As a new homeowner, I find myself slipping slowly into Dad Mode. I’m going to bed earlier. I don’t hate cleaning up the kitchen. I enjoy a well-organized garage. And, of course, I became a Costco member.

After an inaugural trip that set my fiancée and me back about $300, a celebratory meal was in order. Hot dog, soda, hot fudge sundae—all for a cool $3.49.

How do they do it, especially that $1.50 dog and a drink? Simple, because they want to.

As Twitter user @weirdcities noted in a viral tweet last year, here’s how that desire was relayed to Costco CEO W. Craig Jelinek by his CEO predecessor and Costco Co-Founder Jim Sinegal:

“I came to (Jim Sinegal) once and I said, ‘Jim, we can’t sell this hot dog for a buck fifty. We are losing our rear ends.’ And he said, ‘If you raise the effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out.’ That’s all I really needed. By the way, if you raised (the price) to $1.75, it would not be that big of a deal. People would still buy (it). But it’s the mindset that when you think of Costco, you think of the $1.50 hot dog (and soda).

It’s the last part that’s key. It’s not about the money, it’s about a mindset—something intangible. It’s how people feel about you.

And this is one of my favorite anecdotes when people talk ROI and every single small part of a company or organization having to turn a profit.

It doesn’t have to be about that.

Another example—and honestly, I got a kajillion of these—comes from the world of sports and video games.

MVP Baseball, The Show and a generation missed

For the first time in 16 years, the XBox console will have a first-class MLB-licensed videogame. MVP Baseball 05, the last great MLB game on Microsoft’s console, came out on the original XBox. Three XBox iterations have launched since.

Now, the much-heralded MLB The Show, long a PlayStation exclusive, will make its way to XBox for the 2021 season.

So what’s the story? How’s it been so long? Wellllll, back in the early-2000s, there was a lot of competition in the sports video game market—a lot of good competition.

One year, Sega/2K Sports were selling their suite of sports games—NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB—for just $20 apiece. It was the same year they teamed up with ESPN on some sleek branding and in-game licensing.

The games were great and were received as such, especially at that price point. The longtime heavyweight in the space, EA Sports, got scared—especially as it came to their cornerstone Madden franchise.

Instead of competing on price or quality, EA brokered a deal with the NFL for exclusive licensing. Nobody else could use the league or teams in a game. So 2K shot back with exclusive licensing on MLB games.

The underdog company then proceeded to release terrible MLB games, to the point it made more sense to just stop after 2013.

EA made one college baseball game, in 2006, and closed down the MVP franchise for good—when the last Major League version, in ’05, was considered one of the best baseball video games of all time.

MLB took 2K’s money and called it good. Why shouldn’t they?

Well, for a number of reasons.

Since the XBox 360 and Playstation 3 generation, console sales in the United States have been split relatively evenly between Sony and Microsoft—setting aside Nintendo.

For a decade and a half, about 50% of console gamers didn’t have an MLB game. This meant a missed opportunity to:

  • Learn how the sport worked—both in the macro and micro—by playing it.
  • Learn the teams and players outside your own market.
  • Play as your own team and fall in love with them in a new way.

Crazy as it is, I learned the basics of European soccer—even picking a team I follow closely now (Up The Toffees!)—because I started playing FIFA a few years ago.

Baseball has an aging fan base and a desperate need to get its players out there as stars. They need to be more relevant, and that’s something an exclusive licensing deal can’t pay for.

While it’s a long one, this is still just an anecdote. Everyone makes these mistakes.

The lesson here

A simple question to ask yourself as a marketer or businessperson or anyone at a company is this: “Does it matter if people like us?”

It’s one I’ve asked bosses before.

“Does it matter if people like us? Do we think we make more money or less money if people like us more?”

Of course it matters. It matters a lot.

And companies constantly ignore this truth because pricing something at a quarter more means a better number in this column. Or turning a new feature into a new paid product means a short-term bump in revenue.

Not everything has to make money. Not on its own. The ability for us, in 2021, to measure anything means that we try to measure everything. And you can’t measure everything.

You can’t measure a lot of the big things.

Sometimes the big things are as small as a $1.50 hot dog. And you just have to trust that doing things that people like is worth it.

Usually, it is.

I have seen a therapist on a consistent basis for more than five years. It’s awesome. It’s not the type of thing I’ve ever really shared online but anytime it comes up around trusted friends and family, I rave about it.

If you want to improve your life, talk to someone.

