Hot for Hollywood
Wake up, Hollywood, and smell the roses! It's a new and great day in Tinseltown—at one time controlled by a tight group of moguls but now wide open for new business. I enjoyed Alan Deutschman's informative story ("The New Wave," December 2005). This is a great time to redefine this industry we call "entertainment" and have the upcoming generation of innovative thinkers and creators take it to the next level and beyond. It's a new world, so give consumers what they want, when they want it, at a reasonable price. You have my support.
New York, New York
I have worked in film production during the past 10 years, and I am a newly converted digital disciple. Thanks for the December issue ("Building a Better Movie Business"). In a few pages, your movie section completely encapsulated the gospel I've been trying to explain to my clients, friends, and alleged film aficionados for the past year. They must have this issue. Please send 50 copies to me immediately so I can personally deliver Robert Rodriguez to their doormats.
Readers to Wal-Mart: No
Jim Wier should be lauded for his vision and focus for Snapper ("The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart," January/February). I worked for a landscape company as a summer job in the mid-1970s, and Snapper made all of the mowing equipment. I bought my first Snapper in 1981 and finally replaced it (with another Snapper) in 2000. Mr. Wier correctly and graciously pointed out that Wal-Mart should be free to offer low-cost, throw-away lawn mowers, but he was astute enough to recognize that many people are willing to pay more for quality and develop a relationship with a small retailer. Even though I live in metropolitan Kansas City, my Snapper is still serviced by a mom-and-pop dealer that has been around for more than 40 years. As companies such as Snapper are acquired by larger corporations, I hope their new owners resist the challenge to change directions.
Your article on Wal-Mart and Snapper lawn mowers was compelling and encouraging. It left me really wanting to know more about Snapper CEO Jim Wier. It takes a lot of clear thinking to keep your company's vision on the right path and not fall into the temptations that Wal-Mart offers.
I worked for a major toy company for 10 years and watched the erosion of our brands as Wal-Mart stripped away the value and awareness of the products we had heavily invested in producing, only to have "house branding" take away shelf space after our brands brought the feet to the aisle. Thanks for a great story that needed to be told.
Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania
When I saw the headline "The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart," I figured it was going to be about George Siemon, CEO of Organic Valley, the farm cooperative. Siemon became "the farmer who said no to Wal-Mart" rather than give into demands for ever lower milk prices. Before then, Organic Valley had been a primary supplier of organic milk to Wal-Mart. Organic Valley is a cooperative run for and by the farmers themselves. Their income would have suffered directly from Wal-Mart's squeeze. When it comes to dealing with the behemoth from Bentonville, more is not necessarily better—especially for Wal-Mart's suppliers.
West Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Why Snapper Is Making a Mistake
Charles Fishman wrote a very interesting story on Snapper's decision not to sell to Wal-Mart, but I disagree that Snapper CEO Jim Wier made a good long-term decision. In the mid-1970s, I was a sales rep for Stanley Tools. At that time, the company's core businesses were independent dealers and distributors. Wal-Mart had been buying Stanley from distributors. As a local sales rep, I had to work very hard to persuade senior management to sell to Wal-Mart direct. It was the right decision then and a turning point for Stanley with distribution. Look at Stanley's success today: It's still a premium brand and a profitable company.
Wier was likely making a short-term decision to position Snapper to be sold. Only time will tell, but I bet in 10 years, we will look at Snapper and it will be a different story about the company and its employees in the small town of McDonough, Georgia.
San Jose, California
Portrait of a Generation
For the past four years, I've done a lot of work with organizations in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area on generational conflict. Many aren't prepared for the reality of a multigenerational workplace ("Scenes From the Culture Clash," January/ February). Thanks for your research. By the way, I'm a "cusper," a significant generation between boomers and Xers. Cuspers are good peacemakers between the two, and many experts say it'll be the last generation to traditionally manage.
I bet many of FC readers are cuspers.
West Chester, Ohio
As a person born in 1978, and therefore the oldest cohort of generation-Y, I thought for the most part the broad characteristics that described my generation were fairly accurate. I was bothered, though, by your branding of my generation as the kind that rushes to parents whenever anything goes wrong at work. It makes us sound like a bunch of immature brats who need constant handholding. I fear that people reading this—particularly hiring managers—will shudder and perhaps think twice before hiring someone in my age range, fearing they will eventually be harassed by that person's parents. Our generation gets a bad rap based on the actions of a select few.
New Hyde Park, New York
Just wanted to say you wrote a great story on millennials in the latest issue. It really resonated with how I feel and the way several of my friends and I feel about our jobs, lives, and companies. I've always been interested in stories about generation-Y, but yours was well written and went in different directions that most people wouldn't think about.
Los Angeles, California
Whenever I find myself underlining phrases and sentences in a magazine article, I invariably email a thank you. Consider this mine for "Scenes From the Culture Clash." You had great stories to back up the fact that, yes, there are generational clashes in the workforce. We'd best be prepared to face them and to find the best ways to get the job done while valuing each person's contribution.
I just wanted to compliment Danielle Sacks on an interesting, well-written piece. As a fellow gen-Xer, I could never imagine my mom requesting a meeting with HR. It sounds like a bad dream!
"We'd best be prepared to face generational conflict and to find the best ways to get the job done while valuing each contribution."
Every few years, we hear about the revolutions in the workplace a new generation will lead. And with each decade, the structure of the workplace appears to be much the same as it was the decade before. This current crop is no different. By the time the millennials finish their long-term therapy programs in their late thirties and early forties, they will have been passed over on the road to the corner office by their hungrier peers who worked the longer hours, gained the valuable experience, and, more important, learned how to manage people and play corporate politics. The millennials, of course, will have gone from product managers to folk singers and from copywriters to pseudo-Zen philosophers.
Watching Bob Nardelli
I read Jennifer Reingold's story on Bob Nardelli with great interest ("Bob Nardelli Is Watching," December 2005). I was a Home Depot store manager until about two months ago, when I was let go due to a "reorganization" in Colorado and specifically at my store. I don't have an ax to grind. Some of Nardelli's changes have been good for the Depot. But I know many store managers who are very upset with his changes and techniques. They're unhappy with the way Nardelli has changed the culture from a "learn from your mistakes and move ahead" mentality to that of "miss one metric, and you're gone." Others just chalk it up to corporate evolution and can't wait for the first opportunity to get the hell out. Publicly, of course, they're all smiles and "thumbs-up" for Bob's new programs.
I really liked working at Home Depot. That is, until Bob arrived and, in my opinion, screwed things up.
I enjoyed reading your recent article on Bob Nardelli. As a Home Depot customer and former vendor, I can now better appreciate the many facets of the company Nardelli has to track on a daily basis and the value of this information for any business. The success at Home Depot is truly impressive, and Mr. Nardelli's management metrics will someday make for a good business-school case study.
An Experiment Gone Awry
In "The Wisdom of Crowds (Beta Version)" (December 2005), you refer to The Business Experiment (TBE) as peer-to-peer, or P2P. But P2P doesn't properly describe the collaboration that occurs among the participants of TBE. Peer implies a direct link of communication between two points; TBE sounds more like a democratic message board. You compare TBE to Linux's development, but Linux was controlled by Linus Torvalds. Times and media change, but they can't produce creativity and leadership out of the ether.
Lev D. Lvovsky
Long Beach, California
In "Bosses From Hell" (July 2005), we incorrectly stated that Walt Disney cooperated with Joseph McCarthy in the 1960s. McCarthy died in 1957.
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A version of this article appeared in the March 2006 issue of Fast Company magazine.