Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Toxic Workplace: Why?

 "Did you ever notice how some people, when confronted with a problem, will coagulate like white corpuscles to defend the body against the medication intended to heal the illness?" Slim Fairview

The Quotations of Slim Fairview © 2020 Robert Asken The toxic workplace exists for many reasons: 1. Management truly does have a vested interest in protecting the company's Public Image. 2. The Consumer doesn't care. 3. The toxic individual is extremely good at his job & or works for less than others will, & management will put up with that. 4. It is very difficult to criticise those who tells you to your face what a great person & valuable employee you are in front of everyone 5. Toxic people are good liars 6. Toxic people have allies among those who are afraid of the toxic person. Especially if they are only marginal performers 7. Toxic people have allies among their bosses who are also toxic & want to protect their own hegemony from retribution 8. Toxic people using Machiavellian principles bring in people who are loyal to them 9. Toxic people are publicly ingratiating & will put on grand displays to curry favour with many who are not in their department. Quotations of Slim Fairview © 2020 Robert Asken Regards, Slim.

Robert Asken
Box 33
Pen Argyl, PA

Copyright © 2020 Robert Asken
All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Believing in Our Expectations

When you see what you expect to see, you can be easily mislead by your own expectations. 

A simple card trick I saw as a youngster proves it.

The Children's Show host, Claude Kirchner, performed a card trick. Then explained it.

Here is the explanation:

Mr. Kirchner started with a large playing card; but instead of hearts or diamonds, he had spots.

On one side, there were 2 of the 3 spots you would have on a three. On the other side, there were 5 of the 6 spots you would see on a six. One of the spots on the side was missing.

He held up the card, fingers over the top spot of the "3" card  and said, One. 

Then, turned the card over, fingers over the spot on the side of the "6" card and said, four. 

Turned the card over, fingers over the blank space and said three. Turned the card over, fingers over the blank space and said six.

One, four, three, six.

With each turn of the card, Mr. Kirchner relied on our expectation.

We believed he was telling us what was in reality only what  we expected to see.

We see this in many aspects of life.

In Medieval Times, people believed that a Solar Eclipse was in reality a dragon eating the Sun.  They would run to the town square to beat on pots and pans and drums to frighten the dragon away.  When the Solar Eclipse ended, they believed that they chased the dragon away.  However, they also validated their theory that as Solar Eclipse was really a dragon eating the Sun.  For those who watch The Big Bang Theory will know this as Post hoc ergo propter hoc.  A fallacy in logic.

Caveat. Beware!

Sincerest regards,


Copyright © 2020 Robert Asken 
All rights reserved.

Robert Asken
Box 33
Pen Argyl, PA 18072

Data? Think about this

Data! Think about this.

It's Saturday. 

You and your wife are having her two sisters over for lunch.
You try to decide whether to eat inside or outside on the picnic table.

Your wife says, let's wait til they get here as ask them how they feel.

Jane arrives. You ask her about eating outside or inside.

She replies, "It's such a beautiful day I had to go back to put on shorts and a short sleeve blouse. Let's eat outside."

A few minutes later Sue arrives. You tell her about the plans to eat outside.

She replies, "It's too cold to eat outside. I had to go back to put on slacks and a sweater."

You check the thermometer, The Data reads 72 Degrees (f)

To Jane, it's warm.
To Sue, it's too cold.
The Data says 72.

Data has its limits. That is where thinking begins.



"There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labour of thinking." Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Copyright © 2020 Robert Asken

All rights reserved.

Robert Asken

Box 33 

Pen Argyl PA



Sunday, February 2, 2020

Global Transformation

Armed only with an analytical mind and the ability to speak in metaphors,  I've relied on my education and experience to write about global political and economic events. To focus on Emerging Economies, and to formulate a realistic approach to problem solving.

My main concentration has been closing the wealth and the income gaps in emerging nations and shedding light on China's influence on the global economy,

My blog has been an unfunded, unsupported, non-profit web log.

In addition I posted several PowerPoint presentations on various topics:  Emerging Nations, The Environment, and Globalization.

Now I am attempting into expanding into more effective efforts: videos and podcasting.

I would like to upgrade my technology
Create a more effective presentation
and cover expenses  that have been neglected.

Relying on the Bauhaus philosophy, form follows function, I created a minimal budget.

