Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Leapfrog Technologies and Media

Last week I had a conversation with someone about the future of global media. He agreed with me that some exciting things would happen in the developing world and even frontier markets but said that I was way too bullish on the speed of the changes that would occur.

I smiled but countered that their progress will be accelerated compared to past development due to “leapfrog technologies.” Historically, in development, western countries would owe much of their prosperity to expensive infrastructure such as rail lines, great roads, electricity, and telephone networks. As someone who spent the happiest years of my career in Dallas and Atlanta, I would add that air conditioning does not get the credit it deserves for the development of the American southeast and southwest.

Leapfrog technologies have turbo-charged the speed of development and put an upward spike in media usage as they bypass the traditional infrastructure build out that was necessary in prior generations. In essence, they are technologies that allow you to skip a step or two versus previous development paths. A great example was with telephones. About 20 years ago, urban legend has it that the then US West took over the Hungarian telephone system. As they began to update the Budapest lines block by block, apartment houses supers asked to be spiffed by the new phone company or the new lines might not stay in place. The company said no and went wireless.

In Africa, the mobile phone has brought telephony to rural and remote areas of the continent where it never would be profitable to build a network.

To get a handle on the speed of things these days, consider:

1) IOS and Android device adoption has had the fastest technological growth in measured history. Smart devices in the aggregate have grown 10 times faster than the PC’s we embraced in the ’80’s, twice the speed of late 1990’s internet usage, and three times the social media development of recent years.
2) The World Bank has stated that some 80% of the world still lives on less than $10 a day and some 2.56 billion or 35% of the world lives on less than $2 a day.
3) Additionally, the World Bank is projecting that internet usage will jump by 50% from the current 2 billion to 3 billion by early 2016.

With so many people earning under $10 a day, will they soon be buying big flat screen TV’s? Not likely. Yet, many will somehow get a smartphone and will have internet access, music, and video on that single device.

So, if your company is expanding overseas, you need to abandon thinking about legacy media. Perhaps a billion or two prospects of yours will never own a television set. That does not mean, however, that you will not be able to reach them.

If technology has been described as economic fuel, then leapfrog technologies are economic rocket fuel.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Americans Earn Too Much Money?

I was driving on an interstate last week and doing a bit of radio channel hopping. One little snippet got my attention very quickly. Someone was concluding an interview and the guest said (I paraphrase), “The bottom line is that Americans earn too much money. We have had it too good for too long.” Given the flow of traffic, I had to concentrate on my driving and I did not get the name of the guest, interviewer, or station call letters. The brutal candor of the guest stunned me. He obviously would not be welcome at the dwindling number of union halls across the country. So, I did some digging and found out that the mystery man is not the only one in the U.S. with the same opinion.

You continue to hear a lot today about the top 1% in income or net worth (not always the same people) relative to all the rest of Americans. In past eras such as the Great Depression (circa 1929-1941), the very wealthy tended to lower their voices for fear of alienating people or being targeted by thieves due to ostentatious displays of wealth. Today, there appears to be no sense of discretion.

A few years ago, a Greenwich, Connecticut based hedge fund manager boldly said in an after dinner speech that, “The low skilled American worker is the most overpaid worker in the world.” He is not alone. Others financiers at meetings such as the big wingding at Davos, Switzerland have said things to the effect that if the evolving global economy takes four people in India or Southeast Asia out of grinding poverty and an American or two drops out of the middle class, that is a fair trade.

Part of the argument seems to be return on investment. Private equity investors often talk about how by outsourcing work overseas you get people who work for half of what Americans demand, are extremely motivated and just plain tickled to get the work with an American company. Some executives in India look at such tradeoffs coldly. One was quoted as saying, “You had your golden period: now, we will have ours.” Others say that per capita income of the Western middle class has to decline as the developing world rises. Something to the effect of “we will meet somewhere in the middle” is a thought that I have seen across the board in researching this attitude.

You may read this and say, “So what.” Perhaps we have had it too good for too long and don’t people have a chance to rise if they work hard? I cannot argue with that. But, some things gnaw at me a bit. Americans have not had an increase in median income in nearly 30 years. Does that sound like an overpaid group of people to you?

