What You Can Learn From Trader Joe

Lauren and I LOVE Trader Joe’s — a chain of small grocery stores that are in 25 states plus D.C. If you’ve shopped at TJ’s, chances are good you love themm too.

So I found this article from the Fortune really interesting. Some of it relates to my Essentials Project, too.

One example — Trader Joe is twice as profitable as Whole Foods Market per square foot and their secret isn’t more but less selection.

With the greater turnover on a smaller number of items, Trader Joe’s can buy large quantities and secure deep discounts. And it makes the whole business — from stocking shelves to checking out customers — much simpler.

Swapping selection for value turns out not to be much of a tradeoff. Customers may think they want variety, but in reality too many options can lead to shopping paralysis. “People are worried they’ll regret the choice they made,” says Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore professor and author of TheParadox of Choice. “People don’t want to feel they made a mistake.” Studies have found that buyers enjoy purchases more if they know the pool of options isn’t quite so large. Trader Joe’s organic creamy unsalted peanut butter will be more satisfying if there are only nine other peanut butters a shopper might have purchased instead of 39. Having a wide selection may help get customers in the store, but it won’t increase the chances they’ll buy.

Essentials Project : Project Clutter

When I introduced my Essentials Project, I mentioned that I want to start cutting down my possessions to get to what is really important to me. Well, there’s another any of my life that I’ve realized is totally out of control — my projects.

Take a look at that picture. Those pieces of paper list the current projects that are on my plate. I started making a list of what I’m working on last night, typing each one in big letters so I can read them easily on my wall (and using different fonts for each one for clarity and because I love fonts.) Each line is a project that is supposed to be bringing in money.

And yet — I’m not bringing in very much money at all right now.

Once I typed out all the projects, my problem because totally obvious to me; I have way, way too much on my plate. Very very few of my projects are automated. My assistant Crystal is only working on a couple of them and the work she’s doing doesn’t directly relate to brining in income. Almost all of those 21 projects require my work and attention to nearly every details.

I’d saying I’m drowning in projects but let me put it another way — my projects are drowning because of ME and it’s not fair to either the projects or the people who could benefit from them.

So this becomes one area that I really need to cut down to eseentials. I need eliminate, delegate, automate and otherwise do things to let these projects to live and breathe.

Anyone else have the same problem? Do you have too many projects or too few?

Add Erica Goldson To The Hero List

Erica is a high school valedictorian who may have written the best speech ever given in a high school. . Go read it now but here’s a little bit of it.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers.
I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him.
But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave.
I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost?
I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared.

New Habits

After about of week of moving and with a ton of work above and beyond the call of duty from my son Shane, Lauren and I finally got completely and totally moved out of our apartment yesterday. After nearly five years back in Southern California, we’ve taken the first step towards the next big phase in our lives.

I’m still working at NBC for the next four weeks or so, I think. In the meantime, Lauren, Jack, Olivia, me and a cat or so are all crammed into a very small hotel room about 15 minutes up the freeway from our old place. And crammed isn’t an exaggeration because there’s also 20 or so boxes of our stuff.

One of the keys to staying sane in tight quarters is trying to get out of them as much as you need to. So this morning about 6:00am I headed out to Starbucks. I signed up for their Card Rewards thing so now I get 2 hours of free Wifi a day.

In addition to my other pursuits, one of the new habits I’ve cultivating is ‘let’s make some damn money’. So, away from the room crowded with stuff I own and people I love, I had a coffee and got the following done…cleared my email inbox, new post on BobCesca.com, a couple of ads from Craigslist selling stuff, suggested to a friend how they can make a little money and then got a latte to bring back to Lauren.

All before 8:15. So I’m happy with that!

The Economy Sucks…

Yes, the ecnomy is awful and headed towards a worse place with high unemployment but…

It’s never been within the reach of so many people to educate themselves on so many different subjects.

It’s never been easier to find bargains, comparison shop, or research purchases.

It’s never been cheaper to start, manage and promote a business.

There’s never been a point in history where artists had access to so many different tools in all media, from the visual arts to music to filmmaking.

Which means nothing to you if you don’t take advantage of it…