Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Flu Risk Ratchets Up

I'm sure you've seen the articles about the flu ratcheting up across the nation.

Here is the Diseasecast flu risk map as of 8am CST.
If you live in the red areas, please increase your precautions against flu. You will find the very best prevention products here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Ultimate Danger of Faustian Bargains

I keep reading about the passenger screening 2+ hour delays because of a minority of TSA officials not coming to work during the federal shutdown. Now, Delta is unhappy about the money they are losing.
Bottom line: This is Delta's fault (good luck getting an airline executive to take responsibility for their actions)! You see, before September 11, the airlines paid for their own security. After, they were happy to unload that cost onto the government. But, that is now coming back to bite them.

They didn't have to do it. See the map below? It is a map of airports that have private sector screening rather than the TSA. They are not experiencing shutdown-related delays.
Atlanta, Delta's #1 hub, could have been one of them.

The headline below is what brought all of this to mind.
That story is here. Related story here. This is likely the faustian bargain of all faustian bargains. If you think Facebook is 'donating' money to local news out of the goodness of its heart, I've swampland in southern Georgia I would like to sell you.

Business Lessons From the "Miracle on the Hudson"

The "Miracle on the Hudson" occurred ten years ago today.
While this is a human interest story, there are lessons for business leaders. Here are a few.
  • Captain Sullenburger was a superb example of the power of hiring people with an appropriate aptitude and then training the heck out of them. Aptitude is a vital, but undervalued, ingredient to success. 
  • The power of teamwork. Take a look at the video, here. It takes just seconds for the emergency exits to open and escape rafts to appear. Why? The crew initiated the evacuation instantly. They knew exactly what to do not just because they trained; they rehearsed. Rehearsal is vital for mission-critical functions!
  • Airlines, and their passengers, learned the hard way in the 1970's and 80's that "cockpit resource management" was and is vital. Planes crashed because, to take one notorious case, all three pilots were troubleshooting an erroneous warning light and -- in clear weather -- allowed their jumbo jet to fly into the Everglades. Why? None of the three remembered to fly the plane. One hundred one people died. If you have seen the movie, Sully, you watched Captain Sullenburger say, after the bird strike, "My aircraft!" and First Officer Skiles replies, "Your aircraft!" There must be no doubt who is in charge during a crisis. 
Want to learn more about managing "low frequency/high impact" events? Just contact us!

"Warnings" At Amazon Fixed

There have been technical difficulties with Warnings listing at Amazon for about the past week. They are fixed.

"Wichita Promise"

The members of the Rotary Club of Wichita were treated to a fascinating presentation pertaining to
Wichita Promise, a program created to move people to Wichita (expenses paid!), train you in aviation or health, and give you a guaranteed job interview. It is a successful program that can be of great benefit. Details are here.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Miscellaneous Random Prediction

Based on zero inside information, I predict they will fix the elevator in the final episode of The Big Bang Theory. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

"Storm Chasers" Episodes Now Available Free

For the first time, Storm Chasers back episodes are available, free, at the Discovery Channel's web site.

Reed Timmer, the star of Storm Chasers, will be speaking at Chasercon '19 at the Wichita Hyatt Regency February 8-10. It is open to the public. Complete information, including hotel, etc., is here. I am the keynote speaker.
Fox News, The Weather Channel, AccuWeather and many more news organizations will be covering the event. It is the largest gathering of storm chasers, meteorologists specializing in tornadoes and storm tourism companies. It attracts people from across the nation. Hope you can come and join us. In the meantime, you can watch Storm Chasers to whet your appetite.

Sunday Fun: Busted Global Warming Prediction

The 2000 article is here.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Chiefs Won!!

And broke the quarter century Arrowhead playoff curse.

I'm too worn out to write any more.

Congratulations Chiefs' fans and Chiefs Team!!

This screen capture, from the Kansas City Star's website, conveys it best.

Sixty Years Ago Today

....Barry Gordy took the first step in founding Motown Records. The rest is history.

Arrowhead: There's No Place Like Mahomes

For the few that haven't left for Arrowhead (reports say the parking lot has been full for an hour), the snow continues to fall. Here is the winterized radar at 12:16pm.

Via Twitter, here is what the snow looked like a few minutes ago.

I was at the Chiefs' last home playoff victory (Joe Montana beating Pittsburgh on a thrilling 4th down play) and have been at several of the string of the home losses since. Today, Mahomes and company beat the curse!

Other than one pre-scheduled posting while the game is on, I don't know about blogging late tonight. Stay tuned and GO CHIEFS!!

Crippling Winter Storm Continues: 9a Saturday

Via James Spann
Below is the AccuWeather Regional Radar as of 9am CDT. More below.