Also, I have an unusual hobby which sometimes serves me well. I love to read annual reports of publicly traded companies. Each week, I probably break down three or four, crunch the numbers, and am amused by the nonsense that CEO’s often put in their letter to shareholders. This past week, I was reading the Wal-Mart annual report (full disclosure--I am not a shareholder). There was a passage in the report that made me sit bolt upright--

“Our business operations are subject to numerous risks, factors and uncertainties, domestically and internationally, which are outside our control … These factors include  changes in the amount of payments made under the Supplement[al] Nutrition Assistance Plan and other public assistance plans, and changes in the eligibility requirements of public assistance plans.”

Wow! This was not picked up much in the mainstream media but some in the blogosphere did jump all over it. BUSINESS INSIDER did weigh in with the following:
“Walmart, for the first time in its annual reports, acknowledges that taxpayer-funded social assistance programs are a significant factor in its revenue and profits. This makes sense, considering that Walmart caters to low-income consumers. But what’s news here is that the company now considers the level of social entitlements given to low-income working and unemployed Americans important enough to underscore it in its cautionary statement.”

Linking this Wal-Mart surprise with the comments of hedge fund managers who sound mysteriously like developing world oligarchs to me, may seem like a bit of a stretch. What the billionaires do not seem to realize is that if Americans earn even less, who will continue to buy the products that made them their billions? A vibrant American middle class is good for business and good for democracy.

Part of this situation has its roots in free trade. As tariffs have been removed and markets have opened up across the globe, companies move their facilities to lands where wages are lower but quality of output is not diminished. I have no argument with that. For the past 200 years, free trade has always caused dislocations in labor but the consumer and participating countries generally benefited. What I cannot understand is why some of the people who have benefited the most from opening markets behave as insensitive louts and attack those who are being hurt in the transition.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Is Advertising Agency Analysis Superficial?

Over the last year or so, I received several requests from readers to write this post. Much of it sprung out of a post entitled “Is Media Planning Getting Too Superficial” (see Media Realism, February 8, 2013).

Every month or so, I have received e-mails from ad agency principals, current staffers and a few very frustrated clients regarding the lack of depth of agency people in answering client requests or preparing for meetings.

To set the stage, perhaps the best definition of superficial is “comprehending only what is on the surface or obvious.”

Here are several verbatim comments from people who want and need to remain anonymous and one from me:

1) A company marketing director wrote: “I asked our agency media team to do an analysis of a major trend in TV viewing for the quarterly review meeting. When we reached that item on the agenda, the agency CEO said, ‘wait until you see the analysis that Brad (the media supervisor) did for you. It is amazing.’  Well, Brad presented a five point summary of the issue. I nearly choked. It was taken verbatim from a Wall Street Journal article published three days before the meeting. Brad changed the order of the five points but he was so damn lazy that he did not even paraphrase the text. When I probed for questions, he was completely unarmed. I doubt if his president knew what he had done, but I was annoyed that the kid would think I was so uninformed. Had he said the Journal had summed the topic up nicely, I would have been okay. He stole the piece and tried to pass it off as his own work.”

2) An agency CEO said that he liked a post I did in Media Realism reviewing Ken Auletta’s book GOOGLED (December 16, 2009 post). “I bought the book, loved it, and then purchased a dozen others for may senior staff to read. I passed them out and set a meeting two weeks later for a discussion. Before the meeting, I overheard two senior staffers talking. ‘Have you read GOOGLED yet? Of course, not. The old fool is not going to ruin my weekend. Just read the flyleaf and wait for Tom to talk. Then tell the old boy that Tom summed up your feelings as well.’ When the meeting began, I asked for opinions. Tom raised his hand and I said that I would get to him in a few minutes. There was real unease in the room. I starting going around the room and no one had read it or much of it. By now, Tom was furiously raising his hand like a kindergartner badly in need of a bathroom. He started to talk and I cut him off sharply. Finally, after it was clear that he and I were the only ones who read it, I let him speak and the two of us had an interesting back and forth.”

    After the meeting, no one was contrite. A young lady on the team was overheard  by my executive assistant saying ‘what right has he to ask us to read something on our own time. I have a three year old. He asks way too much.’  What can I do? Fire everyone but Tom? Some appear professional but they have no interest in the industry. They have a job but not a career. I will gradually make changes.”

