How ABC Comedy Will End

After lengthy negotiations, ABC in May renewed Modern Family for two more seasons, taking the Emmy-winning comedy’s run to ten seasons. That will likely be the show’s final chapter, according to co-creator/executive producer Steve Levitan.

While a 10-year run was not something he and fellow co-creator Christopher Lloyd had envisioned from the get-go, it had been a milestone they had been building toward for the last few years. “Our original goal was to just stay on the air,” he told Deadline during ABC’s TCA party. “After awhile though, we felt we may be in control our own fate, and 10 sounded like a nice round number.” And while they could conceivably go beyond 10 seasons if asked to, Levitan said that he fully expects that the show will end with Season 10.

As for how exactly Modern Family will end, “We haven’t had that exact conversation yet how we want to end the show episode-wise,” Levitan said, adding that those discussions will start in earnest as the writers start mapping out the second part of the current ninth season. “We’ve talked about areas that we want to go and tonally what we want to do.”

He said that he and his team have bounced around different scenarios — ending the show with a death, in the vein of the shocking Season 3 finale of M*A*S*H*, or with a twist, like Newhart. Ultimately, “I think we will end the show the way we started it in the pilot, with a big family event,” Levitan said, declining to elaborate what that event might be.

The Modern Family pilot followed the stories of the different Pritchett families which did not intersect until they all got together in the final scene to celebrate the arrival of Cameron and Mitchell’s adopted baby daughter from Vietnam.

Modern Family just started filming on Season 9, with 13 episodes already broken by the writers. The Season 8 season finale centered on Manny and Luke’s high school graduation. In the new season, Manny is off to college while Luke is taking a gap year. With Levitan’s son also in college, he has plenty of stories to draw on.

.

[Source”cnbc”]

How Jerry Jones Helped Revolutionize The Modern NFL

Story image for Modern from ESPN

No single individual, with the possible exception of the last two commissioners, has done more to create the current dominance of the NFL than Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. His vision of what the NFL could achieve was ahead of its time, with television contracts, marketing, branding, memorabilia, franchise values, the NFL Network, harmonious relations with agents and the use of the internet. His energy, creativity and willingness to challenge tradition are partly responsible for the NFL’s status as the nation’s favorite sport and the Cowboys’ status as the highest valued sports franchise in the world.

I first encountered Jerry as Troy Aikman and I visited Dallas in April 1989. At that time, I had the largest practice representing NFL football players and was soon to have clients Russell Maryland, Darryl Johnson, Darren Woodson, Jason Garrett and Wade Wilson as members of the Cowboys. Jerry had just purchased the Cowboys for $140 million and had summarily filed iconic coach Tom Landry as well as president Tex Schramm and scouting guru Gil Brandt. The fans were furious. Jerry then hired the charismatic Jimmy Johnson as coach.

Jerry and Jimmy wanted to assess whether to use the first pick in the draft on Troy. After meeting all day and evening with Troy, Jerry adjourned to the lobby of the airport Hyatt hotel with me, and we spent all night — until 6 in the morning — talking about the future of the Cowboys and the NFL.

It was immediately clear that Jerry understood the uniqueness of the Cowboys brand and how that could be used in sponsorships and in the creation of Cowboys-branded businesses. He had gone through a painstaking research process, reaching out to owners and executives throughout the league. He wanted to know which practices worked most effectively in franchise building. He understood that the television business had expanded, that new networks would employ “loss leader” bidding for the connection to football and that this would exponentially change league revenue. He saw the value of state-of-the-art stadiums and the potential ancillary revenue streams they could develop.

We also talked about the embryonic internet and how that would change the flow of information and commerce. Jerry understood “ambush marketing” and how the ownership of a stadium could forge relationships with corporations distinct from overall NFL marketing.

After Troy was signed by the Cowboys, we flew back to New York to attend the draft itself. Jones’s son Steven and daughter Charlotte hosted the flight. It was apparent that they were both whip smart and talented. They both showed poise and grace at a young age, and Jerry found a way to weave them into the Cowboys structure, along with Jerry Jr. He allowed them to grow and make their own mark.

Jerry (and he encourages everyone to call him Jerry) set about remaking the franchise. In 1993, 1994 and 1996, the Cowboys won the Super Bowl. Then Jerry fought for a more vigorous television strategy for the league. In 1975, each team in the NFL received $2 million; that amount had grown to $17 million by the time he purchased the Cowboys. The succeeding television contracts exploded.

