Diuretic Pills: Procurement and Supply Chain Lessons From Weight Lifting Supplements (Part 3)

In the spirit of Santa’s fast approaching all-night ride and the training he must endure before setting out on the round the world trek — it’s amazing he was able to do it before supplements — we continue our series of comparing weight lifting supplements to procurement and supply chain strategies. If you’re just finding this write-up now, please see our introductory and Ultimate Orange installments from earlier in the month. Today, we cut right to the chase — or rather, cut the excess liquid in our bodies as we come to our next supplement, diuretic pills.

Source: http://www.daimanuel.com/2013/03/05/twas-the-night-before-the-crossfit-open-a-poem/

Diuretic pills have a long and disreputable history in weightlifting. (And no, we won’t admit to using these bad boys, unlike Ultimate Orange.) Bodybuilders took these synthetic compounds to essentially show up  “ripped” or “shredded” at different events until contestants literally keeled over during shows. (Superstar and fan favorite Mohammed Benaziza was one who died from using them.) They literally sucked the lifeblood — water, actually — out of one’s system at the expense of showing a near-term “pump.” Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can be deadly, despite superficial appearances.

So they got banned.

RIP: Mohammed Benaziza

Now there are more tamed, natural supplements that basically flush excess water and other stuff from muscle and cells to appear leaner. But theoretically even these less dangerous supplements still bring the potential to put an enormous amount of stress on the heart and the body overall.

There are numerous comparisons we can think of between diuretic pills and procurement and supply chain tactics. But perhaps the easiest comparison is the near-term pump one can achieve through tactics that unfairly beat up suppliers by challenging their cash flow (while benefiting ours) on dictatorial terms — sort of like ordering all of the water out of your body.

One tactic here is GM’s now famous “we’ll pay all invoices at a discount” edict under Ignacio Lopez. (That really helped cement strategic supply relationships.) But a much more common tactic that is nearly as bad is extending payment terms out to a certain level (e.g., moving from 30 or 45 to 90-day terms). This causes supply chain pain that will come back in the form of suppliers needing (or wanting) to cut corners as payback. Of course, procurement and accounts payable organizations that put in place an early payment discount program at reasonable terms while extending DPO get a pass here, but few do it effectively at scale today.

So next time you’re thinking of putting on the working capital “pump” for a balance sheet competition, do consider the implications of doing it — or at least doing it without thinking about overall supply chain supply chain health. As for us, we’re just saying no to this one and these tactics.

As our series continues, we’ll move to a happier note with one of our favorite (and legal) substances: creatine.

Ultimate Orange: Procurement and Supply Chain Lessons From Weight Lifting Supplements (Part 2)

Jason Busch and Richard Lee

Some people say weightlifting is not the sport for intellectuals. We’ve also heard the same thing said of procurement, mind you. But anyone who would dismiss either in such a manner has clearly not done their homework, or clearly has a chip on their shoulder. (Their atrophied, miniscule deltoids, that is.)

External criticisms aside, there are more commonalities between the activity and the profession than not. This includes how to “juice” performance at the expense of longer-term horizons. Yes, as economists like to say, we all die anyway, but how fast we accelerate the decline of our vital signs — let alone balance sheets — or harm P&L performance is really up to us.

As we embark on our highly rigorous holiday season analysis — yes, that was a joke — on how to juice performance of both the muscular and procurement sort with supplements, we will start our discussion with a true throwback enhancer: Ultimate Orange, from the 80’s and 90’s.

Used by powerlifters and gym rats alike, Ultimate Orange was Red Bull before Red Bull.  A serving had three to five times the caffeine of a cup of coffee, was chock full of various amino acids and the now banned ephedra. Back in the day, every professional and recreational athlete drank it like Kool-Aid until less physically inclined baseball pitchers started having heart-attacks during spring training.