3) Some years back, I worked savagely on a new business pitch. The weekend before the meeting, I sat down with three staffers and we made a list of every possible question that the prospective client could bring up in the Q&A session. I had more facts and figures at my disposal than a candidate in a presidential debate. As luck would have it, three of the painfully prepared questions came up in the meeting and the difficult prospect was impressed. We got the business. It was a nice effort from everyone so I can only take part of the credit. On the way out, the CEO said “you really made up some great stuff on your feet.” My eyes must have become fierce blue slits. “I did not make anything up,” I told him. Then I went on to describe how my team and I had spent the weekend. He showed genuine appreciation.

 Several months later, the new client called a big meeting. I was not invited in an effort to save
 on travel expenses but I went through a drill similar to the pitch. The number two man
 in the agency was going with the creative director. By Sunday night, I had put together
 twelve likely questions and e-mailed them and my team’s answers to my immediate boss. A few days after the meeting, I asked him how it went. “Not very well as far as the media and marketing activity is concerned. I guess that I should have brought you along. When I asked if the client had covered any of the questions my team and I had prepared he said, “Do you think that I bother to read the crap that you guys put together.” Sixty days later I had moved on to better things. :)

4) A friend and long ago colleague wrote the following: “I have always tried to be tight with the money of the companies I work for. We work hard for it and do not want to waste it. So when I would ask for a $1000 piece of software, I had a business case and even then it was not always approved. And that's fine. A co-worker brought in a proposal to management for a six-figure data management tool with the promise that it was needed to help run the analysis for a significant client. No detailed business case, no work-savings analysis, no comparison of vendors. It was approved in one meeting, and proved to be twice as expensive to implement as proposed due to unforeseen additional needs, and it was never effective despite the ongoing six-figure annual fees. People went to conferences, training, onsite training, etc.etc. and it just was not useful. I think that major corporations do this kind of failed project all the time, but we are not a major corporation”.

5) A former client wrote to me out of the blue recently. It had been twenty years since I had heard from him. He said, “I always thought that you beat competitive spending analyses to death. You gave us great detail and we really knew what the big guys were doing. My current agency gives me top-line data only. If I ask for more, they say that I have to pay big bucks for it. I know that they subscribe to an online system that can summarize my request in a few minutes. Even the account director does not seem interested in getting the whole picture".

6) I sent an early draft out of this post to a long time friend and enthusiastic critic of this blog. He responded as follows: “Don, everything you say is true. We are way more superficial than we used to be. Why? Today, I consider it a success if I make it to a client meeting on time. Forget adequate preparation. I run my ass ragged across the country because the young kids on my staff do not have the credibility with the clients yet. So, if I show up I can fake me way through some stuff at meetings. I feel guilty sometimes but I honestly have no choice. Why? The truth is that advertising does not attract the best people anymore. If you are far from New York, forget it. Sometimes I see a kid with that spark of interest that we had, but they do not stay with it. I cannot afford to hire the best people. A decade ago, they went to Wall Street and now they go to Silicon Valley if they are real stars. So, we do not have an A team. At best, we are a C team. There, I said it.”

Had enough? Well, many clients have and employ consultants and speciality firms to pick up the slack. If an agencies assets go up and down on the elevator every day, it appears we need many new and enthusiastic players riding with us.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ad Agency Organizational Drift

These days sociologists increasingly talk of “organizational drift” in American business. Much of it clusters around what goes on in Wall Street particularly in the world of investment banking. Some blame the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act signed by Bill Clinton. When investment banks could become traders in a wide variety of financial instruments as well as advisors to their large corporate clients, things began to change. Big institutions that were always 100% client focused, shifted. The balance between their trading profits and their client advisory business became blurred and the trading business often took the upper hand in corporate emphasis.

Coupled with that, the sociologists also talk frequently of the need for “dissonance” in an organization meaning healthy internal conflict. People fight behind closed doors about a particular issue but, once they come to agreement, create a united front in front of clients or the public. Dissonance was thought to be a great help in dealing with rapid change and uncertainty in the market and helped to avoid “group think” in any company. Minority opinions were always heard.

The more that I talk and write to people, it is obvious that many ad agencies, particularly the small and mid-sized that this blog focuses on, are struggling with the exact same problems as the big Wall Street investment houses. The money involved does not have as many zeroes at the end as is typical on Wall Street, but the overall problem, that some have labeled “organizational drift” is very real.

