BCCAs: Procurement and Supply Chain Lessons From Weight Lifting Supplements (Part 5)

Have you ever noticed there’s an awful lot of “fails” going on at the gym recently? The video below is both depressing and humorous at the same time. But it serves those CrossFitters right — wussies. (They should hit a real gym and pump some real iron.)



Now onto business. As we continue our series on ways to “pump” procurement and supply chain based on lessons learned from weight lifting substances, we come to a rather pedestrian ingredient in many higher-end protein and other supplements today: branched-chain amino acids (BCAA ). Incidentally, if you missed the previous installments in the series, be sure to see them in all their ripped glory: introduction, Ultimate Orange, Diuretic Pills and Creatine.


Of 20 amino acids in human body, 3 are considered BCAAs. Here’s the way a trainer explained it to us back in the day: think of BCAA as a fast-speed train or targeted delivery mechanism of vital nutrients to each individual muscle cells before, during and after workouts.


Without BCAA, your body still gets the nutrients from food intake, but it’s slow and spreads out all over the place. The result of using BCAA’s is that you add fuel to the furnace before and during the workout — it actually increases metabolism as well — and you recover faster after a weight workout. Coincidentally, Jason, as the runner of the two of us, also takes a vegan protein powder with BCAAs after long runs. Many endurance athletes do, it turns out — it’s not just for meatheads.


Safety questions aside, we think BCAAs are safe. But don’t take the opinion of two moderately ripped — in our dreams — nincompoops like us on face value. Consult a professional!


Still, we can’t help but think of a better comparison to procurement and supply chain strategies than targeted supplier relationship management, performance and development programs. Like the appropriate use of BCAAs for all types of “workouts,” engaging and building relationships with suppliers can help in a range of expected (and unexpected) ways. These include:


<li>Improving overall supplier performance metrics (on-time performance, quality, responsiveness to corrective action requests, etc.)</ul>

<li>Joint cost reduction opportunities</ul>

<li>Working capital reduction (e.g., through better inventory planning)</ul>

<li>Contribution to innovation</ul>



So, what are you waiting for? Head on out and stuff your own procurement and supply chain stocking with some BCAA supplier development equivalents. And don’t believe for a second this guy is a posterchild for BCAAs.



At least one of us is smarter than he is. Both in the gym and defending operations strategies in front of a management team or board of directors. But as for the other one … (yes, that really is Jason).

What really drives valuation for tech companies?

By Jason Busch and Richard Lee

Published in Spend Matters Pro – https://spendmatters.com/2014/06/11/what-really-drives-valuation-for-technology-companies-these-days/

We’ve always found the subject of valuation for technology companies a curious topic, one that we could probably bore too many people with during cocktail hour conversations. There are plenty of good authorities when it comes to tech valuation (some of the best research we’ve seen over the years comes from Pacific Crest) and nearly every sell-side analyst worth their salt has a theory or two on the topic. But ultimately, tech valuation is more art than science (remember the crazy theories during the last dot-com rush when eyeballs somehow served in place of real operating metrics?).

Corporate Inversion…


AbbVie’s $55BN  bid for UK drug maker Shire was approved, providing yet another footnote in the history of corporate inversion by the US companies largely motivated by an opportunity to avoid US corporate taxes.  The combined firm will move to UK, saving upwards of $8BN in US corporate taxes by some estimates.  While such a move certainly rubs policy makers the wrong way, in reality isn’t this a perfect case study in the free market economy?  People / companies have moved across state-lines for better opportunities so why not across country-borders in today’s global economy?  Some compare this to individuals denouncing US citizenship to save on personal taxes – I think that’s a bad comparable.  The latter is unthinkable, outrageous (I am an ex-military after all).  Cry of jingoism will not solve the problem – only permanent solution is to change the US corporate tax laws so that we can be competitive, on the level playing field with the likes of Ireland, etc.  It’s been a couple of years since Chicago lost Aon to UK (well-respected board members resigned in protest).  We were bracing for the same after Walgreens / Boots (UK) merger.  Fortunately, Walgreens announced that they are here to stay.  Every accretion / dilution model has a black-box, designed to justify “positive synergy” that may or may not come to fruition.  I am just trying to imagine how to build one for inversion tax savings…