I (Richard) drank this stuff — and it tasted nothing like an orange — before every workout, every match, and I remember it all like the clarity of zeroing in on a P&L cost savings line at quarter close. I could lift 10% to 20% more weights, play pissed-off (at the world) and didn’t feel pain. I loved it so much, when rumors of an FDA ban surfaced citing health concerns, I made the trek to my local pusher to go stock up. It turns out GNC sold out of its entire inventory in matter of hours following the announcement. (Kinda like Twinkies when the new of bankruptcy surfaced. Yes, we participated in that melee, too).

Ultimate Procurement

So what are the comparisons here and lessons for procurement to Ultimate Orange? It’s actually a simple one — arguably the easiest. Ultimate Orange is the ultimate short-term fix, regardless of how pumped (i.e., sophisticated, in purchasing terms) you are before quaffing it. Given this, it’s clearly the reverse auction of the supplement world.

Reverse auctions, as a procurement tool, can truly juice performance in the near-term and might actually be appropriate in certain cases. But they’re overused and can give an organization the equivalent of a P&L heart attack if forecast savings don’t actually materialize after it becomes clear that the top-three bids in a given event or lot lot will be costly or impossible to implement (and the incumbent supplier did not budge).
Smart lifters can get away with an Ultimate Orange-like drug on occasion — although we hope a legal one! The same is true of smart procurement organizations that apply reverse auctions to the right sets of categories and events — and understand the broader implications and messages sent in using them. For example, one appropriate use use would be in proving to a fat, incumbent supplier in a competitive market that its 50% net margin is not sustainable and that you will in fact switch 80% of the spend to another vendor.

In the meantime, given the fact Ultimate Orange is no longer available, you’ll have to take our word for it that such a supplement, like reverse auctions, is best used sparingly rather than before every trip to go pound iron — or your suppliers.

Autumn Brew, aka. Oktoberfest Beers

We had a great dinner last night with family and friends at Howells & Hood (which by the way boasts the largest draft been selection in Chicago).  But when the hostess brought out seasonal, autumn beer list, entire table let out a collective sigh.  Chicago summer is now officially over…  Much to our delight, the list did not contain too many hackneyed (not to mention over-played) pumpkin stout or any other pumpkin varietal.  A couple of my favorite darker ales of the fall –

  • Old Brown Dog by Smuttynose Brewing – it’s heavy in alcohol (almost 7%) so perfect for slightly frost-bitten evenings when you feel like ribs or other sauce-rich meat comfort dishes.  It’s deceptively creamy with light on bitterness and after-taste.
  • Indian Brown Ale by Dogfish Head – if you like dark, bitter brew with thick foam resulting from heavy does of molasses during the brewing process, this is the fall beer for you.  Great with rubbed / smoked meats and vegetables.

What are your favorites?

Jeter’s Retirement

I hate and love Olbermann.  Asides from Stuart Scott, Keith Olbermann is probably the most eloquent, poignant current / alumnus ESPN anchor there is.  And if you have not seen his latest tirade on Jeter’s hyped retirement, it’s a piece of art.

Now before Jeter faithful (Olbermann used the word apologist) try to hang me from the Brooklyn Bridge next to Olbermann, I am not necessarily saying that I agree with him (even if the stats and anecdotes Olbermann rants off are impossible to dispute…)  Is Jeter a Hall of Famers – absolutely.  Is he one of the greatest Yankees Captains ever – perhaps.   Did the modern media and Gatorade commercials help to “iconize” him – for sure (hey, I do love the Re2pect marketing).  Does God have a sense of humor for allowing the O’s to end the Yankees season all the while bestowing Jeter an opportunity to hit the game winner on his final at bat against the same team?  You know it.  Am I little jealous because Jeter is getting a rock star treatment while Chicago’s beloved Pauley (Konerko that is) is riding off into the sunset without much fanfare?  Of course…   Then again, it’s better than getting boo’d out of the city like Sosa did in his final year.  After watching one of those feel-good Gatorade commercials, my wife asked, “was he really that good?”  I don’t know…   Why don’t you decide?