I set up a GoFundMe account but it is not functioning at the moment.  But only for the second time in the past 2 months.

Here is my GoFundMe Link:  GoFundMe


Robert Asken
Box 33
Pen Argyl, PA 18072

Thank you.


I often hear about 30 under 30.  I am looking to empower 60 over 60.  Those with the experience and education to go beyond raising awareness to the level of focusing on substantive gains.

Thank you for any support you my give to my efforts.



Robert Asken
Box 33 
Pen Argyl, PA 18072

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Virtual Teams: A Vital Shift in Business

As the discussions swirl around us, they only touch on the periphery of the transformations of how we will be doing business.

It is virtually impossible to do business the old-fashioned way. Remember? Assemble qualified people in an office on an upper floor of an office building in the city.

High button shoes, pince-nez, and pocket-watches.

Now, talent is spread around the country and around the world.  Today, assembling talent is done in a virtual environment.  And team building has new challenges.

I wrote an article "Teamwork if for Teams"  But to be fair, I still have pocket watch.  Now, you need  to know what I can scarcely imagine.  Hence:

Myths V. Fact
The Virtual Truth

A Free Webinar by Virtual Team Builders



Thursday, November 7, 2019

Good Consultant or Bad Consultant?

Through the magic of metaphor, Dorothy lands in The Land of Oz.  There, a shiny bubble appears, then dissolves to reveal Glinda.

Glinda asks Dorothy, "Are you a good consultant or a bad consultant?"

Dorothy replies, "I'm not a consultant at all. Consultants are mean and ugly."

The Munchkins laugh.

"What's that? Dorothy asks.

Glinda replies, "The Munchkins.  They are laughing because, I am a consultant."

"I beg your pardon," Dorothy says as she curtsies.

"You see," Glinda says, "only bad consultants are mean and ugly.  Good consultants are sweet and beautiful. Like me."

We see this played out as Dorothy heads to the Emerald City.

The Wicked Consultant of the West, does everything she can to impede Dorothy and her friends on their journey to the Emerald City.

While Glinda, the Good Consultant of the South, does everything she can to help Dorothy and her friends get to the Emerald City and to help Dorothy return to Kansas.  And Toto too.

Now, when you are looking to hire a consultant, do your homework.  And, in the event you make the wrong choice, keep a bucket of water handy.



If you find anything here to be helpful, send me a post-card, drop me a line.

Bob Asken
Box 33
Pen Argyl, PA 

Copyright © 2019
Bob Asken
All Rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Economic Survival--Long-Term

When I wrote that China elevated (at various points)

300 Million

500 Million

700 Million

people from poverty to the middle class, I pointed out China created a

Middle Class

Consumer Class

Investor Class

I also pointed out that China created cohesion among the Chinese people.  China created a buy-in.  A vested interest in the success of the Chinese economy.

This brings us to Henry Ford.

Ford doubled his employees' salaries and cut the work week to 40 hours.  He, essentially, created the Middle Class.

Ford workers could now, and subsequently buy

A Ford

A Washing Machine

A Refrigerator (Ice Box)

A Radio & Eventually

A Sears Roebuck House  (Some assembly required.)

By creating a Middle Class, he created a Consumer Class and an Investor Class.  He gave the American worker a vested interest in the success of he American Economy.

Don't get me wrong; the labour movement was ugly, violent, fraught with private armies, sabotage, strikes, lockouts, scabs, strike-breakers, and the like.  Nonetheless, the strong Middle Class meant a Strong Economy.  A strong Economy meant a Strong America.

The Middle Class is the Economy.

Now, The American Widget Company is not going to hire one additional widget maker, until there is an order for one widget more than the company can make when operating a maximum capacity and optimal efficiency.

They also know:

If you grow faster than your market, you tie up capital.
If your market grows faster than you do, you lose market share.  Therefore, company growth is predicated on a rising demand curve.  And when more people buy stuff, they make more widgets, increase their revenue, invest their returns, and also benefit from revenue enhancement.

China: Rising middle class, rising economy.

India:  Rising middle class, rising economy.

Russia: Stagnant middle class, stagnant economy.

America:  Declining middle class, follow the path of the trajectory.

One reason I wrote, 

Tax policy to increase wages $5 an hour. Now! was to show the benefit to increasing wages with a tax policy that incentivises, business increasing wages with serious tax benefits for doing so, and subsequent economic benefits as the programme proceeds. 

