Is Dining Out for Lunch Dead?

Posted by Richard Moran.

The next time the office reeks of those reheated burritos and the leftover chicken chow mien, don’t just complain that you can’t work under smelly conditions, say a prayer for the restaurant business.  The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets are reporting that the U.S. restaurant industry is in big trouble.  And the reason can be summarized in one word: lunch.

Americans are not going out to restaurants for lunch and it’s showing up in their bottom lines.  Restaurants are reporting the lowest level of lunch traffic in over forty years.  Before you think this fact is yet another sign of the apocalypse, think again about your own habits and schedules and you won’t really be surprised. Consider this:

  • We all need a moment of solitude during the day as the meetings and expectations and pressures mount. That turkey sandwich at your desk might be all you can muster.  It’s not unusual for people to put on headphones and enjoy a chicken Caesar and relax with visions of beaches for just a few minutes.
  • Offsite meetups are more likely to take place over a coffee – not lunch. A coffee is much less of a commitment than lunch, and you can do a bunch of them in a day. We may get the caffeine jitters by the middle of the afternoon but there is no doubt that coffee is detracting from the lunch crowd.
  • Working from home means your chances of going out to a restaurant for lunch are almost nonexistent. When working from home you will probably dip into the fridge for that burrito or chow mien too.
  • More and more companies are providing lunch onsite to make us more efficient. It may not be the chef prepared meals like Google or Facebook but any lunch provided will be good enough if it’s free.

Lunch isn’t going away. Like so many other parts of the workplace, it is just changing.  You can pick and choose what kind of lunch person you want to be. Probably even better is to go with the flow of your workplace and do the lunch thing that others do. If everyone goes out to their cars at lunch and eats alone you might want to find another place to work.

For me, I like lunch. I have lunch every day. It’s the break that shouts half way home.

What is your lunchtime routine?

Why You Must Write – Why I Write

Posted by Richard Moran.

Everywhere I go I see people writing in those cool black journals. I see them in coffee shops, airports, hotel lobbies or any place that requires waiting or wasting time. What are they writing? It doesn’t matter. Whether it be deep thoughts about the universe or a short memo, the act of writing is important. The most successful people I see in business (or most other careers) are excellent writers. In fact, the best writers I ever worked with were investors at a venture capital firm. Their writing told a story about whether or not to invest millions of dollars. I write, and to be successful, you must write too.

The reasons why I write are not complicated but may be helpful to you.

  • Writing is cathartic. Pouring out frustrations, plans, complaints and thoughts can be therapeutic. You will feel better after writing things down.
  • Writing is not for fame or fortune. J.K. Rowling and a few others aside, you probably will never make much money, if any, for writing.  Remember there is a difference between writing and publishing. Writing just to get published never produces great results. Write for the craft, the passion, the creativity.
  • Writing will make others think you are smart and your mother will be proud of you.  Movies are made about writers and there can be an intimation of a romantic life. That is not true, but don’t tell anyone.
  • Writing creates something. Something is there right on the screen or in the notebook and a body of work exists. After spending a day looking at spreadsheets, columns of numbers or in meetings it can be gratifying to know that something, in fact, has been created and you did it.
  • Writing helps me connect with special people I haven’t seen in a long time. I want others to know that the person that they knew is still in here. I hope they are reading and smiling.
  • Writing can kill time. Have you ever been on an airplane when you don’t feel like reading and the headphones don’t work on the movie? Writing could be the solution. Time can whisk by when lost in thought trying to put a paragraph together.

For me, any illusion of being a great writer disappeared a long time ago. Maybe it was in college when I realized what great writing is and that the notion left me. Great writers make words sing and dance off the page. My words walk along next to each other and eventually form a story. I am an observer, I just write things down that I observe. The formula works for me, I have sold over 500,000 books through major publishers. Even as a writer who chronicles the notion of work, I don’t compete with the great nonfiction writers like Michael Porter or Malcolm Gladwell. The formula works for me but you need to find your own formula – your own voice.

Now I am about to attend a world famous writer’s conference – as a writer. I will be in residence at Writers Week in Listowel, County Kerry in Ireland with the likes of Richard Ford and Alan Cumming.  It all started with being an observer and writing it down. You can do that too.

You will be fine (and other advice for graduates)

Posted by Richard Moran.

(An excerpt from my commencement address of May 2017)

Commencement is my favorite day of the year. Everyone is happy!

Each year I exercise the Presidential Prerogative to give important parting advice. Although aimed at the graduating class, everyone can listen and take heed. Past advice has included never tie a mattress to the roof of your car and quit as many jobs as you can.

My advice this year is gleaned from a body of work that is timely and inspirational. It is a body of work rarely studied by scholars. I am referring to country-western songs. The best advice is often the simplest, here goes:

My first piece of advice comes from Carrie Underwood, “Sometimes life leads you down a different road. Someday you’ll see the reason why there’s good in goodbye.” The message is DO NOT LOOK BACK and DO NOT WAIT. If you want to start a business, do it. If you want to travel, go ahead. If you want to be a musician, be one. Too often I see people wait for that next promotion or until I’m thirty or some artificial threshold. Time is not on your side.

The next pearl of wisdom from the country song world is about getting responses, hearing back from others. It’s about the rudeness of unresponsive people and organizations. The sentiment is best captured in the old Randy Travis song, “Since my phone still ain’t ringing, I assume it still ain’t you.”

You will be applying for jobs. You will be applying to graduate school. And it will be frustrating because you never hear back. I don’t know why responses don’t come. It seems to me that when you pour yourself into something, the least you deserve is a response – even if the response is NO. When you don’t hear, don’t give up. Eventually you will hear and it will be good. The phone will ring or the text will buzz with a positive message.

Great advice can sometimes be captured right in the title of a country song like, “God is great, beer is good, people are crazy” recorded by Billy Currington.

I find this one to be more true than not. Keep your priorities straight. Keep your faith and keep your friends. Drink the beer if you want but don’t drive. And recognize people can be crazy. Someone I love reminded me recently that what is in your heart is what matters. Keep your priorities straight.

The great song by Miranda is also appropriate. The song is “Hide your crazy… even when you fall apart.”

The transition out of college can be brutal. All transitions can be difficult. You will stumble. Your hearts will be broke. You will wonder what’s important. You will have failures. You just need to pick yourself up and try again and hide your crazy.

And lastly, you have heard lots of things that can induce stress and be just worrisome. Among the things that you’ve hear are:

  • Fix your resume
  • Don’t ever get caught on inappropriate videos
  • Change your hair
  • Hide your tattoos
  • Don’t post on social media
  • Take coding classes
  • Learn spreadsheets
  • Don’t put your phone on the dinner table
  • Practice presentation skills
  • Get that internship
  • Your first job is important
  • Your first job isn’t important
  • You won’t find a job
  • Network, network, network
  • Beware the reply button
  • Never be late
  • Don’t eat sugar

The list goes on and on and on but here is my take away for the day:

It will be fine. You will be fine. I have confidence in each and every one of you that you have learned life lessons and skills that will enable you to be who you want to be. In those moments when you are worried, remember my parting piece of advice; IT WILL BE FINE.