The chief weapon of sea pirates, however, was their capacity to astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was too late, how heartless and greedy they were.

June 18, 2017

The worst thing that could possibly happen to anybody would be to not be used for anything by anybody. Thank you for using me, even though I didn’t want to be used by anybody.

vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut (1922 – 2007)

Congressman Nixon had asked me why, as the son of immigrants who had been treated so well by Americans, as a man who had been treated like a son and been sent to Harvard by an American capitalist, I had been so ungrateful to the American economic system.

The answer I gave him was not original. Nothing about me has ever been original. I repeated what my one-time hero, Kenneth Whistler, had said in reply to the same general sort of question long, long ago. Whistler had been a witness at a trial of strikers accused of violence. The judge had become curious about him, had asked him why such a well-educated man from such a good family would so immerse himself in the working class.

My stolen answer to Nixon was this: “Why? The Sermon on the Mount, sir.”

The most important message of a crucifix, to me anyway, was how unspeakably cruel supposedly sane human beings can be when under orders from a superior authority.


3G Capital poises for accelerated growth in U.S. Tim Hortons by closing stores?

November 23, 2015

Number of closed stores and terminated Canadian franchisees is both unknown and unknowable because of lapdog disclosure rules.

20151123 Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons confirmed that stores across Maine and New York closed on Friday. RENE JOHNSTON / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

An interesting article in Canada’s largest daily newspaper, Tim Hortons closes locations in New York, Maine, (subheadline:
Coffee chain refuses to say if it has closed any Canadian outlets. It has reportedly closed more than 20 stores in the U.S.):

Tim Hortons has closed down many locations across New York and Maine, only a few weeks after reporting a profit of $49.6 million (U.S.).

The coffee chain would not confirm if any Canadian outlets had been closed or how many U.S. stores shut.

And also in a press release:

“As we build the foundation for accelerated growth in the U.S., we have decided to close some restaurants in New York and Maine.

Comment on article by reader “Relax”: Apparently, Tim Hortons has figured it out. The best way to “accelerate growth” in the US is to start by closing stores.

Canadian Franchise Industry Much More Secretive: Franchisors in the United States are required to report the number of stores and franchisees closed, terminated, etc. each year. There is even public access to their Franchise Disclosure Documents (see California’s search template: Tim Hortons USA Inc). In Canada, provincial ministries do not require franchisors to publish this data. So sad for investors or journalists or the captured franchisees’ billions of investment $.

Additional coverage:

Franchisors have traditionally sent signals to their franchisees on how they would be treated if they’re not seen to be “on the team”. Normally, the most vocal are out first.

Word from Canada is that the franchisees has it that their stores have never been more profitable.

The real prize is on the (surviving but fewer) CDN franchisees’ income statements.

 


Why won’t Tim Hortons franchisees talk to the media?

January 31, 2015

Franchisees behave as if they were prey creatures. Under extreme stress (in the clutches of a predator) they “freeze”.

Gazelle single

The “lifers” have learned to become hyper-sensitive to danger. They cope in the one way they can: keep their mouth shut, especially to outsiders.

Franchisee Trauma is the Franchisors Stock-in-Trade: Only franchisees and their spouses know the pain of the abuse (violence in word form) that their franchisors have doled out over the years. Name-calling, intimidation, vulgarity, threats, shame-humiliation: intentionally done in front of your peers and staff. Opportunistic behavior designed to demonstrate who is “it” and who is siht. That you have lost control of your life. That you are the weak; that you are worthless. Impotent.

But most of all: alone and dependent.

Mammals has evolved over millions of years to survive in only 3 ways: fight, flight or freeze.

Tim Hortons franchisees cannot talk for many explainable reasons:

  • experts in trauma psychology know that voicelessness is very closely aligned to powerlessness.

 


A corporation is blind to moral interpretations

November 4, 2010

Franchisees do not help their cause by attacking the individual: franchisor, banker, lawyer, politician.

There are thousands of highly trained, morally-bankrupt MBAs willing to take their place.

Their boot will be just as heavily felt on everyone’s neck.

But I’m not above some the occasional morale-boosting shot.

The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, 1972


When a franchisor becomes a cultural laughingstock

August 17, 2010

You are what you eat.

Doug Powell over at Barfblog presents an interesting item in Runs from the border: Taco Bell is mystery Mexican-style restaurant chain ‘A’ 155 sick across US since April.

It’s amazing what $154.6 million over 5 years won’t buy you in the form of brand CEO management.


Franchisees are a tribe

June 4, 2010

Franchisees need their own rites, ceremonies to navigate their experiences.

Violence is a natural consequence of a breakdown of a functioning myth.

The tribal ceremonies of birth, initiation, marriage, burial, installation, and so forth, serve to translate the individual’s life-crises and life-deeds into classic, impersonal forms. They disclose him to himself, not as this personality or that, but as the warrior, the bride, the widow, the priest, the chieftain; at the same time rehearsing for the rest of the community the old lesson of the archetypal stages.

Joseph Campbell 1904-1987


Franchisees can be man-eaters

June 3, 2010

Attorneys/corporate types/bankers/hedge fund weasels are the prototypical old world man.

Professions of rationality, knowledge, and individualism. A monopoly on reason. An air of smugness bordering on open contempt.

Just like the 17th century Jesuits in New France.

Franchisees are indigenous peoples; experts in the local landscape.

Jean de Brébeuf‘s career is a case in point:

Attaining sainthood

However, the Iroquois began to win their war with the Hurons. They destroyed a large Huron village in 1648 and on March 16, 1649, 1200 Iroquois captured the mission of St. Ignace and then a few hours later captured another Huron village where they seized Brébeuf and his fellow Jesuit Gabriel Lallemant and brought them back to St. Ignace. There they were fastened to stakes and tortured to death by scalping, mock baptism using boiling water, fire, necklaces of red hot hatchets and mutilation.