If you want to close the gap, you redistribute the money.

Henry Ford did not redistribute the wealth.  He redistributed the money.

Wealth is what you have.

Money is what you make.

If you own a $100 Million Factory, but can't run a business, you make earn $50.000 a year.

If you own a $500 laptop and pay $100 for an internet connexion, (A service, not an asset) might earn $1Million a year.

The first example, you have wealth but little money.

In the second example, you have little wealth but make a lot of money.

If you are responsible, you save half your income, and in 20 years you have $10 Million.

If you spend it on loud noises, bright colours, and shiny things, you end up with nothing.

In the first example, you may end up liquefying assets and come out with, say, $50 Million.  Wealth is what you have. Money is what you make.  If we want to close the gap, we redistribute--Read: Reinvest--the money, create a Solid Middle Class, and let the economy help people create wealth.

Further reading:

Tax Policy to Increase Wages $5 an hour. Now!

If You Really Want to Close the Gap

Powell's Testimony House Financial Services Committee

If you're really interested and energetic & ambitious:

Hillary Redux

Sincerest regards,


If you find anything here to be helpful, please don't hesitate to send me a really tricked-out Mac Book and to tuck a few dollars into the envelope along with the thank you car.

Robert Asken
Box 33 
Pen Argyl, PA 18072

Copyright © 2019  Robert Asken
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Tropical Products: From Africa to the World.

In economic development, people focus on the Big Picture.  Unfortunately, this leaves out a crucial factor:

Local People

Just as House Speaker Tip O'Neill said, "All politics is local." so to "All Economics is Local."

With the internet, local means bringing people around the world together to do business.

In the course of writing about global political and economic events, I came across something interesting on a local level to write about.  

Someone restated a phrase I used in designing a portal website years ago.  "Local People Helping Local People."

The message conveyed is simple.

You send a message that the world must work together.

People helping people helps all people.  

Mr. Thomas AHOLOUHOUEDE introduces himself to the global community this way:

Hello to all,
We are a company in Africa,
We grow and sell tropical products:

Located in Cotonou, Benin, Thomas AHOLOUHOUEDE sells

Tropical products: 
Shelled and unshelled nuts
Cotton and cotton seeds
Shea butter seeds
100% pure African Benin.

We can deliver up to 5,000 tons.
We also represent companies that want to sell their products in Africa.

At this time Thomas AHOLOUHOUEDE is looking to expand to the global market.  He is seeking investors familiar with agriculture to expand into 

United States.

Thomas AHOLOUHOUEDE provides his contact information.


This is an opportunity to demonstrate the power of the global economic community operating on the internet.

Slim Fairview.


Monday, August 19, 2019

Woe is Me . Retail Declines

Oh, dear.
Consumers are spending their money on services not on retail. Consumers are spending their money on experiences not in stores. Consumers are spending their money on destinations. Woe is me. Woe is us. Mall space is not only retail space Mall space is not retail space only Mall Space is Real Estate. Real Estate is an Asset. Mall Space is an Asset. Transform the Mall into a destination where people can spend their money on the experience & have modified retail space to capitalize on the "internet experience". The Department Store becomes a hands on catalog with a digital purchase & an overnight delivery. Analogy: Did you have a job? Yes. Did you drive to work? Yes. Did you lose your job? Yes. Are you looking for a new job? Yes. Until you find one you can A. Leave your car in the garage & pretend you are looking for a new job, or B. Turn your car (asset) into an Uber or Lyft car in order to generate a revenue flow in the area where you are looking for a job. Buy a mobile hot-spot to connect to the internet at an affordable rate, Expense your car, Network with other.

Old Mall New City

Another Analogy

You own a filling station. Sales are off because People are driving less People are switching to hybrid cars People are car-pooling  People are using public transportation. The station down the street has the same problem The station down the street raises gas prices to offset the decline in revenue. More people switch to hybrid cars. You, however, read my posts. You install electric-car charging stations. You attract owners of hybrid cars. You are able to hold or lower your gasoline prices. You attract owners of gasoline powered cars. Your installation of charging stations (diversify your business activity) enables you to increase revenue. You attract  Standard Car Owners Hybrid Car Owners Electric Car Owners

Who Moved the Store?

Who is Killing the Supermarket?