I'm expecting about an inch of additional snow at Arrowhead Stadium for the Chiefs-Colts game at 3:30pm. Traffic is a mess across the entire region. So, it's Saturday, hunker down, have hot chocolate and watch football or whatever suits your fancy.

Go Chiefs!

I have been a huge fan of the Kansas City Chiefs since the Dallas Texans moved to KC in the 1960's. So, I am in red today to cheer on Patrick Mahomes and the rest of the team.

In addition to a great victory over the Colts, we need to set Lin Elliot free! The story about Elliot is touching and recommended.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Congratulations: U.S.S. Wichita

The U.S.S. Wichita is being christened tomorrow. Details on the ship are here.
Information on the ceremony is here.

4pm Friday: Winter Storm Update

 Major Winter Storm in Progress
Recapping the colors: Pink is a winter storm warning. Green is a winter storm watch. Purple is a winter weather advisory (a lesser condition) and gray is a fog advisory. Greens are flood warnings/advisories.

More than a foot is forecast for the St. Louis Bi-State region. Traffic on I-44 in SW St. Louis You nay is gridlocked as is U.S. 63 south of Columbia. Addition: See tweet below.

As of 4pm, the AccuWeather regional radar.
Rain will change to snow across Kansas this evening Icing conditions likely in southern Missouri.
Allow plenty of extra time if you are going to the Chiefs' playoff game tomorrow.

A Bad Flu Season

The Centers for Disease Control say it is another bad flu season. You can check the flu risk in your area by going to . 

As of 11am Central time, here is Ascel Bio's (source of Diseasecast data) forecast of flu risk. 
Plus, you can use this link to shop for the best-in-class products for flu prevention. 

7:30am CST Friday: Update on Winter Storm

Pink is a winter storm warning. Green is a winter storm watch. Purple is a winter weather advisory (a lesser condition). Note that Interstate 70 is under some sort of winter storm warning/advisory all the way from near Columbus through the mountains west of Denver.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

End of Week Winter Storm

Here is a smoothed forecast of snow accumulations with the winter
storm that will begin tomorrow and and move out of the region Monday morning. Winds do not like they will be a major factor.

This storm will affect the Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs game Saturday afternoon. The snow will be ending about the time the game begins. Air traffic at Denver, Kansas City and St. Louis will also be affected.

It also looks like there will be substantial precipitation with this storm. It will be a boost to the winter wheat in the central Great Plains.

Below is the precipitation forecast for the next five days.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

2018: Incredibly Low Number of Tornado Deaths

Violent tornado near Tescott, Kansas, May 1, 2018
There were just ten people killed by tornadoes in the United States in 2018. 

While each of those deaths was a tragedy for the victims' families and friends, that number is incredibly low. The tornado warning system is a Nobel Prize-worthy endeavor for which the weather science community does not get nearly enough credit.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

"Warnings:" This Came This Evening

For more post-Christmas comments, please see below.

Goodreads Members' Reviews of "Warnings" is a site for book lovers. So, I decided to go over there and see if there were new reviews from people who had received the book for Christmas. While there were no post-Christmas reviews, there were two ratings.

Below is the most recent review. It is from a newspaper reporter. 
I'm pleased to report that Amazon has continued its excellent pricing of $15.00 with free shipping for Prime members. You can check it out here.

Monday, January 7, 2019

“Why Should the Soviets Have All of the Fun Remaking the World?”

"There is something in the human 
psyche that must abhor tranquility."

Just published is one of the most astute essays I have read on the topic of global warming.

Though we are not without significant personal and public challenges, they pale compared to those endured during the Great Depression and the Second World War. And so, bequeathed an inferiority complex, we seem eager to appropriate these terrible experiences for ourselves.
The scale of the threat posed by climatic and environmental changes is just not comparable to an aggressive fascist menace and the collapse of the global economy. Perhaps that’s why advocates for radical environmental policy prescriptions are so eager to borrow from the Greatest Generation’s hardships if only to lend psychological urgency to a cause that is empirically lacking.
For quite some time, it has been apparent that global warming has morphed into a religious political movement complete with "noble cause corruption" and self-sacrifice. There is also a significant amount of arrogance and authoritarianism. When it was global cooling, the solution was more
government regulations. Now, even with the problem the opposite (warming instead of cooling), the solution is the same: more taxes, more government regulation, and more central planning. Private sector innovation and market solutions are nowhere to be found on most activists' "wish lists." Just last week, it was reveals that most wind turbines wear out at twice the rate originally thought and that Poland is going to phase out wind power entirely beginning in less than 20 years.
Is global warming a real problem? Yes. Does the planet have serious environmental issues? Of course.

