Monthly Archives: October 2010

Obesity will soon be Illegal


Not long ago in America, companies created smoking areas for smokers to enjoy their breaks. Airlines, hotels and restaurants had designated smoking areas to accommodate those who enjoyed lighting up. Before then, people smoked just about anywhere they pleased.

Today airlines (100% there), hotels and restaurants are trending toward being totally smoke free. Want a smoke break? Step outside (until cities begin the ban on smoking in public places). It’s been stunning how the attitude of society spun on this topic so quickly.

Expect to see the same type of societal spin with the obese population in our country.

New research is showing just how costly obesity is to employers throughout the country, with a total annual cost of $73.1 billion, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. With health care costs spiraling out of control, society needs to blame someone – and who is easier to blame than the obese?

Many non-smokers are now hostile in their reaction to being exposed to secondhand smoke and to those who continue to smoke. Overweight children have been ridiculed for generations, but the tipping point is coming soon where American society will share the same derision openly and corporately.

Why corporately? It comes down to one word: Money. Corporations are realizing the profit potential of eliminating this obesity cost. Other countries are also recognizing the need to control heath care costs.

In Japan, being thin isn’t just a desire – it’s the law. The government has set waistline standards and companies administer annual check-ups of employees. Companies are required to reduce the number of overweight employees by 10 percent by 2012 and by 25 percent by 2015. If companies don’t comply, they are hit with high penalties paid into the government coffers for health care for the elderly. It has created a society with a serious focus on weight and health, even though their obesity rate is less than 5 percent. The obesity rate in the United States is nearly 35 percent.

What will this mean in the coming years for our country?

Our Business Wisdom says:

  • Obesity will become a significant target of corporations and federal and state governments trying to control health care costs.
  • Lawsuits will be won by citizens suing unhealthy food providers. Those providers will also face disincentives for providing unhealthy foods through taxes and penalties from government entities.
  • Wellness programs and annual weight checks will become part of corporate employee control, as commonplace as drug testing is now.
  • We could see an obese tax on individuals as the government gets more involved in providing health care.
  • Society will express its contempt for obese people more vocally, similar to what we have seen with smokers in the last few years. The pressure will be significant and the comments brutal.
  • New organizations will start up targeting specific age group obesity issues by creating specific weight reduction programs for corporations.
  • Obesity support groups will be commonplace as will as facilities targeting senior wellness.
  • Fast food providers will begin to add healthier options to value menus because of the shifting trend toward reducing obesity, the cost of heath care, and the cost of their own unsuccessful lawsuit defenses.

Now is the time to ramp up employer wellness programs as well as communicate the necessity for individuals to work on their personal weight issues before obesity becomes illegal in the United States. I myself have dropped 40 pounds in the last 12 months, although I still have a long way to go before I am in the “legal” or normal range for my height. I know I’d rather do it for myself before I have to lose weight under corporate or government mandate.

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Selling in a Down Market

Selling in a down market can lead people to discounting their products never to regain their product status again. Follow these three simple steps to selling in a down market without hurting your “up market” products.

View this three-minute video to learn more!

1. How can you create a new line of lower-cost alternatives?

2. How do you distinguish your low-end alternatives from the rest of your offerings?

3. How can you create a new identity for your lower-end products so as not to diminish your prestige brand?

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The NFL Takes a New Direction

Sunday was an epicenter of violence on the football field and the leaders of the National Football League took notice and reacted. With the size and speed of players today simple physics will tell you the violence of collisions can have dramatic negative effects on players.

A few years ago the NFL put in new roughing penalties to protect their biggest investment – the quarterbacks. Now they are putting in serious suspensions for those who cause helmet to helmet hits. How can a game that has promoted violent hitting suddenly make an about face? They saw the future and it didn’t look good.

In the last few years new medical studies have documented the long term effects on retired players who have experienced concussions while playing in the league – and that was from hits taken 20 years ago. The NFL had to consider what are the future effects on the level of hitting occurring to current players? We already know the average life span of an NFL player is roughly 20 years below the national average.  Something had to be done before a player died in the game from a hit or became brain dead from a blow to the head.

I take my hat off to the league leaders for making this step. Imagine if suddenly there were repeatable studies done that indicated cell phones contributed to brain cancer, would the leaders of AT&T mandate a termination of cell phones or fight the studies as the tobacco industry has done for decades?

When billions of dollars are involved it’s seems easy for leaders to look the other way when damage is being done. I applaud the NFL for taking a new direction to remove some of the violence from the game. I only ask they look ahead by ten years to envision the product they want to put in front of the public. Now is the time to plan it and be proactive.

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Are You Becoming Obsolete? A BizWizTV 3 minute video

As fast as the pace of business is moving, it’s easy to fall behind the leading edge. If you stop to wait and see what you should do next, you can become obsolete just that fast. Look at your products and services from the customer’s perspective. Evaluate your marketing strategies and ask if they are still fresh. You also should be constantly experimenting with new offerings.

View this three-minute video to learn more!

1. Which of your products and services seem outdated to your customers?

2. Do your marketing strategies still seem fresh?

3. What new products and services should you be experimenting with?

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