Why I will never write a non-ficiton franchise book

January 11, 2010

Marshall McLuhan said that every new book cannot be more be than 10% new material for the reading public.

The overwhelming public opinion is that franchising is in the sheep-shearing business rather than in the lamb-chop making business.

The former was true before: they created wealth for all stakeholders. Today, buying a new franchise is the later: It’s a different technology.

Any message repeated a million times can create the illusion of reality.

Ads seem to work on the very advanced principle that a small pellet or pattern in a noisy, redundant barrage of repetition will gradually assert itself. Ads push the principle of noise all the way to the plateau of persuasion. They are quite in accord with the procedures of brain-washing. This depth principle of onslaught on the unconscious may be the reason why.

Pattern recognition: Franchising as a powerful new technology

December 12, 2009

I have observed many things in business.

The consequences of franchising are profound.

On the individual, group.

There are, however, Rules of Franchising.

Nazis burned books 70 years ago. Fishy blocks writers/viewers today?

November 16, 2009

DeadFishAustraliadead fish’s reputation washed up on the shores of Australia last week.

Carol Cross is a friend of mine.

She drives me crazy at times with her repetition. But, then again, I irritate people too. 🙂

I allow anyone to post on FranchiseFool. Carol tells me she is still banned from contributing at the FranchiseeFishNet.org.

This is unacceptable to me.

Carol cannot even see The Fish on her computer: that’s right, she’s that blocked. This is wrong on so many levels.

It’s not wrong because she’s my friend: It’s evil because she is  a person. Plus a citizen of the greatest democracy on earth. A veteran’s wife. A former franchisee invest0r.

This is  offensive to anyone that ever believed in the right of free speech, natural justice, military honour, the rule of law, democracy…

If you feel you “have to” block, censor, gag or burn books, you better take another look at your business model.

And, I suggest, the “friends” you have as advisors.

Any industry that can be shown to be fascists by an  little old lady isn’t deserving of any investment, let alone respect.

PS: I was stopped for a day (Nov 12, 2009) as a registered contributor to The Fish last week. I’ve put up with 1,001 cheap shot comments for a full 3 years (459 points) now. I have no fishy, behind-the-scenes telephone calls: I never explain or complain or apologize. I had to post as a Guest and was reinstated for a day.

My offense?  I wrote and posted a very valid post (I think) about economic fascism (Arguments in the Service of Power (subjective truth)) that was clearly addressed to Ray Borradale in Australia. I intentionally hid the Hitler, Goebbels and Mussolini quotes. I wonder when the post will be deleted? Good thing I captured it beforehand.

If anyone else alive or brain-dead took offence to having their behaviour compared to fascists…well..if the show fits…

Then the fish goes ahead and wears it.

That post and and 16 McLuhan quotes were thrown into the fish’s text ghetto: Ranter’s Soapbox, Way Off Topic Posts.  This is where all politically honest objective truth posts are put.

I was reinstated and my posts exist (for now). Some old lady named Carol is still is banned from the fish. I tested the waters, intentionally, one day after Canada’s Remembrance Day. My parents both fought and my Uncle Neil died resisting historical Nazis in WWII. I was not going to be bullied by a Guest troll.

You decide if totalitarianism is alive or dead in franchising today. Who is crooked, misleading and/or tyrants?

Either way, your comments are welcomed.

Mar shall explains franchising’s electrocution

November 12, 2009

MarshallMcLuhanI assure you, Professor McLuhan is a Canadian original.

His insights written in the ’50s to 1980 explain a lot of the present confusion.

The future masters of technology will have to be light-hearted and intelligent. The machine easily masters the grim and the dumb.

Watch this close to 6 minute video to see the means of execution.

Canada is a Distant Warning System for the American experience.

August 17, 2009

DEWLineFranchising is as much of an American export as is Microsoft software or the next Hollywood blockbuster movie.

Business format franchising, in a very real sense, promulgates U.S. culture worldwide.

The Distant Warning System (DEW line) was a creation of the Cold War as a North American defense against U.S.S.R. missile attack. There were 3 radar lines: DEW, Mid-Canada and Pinetree.

I was born on RCAF Station Senneterre, PQ which was in the Pinetree radar line from 1950 to 1988.

McLuhan believed that Canada had a useful role to play internationally in looking at the effects of American culture because we observe without attracting too much attention.

Another one of his quotes:

But Canada as an entity still has value as the DEW Line for the rest of the world, we have the situation of relatively small involvement in the big headaches. The Canadian has freedom of comment, a kind of playful awareness of issues, that is unknown in, say, Paris or London or New York. They take themselves too damn seriously; they have no choice.

Here you have a little time to breathe, to think and to feel. It’s because Canadians are protected from encountering themselves by layers of colonialism.

The Electric Oracle, for a 3rd time:

I don’t know who discovered water but it certainly wasn’t a fish.

To recognize patterns and effects from changing technology requires distance and a degree of playfulness that a “professional”  with their “career” precludes in our hyper-expert driven society. Only an amateur from the margins can perceive clearly enough and have the freedom to report back with less bias.