But, the idea that central planning (which has wrecked every nation in which it has been tried) is the solution flies in the face of hundreds of years of accumulated knowledge. What we need is low-carbon, reliable energy that costs same or less as what we use now. It really is that simple if the goal is to meaningly lower atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.

Unfortunately, for many activists, global warming is the means. More control over our lives is the end.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Will U.S. Airline CEO's Ever Get a Clue?

...probably not.
The CEO of Delta Airlines has written another "poor me" op-ed in which he accuses competitors of -- get this -- 'assaulting' travelers with low fares. The entire quote,

“These Italian routes, already highly competitive and well-served by existing carriers, are simply not economically viable without Qatari subsidies. By flooding these markets with subsidized capacity and dropping prices far below cost, Qatar is launching another assault on U.S. airline employees and travelers...”

Note also the "well-served" comment. Apparently, nothing is acceptable to him but a monopoly. In a related letter to the Administration from Georgia's (Delta's home state) senators,

“Air Italy’s entry into this crowded market appears consistent with Qatar Airways pattern of adding subsidized capacity in markets where demand is already well-served..."

Last time I flew Delta, I had a six-hour mechanical delay. Back in the "good old days" (the 1980's), United Airlines used to brag it kept at least one spare aircraft of every type it flew ready to be put in service at each of its hubs which would have prevented a delay of that length. There is nothing preventing Delta from doing that today.

I have gone from as many as 127 flight segments/year as recently as 2013 to 4 in 2018. Why? It is just too much hassle. I think the filthy tray table on a 2016 American Airlines' flight (I took pictures but you don't want to see them -- too gross) was the last straw. I asked the flight attendant if she could assist and her reply was, "What do you want me to do? I didn't leave that stuff on it."

So, you'll have to excuse me if I reject Delta's crocodile tears over actually having competition for their mediocre (at best) customer service.

How about some good 'ole American ingenuity, leadership, and caring about customers from the airline industry instead of treating us like cattle? Sadly, with Herb Kelleher's passing a few days ago, I don't think you should hold your breath.

Attention: Southern California Readers

There is a new way to get warned of earthquakes before the shaking begins at your location.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Congratulations, Barry Myers

It was announced yesterday afternoon that Barry Myers has retired as CEO of AccuWeather. The story is here. Barry was an outstanding CEO of AccuWeather and it was an honor to work for him. He has also been a tireless advocate for America's Weather Industry with accomplishments far too numerous to list here.

Barry, welcome to retirement! I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.

Sadness: "Can You Name a Country?"

Business Resolution #1 for 2019: Fix Your Customer Service! Part Three

Please see part one and part two.

Now that you have collected the customer service surveys, how do you process the information?

As the leader, go through the responses and write every one of them down. See if there are patterns. Your default should be that you will implement every suggestion that can be implemented at reasonable cost. Once you have a feel for the surveys, call the entire team together and discuss. Explain that great customer service is now the policy and that the organization cannot accept anything below "great" and, most of all, define for them what that means.

You may find that one or more employees do not give good customer service. If that is the case, you must (privately, of course) counsel them and emphasize that, from now on, their performance -- as perceived by the customers -- will be part of their annual evaluation.

As a tactical matter, implement every reasonable suggestion you receive. If, for example, you are physician and your patients hate that the magazines in the exam rooms are from the Reagan Administration, put your receptionist (for example) in charge of distributing fresh magazines once a week. Instead of Field and Stream, maybe have 2 or 3 subscriptions to People. Again, good customer service doesn't "happen." Fix the magazines (again, as an example) by making it someone's explicit responsibility.

I'm always amused by a physician's office I visit which allegedly has pretzels but the jar is always empty. Put someone in charge. Put up a sign, "If the pretzel jar is nearly empty, please tell the receptionist" or whomever you designate. Here's another idea: As a non-coffee drinker, why is it the only free drink? How about a soda fountain (hire one of those companies that comes in weekly to maintain it)? Your customers will be delighted.

Strategically, hire for customer service skills. This was a huge mistake I made in the early years of WeatherData, Incorporated. I would hire people almost entirely for their outstanding technical skills. I didn't realize that technical skills can be taught while customer service and people skills are mostly aptitude-related.

Here's an example. If you still have a human being answering your phones (and I hope you do!) and  you have to hire someone new, actually audition them with sample calls. Your receptionist makes your organization's first impression on the phone and in-person. Don't assume they come across on the phone in the same way they do in-person.

I could go on, but I hope all of this is enough to get the idea across. Build customer service into the culture of your entire organization. You want people so delighted after interacting with your team that they tell their friends and colleagues they should be doing business with you.

Customer service is so bad these days, it doesn't take much to stand out. Make it your #1 business resolution for 2019.