What is Bitcoin? (part II)


  • What can I buy with bitcoins?  Almost anything…   While some mainstream retailers do not support the currency, many online retailers have embraced the concept.
  • Is it safe?  This is a million dollar question.  While its inherent volatility makes its future uncertain, many technologists much smarter than me are working on making it safer.  Meanwhile bad publicity around currency exchanges either getting hacked or shutting down is preventing the general public from jumping in head first.
  • Can Bitcoin boost my business?  Yet another million dollar question.  Let’s put it this way – if you accept it, you will get publicity.  Is that worth taking the risk?  Many would argue yes.

Draw your own conclusion.  Only time will tell if Bitcoin is a passing fad or here to stay.

What is Bitcoin? (part I)

Every semester, I take my students from Columbia College to Chicago Federal Bank’s Money Museum.  It’s a great experience for the students, and I also learn something new with every visit.  On our last visit, I pulled one of the PhDs aside (they all possess a doctorate degree in Economics) and asked, “what do you think about bitcoin?”  The presenter gave me a one sentence answer – it’s a safe haven for illicit traders.  Probably a little too harsh answer, so I did my own research.

  • What is bitcoin?  It’s a virtual currency created by an unknown Japanese programmer (only his pseudonym is known).  It’s not associated with any country or government, making it truly universal.
  • How does it work?  Every user has a “wallet” with a unique identifier.  While all transactions are recorded, user ID is kept anonymous (OK, so that supports illicit trade comment).
  • How  do I get bitcoins?  Various exchange sites / services let you buy and sell for cash.  You can also mine them (honestly I don’t get this concept).

To be continued…

EBONY Wealth Challenge Wrap-up, Part 1

As published in the most recent issue paraphrased….

  1. Get your mind right:  Wealth begins in the mind and ends in the purse.  If you want to earn more, you must learn more.
  2. Lower your bills:  Renegotiate the terms for your car note, cable bills, utilities and cellphone bills.  Be pleasant – everything’s negotiable.
  3. Automate:  Pay your bills automatically each month by setting up electronic withdrawals to eliminate late fees, avoid credit score issues and reduce postage costs.  And even if you are late, negotiate elimination of late fees.

To be continued…

Success Skills

Originally published by the Brighton Leadership Group –


What is the best investment you can make? Relentless learning is an essential success skill that pays exponential dividends.

Just as money multiplies when you put it in the bank, learning compounds when you put it in your head!  (Although at the current interest rates, compounding isn’t all that great!) Money invested in your development pays off in spades. We believe in this so passionately that we invest over 10% of our annual income in learning.

“The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity – it is very much like compound interest.”  ~ Richard Hamming

Some ideas to amp up your learning:

  • Be Intentional – decide what topics you need to learn more about. To get the greatest advantage, learning shouldn’t be haphazard or random. Determine where you need to focus and then invest in your learning. Whether this is books, articles, people or courses, you are in charge of the learning in your life.
  • Learn Life Lessons – you are in a laboratory of learning. You don’t have to attend a class to learn. If you take time to observe and reflect you will learn great lessons from your daily experiences.
  • Learn From Others – whether it’s a mentor, a coach or a great friend, engage others to help you learn and improve. Do an “informational interview” in which you ask questions of someone with greater knowledge or experience than you. It doesn’t have to be a business topic. We had an extraordinary time with a fly fishing guide at Homewaters where we learned all about fishing and heard stories about the American Presidents who fished there.
  • MOOC – take advantage of online learning. A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC); is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. Examples include:
    • edX – Online free courses from MITx, HarvardX, BerkeleyX, UTx and many other universities.
    • Coursera broaden your knowledge with their wide-ranging catalog of free courses, from music to computer science.
    • The Great Courses  – While it’s not a MOOC, we enjoy the Great Courses, especially the wine course!

Our mentor Alan Weiss advocates the 1% solution, “if you improve by 1% a day in 70 days you are twice as good.” A little learning every day will exponentially increase your success. Relentless learning is a critical success skill we recommend you add to your repertoire.


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