Many other owners resisted Jerry’s efforts to market and brand in a more aggressive way. Once they saw the off-the-field largesse he was creating for the Cowboys, though, that establishment thinking changed. Today there is a specific carve-out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows Dallas to keep certain revenue without sharing..

[Source”cnbc”]

How a One-Time Washout Explains the Modern NBA

P.J. Tucker, left, recently signed a four-year, $32 million deal with the Rockets.

P.J. Tucker came into the NBA more than a decade ago and crashed out almost immediately. He was a 6-foot-6 player stuck between positions—too small to be a forward but too big to be a guard. The league had no place for him. After playing only 83 minutes in the NBA, he disappeared to another continent.

“P.J. was in, out, and to a large degree forgotten about by a lot of people,” said Andre Buck, his agent.

Then something funny happened. The strategic revolution in basketball over the last decade made teams reconsider their old prototypes and resulted in what Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens recently called the NBA’s three positions: ball-handler, wing and big. There is a premium on players who can be all three. Tucker is now one of those players.

That’s how someone who literally couldn’t play in the league has become one of the league’s most useful players. It’s also why the Houston Rockets signed Tucker to a four-year, $32 million deal this month—the longest and richest contract of his career. In the first year of his new deal, he will make about 43% more than he was paid last year and nearly 1,000% more than five years ago. There may be no one in the NBA whose value has increased so much in such a short amount of time.

Tucker wasn’t the most expensive Rockets signing (James Harden) or the splashiest addition to their roster (Chris Paul) and may not even be their biggest small forward when the season begins (Carmelo Anthony remains a trade possibility).

P.J. Tucker holds a Rockets jersey with general manager Daryl Morey.
P.J. Tucker holds a Rockets jersey with general manager Daryl Morey. PHOTO: KAREN WARREN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

But the pursuit of Tucker was the most revealing move from the NBA’s most aggressive team. It’s his incredibly unlikely career that best explains the evolution of basketball. He is a role player with a role that’s more important than ever.

“It’s just how the game has changed,” said the 32-year-old Tucker, “and I’ve been lucky enough to play long enough to see it change.”

The only way he could benefit from the game changing, though, was by changing his own game.

Tucker was a second-round draft pick in 2006 and played in just 17 NBA games before he spent the next five years bouncing around leagues in Ukraine, Israel, Greece, Italy and Germany. The odds of him being in the NBA again were as long as his exile. In the decade prior, according to Stats LLC, Anthony Parker was the only player who had done what Tucker was trying to do: begin his career in the NBA, leave for more than five seasons and then return on a prolonged deal.

But he realized something while maturing overseas that eventually brought him back. It’s a lesson that he imparts to younger players who want to be like him. “Figure out your niche,” he says, “and maximize it.”

It was obvious what Tucker’s niche had to be: playing defense and shooting 3-pointers. As it happens, those skills are coveted in today’s NBA.

THE FUTURE OF BASKETBALL

  • The Houston Rockets Shoot From Outer Space
  • The Golden State Warriors Have Revolutionized Basketball
  • The High-School Team That Never Takes a Bad Shot
  • The Princeton Coach Who Changed the Game
  • The Great 3-Point Experiment

Tucker is able to defend every player on the court, point guard through center, because of his peculiar build. The very thing that had been a disadvantage—that he was an oversized guard but undersized forward—had become his advantage. “He’s a bear that’s as quick as a cat,” Buck said.

It was harder to imagine Tucker as an outside shooter. He didn’t take any threes in his first NBA stint. He attempted a total of four in his three years of college.

But he knew he couldn’t play if he couldn’t shoot. NBA teams didn’t need Tucker to score. They needed him to create space for the rest of the offense. He could help a team simply by standing in the corner and taking selfies with fans as long as he dragged a defender with him. By his last season in Germany, Tucker was hitting 48% of his threes. He was ready to come back to the NBA at the exact moment the league was ready to embrace him.

The best teams in the NBA understood that frontcourt versatility was increasingly valuable. And suddenly Tucker found himself in demand. He was no longer a tweener. He was now positionless.