MSE Creative Consulting is a company dedicated to cultivating businesses and business leaders that achieve outstanding results for their creators and stakeholders. Turn to this blog for interesting content on a wide variety of topics.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Business Resolution #1 for 2019: Fix Your Customer Service! Part Two.

Hopefully, I have convinced you to find out from your customers about the quality of the customer service provided by your enterprise. I've also, in part one, suggested a survey as the best way to find out what they are really thinking.

The next step is composing survey questions that will elicit honest feedback. There are companies that will charge you tens of thousands to do this. They suggest phrasing that is unique to your specific business. In some cases, that has great value. But, most of the time, you can achieve what you wish with the following...

Assume you are a physician (adapt this to your industry). Here are the questions I would ask:

  • Thinking about all of the medical (physician, dentist, hospital, etc.) offices you visit, how do     you like visiting ours compared to the others (circle one)?

Then array numbers like this:

                       -2          -1           0        +1          +2
                                 Hate It!                            It's okay.                     Love It!
  • What is the worst aspect of our customer service?
[leave a blank space for them to write their response]

  • What are two things we could do to make your visits more enjoyable?
[explain that this might include better magazines, friendlier greeting, more comfortable chairs, free Diet Coke or whatever else they might think of; leave a large blank space]

At the bottom, tell them not to sign their name and that the money is a small token of appreciation for their valuable time and opinions. 

Hold the thing together with a paper clip. On top should be the $2 bill, then the pre-addressed stamped envelope and then the one-page survey. Then, send the surveys out and be prepared to receive some surprising responses. 

I'll explain what to do with those responses tomorrow.

MSE Creative Consulting is a company dedicated to cultivating businesses and business leaders that achieve outstanding results for their creators and stakeholders. Turn to this blog for interesting content on a wide variety of topics. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Business Resolution #1 for 2019: Fix Your Customer Service!

As we begin a new business year, I have a resolution for you. By keeping that resolution, you will improve every aspect of your business; including your bottom line. Simply stated, 2019's Job One is

Fix Your Customer Service!

Don't think you have customer service problems? You are wrong. In fact, I have found the people who are most convinced they have the best service often have the worst issues.

Last month, I was caught up in an incredible customer service mess involving minor in-patient surgery. It was so bad and the issues so numerous I won't bore you with the details. After nearly an hour-and-a-half of nonsense, I sought out the office manager and attempted to explain the issues. Her reply?

"I think our customer service is really good."

Yet, on an earlier visit to the same physician's waiting room, there were two women complaining about the extremely long wait and that no one seemed to be able to give them information. 'Really good' customer service? Hardly. 

Great customer service is never coincidence. It is never accidental. It must be designed, it must be hired-for, and it must be part of your enterprise's DNA. The best news? The incremental additional cost is usually quite small. It will have one of the best ROI's of anything you do. 

Your opinion and the opinions of your employees are irrelevant when attempting to ascertain the satisfaction level of your passengers/customers/patients/clients. How do you find out where you stand? Ask a cross-section of (men, women, young, old, etc., etc) your clientele and tell them to give you the their opinions, straight. 

Always include an incentive because you are asking them to give you their most valuable asset, their time and attention. It can include enclosing a $2 bill with each questionnaire (with a stamped, self-addressed envelope so the recipients can just pop it in the mail), a half-price oil change, or whatever is appropriate for your industry. Use a rubber stamp on the envelope with the words, "Earn $2 By Completing Our Survey" so it isn't set aside as junk mail.

Why not use Survey Monkey (SM) or one of the online tools? While much better than nothing, they can be too impersonal and they do not capture the full human interaction. You want your customers to be able to instantly jot their thoughts and comments in between the lines of the survey. With SM, you may miss important insights. That stated, if your business primarily caters to millennials, Survey Monkey may be the way to go. 

Next up: I'll talk about what questions you should ask and how to use the information. 

MSE Creative Consulting is a company dedicated to cultivating businesses and business leaders that achieve outstanding results for their creators and stakeholders. Turn to this blog for interesting content on a wide variety of topics. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Year is Getting Off to a Fiery Start!

While I love trains, this Rose Parade float takes the concept of "steam engine" way too far. The float, which depicted the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, caught fire. The story is here. While it disrupted the parade, no one was hurt.

And, in another (non-) tragedy, the donuts were burnt in Lexington, Kentucky, this morning.
The story is here. Many other police departments sent their condolences. I thought the funniest was:
The Colorado State Patrol offered to share their doughnuts, but advised the Lexington officers to “avoid the brownies.”

HAPPY 2019!!!

New Year's Wish for Everyone:
May you enjoy family, friends, good health and prosperity. 

And, For My First Full Year of Meteorological Retirement:
May all of the hurricanes stay out to sea and may all of the tornadoes stay in empty fields!