What I’m thinking about today:

1.Furious over the idea of gender classes
2.Are we 21st century slaves
3.Retailers who get mobile…or do they?
4.What’s the deal, Men’s Wearhouse?

1. I got a D in algebra but an A in mowing the lawn. I’m becoming very concerned about the rhetoric politicians are using in arguing against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). And regardless of where you stand on it, you should too. Why? Because of speeches like this, from Rep. Phil Gingrey, (R-Ga.) where he suggested that maybe young boys and girls should take classes to learn traditional gender roles because there are some things fathers do “maybe a little bit better” than mothers.

Like what? See HD TV better (my wife still claims there isn’t a difference); quoting movie lines; operating a remote control; understanding of the infield fly rule?

This is dangerous ground people. Using one issue to force your personal opinions on the public is bad enough, but to do it in a way that suggests enslaving young children in a classroom based on their gender is another thing entirely. I have two young girls and my wife and I work every day to free them of any self-imposed gender bias, specifically around the toys they play with, the shows they watch, the sports they play and how they talk and are talked to. Then I read this and think how that could all be undone by one man’s personal quest to prevent people from relationship freedom. And then I calm myself down and think ‘hey, it’s one guy’s opinion; even if he is a lawmaker and is in a position to do more with that opinion than any of us’. So I read on. And I see a comment like this, from the Republican governor of Mississippi: “America’s education system began declining when moms entered the workplace.”

What??

These are our politicians people. This is alarming. To think that children cannot thrive and be better because of a working mom is ridiculous. I know a lot of working moms, including my wife, who, in my opinion, have to work twice as hard because they choose to be great moms despite a busy and full schedule. And I know a lot of dads, spouses, partners who work equally as hard. Because being a parent and raising a family, regardless of what that family “looks” like is hard work. You need the help from your entire extended family and friends to create a positive environment for your children. And positive influences can come from anywhere…and sometimes where and when you least expect it. We shouldn’t be looking for ways to prevent that. We should be looking for ways to encourage it.

Maybe instead of focusing on ways to take steps backwards lawmakers should be looking at ways to be a guide on our journey forward. Instead of telling us what we can’t do we should be looking to them for ways to realize and thrive with what we can do.

2. 21st century slaves. Sorry for the heavy topics this morning but there are some things you just can’t ignore. And this is another one. If you read this blog often you know that I talk a lot about the responsibility of using social media. Recently I’ve been in many conversations around what ignoring that warning means to us as a human race. Less interaction and human touch. Less engagement with each other. Less independent thought. We are rewiring our brains every day to process only bits and pieces of information and then not only passing that information as off as fact but doing it with our own stamp of approval, meaning we aren’t taking the time to explore the opinions of others (I.e., fact check) nor are we contributing to that information, essentially forfeiting our own thought in place of someone else’s.

What does this mean for us? Well, it means we are becoming the masses. We aren’t taking the time to understand the issues and share a personal thought on them. We share what others think and say about them, which may or may not be true or accurate. We’re talking in 140 characters and listening in 20.

This article covers that very topic, talking about the concept of 21st century slaves. I guess it resonates with me because while I don’t have time to always create content I never want to lose the ability to process and apply it. That’s the purpose of this blog. It’s an opportunity for me to stay plugged in while forcing myself to think about what I’m reading and what you might find interesting or helpful.

Here’s a sampling from the article – please find some time to read the whole piece!

My opinion on this issue (at least one of them) is that our human slowness, the speed of new technologies and the superficiality of knowledge are creating a new kind of slavery, and I think we are starting to realize this.

As a society we move towards knowing and learning more about the tools than about what drives the content:
• we use Excel, but we are not capable of rationalizing the equations that give the answer;
• we use Word, and we blindly believe that its spell-checker works just great;
• we applaud the ideas of others because so-and-so said it, and we don’t stop to think whether what they are saying has any value, whether it can be improved or even criticized;
• we discard events in order to move on to others, and we don’t stop to think how they are related (e.g. a Nobel Peace Prize-winner announced he will be sending more troops to a particular war).

We are so concerned with being informed that we forget to reason. Knowing does not necessarily mean learning. A society expert in tools but oblivious to reason ends up enslaving itself. Curiosity alone is harmless; curiosity that leads to action is good, curiosity that moves us, that makes us creative, that makes us human. To think in terms of a free society—that’s the challenge faced by those who have ideas.

3. Thinking about an in-store mobile strategy? Check out these retailers that do it the right way. I found this article on the ‘five retailers that get mobile’ to be very interesting. The five examples are good, no doubt, but they all center around in-store experience. That’s the right strategy, though, no? Yes, it is – the easier it is for you to get in, find what you want and get out the better for you. Target, with it’s list checker (makes sure you get everything on your list) and Walmart with its in-store mode (scan the items as you buy them and then go to self-checkout) are really leading the way with this. However, I have two questions:

Is it limiting to think of these as only ‘in-store’ apps? With shoppers moving to research and eventually purchasing on-line, is an in-store experience limiting to the total shopper experience? I’d like to see retailers think beyond the physical store and move to tie everything together, from what you’re Pinning to what you’re liking and searching for to actually buying and shipping. We’re not there yet.

Is there a back-end component missing? Maybe this is happening and I’m not aware, but with Target and Walmart, you are ‘listing’ in one way or another what you’re actually buying. Is that syncing up with your database to hit me up with some rewards or coupons on those projects for another day, whether in-store or online? I’d really like to see this be integrated in a way that turns the shopping experience

4. You are not going to like the way this looks, I guarantee it. Wow. Talk about disrespect. George Zimmer, founder and executive chairman of Men’s Wearhouse is out. Fired.

The company gave no reason for his dismissal only saying they’ve severed ties. Zimmer claims its tied to the fact he expressed concerns about the direction of the company. Regardless of the reason, the direction of the company, for the time being, is down. As in stocks were down 6% on the heels of the announcement.

Zimmer, who is a commercial icon on the level of Dave Thomas, is instantly associated with Mens Wearhouse, which had sales of $2.38B in 2012. Zimmer, who has one of the best beards on TV, started appearing in ads back in 1985. But don’t worry – you’ll still see him. Adding insult to injury, Men’s Wearhouse still owns the rights to Zimmer’s image and 500 hours of footage. I’m not sure how he allowed that to happen but I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to watch yourself shill for the company that you founded and then fired you.