Anxiety and Stress

This has been an insanely stressful, anxiety-ridden twelve months.  I have an ability to just power through things and pretend all is fine and dandy.  It was survival skills as a kid.  Now I’m more aware, thanks to therapy, that these past twelve months have sucked in multiple ways

We are seriously pliable as human beings.  We have adjusted to Zoom.  We have adjusted to being homebodies.  We have adjusted to masks.  It’s so long in the tooth.

I am now half-vaccinated.  The booster is around the corner.  I’m psyched to be able to be out there in the world without feeling vulnerable. However, I want everyone to feel the same.  The things we love to do won’t return until we can roam freely. 

We finally traveled outside of NY this week.  We are out in Park City.  It feels good to have time to compress and think.  Being outside and skiing feels free.  It is still strange when too many people are on the mountain, but we move through them quickly. Hoping, as we all are, that the stress and underlying anxiety will go away sooner than later

Bring on those vaccines!

The Youth Rise Up

We are living longer. We are also seeing people, way past the “supposed” retirement age, stay in power longer. It is happening in Government and business. Instead of spending the last years of life, and if you dipped at 70, that could be 30 more years; taking it easy, people continue to work. I get it. It feels good to work, use your brain, have a purpose, and make an impact.

How many people making decisions for many at the young age of 70 can actually wrap their arms around how we will live in the future? What I wonder is, “can you teach an old dog new tricks”?

Arora Akanksha is running for Secretary-General of the UN at the ripe old age of 34.  Japan’s youth rose up against Yoshiro Miro, the Olympic head, and he was pushed out. The men’s patriarchal society would have just accepted his apology.  Alicia Garza and Patrica Cullors who co-founded the Black Lives Matter movement. Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, both anti-gun activists. Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland, and Tamika Mallory who founded the Women’s March.  These are just a few examples of the youth, people who understand where our future needs to go.

The youth (and granted youth here are people under 40) understand more than anyone where we are going and need to go as a nation and as a world when it comes to climate change, the digital divide, cryptocurrencies, accepting each other for whoever we are and embracing these changes.

Many of the older crowd, not so much. Even how they play politics. Unclear how we start passing off more visionary thinking to the youth but supporting their voices is a start.

Will We Ever Change?

Perhaps it is age. Age seems to make me more realistic and perhaps a little cynical. It could be from a variety of things, including the slog of the past year. Maybe I am becoming a curmudgeon.

Last night we were watching basketball and on comes an ad from Adobe. The plotline is Mom makes ice cream, and kids spark her to build a business and boom, she’s killing it.  That’s not how it fucking works.  It pisses me off that these are the ads being pushed at Americans.  Look how easy it is! Jump in and create a consumer product which is one of the hardest businesses to get off the ground.

I love entrepreneurs.  I’ve backed them, and I am one myself.  I’m not employable.  I know that, and I’ve been able to navigate that with financial success. It’s in my blood.  I’m not convinced that entrepreneurship can be taught.  It’s an innate understanding of the world at large with the unstoppable desire to make that happen.  Risk doesn’t feel like a risk. It’s a gift.  

We should embrace all kinds of careers no matter what we do.  We all can’t be entrepreneurs, but we all need to pay the rent.  That’s reality.
We are living in a moment where everyone thinks they can be an entrepreneur.  The majority of ideas that people are working on are not new and will not get funded or succeed. That is a fact.

The biggest distortion of reality these days is the media. Can’t we stop foisting this type of advertising on the public?  Can’t we reach out and be socially responsible and at the same time build brands around that? I don’t want to see a woman become an ice cream maven while her kids just smile, and everything seems fantastic and rosy. I want to see that Adobe is helping others succeed with real stories, not this fake news.

It’s seriously time to change the narrative, and the media has tremendous control over it.  Generation Z and the generations that come next want to see something different, not the same type of ads that have been pushed at us for decades with just different characters and different content.

When you put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig.

Manufacturing During a Pandemic, Sara Irvani, Podcast # 146

Sara Irvani is the CEO of the family-owned and operated shoe company Okabashi. We got together over zoom to highlight the changes that Sara is bringing to the family business and the challenges of expanding a sustainable made-in-America company during a pandemic.

