Thursday, December 8, 2016

As If We Didn't Get Enough During the Campaign...

If you shop on Amazon, or watch the late night talk shows, you have probably seen the Make America Great Again Red Cap ornament (available at prices ranging from roughly $150 to over $200). It is listed on Amazon as “by Trump”.  Of course it is.

But just to be sure, I checked the United States Patent and Trademark Office records and confirmed that Donald Trump had indeed registered the mark MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN for political action committee services and fundraising in the field of politics, as well as clothing, bags, buttons, bumper stickers, signage and similar items typically associated with political campaigns.  (The mark was assigned to the non-profit corporation Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., which currently owns the registrations, so “by Trump” may not be technically correct, but who really cares so long as the revenues are reported by the correct party.)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Jeffrey Pfeffer, Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time (Harper Business, 2015)

It’s been a while since I’ve written about a book that is actually about business, something I try to do from time to time (even though frequent readers know I trend toward historical fiction). Casting about for something to write about for this post, the perfect subject presented itself in a high-gloss alumni magazine that appears in my mailbox every other month. 

It seems a professor at Stanford Business School, Jeffrey Pfeffer, has written a somewhat iconoclastic analysis of the business leadership industry. Perfect. When it comes to business reading, my view (which I share with any number of our entrepreneurial clients) is this: The more iconoclastic, the better. The title—Leadership BS—makes it pretty clear whose ox is going to be gored. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

No Free Speech Rights Under Private Employers

Last week, we held a presidential election in this country. You may have heard about it.

When I woke up Wednesday morning (after very little sleep, like a lot of Americans), I found social media ablaze with fuel being thrown from all sides. I was barely two steps into Facebook when I found my first post from an employee (in addition to practicing law, I own a few companies, including a retail business) spewing some nasty words at another candidate’s voters. Jump two posts away, there’s a different employee posting a personal letter directed at all voters for the other top candidate.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Maintaining Your Minnesota Public Benefit Corporation Status

It can happen to anyone: Despite good intentions, you miss a payment deadline.  Then the grace period lapses, and you’re stuck paying a late fee.

It’s no different with your Minnesota annual business renewal.  Miss the Secretary of State’s filing deadline, and, at a minimum, you have to pay a late fee.  Let it go a little longer, and you may be facing administrative dissolution.  But as a corporation or an LLC, you can likely be reinstated just as soon as you (eventually) file your renewal paperwork and pay up.  However, as a Minnesota public benefit corporation – a corporation formed under Chapter 304A of the Minnesota Statutes – the stakes are a little higher.  

Monday, November 7, 2016

Birthday Cakes, Candy Corn, and Peeps— A Few “Sweet” Questions to ask your Marketing Advisor

Last week, I celebrated my birthday, which always includes a Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake. I do mean specifically the vanilla ice cream/chocolate ice cream/chocolate fudge and crunchy candy combination cake, NOT to be confused with Dairy Queen Blizzard® Cakes, Coldstone Ice Cream Cakes, Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes, or any other ice cream cake creations. As I enjoyed my cake with my family (with the occasional interruption from trick-or-treaters), I thought to myself “why do we have birthday cakes?” (Answer: The general consensus is that the concept of celebrating birthdays began as a way for the Egyptians to honor the day a pharaoh was crowned and thus transformed into a god. Eventually, birthday celebrations were extended to the wealthy and famous, who could afford sweet and sugary cakes. Due to the industrial revolution, birthday cakes became mass produced and affordable for everyday folks.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mattress Buying: A Consumer’s Tale

We’re expecting a new addition to our family in the coming months and have decided that now is a good time to upgrade our queen-sized mattress to a king-sized one.  Right now things are already pretty crowded with my husband, me, our dog and two cats, and we’re aware that adding our new four-year-old son during lazy weekend mornings and bedtime stories could push us over the edge—literally.  It’s been ten years since we bought our last one and the mattress-buying landscape has changed a lot during that time.  

Our last mattress-buying experience consisted of us going into a store and coming out with a much more expensive mattress than we’d planned on (and one which I have not stopped complaining about since the day it was delivered), so I decided to do things differently this time.  We are going to buy a mattress online that comes in a box.  Despite having qualms about not being able to try it out in person, I’ve bought into the line that all the online mattress companies use: how can you really tell by lying on a mattress for 5 minutes in the store anyway?  All the online mattress companies I’m looking at offer long trial periods to figure out if you like it or not.  And what clinched it for me was this: if you return it, you don’t have to figure out how to stuff it back into the box—they’ll come get it from you for free.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Random October Musings

I wanted to share a few quick thoughts as I look out the window and wonder whether I should do anything about all the leaves in my yard.  There are a depressing number of leaves on the ground, and yet still hundreds of brilliant yellow, green, orange and red leaves in the trees.  It seems silly to spend all that time cleaning up these fallen leaves, when there are just going to be more on the ground tomorrow.  Fall is a great time of year to be a Minnesotan, but I could do without all the accompanying yardwork.

Oh yeah, the thoughts….Here they are:

  • Here’s an interesting post by Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz, a Seattle-based search engine optimization (SEO) company.  Moz recently went through a round of lay-offs as part of refocusing on its core business and disengaging from ancillary pursuits.  I found the post interesting, in part, because the author is very honest and transparent about the failed business strategy that led to the pivot and resulting terminations.  We spend a lot of time discussing and celebrating success stories, but spend very little time acknowledging and learning from failures.  A lot can be learned from our own mistakes, and the mistakes of others.  I found his openness on this issue refreshing.