“He turned himself into this player who’s super useful to all these NBA teams,” said Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

The Phoenix Suns offered him a contract in 2012 for the league minimum with no guarantees he’d make the roster that year. Tucker was there for the next five years. He then re-signed with the Suns in 2014 to his first multi-year, million-dollar deal.

LeBron James goes head-to-head against P.J. Tucker.

 

[Source”timesofindia”]

How manufacturers blend products, services on the path to XaaS

Story image for Products from Diginomica

A combination of rising connectivity and more sophisticated automation is transforming traditional businesses as they blend products and services in new ways. In product-led industries such as manufacturing, this trend first manifests itself in the growth of services alongside products. But it doesn’t stop there.

As enterprises progress along this journey, they discover that selling services in a connected world fundamentally changes how they engage with their customers. They are no longer selling discrete products and services, but blending both together to satisfy a customer need. Welcome to the world of XaaS — everything as-a-service.

We promised some real-world examples in our opener to this series, A CxO’s practical guide to surviving the XaaS revolution. Here we’ll explore what several leading manufacturers have discovered as they’ve set off down this path, which business academics often call servitization. Professor Tim Baines, an expert in the field from Aston Business School, says that many businesses begin by adding services around existing products:

Quite often it means moving first towards what we call intermediate services, which is prepare, overhaul, condition monitoring, help-desk, a bit of training on the side, those type of things.

Ultimately, it moves into these more advanced services, much more of the outcome-type contracts. They’re delivering the outcome, delivering the process, delivering the performance.

Changing the relationship

Organizations that are already delivering ancillary services can use today’s more agile, collaborative technology platforms to make those offerings more engaging. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the $50 billion revenue IT giant, retains a significant services capability despite spinning off its consulting and outsourcing business in April this year.

Adam Jones, Advanced Planning & Innovation Lead within HPE’s technology services organization, explains how new technology and different expectations are changing the service organization’s relationship with customers:

We’re seeing our customers wanting to be more proactively, pre-emptively notified of what’s going on. They want to be socially connected to resolve issues and indeed to solicit feedback on best approaches and also want us to understand their social profile and align our engagement with their needs.

In manufacturing, the ability to add sensors and Internet connections to products helps improve existing field service and customer service offerings, as well as add new outcomes-based services. One example is elevator and escalator maker Kone, which already derives around 45% of its $10 billion in annual revenues from its services business.

Proactive service culture

Kone has used technology to connect its 20,000 field service technicians, along with agents in its customer service call centers, at the same time as adding sensors to products in the field. Company CIO Antti Koskelin says this has opened the doors to a more proactive, predictive service culture:

If we’re able to get a better view of what kinds of requests customers will make, what their service needs are going to be and what types of issues they might face with their equipment, then we’re able to react better. And if a service technician arrives at a customer site with more information about the customer, its equipment and its contract with us, then they’ll do a better job.

But it goes further than that. We need to be very good at providing the services that customers say they need, certainly, but our goal is to provide the services that they haven’t recognized themselves yet and point it out to them.

New ways of working

In the mass consumer market, home and kitchen appliance maker Bosch is also shifting from one-off sales to a more connected, engaged customer relationship. It has pursued an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy to make its products connected, as a result of which it has to fundamentally change how it thinks about customers. This has meant learning new ways of working that are unfamiliar to product companies, says Stefan Ferber, VP of Engineering at Bosch Software Innovations:

The company has moved quite a lot over the past few years and with that we have learned what it means not only to be a producer, but also you serve the customer, you have a continuous relationship with your B2B and B2C customer. These are all things that are not so common to producers in that space.

The customer relationship is quite different, because when the product is connected, it means staying in touch with the customer. In the old product sales model, the manufacturer only heard from the customer if they had a problem, he explains:

The story starts when the customer for the first time is opening a box with your product in there. Then you build up a new connection, a new relationship with your customer. From there the real product story starts.

For traditional companies ‘success’ meant the customer got their product, had no problem, job done. If someone is calling, you had a problem. This mindset of course takes some time to change, you need different sales people, you need a different marketing approach, you need a different call centre approach.

Not just adding services to products

These insights from enterprises that have embarked on this journey demonstrate how much more of a transformation it is than merely adding services to the product set. The combination of connected technology and continuous service delivery opens up a new type of customer relationship.