After all, it was an “innocent” (a child) who alerted the adults to the swindlers’ illusion of the emperor’s new clothes.

Blue MauMau returns false First Opinions

August 2, 2009

SecondOpinionBlueMauMauBlue MauMau is like a laboratory that provides knowingly inaccurate readings.

How a problem is framed influences very much the potential treatment and outcome. Humans anchor on a conclusion, often inaccurately and that can be used against them.

The cheapest form of dispute resolution is to plant the seeds of hopelessness early on.

I have tried to provide honest reviews personally, here and at WikiFranchise.org in the last 11 years.

I cannot say the same for Blue MauMau (BMM) anymore.

I was absolutely pleased by the range of and depth of discussion at first on BMM. It seemed to offer real hope for a forum of real change.

Over time, I had a gut feeling that things were not what they appeared. I have contributed less and less over time as my private concerns grew.

I first asked on FranchiseFool, Is Blue MauMau Crooked? in September 2008.

  • Curiously, no one from BMM (let alone Don himself) ever asked me why or attempted any defense.
  • I’ve never been afraid of an open debate and have always returned every BMM telephone call I ever received.
  • I found the BMM lack of interest in WikidFranchise.org to be noteworthy also. Dick Gibson from the Wall Street Journal reviewed it but BMM found it irrelevant?

The purpose of BMM is to confuse and misdirect the real causes of franchise failure.  Some directly (Dale Nabors, Bob Frankman, GBeany) shout down any new ideas on a digital platform while others act as apologists. The “blame the victim” mantra is unimaginative. The false near-religion that “pre-sale due diligence can look forward enough to predict and prevent franchisor opportunism” is an insult to any thinking former franchisee.

At best, the attorneys are silent when directly questioned. All three of them don’t seem to have their heart in it anymore.

BTW: Saying that you cannot earn legal fees in a certain jurisdiciton and are therefore somehow less biased is a moronic argument which is notable for its lack of assurance that: I receive $0 for any views or efforts made associated with BMM. What they offering is not legal opinions at all: a legal relationship (fiduciary duty, solicitor:client) does not and cannot exist because their is no contract between the internet reader and the lawyer.

The result is a thin gruel of half-truths, faulty rhetoric, thought-terminating clichés, and political science, served up to cool out the marks by producing a “hopeless situation“: for both individuals and groups of investors.

In big industry new ideas are invited to rear their heads so they can be clobbered at once. The idea department of a big firm is a sort of lab for isolating dangerous viruses. Marshall McLuhan

Maybe the originator of the phrase global village may know a thing or two about how technology is resisted by a dinosaur industry and the profitable delay by its social media contractors.

It is certainly not the first activity that has been captured by a U.S. $1-trillion industry that defends itself by any means available. But I may be entirely wrong in my conclusion that BMM is a digital house negro.

I am happy to debate anyone, anytime, in any credible forum.

I’ll let you know…

McLuhan and McAdvertising: All franchising franchises franchising

August 1, 2009

McLuhanMcDonaldOne of Canada’s greatest and most controversial thinkers was Marshall McLuhan.

WIRED magazine named him their patron saint; their Holy Fool.

Let’s look at only one of his quotes: All advertising advertises advertising.

Several obvious and not-so-obvious levels of meanings.

The most transparent meaning that McLuhan was trying to get across could be that:

  • by producing something you are encouraging the promulgation of more of the same.

McLuhan just loved puns and word play. As primarily a verbal instructor, engaged in wordsmithing, maybe using his methods can test the merit of the close ties between the words “franchising” and “advertising”.

1. All franchising franchises advertising: certainly Bob Purvin has demonstrated with his analysis of Super Bowl advertisers that franchising feeds the advertising industry in a very direct and substantial way. Required concentration of brand marketing dollars is a hallmark of almost all franchise systems.

2. All franchising advertises franchising: The visible brick and mortar store can conceal the rapidly churning franchisee ownership to the public.

3. All franchising advertises advertising: All non-franchising businesses must take into account the unique ability for franchised chains to concentrate advertising and brand clout. In some vertical markets, non-franchised models are only niche and local players.

4. All franchises franchise franchising: The choice of distribution model is in itself promoted as a near de facto guarantee of less risk and higher ROI for investors. This is routinely repeated informally by salesmen although expressly denied in any written documentation.

McLuhan helped me understand the primacy of:

  • the franchise relationship (the space/closeness, ties between) rather than the
  • physical or visible logos or tangibles.

Franchising is not supported by stone like a Greek column: It is held in balance by tension between cables of words.

Its only permanence is based on the assumptions, language,  and lack of education of those unaware of its nature.

Deer: Are We Trade Show Activists?

February 13, 2009

wolfdeer5A good question but a better one is:

Can we afford not to understand how we got roped into a losing deal?

I think you better Get Smart or you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of the next buffet.

  • In confidence games, it’s a fact that more than 50% of the chumps are good for at least a 2nd fleecing.

I took a look at a trade show advertisement this week and the posting was picked up on Michael Webster’s weblog.

Anyone who contacts me is invited to join me in interpreting how a trade show works. Live.