Now, cynics may say that these problems have always existed and I agree that they have to a certain degree. However, consider a few issues. Those of us with a bit of gray hair remember hearing about or actually working at ad shops whose mantra was--”We service our clients, we service our clients, we service our clients.” How often do you hear that today and is it really ever true anymore?

As the noose has tightened around mid-sized shops in recent years, I have received a number of reports about a shift from client focus to an emphasis on short term agency profit.

A few examples:

More than once, I have reported on young media staffers getting pressured or ordered to put a large complement of over the air TV into media plans forcing a huge allocation of the total budget to TV production. Less expensive digital options abound and even good old low cost production radio was available and made sense. The agency chief or creative director wanted some first rate TV done that year so the client(s) needs be damned.
For years, many of us have said that they avoided their CEO at year end as the scramble for revenue required one to empty one's  pockets to proceed to the other side of the agency. We all laughed about this and many experienced it, but lately I have been hearing of tactics that are just plain wrong. One old acquaintance wrote this to me: “for years, you have been telling me and demonstrating that most new products fail. Recently, I have seen it firsthand. Well, my boss told me that we needed to move the rollout for a brand we handle into 4th quarter last year. I argued that distribution was not strong yet and we needed to wait several months. He countered that our new work was so good that it would force distribution. I looked him right in the eye and he did not blink. He is a smart guy and knows better than make a ridiculous recommendation to advertise to empty shelves. The client wisely did not bite and the product died a quick death recently. My boss recently rationalized his trying to move billing to improve 2013 agency financial performance by saying that most products fail anyway, so what’s the difference. It makes me sick.”

Separately, the idea of dissonance is fading at many mid-sized shops. “We don’t hash things out anymore. The Boss or Czar as we call him behind his back gives orders and we follow. Ten years ago, I was a confident marketing pro who gave his opinion freely. I was a team player but I was never afraid to speak up. Now, I am approaching 50 and am facing high school fees for my kids. I have become a yes man. Given the sweeping changes as we move into more digital, I know my boss is not getting things right. I never speak up as I did at other jobs. The culture here is for short term profits only.”

The above comment was from someone whom I have known for 25 years. He says that other than some creative work, there is no discussion left at his shop on policy or client retention issues.

Am I overreacting? Maybe. When I look at it objectively, it seems that organizational drift seems to have (sadly) caught on at many mid-sized shops. What will push the pendulum back toward a client orientation? It is difficult to see a way out in the short term as shops with less than 100 employees are more challenged than ever financially.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How Much Frequency is Enough, 2014?

For decades ad professionals have debated or at least considered how much repetition of a message is necessary to break through with the consumer. Thoughtful people have always felt that there is a threshold level below which nothing will happen to the sales needle. This low level of spending will be largely wasted funds. At the other end of the spectrum, people have struggled to define the upper limit of effective repetitions, as invariably, you get to a point where each message is progressively less effective than the last.

I have always been intrigued how the nuances of copy or art direction could trigger long and heated arguments. Decisions on various aspects of media scheduling were largely left to a media planner perhaps in the business only a few years. They were sincere but often served up decades old pablum as their rationale for weight levels and scheduling tactics.

In the 1970’s we had Krugman’s “three-hit” theory followed by Achenbaum’s “pattern of the frequency distribution where the optimum or heart of the distribution was to reach people 3-10 times during a purchase cycle.

The year 1979 The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) published “Effective Frequency”, which did a very nice job of summing up the existing research. In 1993, they revisited the topic with “Advertising Reach & Frequency.” Several years later, the Colin McDonald study appeared which said that two exposures in a purchase cycle was optimal.

In the 1990’s the concept of Recency came along which encouraged lower weight levels  but keeping your name in front of people as close to the time of purchase as possible.

Okay. Since then, we have not seen a great deal of new research in terms of effective frequency despite the reality that the advertising landscape has changed forever. For a decade, I have been encouraging many advertisers, particularly retailers to increase weight levels in every flight of TV advertising as ADVERTISING AVOIDANCE is getting higher and higher. Keep in mind that DVR’s did not exist when many of these oft quoted research studies were done, remotes had about 6% penetration, and the internet was unknown even to Al Gore.

