Yesterday I made the mistake before a doctor's appointment of running into an outlet store of a large drug-store chain in New York.
This particular store occupies what used to be an old movie theatre on east 86th Street. Accordingly, there's a small fleet of cash-registers and gum and crap at street level, then two filthy escalators up to the upper-level where all the stuff is.
I escalated upstairs looking for my week's supply of heartburn pills. Just about anything gives me heartburn these days, especially people who talk too much and do too little.
In any event, there I was alone on the top-floor of this drug-store and I can't find what I need.
Like Magellan, I circumnavigate the joint, half looking for pills half looking for help. I can find neither.
Finally I start shouting.
"Is anyone here? Is anyone here? I need help."
No response at all. I try again. Again at the top of my lungs. Again no response.
I leave the store only to have a cashier on the street-floor tell me, "find the manager up-stairs."
What's happened in our world and in our industry is this: capital--stores, bakeries, sports teams, ad agencies--has consolidated. Where we used to have owner-operators running things like drug-stores and ad agencies, today we have absentee-ownership and, in many cases, dis-interested day-to-day management.
I'm fairly sure the only way to assure success in a business is to have the people working at that business invested in that business' success. If you aren't a share-holder, if there's no path upward, if all you get for your efforts is a salary, chances are you find yourself at work afflicted with lassitude.
One way, I think, of improving drug-stores and ad agencies is to make the people that work in such places "owners." I suppose no matter what you do for a living, it's not a great deal of fun to see others get rich off of your toil.