9-11: We Should Never Forget…

Has it been 13 years already?  I was in California at my parents house when the first plane hit.  It was an eerie feeling flying internationally a few days later (to visit my then girlfriend, now my wife) where crew members outnumbered passengers on a United flight from ORD to ICN.   The war is not over yet – it’s still raging…  Political / religious ideologies aside, we should never forget those innocent, first respondents who fell.  May God rest their souls…

Fall’s Best Draws

 

Excerpts from the fall 2014 addition of Men’s Book…

The most luxurious way to draw out the cast of fall’s flavorful air is through the leaf-wrapped tobacco of a fine cigar.  The best stogies manage to magnify the season’s crisp, smoky air while heralding the rich complexities beneath.  But which smokes go the extra mile?  Some of the well-known Chicago cigar shops weighed in.

  • Up Down Cigar (www.updowncigar.com) – Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Aniversario Toro; one of the most flavorful medium-bodied smokes, its aged wrapper and filler tobaccos are all from the Dominican Republic.  It has leathery notes and saltiness often found in Cubans.
  • Iwan Ries & Co (www.iwanries.com) – Crowned Heads Las Calaveras; robust flavors provided by the refined Ecuadorian wrapper and the Nicaraguan filler, it has oaky, crispy and buttery flavors that pay homage to the festivities of Dia de los Muertos.
  • Hubbard State Cigar (www.hubbardstatecigar.com) – Ashton Virgin Sun Grown; the long-lasting, box-pressed cigar in a good-looking Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper draws like a slow drive through delicious bouquets of almonds, cedar and roasted molasses.

My favorite?  Partagas 1845.  Asides from its hearty Ecuadorian wrapper, Connecticut binder and Nicaraguan fillers aged in Dominican rum barrels, every time my business partner and I smoke one with prospects / clients, we seem to close a new deal…

Writing Tips 101…

 

Let’s get to the point – I am a poor writer.  When friends find out that I contribute to an SMB blog, they usually do a double-take and ask, “say what?”  I am Jamaal Wallace in Finding Forrester where Sean Connery shoved a typewriter to the shell-shocked African-American teenager and yelled, “just freaking write!”  I would write a paragraph and instead of keep on writing, I’d go back to the same paragraph to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed (there, I did it again).  So for all those Jamaal Wallaces and Richard Lees out there, below are some quotes from best-selling authors and luminaries that may help you.

  • “What a writer has to do is write what hasn’t been written before or beat dead men at what they have done.” – Ernest Hemingway
  • “You have to show up.  If you show up, the creativity will show up.  If it doesn’t, I take a walk or meditate.” – Laura Benedict, author of Bliss House
  • “Tell a story.  Everyone loves stories.” – Stu Perlman, now retired 9th grade English teacher at Washington High (Fremont, CA).  A side note – I would not have gotten into college without taking and passing Stu’s English 101 class
  •  “My advice is not to wait to be struck by an idea. If you’re a writer, you sit down and damn well decide to have an idea. That’s the way to get an idea.” – Andy Rooney, ’nuff said
  • “I would not get into a car unless I Knew where I was going.” – Peter James, creator of the Roy Grace series, comparing driving to working with outlines or other forms of plotting
  • “Just write, maybe in bullet points.  It doesn’t even have to make sense in the first pass.” – Jason Busch, Group Managing Director and Chief Editor of Spend Matters and MetalMiner
  •  “Every idea is my last. I feel sure of it. So, I try to do the best with each as it comes and that’s where my responsibility ends. But I just don’t wait for ideas. I look for them. Constantly. And if I don’t use the ideas that I find, they’re going to quit showing up.” – Peg Bracken, author of humorous books on cooking, housekeeping, etiquette and travels
  • “I have a self-starter—published 20 million words—and have never received, needed or wanted a kick in the pants.” – Isaac Asimov

So which quote above resonates with you?  What’s your motivation for writing?  Mine – I suck at it, and I’d like to get better.  Not sure about getting better but since I’ve been writing for a few years, I find the process rather therapeutic…

Hope everyone’s having a great long weekend  🙂

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