To learn more about Okabashi, you can visit their website.

You can also listen to this on iTunes and Soundcloud.

Our next guest on Positively Gotham Gal will be Robin Hauser, the award-winning documentary filmmaker, and director of upcoming $avvy, a documentary that explores financial literacy within women

Change is on the horizon

We have been back in NYC this week.  My entire disposition changes when I am here.  I have not put on a pair of sweatpants which I admit feels insanely good

As the vaccines roll out, there is a feeling in the air that the shroud is slowly being lifted.  Businesses didn’t stop, but this time has given everyone the ability to reflect on their models. It is clear to me that Covid has accelerated where we were already going.

Walking through the streets of NYC is upsetting on the one hand yet exhilarating on the other.  It yells opportunity everywhere, particularly at street level. 

What will restaurants look like but more important is how will their business model change?  Before Covid, it was getting harder to make ends meet.  Over the past 10 years, it has become more difficult as laws have changed.

 The cost of real estate, the cost of healthcare, the cost of minimum wages rising made a massive impact on the bottom line. Now real estate prices are going down, QR codes have changed ordering, and landlords are changing leases connecting them to a percentage of gross revenue instead of a monthly check. That creates a partnership between landlord and tenant.  They then value each other.  That’s good for all of us.

How about the retail stores? Large department stores are taking out debt again to reopen with less physical spaces.  Are there any new ideas?  I have not seen a change at the top, so unclear. Once in a while, someone makes a bold move (one that probably should have been done a long time ago), and I get excited because my gut is we are going to see more retail companies jump on the bandwagon. 

Net-A-Porter made a deal with Prada.  Going forward, Prada will carry the products and drop ship to Net-A-Porter customers.  Shifting the distribution channels is game-changing.  The brand owns its inventories, not the store.  Net-A-Porter would make a commission on each sale.  If this would happen with any store, it changes the bottom line and puts the onus on the brand.

There are going to be massive changes because it wasn’t working before. We need to change. Change includes having companies be more inclusive and diverse from the top down.  It is time and that must be the biggest change of all.

Retail Partnerships

How do large retail companies rethink themselves in the post-Covid world? They do what large CPG companies have done, they build partnerships with brands that are executing on what they are not capable of doing.

Goodfair, a second-hand clothing company, partnered with Nordstrum. Super smart. Appeals to the next generation. They also partnered with Goodee. Parachute partnered with Crate and Barrel. There are many more partnerships out there. John Derrian partnered with Todd Snyder. My gut is there will be plenty more.

Will we see these large companies eventually purchase the companies they have partnered with? We will see. Spreading the wings of these companies allows them to be creative without being creative, bring in a new generation of customers, and makes them appear to be ahead of the game.

Partnerships can be great. More creativity around the table. Sharing in the ups and possible downs. Sharing floor space if the products are in a brick and mortar location.

To be honest, I am really excited to see more partnerships. I hope that they have limited inventory so the products turn quickly and we can all look forward to constant new items.

The Galas

I never liked the chicken dinner events. There are possibly one a week during the fall and spring when galas are held for nearly every non-profit organization in the city. These are serious social events. Reality is some are really fun and others are torture.

Getting dressed up is always fun. I am dying to get dressed up. When this all ends I might have to make a deal with myself that I am not allowed to wear sweat pants again except for Sundays. Certainly should not go out of the house in them.

Non-profit is always a struggle because the cash comes from donors unless you can figure out how to make money from either an organizations curriculum, product, admission or commerce. Nine times out of ten there is still a fundraising gap. Hence, the gala.

Galas raise awareness and raise cash. What will the galas look like on the other side of a pandemic? We have all changed more than we realize. Our day to day lives have halted. The pandemic has given us all plenty of time to change how we live our lives or think about how we want to live our lives.

On the other side, I am looking forward to for more parties, more cultural experiences, more cocktails and no painful sit down dinner with god awful speeches. Sometimes it isn’t good to give certain people a microphone. Let’s have people come together to celebrate an organization they love without the pomp and circumstance. We will all be rewarded.