According to Catholic tradition, Brébeuf did not make a single outcry while he was being tortured and he astounded the Iroquois, who later cut out his heart and ate it in hopes of gaining his courage.


Going Postal: Self, family then workplace violence (not if but when)

September 7, 2009

PhysicalAbuse

I had covered what Erving Goffman defined as a Total Institution earlier:

…a place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life.

Franchised business models can become so intrusive, demanding and dysfunctional as to create an environment that breeds workplace bullying.

Intimidation leads to violence, just as predictably as you see in other “hermetically sealed” institutions such as prisons or non-voluntary psychiatric wards.

I worked at a provincial psychiatric hospital (St. Thomas, ON)  for 9 months as a medical audit coordinator just after my Ivey MBA in 1985. I reviewed hundreds of inpatient and outpatient medical case histories: about 1/3 including the most serious crimes you can imagine that can fall under a Lieutenant-Governor’s Warrant. I interviewed many partners and children and their abuse always, always, always was much earlier, pervasive and shame-filled than the subsequent police and justice system intervention.

I came to appreciate the fragility of mental health and the origins of family violence.

Franchisors set the business model: they are almost 100% responsible for the way humans try to survive an, at times, inhuman situation.

That franchisees can be managed into a situation where they are baited and then  go postal would not be a surprise to any mental health care professional I have ever known. Any minimally competent human relations professional would know that a primary truism in human psychology is: behavior is caused, it very seldom arises from no where.

Workplace violence starts with aggressive thoughts — then — verbal threats and in extreme cases, will manifest itself in property damage and physical assaults. Way before any visible signs (chairs through windows, managers fearing for their safety), the bullying target has become to a danger to “self and others” in their secret places: in their family.

To control a man’s livelihood is to control his life.

When senior management flagrantly bullies a group’s informal leader, this aggression is processed as an assault on everyone that supports that individual. That behavior is beyond the executive’s legitimate authority and is therefore he or she is personally responsible for their actions under the law.

A corporate culture of entitlement, unjustified superiority and arrogance often manifests itself in a preoccupation with form over substance (ie. it’s easier to spin a crisis rather than fix it). When managers push and push and push for no valid business reasons, the most vulnerable (families: partners and children) suffer the most.

Workplace violence is more likely the more management views the target group as a “problem” or as even subhuman (ie. lacking in intelligence, weak mind/strong back).

Individuals who control franchise systems should conduct themselves in a lawful, just and appropriate manner if they happen to be viewed by others.


I’m junk but I’m still holding up this little wild bouquet

January 13, 2009

49songs

I’ll miss newspapers when they’re gone.

McLuhan said you didn’t read a newspaper, you step into one, like taking a bath.

President-elect Obama will be visiting Canada soon. The Toronto Star reports that CBC Radio is holding a poll to select some songs to give to the President as a gift from all Canadians (CBC shuffles Obama’s iPod).

Here’s one of our best. A quirky, abridged version but Is it possible to to hear too much of The Voice?

I love the country but I can’t stand the scene.
And I’m neither left or right
I’m just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,

I’m junk but I’m still holding up this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Democracy, Leonard Cohen

It’s coming through a hole in the air,
from those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It’s coming from the feel
that this ain’t exactly real,
or it’s real, but it ain’t exactly there.
From the wars against disorder,
from the sirens night and day,
from the fires of the homeless,
from the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It’s coming from the sorrow in the street,
the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin’
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.
It’s coming to America first,
the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It’s here they got the range
and the machinery of change
and it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.

It’s here the family’s broken
and it’s here the lonely say
that the heart has got to open
in a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can’t stand the scene.
And I’m neither left or right
I’m just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I’m junk but I’m still holding up this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State!
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate

Unused verse:

It ain’t comin’ to us European-style,
Concentration camp behind the smile;
It ain’t comin’ from the east
With its temporary feast
As Count Dracula comes strolling down the aisle. (source)


Argot: words in the secret service of a subgroup

December 29, 2008

whisper1. argot n. the jargon of a group or class, formerly especially of criminals Canadian Oxford English dictionary

2. argot noun – (plural argots)

  1. A secret language or conventional slang peculiar to thieves, tramps, and vagabonds.
  2. The specialized informal vocabulary and terminology used between people with special skill in a field, such as between doctors, mathematicians or hackers; a jargon.

Example:  The conversation was in the argot of the trade, full of acronyms and abbreviations that made no sense to the uninitiated.
Synonyms

  1. (secret language): cant, jargon, slang
  2. (specialized vocabulary): jargon Wiktionary

The recurring themes that I see are:

  • secrecy [need to conceal from others],
  • language at the service of self-interest,
  • degree of criminality although not necessarily (ie. see list of drug world argot, prison argot, Prostitution-related jargon),
  • words with multiple meanings (to insider versus outsider, uninitiated),
  • enables credentialing for evaluating new potential ingroup members, and
  • allows connecting and linking diverse user groups, networks and markets, all around the world.

Franchising argot is a communication system widely understood among Big Franchising’s participants, yet it is largely hidden from mainstream culture. A necessary prerequisite to support modern franchising as a confidence game.

There is a need for a language resource to translate franchising words into plain English. I have started by defining terms and collecting examples of industry behavior in the Information Sharing Project.

  • My next contribution will be to write a dictionary of franchise terms.

A book similar to Fowler’s Modern English Usage: a style guide to explain mom-and-pop franchise investing. A doubter’s dictionary.


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