Category Archives: Funny

Banking on Ice Cream

Are you frustrated with your monolithic, impersonal, tasteless bank? Do you love ice cream, waffles, and other treats?  Do you wish you could get rid of your bank AND get more ice cream?  If so, and you live in Pittsburgh, you may be in luck:

Mr. Clay said customers who make deposits earn interest in the form of “exclamation dollars.” A $100 deposit is worth $5.50 a month that can be spent on ice cream, waffles and coffee in his store. It works out to be a straight 5.5% monthly interest rate, he said.

Whalebone Cafe Bank, in an ice cream store, has started accepting deposits,  making small loans, and offering interest in the form of gift cards.  It all started when the owner got frustrated with high bank fees and decided to open his own, more friendly, more delicious bank.   There isn’t a savings account in the country offering  a 5.5% monthly interest rate right now, so even if it is in Ice Cream dollars, it might be worth it.

In case you’re worried about the quality of your return, “State regulators did visit the parlor ‘and reported that the ice cream was good.'”

You can find more, including a dive into the relevant banking regulations at the original Wall Street Journal article: Ice-Cream Bank’s Rocky Road.

What’s the difference between a researcher and a consultant?

My first mini web comic slide:

What's the difference between researchers and consultants?

Supply Chain/Operations Case Study, Courtesy of Jim Henson

How could a business case study get better than this?  Building on the previous two posts, as well as my other passions, this 1963 Bell Data case study features:

  1. A business consulting case (operations/supply chain/communications)
  2. A Jim Henson Muppet
  3. A robot
  4. Rocket ships

A great example of each.

Enjoy, via @RobotCity_Chi

Frogs and Pigs Can Talk, Penguins and Chickens Can’t

From a NYTimes piece on Bret McKenzie’s work writing songs for the new Muppet Movie:

It’s a sacred endeavor because, to a certain generation, of which McKen­zie is part (he is 35), the Muppets are a found­ational part of childhood; writing a song for Kermit is a bit like writing a song for a blankie that millions of children shared. And it’s daunting because, well, these are the Muppets, and the Muppets have rules. And as of 2004, the Muppets, as a property, are owned by Disney. And Disney has rules.

For example: At one point, McKenzie wrote a lyrical joke for Kermit, in which he would sing, “I remember when I was just a little piece of felt.” That didn’t fly. “I was told: ‘You’re not allowed to do that. The Muppets have always existed. You can’t break down their world.’ ” Another rule: Frogs and bears and pigs can talk, but penguins and chickens can’t. They can cluck or squawk musically, but they can’t say words. “So I was like, ‘Can we get the penguins to sing?’ And they’d say: ‘No. Penguins don’t sing.’ ”

It reminded me of an old Wired Magazine article about the Star Wars canon.  When I was in grad school, we reviewed a case study that looked at the way content owners like Disney or Time Warner managed their characters like consumer packaged goods companies managed their brands – creating rules for where they can appear, what their behaviors are like, what the uniforms or clothes look like, and which cross-promotions are appropriate, and which verboten, similar to the way corporate marketing departments will regulate how their logos can appear, the fonts you can use, and the proper spellings of their products.

Visualization: Surnames of Invitees to Nita’s Birthday

This weekend, I’ll be attending a birthday party for my friend Nita.  Happy Birthday Nita!  To help her celebrate, I created the following graph of surnames found in her Evite:


Firm Culture

In response to disturbing changes at my firm, I sent the following e-mail to our regional director of professional services:

I’m growing increasingly worried about the culture at [Firm].  When I joined, I was led to believe that certain things were important here, but I’m starting to think that we’re losing some of what makes us who we are.  For instance, I feel like every day I notice more and more new people in the cafeteria, yet the level of donuts has remained relatively constant.  Four years ago, it was communicated to me that when you joined [Firm], if you wanted a successful career you brought in donuts within your first week or two.

I’m concerned that one of two things has happened:

  1. Donuts are still important, and we are not setting up our new consultants for success by failing to inform them of that.
  2. Donuts are no longer important, in which case we are starting to lose grasp on our values and may need to rethink who we are and how we integrate new people onto the team

At first, I thought this may have been my perception – I was out of the office with clients for most of March and April.  However, as the graph below demonstrates, “New People” is rising significantly faster than “Donuts.”  This is even more disconcerting because neither of the two donut events were the result of new hires, which means we may be doing a poor job of communicating this tradition.


I know how important the firm culture is to you, so I thought I’d bring this concern to your attention.  Never one to just throw stones, I thought of some suggestions that may help us keep this vital piece of who we are:

  1. Integrate the importance of bringing donuts your first week into the new employee orientation
  2. Have each new employee pass on the tradition to the next new employee
  3. Create a “Donut Captain” responsible for holding new employees accountable
  4. Pass out Dunkin Donuts coupons to employees with their benefits forms
  5. Since we are bringing in a large class of new employees, fire the last new employee to bring in donuts

I’m in meetings with clients this week, but I know how important this is, so if you want to brainstorm I’ll be sure to make time.

Electronic Maintenance Records

From The Onion, “Quick Lube Shop Masters Electronic Record Keeping Six Years Before Medical Industry

“We figured that a basic database would help us with everything from scheduling regular appointments to predicting future lubrication requirements,” said the proprietor of the local oil-change shop, Karl Lemke, who has no special logistical or programming skills, and who described his organizational methods, which are far more advanced than those of any hospital emergency room, as “basic, common-sense stuff.”