Some TV data is out there based on the large Set Top Box sample and it indicates that commercial avoidance is huge, even in high profile events like sports, due to channel hopping during commercials. So, to get the two or three exposures needed 20 years ago, you may need to provide 12-15 EXPOSURE OPPORTUNITIES.

This can be a tough sell. Cash strapped clients claim that agencies are simply after more money for TV, Radio, and Magazine. And, they get great sales and often demographic feedback from their online efforts and the reports get stronger all the time. Why, they ask, should they spend so much on conventional media when impact is such a crapshoot?

Media mix has always been a murky area in terms of determining effective frequency as each media type was measured differently and most people relied on a sophomoric formula to project it which in no way took in to account the nuances of each media type in the mix. Did Radio and Outdoor blend the same way that TV and Magazine did? The formula did not differentiate between them.

Much research needs to be done in this arena that is in tune with the media habits of the 21st century and specifically, 2014 and beyond. Unless it is undertaken, billions will continue to be wasted and many mid-sized advertisers will get crushed as their limited funds are not spent properly.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you can reach him at

Monday, February 24, 2014

Automated TV Buying

Way back in 1978, my boss and I attended an ANA (Association of National Advertisers) conference in New York. One of the last speakers was a 1970’s tech whiz. He talked a bit about how the technology would soon be available where broadcast TV (cable was a very minor player then) could be sold on an auction market basis via computer. After his speech, I approached him and nervously asked a few questions. He was very kind to an inquisitive young man.  Essentially, he envisioned each TV station in America with a “war room” where the sales manager would sit with a few assistants. They would look at bids from buyers for selected inventory and, if they accepted a bid, that inventory was removed from the screens of buyers across the country. He admitted that local car dealers might not participate at first so they would still do annual deals with them and a few other big but unsophisticated players in the market. I asked, “When will this happen?” He laughed and uttered a line that I have used ever since. “Consumers always lag technology, son, so it may be 20 years.”

Here we are nearly 36 years later and I am no longer an earnest young media analyst. And, despite technological gains, we have yet to see automated TV buying to any large degree. Lately, however, the idea, while not gaining traction in the real world, is starting to be discussed more often as exchanges are indeed being established for on line buying.

I put the idea out to my Media Realism panel and to a number of people whom I value and trust. The results were interesting. Some simply did not respond, a few answered with brief locker room expressions, and some said that it was ridiculous. Others gave me measured responses.

Interestingly, the willingness to accept the idea fell sharply along demographic lines:

Those who had recently retired (a small sample of four) said that it was inevitable.
A larger group within three-five years from retirement said it could happen but all felt after they were gone.
Those under 50 were quite dismissive although five said that they feared it.

A few widely disparate verbatim comments were:

A network cable rep in NYC wrote, “My boss is exploring it and it scares me to death. I have two kids in college and need five more years at this sweatshop. It will not happen overnight but management is always looking to cut costs and if they can get rid of some of the sales team they can save a bundle on salaries and benefits.”

Another much younger sales rep at a cable powerhouse was not dismissive but said it did not make sense yet. His comments included “we don’t want to be commoditized so we hold back a lot of good stuff (inventory) for a premium price. If you want customized buys or special programs or promotions you have to deal with a sales rep. Our Direct Response group handles all remnant inventory and always sells out. An automated exchange might only work for a struggling new network.”

A buying service pro says, “Locally, I think an exchange would mean that a lot of inventory would go unused. It would be ever stronger if they tried it in radio. Without a team of sales reps, you might not have any radio sales to speak of.” Several others echoed this sentiment saying that, in smaller markets, automated buying will not be viable for some time.

A local cable maven hinted that affiliates could consider it for day or overnight but sales teams are still needed for the next several years. Other local cable pros said that as their product offerings are expanding, an automated exchange could not cope with it.

An owner of a mid-sized ad agency actually said he hoped it might happen. “Health care insurance is killing me. If I could unload most of my media team and then reward the soul of the agency, my creative team, it would be a good thing.” No one else was so candid but a few media directors felt that was what their boss was thinking when they asked about the topic.

While middle management at stations, cable systems, agencies and buying services was dismissive, virtually all felt that top management had to be considering it and were monitoring developments carefully.