It is a very sophisticated and well-thought out selling environment that is used to qualify candidates; economically but mostly psychologically.

Your lack of awareness of the dangers [ignorance?] is really your admission ticket.

The first step in protecting your family is education.

I’ll be relying on the Six “Weapons of Influence”: social proof, authority,commitment and consistency, reciprocation, liking and scarcity. Bring your copies. You’ll get a tutorial on not only the Science of Persuasion but on relevant cognitive biases (especially confirmation), The Tipping Point, behavioral economics, Theories of Unusual Events and Risk Homeostatis, heuristics (eg. human thinking shortcuts that usually help us but sometimes result in catastrophic errors) and 10 years of intense industry analysis.


  1. We’ll go over the basic confidence game role structure and process: house, roper, inside man, shill, chump, fixer, etc.
  2. Why it is so critical to have independent legal advice before you sign (goes double for deals less than $20,000).
  3. The selling value of comparing (anchoring) a new system with the best, most successful franchisor: McDonald’s.
  4. What something called “Prospect Theory” has to say why you will stay in a losing business much, much longer than you could ever imagine.
  5. Why you should only sign when there is an Independent Franchisee Association, IndFA present (versus the lapdog Franchisor Advisory Council).
  6. We’ll decode the hidden messages within the marketing material (worked for an advertising design studio + Ivey MBA + McLuhan disciple).
  7. I’ll explain the role of the current SME loan guarantee program.
  8. Why Canada is a safe harbour for white-collar crime.
  9. How this recession is shattering the conventional wisdom that franchises sell better, the worse the economy gets [HINT: new sales, now, are the worst on record].
  10. Why the hook has to be planted in the male first.
  11. How shame is invoked to silence particularly new Canadians.
  12. Why exceptionally thorough pre-sale due diligence is much more limited than you think and could in fact increase your chance of business failure.
  13. The role of the expert seminar.
  14. Why the most rational and dodgiest should absolutely force a copy of Ontario’s franchise law into your hands.

All of these fraudproofing skills are entirely understandable, applicable to many situations and will last a lifetime. I was taught by the best.

In these days of Bernie Madoff, BIM, CitiGroup, etc., I don’t think you (or anyone you know in the traditional or new media) can afford to turn not to learn more about the Science of Persuasion and applied psychology.

Offer to Sellers: You can join us as well. I will gladly discuss my views in front of anyone, at anytime. These persuasion techniques have been proven scientifically and it’s time that more people understood how skillfully they are applied in franchising.

If I were in your shoes, I’d much rather guarantee us free rein rather than be seen to be resisting evaluation. That old hand-in-the-lens shot sells television shows but is, by its airing, basic proof of guilt.

Consumer education is good and only the fraudsters have anything to hide.

Cost?: Nothing

Just call me at 705-737-4635. Bring the whole family. les.j.stewart@gmail.com

PS: Do me a favour: Sign up to receive each new post (see top right, RSS feed). FranchiseFool is now read in 44 countries. Not bad for a single Canuck in one year, I think.

— UPDATED for Fall 2009

Wisdom: Who are you going to Trust?

February 5, 2009

loserQ: Why would anyone trust a middle-aged, former bankrupt, twice-sued, paunchy Canadian loser former franchisee without any visible means of economic support?

A: Hey I always put on weight over the winter. I install irrigation and lighting systems for a type of living.

[I forgot balding…]

Yeah well…I’m out and you’re not. That’s why.

But don’t believe me. And certainly don’t follow me anywhere. I had my ambition lobotomy done years ago.

When pain shows up, it is perfectly human to focus exclusively on the wound. The unintended consequence is that a person’s imagination and critical thinking abilities are diminished.

But we’re all in luck: Other people have written about life and we might gain some comfort in standing on their shoulders instead of cowering (which is exactly the behaviour we are expected to exhibit).


Hell is not punishment. It’s training. Shunryu Suzuki

Hated by fools, and fools to hate, Be that my motto and my fate. Jonathan Swift

Still and all, why bother? Here’s my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

When the pupil is ready to learn, a teacher will appear. Zen Proverb

To the fool, he who speaks wisdom will sound foolish. Euripedes

He who dares not offend cannot be honest. Thomas Paine

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure. Joseph Campbell

Humor is essential to a successful tactician, for the most potent weapons know to mankind are satire and ridicule. Saul Alinsky

Food for the mind is like food for the body: the inputs are never the same as the outputs. Marshall McLuhan

A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself. John Stuart Mill

Shame always comes upon me like an internal hemorrhage for which I am completely unprepared. Jean Paul Sartre

A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it. G.K. Chesterton

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. C.S. Lewis

If you are going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchill

No one can think clearly in the moment of shame. Charles Darwin

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. Kahlil Gibran

When you’ve robbed a man of everything he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

It is only work that is done as a free-will offering to humanity and to nature that does not bring with it any binding attachment. Swami Vivekananda

“You see,” said Aslan. “They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out. But come, children. I have other work to do.”

C.S. Lewis

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

January 13, 2009


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)

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