In the next post in this series we’ll look at other aspects of that new relationship, including the move to subscription and pay-as-you-go business models, and a more customer-centric service design ethos. Meanwhile, please give us your observations and reactions in the comments below or on social media using the #XaaS hashtag on Twitter or mentioning us on LinkedIn.

 

[Source”timesofindia”]

How the Modern World Made Cowards of Us All

BACK in the late 1980s, Dana Carvey of “Saturday Night Live” used to do a funny impression of President George H. W. Bush, in which the character would justify his own supposed timidity by muttering “wouldn’t be prudent” to himself about every small risk. The impression neatly captured the contemporary notion of prudence: faintheartedness, caution and a general bias against action.

So perhaps it seems odd that this is my advice for young people heading out of school and into the world: Be prudent.

Yes, it sounds boring, but it may turn out to be a more radical suggestion than most graduates hear.

I thought prudence was not my cup of tea. When I quit college to go on the road as a musician, I was being imprudent. When I quit music to go back to school in my 30s, it was imprudent. When I left a tenured professorship for an unsecure job? You guessed it — imprudent.

Then I had an epiphany. When I finally read the German philosopher Josef Pieper’s “The Four Cardinal Virtues,” which had sat unread on my shelf for years, I was shocked to learn that I didn’t hate prudence; what I hated was its current — and incorrect — definition.

The connotation of prudence as caution, or aversion to risk, is a modern invention. “Prudence” comes from the Latin “prudentia,” meaning sagacity or expertise. The earliest English uses from the 14th century had little to do with fearfulness or habitual reluctance. Rather, it signified righteous decision making that is rooted in acuity and practical wisdom.

Mr. Pieper argued that we have bastardized this classical concept. We have refashioned prudence into an excuse for cowardice, hiding behind the language of virtue to avoid what he calls “the embarrassing situation of having to be brave.” The correct definition, Mr. Pieper argued, is the willingness to do the right thing, even if that involves fear and risk.

In other words, to be rash is only one breach of true prudence. It is also a breach to be timid. So which offense is more common today?

A new study by the University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt helps answer this question. He started with the premise that people who agonize over important choices may systematically make wrong decisions, defaulting to either “yes” or “no” with too much regularity. To investigate, Mr. Levitt found several thousand people in the throes of a difficult decision, weighing choices like job offers and marriage proposals, who volunteered to let him make the decision for them — with the flip of a coin.

Heads meant to decide in the affirmative; tails meant to decline. (Let it sink in that thousands of people agreed to have their most important decisions made by a stranger — worse, an economist — flipping a coin.) When given heads, Mr. Levitt found people were much more likely to take the decision affirmatively than they would be if left to their devices, so the experiment was effective.

But the really interesting result concerned the participants’ happiness. In follow-up interviews six months later, Mr. Levitt found that the average “heads” person was significantly happier than the average “tails” person.

Here’s what all this means: Our sin tends to be timidity, not rashness. On average, we say “no” too much when faced with an opportunity or dilemma.

Once you start looking for this imprudently risk-averse behavior, you see it everywhere, particularly among young people. According to data from the General Social Survey collected by the National Opinion Research Center, people under age 30 today are almost a third less willing than under-30s in 1996 to relocate for their careers. And as the economist Tyler Cowen observes in his new book “The Complacent Class,” the fraction of people in this age group who own their own businesses has plummeted by about 65 percent since the 1980s.

Economic changes have contributed to both trends, to be sure. But there is another culprit: a diminishing frontier spirit and an increasing paranoia about taking big leaps.

Family formation, perhaps the ultimate personal leap of faith, looks to be another victim of this imprudent hesitation. Census Bureau demographers recently reported that while only a quarter of 24- to 29-year-olds were unmarried in the 1980s, almost half of that age group is unmarried today. And delaying the jump to adulthood has real social consequences. Last August, the Centers for Disease Control announced that the United States fertility rate had fallen to its lowest point since they began calculating it in 1909.

My checkered past, it turns out, may not be a litany of imprudent decisions. True prudence means eschewing safety and familiarity in favor of entrepreneurial living. It requires clear eyes, a courageous heart and an adventurous spirit.

So take a risk. Be prudent. Don’t wait for social scientists to flip a coin on your behalf. Choose heads.