The bottom line appears to be that, at some point, technology will evolve to where it will strongly effect the need for so many TV media salespeople and agency media staffers. While no one can rest easy in today’s environment, that appears to be some years away.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Technology, The Job Killer

I am a bit uneasy writing this piece. For the several years, I have seen this issue building up steam but few people want to speak about it. Quite simply, it is that while technology has enriched all of our lives tremendously over the last decade, it is killing millions of jobs, particularly low paying service jobs.

Technology makes our lives easier. Remember waiting in line to cash your check on payday? Remember bank tellers? Remember getting signals crossed when trying to meet up with people? It never happens now with smart phones. How about online banking or buying stocks online for $8 instead of paying a brokerage house $250? And, most of all, men of a certain age do not have to ask for directions as Google maps or a GPS in the vehicle can save their marriages.

All of these advances make our lives more productive, efficient and sometimes fun. Yet, slowly, a price is being paid.  I have always been a champion of economic progress. When one door closed on me it seemed that five others opened and they were better than the first. Many people today do not seem to be in the same situation.

Simply put, technology seems to be killing more jobs than it creates. Clearly, it is creating some great high paying jobs in Silicon Valley and a few select other areas but not so everywhere else.

Here are a few statistics that I believe make my point better than a long rant. At its zenith, a decade or so ago, Blockbuster had 60,000 employees virtually all of whom were in the service arena. Today, Netflix, which hopped aboard the moving digital train to dethrone Blockbuster, has but 2,000 employees.

How about General Electric, the last original member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and one of the few remaining poster boys for American industry? It has about 305,000 employees. Google, the surrogate for tech and the knowledge economy has 46,421 employees.

So, as the economy has shifted, many jobs of all kinds are gone forever. The debate that is going on now about minimum wage often centers around the need for caution. Iif we move from the current federal $7.25 to the president’s recommended $10.10, many say that a great many jobs will be lost. Even Bill Gates, on MSNBC recently, weighed in saying that companies will move toward some form of robotics when faced with such a large expense hitting at once. Someone whom I respect tremendously dismissed it as nonsense. Her opinion was that when a company can eliminate a job via technology, they will do it regardless of the minimum wage (Actually, a gradual rise in minimum wage has proven to have minimal effect on unemployment. A nearly three dollar immediate rise would likely hurt many small businesses significantly and shutter a few).

Did you know that the big box retailers are experimenting with RFID technology? It stands for Radio Frequency Identification. I know of two tests going on now; there may be many more. The first has you sign up for an account. As you leave a store with a basket full of goods, your assigned credit card is immediately charged. If you try to leave without an account, security is there to stop you and prosecute. The second approach is a smart phone application that you use as you pick up each item in the store. You do not go to a regular checkout line but a special one where you are given a receipt for your purchases. The retailer also will have a detailed tab on your purchases which will help with couponing and other promotional features. You will have little or no time to checkout. Sounds great but it saves the retailers a bundle as they can lay off thousands of checkout people.

Mining firms around the world are experimenting with using robots for dangerous jobs. If there is a cave in, no one dies. And, as one person wrote to me, robots don’t have sick days, join unions, or ask for raises. Assembly lines are using more robots in western countries.

Eric Schmidt of Google in a recent CNBC interview at Davos reminded us that what we call robots may not be a funny looking science fiction clone but rather a computer program. Netflix’s amazing movie preference feature is a logarithm. Or, how about Google’s algorithm for search? They are in a sense robots replacing thousands and thousands of people.

A restauranteur mentioned to me that he hopes to test putting a small device on each table with his menu on a screen. You can make selections and add comments for special needs and the order goes straight to the kitchen. If it works, he plans to lay off most of his wait staff. An astute friend asked if he the fellow had thought about how he would not have any customers if all businesses took the same approach to squeeze out costs.

Do not get me wrong. Technology is an integral part of my life--I love it. Yet, as jobs continue to disappear forever, what is going to pick up the slack? Some say tech itself will be the silver bullet but I would posit that technological advances will only cover a small fraction of the lost jobs. We are seeing a nice pickup in energy and energy service jobs in Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania. They are good paying jobs and often blue collar. Can America rebuild its industrial base? It will be hard but that seems to me to be the only way out of this growing problem.

George Orwell once wrote, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at