Still here

In 1934, FDR said “I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad and ill-nourished. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much of it; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

The country was desperate at that time. There had been a severe drought in the Midwest and Southern Plains. People were packaging up and leaving everything behind. Go West is the phrase heard so often during that time.

People got out to California and did not find the world any rosier. The landowners and big businesses looked down upon the people who showed up at their door. They were hungry and filthy even though many had been successful from where they came. They had to start over again and their fellow Americans dismissed them.

It was the beginnings of Unionization and multiple Federal programs that still have their impact today. Yet, we are still here. We are now at a place where the past years’ pandemic, which is still ongoing, has destroyed peoples livelihood.

I wonder how many President’s, who actually do care about the welfare of their citizens, will have to give that speech again? When will we move forward and not have to take steps backward too? Is now the time where we are moving forward? Only 50% of the company probably believes that we are. How do we change that?

There is definitely interest coming out of Washington to take care of public housing, transportation, children, immigrants and more. The administration looks more like the country which is a huge sigh of relief…and reality.

I am starting to feel a tad more positive than I have been feeling for the past year. From the data, it feels like we are going to turn a corner sooner than later on Covid. Signs of life are happening in NYC. People want to rush back. We might all have a bit of PTSD when this all ends but I hope to shake it as soon as I can.

Pop Goes the Gig Economy?

There are many reasons to love the gig economy. It allows people to make cash on the side while pursuing other avenues in their lives. That side hustle can be the only way that some can pay the rent.

Massive companies have been built on the back of the gig workers. A classic investment strategy to breakdown barriers and jigger old businesses into new businesses. Using technology to create a more efficient system. The problem arises when it becomes obvious to all of us that the companies that employ gig workers are taking too much cash from contacts such as a restaurant or a passenger.

The more significant issue is gig workers have no safety net. They don’t have health insurance, they don’t have savings, and they don’t have days off. They rely on the system to make them money, but during Covid, it hasn’t been efficient enough to fill their pockets and bank accounts.

Is it ok for Uber to make sure that their shareholders continue to make money even though the workers they are using to obtain those numbers are hurting? I don’t think so.

We are in desperate need of healthcare for all, but that doesn’t mean that companies representing gig workers should rely on that kind of system and continue to profit from it.

I do not want to see the gig economy end. I want to see the gig economy become responsible for their employees that make their bottom line sing. It is time to fix the businesses we built.

Female Representation

Admit it, you are spending a lot of your time watching shows and movies. Lots out there to binge on or go back in time and see movies you missed.

As a kid, I watched all the TV shows. They were part of my daily life: cartoons, old Shirley Temple movies, and The Partridge Family. In my college days, I watched soap operas. Laura and Luke, I mean, c’mon. Then post-college, it was LA Law and, of course, Six Feet Under and the Sopranos. The Sopranos is the last time we really dug in and watched shows until, of course, Covid struck.

Movies are definitely my favorite form of entertainment. One film we had never watched was Fight Club. It was indeed a movie of those times. Brad Pitt is brilliant, and his relationship with Edward Norton is quite good. The physical desire and masculine bonding over beating the shit out of each other is truly something. Today that movie would be destroyed in the press but remember we watched it in the day. We watched all of this in those days.

Then we tune into Lupin. Lupin is a show set in Paris, starring Omar Sy, an absolutely stunning human being trying to avenge his father’s death. We got in a few shows and began to dislike his character. At one point, he pretends to be a policeman with ease and walks into an older woman’s apartment who is so Parisian. He tells her that they have kept the bad guys at bay, but knowing them, they will come back until they complete the job. He says to her that he could hold her jewels down at the precinct until they catch the thief….but alas, that would take a lot of paperwork. The woman says not to worry about the paperwork, but she trusts him. After all, he is a cop.

At this point, I turned off the show and will not return. Oh, stupid woman!

A few years ago, I met Geena Davis, who began the Geena Davis Institute that focuses on gender in media. If movie and TV characters continue to be stereotypically portrayed, then it will take us a lot longer to create equality in all other facets of our lives. It doesn’t allow us to change the narrative that a white privileged male society has set up.

This is just one of the issues that continue to sit inside my brain as I am spending a lot of time thinking about why women have taken so long to rise or why it has been such a slow crescendo.