Slim. "If you find anything here to be helpful, please don't hesitate to send me a really tricked out Mac Pro and to tuck a few dollars into the envelope into the thank you note. Slim.

Robert Asken
Box 33
Pen Argyl, PA 18072

Copyright © 2019 Robert Asken
All Rights reserved.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

You Can't Fool the Lion Video


Copyright ©  2018
Bob Asken
All rights reserved.

Bob Asken
Box 33 
Pen Argyl PA

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Who is Killing the Supermarket?

“If you grow faster than your market, you tie up capital.  
If your market grows faster than you do, you lose market share.”  
~Slim Fairview
The Quotations of Slim Fairview © 2018

Now, let’s move on to the death of the Supermarket as we know it.

Part of the problem is the Big-tailers.  And part of the problem is your
supplier.  And the rest of the problem is the supermarket industry
response to the problem

If your product sells out, shoppers will either

a. buy your product at another store
b. try your competitors product.

If we focus on you the retailer, you lose customers to a competitor.

If we focus on you the supplier, you lose customers to a competitor.

If you run out of product on the shelf, customers will try another product.
That, or try another store.

The problem for the supplier has been significantly blunted.  
While the customer may shop at another store, they will still buy
the same product. However, there is a third option. Buy your
product online.

The challenge for the retailer--owner of the supermarket--is different.

If consumers don't like the bread in your bakery department or don't
like the quality of your produce, they will move to another supermarket.
This is an in-house problem.

But the suppliers who stock your shelves have two options and they
appear to be using both. I noticed this a while back.  But it hit
home on a recent trip to the supermarket.  

I bought the last three bottles of caffeine-free, diet Pepsi, hereafter
known as Cfd-Pepsi.

This happened while "the youngster" from Pepsi was stocking
the shelves.

"You always run out.  Why don't you put more on the shelf?"
"I don't have enough space."
I pointed to the 10 rows of Pepsi.  
"Take down some of them and put it there."
"I can't. Corporate determines what goes in the space."

True?  Untrue?  I don't know.  However, I can tell you this about retail.  
No matter who you are, no matter what you sell, I can identify two
products that are not selling.

The stuff on the shelf.  I know this because your stuff is on the shelf.

The stuff that's not on the shelf.  I know this because you can't sell
something that's not on the shelf.

In short, corporate does not determine how the space is allocated.
The consumers do.

"There are no unintended consequences.  
Only unwanted consequences."
~ Slim Fairview.

The Incredible Shrinking Industry

Here is the new downside.

Consumers can continue moving to online supermarkets or buy from
club stores such as Sam's Club® or both.

Now, if you are a retailer, you have an incentive to keep product on
the shelf. If consumers buys Cfd-Pepsi online, consumers can also
buy other items:

Heavy Items:

Soft drinks
Bottled Water
Canned Goods

Bulky Items:

Paper products
Bathroom Tissues
Potato Chips.

Fussy Items (many small items.):

Paper Straws
Shave Cream
Razor Blades

What does that leave you with?


Perishables like Lettuce & Tomatoes
Frozen Items like:

Fish Sticks
Burger Patties

And your meat department.

If online savings are significant and, as incomes rise, your customers
will move to the butcher shop to buy meat.

And if keeping your shelves stocked in those areas is
a challenge, then the quality of management at your local
competitor will be a determining factor.

From my personal observation this is what you run out of:

unsalted butter
cream cheese (the real cream cheese)
Kraft, extra-sharp, Whole Milk, Cheddar Cheese--orange.

If a consumer does not find the aforementioned cheese on the shelf,
the consumer may buy another brand of cheddar
and not your healthier brand of cheddar.
If your customer tries a competitor then taste or price
may result in loss of sales.

The Kraft, ESWM Cheddar--orange routinely sells out.  The Cheese
made with 2% Milk, does not.

When you don't have enough ESWM Cheddar--orange on the shelf,
we buy the other brand.

Now, shelf space is a premium.  If you want to optimize your resources,
you ask yourself, "If I have 50 bottles of Pepsi across 10 facings
on the shelf, and three facings of the Cfd-Pepsi on the shelf
that are empty, I am losing sales. This may result in the loss
of customers and revenue.

While I am sympathetic to suppliers.  You should not be.
Let's look at widgets.

It is easier for The Widget Company to ship 10,000 widgets
a month to an e-tailer than to ship 100 widgets a week
to 24 retailers every week for a year.

