Topic: Retail Sales

A Rant on Fracking, the Middle East, Education and Retail

By Bob Phibbs

retail discussionI was talking to an economist the other day. He was excited because of the boom in natural gas he feels could raise our GDP from 1-2% to 3-5%.

I told him I wasn’t keen on it as I was against the new process used to release the gas from shale known as fracking. He came back with, “How could you be against something that could make us independent of Middle Eastern oil?”

I said few things are black and white and if fracking was so good, why won’t oil companies give us a complete rundown of the chemicals used? “Look,” he said, “if some guy sold the rights to his land for 7 million dollars, and the fracking contaminated his drinking water so he has to have drinking water trucked in, well at least he has 7 million; I think that’s fine.”

I countered that my fear is that 50 years from now, they will look back at the irreparable harm we did to the environment. “Well, the state of Pennsylvania has approved it so why shouldn’t you?” He went on…

“Do you know the ratio of men to women in America? It’s about 100 men for about 101 women. Do you know that in the Middle East and India it’s about 111 to 100 – no wonder we hear about all the atrocities on women. That imbalance is what leads to jihadists. We have to get out of there and be independent of them.”

I shared that I was more concerned that we are failing our own young people. We’re teaching them like we were still in the 50’s by teaching them how to pass a multiple choice test instead of teaching them how to think. We’re so concerned with proving that teachers are teaching that testing is the be-all-and-end-all.

In the 50’s someone could find a job turning a wrench in a factory and live a middle class job. Those jobs are disappearing. We’re only teaching like all kids will go to college. We’re breeding their natural creativity right out of them. We’re creating robots that can no longer think for themselves.

The military used to be a way out and into the middle class. But with the advent of drones, military jobs are going to be gone too.

What we aren’t teaching are the soft skills of entrepreneurship, building rapport and being creative to a generation that desperately needs them.

“What do you speak about?” he asked me. “Retail – how to make retail shops successful.”

He asked about online and bragged about how great Amazon was.

“I know,” I said, “Amazon really is firing on all cylinders. But if we lose brick and mortar retailers, we will have lost one of the last places people can learn needed social skills.”

“What do you mean by that?” he asked. “It’s simple,” I replied. “In retail, an industry responsible for 1 in 4 jobs in the US, you have to meet a lot of people. The best retailers, like my clients, are taking the initiative to teach people of all ages how to build rapport, how to sell someone on something in a modern way and how to deal with the very real fact not everyone will like or respect you. Those skills are anyone’s ticket to success.”

If young people can learn the keys to retail selling, they can go on to sell their creative ideas; they can form the teams that provide clean water to Africa, secure financing for their own movie or attract venture capital for new technologies.

But if they are not taught these very real soft skills, they will devolve into delusional narcissists.

This generation is being trained to feel they can control their world. Hate what someone posts in a comment on your Facebook page? Delete it. Want someone to talk to? Post that they should text you. This entire passive generation is being trained to play everything safe.

And that’s not the real world in any way.

If anything, playing it safe is the new risky.

Hence, retail can give them some perspective based in reality.

I get how we have very real problems like every generation. And I get that the quick fix can be profitable and attractive. But short term gains are missing the point entirely.

What are we doing for those who will have to run our world very soon?

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