With today being the big #BellLetsTalk day on the social feeds, it is effectively De-Stigmatize Talking About Mental Health Day in North America and I figured I’d bring that aforementioned raving to a more visible place. Sidenote: hell of a sponsorship activation for the Canadian telecom giant.

Continue Reading Talk to someone

This is the lamest humblebrag that has ever existed but I’d put even odds on me having read or perused more law blog posts than anyone ever. For the better part of a decade, I wound down every workday perusing the posts that flowed out from the community at LexBlog—more than 1,000 blogs producing upwards of 200 posts a day.

I’ve seen what stands out and I’ve seen what’s worked for lawyers—sometimes the tune of life-changing success.

It isn’t law-specific. It’s stuff I try utilize myself, almost never writing about the law. Here’s what I got, three things I relay to almost any lawyer I talk to looking for the fundamentals.

Continue Reading The three things I tell every law blogger I talk to

There was a time when it felt like Facebook could save journalism. There was also a time when you could only access the platform with a .edu email address, the Newsfeed didn’t exist and there was a ‘Wall’ on your profile that was basically just a .txt file that anyone could edit or even delete completely.

Which is to say—things change.

Continue Reading Facebook’s supposed TL;DR feature sounds pretty awful for publishers

I love Seattle. I love it so much. I can’t imagine living anywhere else in the world. I also tend to be a bit defensive. When people criticize the things and places I like, I jump. Can’t help it.

With Sinclair Broadcasting’s KOMO 4, our ABC affiliate in Seattle, debuting the trailer to their sequel to Seattle is Dying—a news program so into shaming those most vulnerable that FOX News picked it up—I had a lot to say. Others I respect did as well.

Continue Reading Seattle is not dying, and we all want the same thing

Working in sports and social media is weird. The amazing and mystifying things you see on your favorite teams’ feeds aren’t always a result of someone’s brilliance or creativity—sometimes it’s another team trying something and someone in the building being like “Hey, why don’t we try that?”

All the while, you’re not quite sure if it’s smart and impactful or just something that looked cool and we’re all just following one another hoping for the best.

That was where I was on YouTube and teams following the Cubs’ lead on producing a ton of content for the platform. About this time last year, I was at the MLB Marketing Meetings in Portland listening to how the Cubbies produced outstanding documentaries on Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game, their progressive scouting efforts and players’ off seasons. (Hint: they threw a ton of resources at the endeavor.)

Continue Reading This mundane iOS feature is getting me into YouTube

Anything that puts money in journalists’ hands, I’m in favor of. Hell, anything that puts money in any hard-working folks’ hands, I’m in favor of. But given the industry has had its ass kicked—with writers bearing the brunt of it—you can’t blame anyone jumping to tab something as the potential savior for journalism.

Enter Substack. The premium newsletter platform is all the rage these days and, if you follow any number of journalists on social, odds are you also follow a journalist who’s been laid off—and, after that, started a Substack.

Continue Reading Substack is a step for journalism, but in what direction?

This year has had some days. And the wild thing is, we’re all stressing so much about whatever tragedy was just plopped in our laps on a recent weekday afternoon that we never consider letting our imagination run wild at what fresh hell might about to be detonated.

So while we were all bracing for Amy Comey-Barrett’s nomination to a lifetime on the Supreme Court to become official—with the Democrats playing their expected role of a decades-old rounded-down speed bump with plenty of space to the side—news came down that ACB’s colleagues-to-be handed down a decision that would make it harder to vote in Wisconsin.

Continue Reading Let them find out – pack the court

If you ever hear that an athlete doesn’t read what people write about them, don’t believe it. They read it. At the very least, their dad or their brother or their wife reads it—and they pass it along. Blog post, newspaper, even the occasional tweet. It gets in front of them.

That’s why Colts QB Philip Rivers’s colorful and candid comments yesterday made the rounds.

Continue Reading If you want to get to know someone, read what they write

The crowd present for the first Saturday at a just-opened public park in Seattle was about what you’d expect. For one, bike parking was in high demand as my fiancée and I rolled our Radwagon ebikes up to Fritz Hedges Waterway Park on Seattle’s Portage Bay. Ours were third and fourth Radwagons—a Subaru Outback in bicycle form—inside about a 25-foot radius.

“This is really nice,” an older man in flannel shirt said to his significant other as they strode out the metal dock overhanging the water.

“We need more of these,” she responded.

Continue Reading New parks are awesome, obviously