The e-tailer can satisfy my customers' needs. I am optimizing
on the profit motive. However, there is the flip-side. The
retail store. To understand their predicament, let's look
at the PLCB.  The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

In Pennsylvania, liquor is sold in State owned stores.  
The PLCB is a profitable agency. One of the few government
agencies that brings money in to the State. The PLCB works
on the profit model.  The State liquor stores do not.
They operate on the revenue model.

Across the river, in New Jersey, liquor store owners operate
on the profit model.  It a customer wants Bolla® Soave,
and the store doesn't carry it, the owners will order a case.  
If it sells, they keep it in stock. If sales are low, they still keep
it in stock. Why? Because if they do not have it in stock,
the customer who wants it, will buy it at a competitor. And
in so doing, will buy other products at the other store.  

There are no competitors in Pennsylvania.

Great Product! Bad Management?

In the late eighties, we found what I believe was the best frozen pizza
on the market.  Red Baron® . They had four facings.
Plain, Pepperoni, Deluxe, Supreme Deluxe.

Four facings.  

My wife and I bought a plain pizza to try it.  It was great. I went
back the next day on my way home from work.  There were
three left. I bought one.

When I went back for more, there were none.  I asked the
youngster in frozen foods, if there was more in the back.

"No."  But that they were getting more in.

When the next shipment arrived, the facing was full.  I bought two.
Two days later the facing was empty. And it remained so until
the next shipment.

Eventually, it seems, they eliminated the Cheese Pizza.  
Now they have 4-cheese Pizza.
Nothing says "Italian" like cheddar cheese on a pizza.

The failure?

"The retailer repeatedly ordered more."

"The supplier repeatedly shipped more."

Both sides failed to grasp the concept:
"more high big numbers". [sic]

If your product is selling out, ship more high big numbers.

If your shelf is empty, order more high big numbers.  

Today, there is unbridled competition in the frozen pizza business.
We no longer buy Red Baron. I realize that consumer-taste
is constantly changing. However, there is little evidence in
the supermarket industry to suggest that getting rid of a line
of product optimizes space, attracts customers, increases
sales, or increases profits.

Failure to monitor the situation.

Now, as my my biggest complaint about online articles is,
they are descriptive,not prescriptive, I will offer up initial action.

Hand the manager of your store a clipboard, a pad of legal paper,
and a pen.  

Send interns or management trainees down the aisles to "unface"
the shelves.

Walk through the store, aisle by aisle, and have your manager
write down what has sold out.

Split your trainees into two small groups.

Group One walks ahead of your manager unfacing the shelves.  
Pushing products into their spots revealing gaping spaces that
are draining your revenue and jeopardizing your bottom line.

Group Two will follow to face the shelves.

The manger will do this twice a day for four weeks.  

Look at the invoices:  

What did we run out of?
How much did we order?  
Order more, high, big numbers.

Don't tell me about computers and truck to shelf stocking.
If computers worked you would not be running out of product.

But this addresses only part of the problem.

The Industry is not adjusting to the shift.
The industry is adapting to the shift.
The industry is not adjusting to the shift.

In a word: Change!

It is no secret that the variety on the shelf is dwindling.
Twenty-five feet of shelf space, 5 feet by 5 shelves, that
displayed a variety of rice--by brand, type, price--has dwindled
to a few feet of space with some bagged rice & pasta meals,
and a few boxes of instant rice.

Suppliers and Retailers are complicit in the devolution of
the industry.

Some options:

Have customers call in or go online to shop their list then
come in later to pick it up.

Have phone shopping or online shopping coupled with a
delivery service.

Have customers buy butter, eggs, milk, bread, cheese, bread,
and orange juice, but have bulky items, heavy items, and
fussy items delivered or shipped to their homes.

Start a joint venture with other local markets to buy a
"local warehouse" to make it possible to deliver food
regardless of which store made the sale.

The last may seem counter-intuitive, however, you are
talking about survival.

Best of luck.

Sincerest regards,

Slim Fairview

If you find anything here to be helpful, please don't hesitate
to send me a really tricked out Mac and to tuck a few dollars
into the envelope along with the thank you note.  Slim.

Bob Asken
Box 33
Pen Argyl, PA 18072

Copyright (c) 2018 Bob Asken
All rights reserved.