[“Source-nytimes”]

How Blogger Louise Roe Saved Thousands (!) on Her Dining Room Table

Louise Roe

When Louise Roe went looking for a dining room table last year, she started where a lot of us do—by noting what she liked best about the options she could find, cobbling them into a perfect (but nonexistent) table design in her head. “I had the image in my mind of the table I wanted,” the news-editor-turned-style blogger says, “having ripped out pages from AD,screenshotted bloggers and Pinterest images.” There would be gleaming, cubist brass legs and a large rectangular top. It would seat lots of friends. “Milo Baughman was a big influence,” Roe says, pointing to this rare bronze and smoked glass design circa 1970—but a $10,000 table wasn’t in her breakfast nook budget. They were renovating, after all. An RH Modern version with a polished marble was closer to budget but still too much. She resolved to beat the system by sourcing the parts herself.

A friend recommended that Roe scour the internet for table legs, and she found the perfect pair—brand new—with a Florida supplier on eBay for $1,500, including delivery. As exciting as the find was, it was still nerve-wracking, she remembers. “At about 1 a.m., after scrolling for hours, I hit ‘pay now’ and screamed!” Conveniently, Roe was in the middle of a bathroom renovation (this was her Melrose Place townhouse that she eventually sold to move into this 1935 Hollywood Hills gem) when she undertook the project, so she already had a Caesarstone supplier on speed dial; he would supply her a custom-cut tabletop slab for $600 (it would have been about $1,000 as a one-off order). Which brought the overall cost to just over $2,000, a fraction of the antique that had inspired her search in the first place. Being quartz, the Caesarstone surface didn’t need to be sealed or treated at all—dinner is served!—as “it’s already nonporous and waterproof,” Roe explains. And while it’s possible to watch enough YouTube videos to learn how to effectively connect the parts yourself, calling in a professional is never a bad idea when you’re working with expensive, new-to-you materials. “Personally, I’d always get a professional to do this (I know my limits!),” she says, which made for a perfect construction. They loved the table so much, and it held up so well, that it made the move.

[Source”timesofindia”]

How the Modern World Made Cowards of Us All

BACK in the late 1980s, Dana Carvey of “Saturday Night Live” used to do a funny impression of President George H. W. Bush, in which the character would justify his own supposed timidity by muttering “wouldn’t be prudent” to himself about every small risk. The impression neatly captured the contemporary notion of prudence: faintheartedness, caution and a general bias against action.

So perhaps it seems odd that this is my advice for young people heading out of school and into the world: Be prudent.

Yes, it sounds boring, but it may turn out to be a more radical suggestion than most graduates hear.

I thought prudence was not my cup of tea. When I quit college to go on the road as a musician, I was being imprudent. When I quit music to go back to school in my 30s, it was imprudent. When I left a tenured professorship for an unsecure job? You guessed it — imprudent.

Then I had an epiphany. When I finally read the German philosopher Josef Pieper’s “The Four Cardinal Virtues,” which had sat unread on my shelf for years, I was shocked to learn that I didn’t hate prudence; what I hated was its current — and incorrect — definition.

The connotation of prudence as caution, or aversion to risk, is a modern invention. “Prudence” comes from the Latin “prudentia,” meaning sagacity or expertise. The earliest English uses from the 14th century had little to do with fearfulness or habitual reluctance. Rather, it signified righteous decision making that is rooted in acuity and practical wisdom.

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Mr. Pieper argued that we have bastardized this classical concept. We have refashioned prudence into an excuse for cowardice, hiding behind the language of virtue to avoid what he calls “the embarrassing situation of having to be brave.” The correct definition, Mr. Pieper argued, is the willingness to do the right thing, even if that involves fear and risk.

In other words, to be rash is only one breach of true prudence. It is also a breach to be timid. So which offense is more common today?

A new study by the University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt helps answer this question. He started with the premise that people who agonize over important choices may systematically make wrong decisions, defaulting to either “yes” or “no” with too much regularity. To investigate, Mr. Levitt found several thousand people in the throes of a difficult decision, weighing choices like job offers and marriage proposals, who volunteered to let him make the decision for them — with the flip of a coin.

Heads meant to decide in the affirmative; tails meant to decline. (Let it sink in that thousands of people agreed to have their most important decisions made by a stranger — worse, an economist — flipping a coin.) When given heads, Mr. Levitt found people were much more likely to take the decision affirmatively than they would be if left to their devices, so the experiment was effective.

[Source”timesofindia”]