Procurement and Supply Chain Lessons From Weight Lifting Supplements: Creatine (part 4)

Jason Busch and Richard Lee

As we continue our series comparing weight lifting supplements to procurement and supply chain strategies, we take a happier turn from our last installment on diuretic pills. (See also the previous Ultimate Orange and introductory posts on the topic.) Today we come to creatine, a weight lifting supplement Richard succinctly describes as a miracle: “this stuff is absolutely G-D-sent.”

Richard equates a scoop of creatine with a good, 12 ounce steak — with all of the benefits of pure protein extract without the downside, such as fat or cholesterol. Of course, chiming in here as the vegan of the two of us, I might suggest another benefit, as well: creatine, at least when the formulation does not include other substances, is not animal-based.

Our body naturally creates creatine, but by taking an artificial dose, you recover faster. Specifically, it enables more blood to pump to recovering muscle cells, which in turn creates a virtuous cycle. Since repaired muscle cells possess greater increases in volume/capacity than prior to the “tear down” process, they retain glucose (or glycogen) longer. This means you don’t have that depleted feeling after a kickass workout, which helps you get back in the gym the very next day versus taking a day or two off afterwards. (Or weeks, as we’re already getting lazy around the holidays.)

We’ve not seen any clinical studies on long-term, adverse reactions or health risks from creatine, but don’t take our word for it at face value. (We’re just amateurs at this thing, after all.) Still, it definitely appears safer than the other supplements we’ve covered so far. But consult a professional trainer, doctor or dietician before trying it.

<h2>Procurement Connection</h2>

The best comparison we can think of for creatine in procurement is good supplier management data that informs a range of processes — from analytics (more complete datasets) to sourcing (a better understanding of the total cost of relationships) to transactional buying (more informed end-users, such as around sustainability or diversity).

Creatine, like good supplier management data, creates a cycle of better performance. And as with better information, it doesn’t target any one part of the body but rather improves the whole.

So what are you waiting for this holiday season? Put your plan in place for January to not just hit the procurement and supply chain gym and take off some excess pounds (spend) but also to pump up your performance by putting better supplier data at the heart of key procurement and supply chain processes.

And as for the creatine? We’ll leave that to you.

Caption: Hanz and Franz Owe It All To Good Supplier Data

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.


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.

Procurement and Supply Chain Lessons From Weight Lifting Supplements (Part 1)

By Jason Busch and Richard Lee

I must admit I’m the accidental lifter. At almost 6 feet tall and roughly 165 pounds, I’m better suited to running moderately fast and evangelizing the virtues of a mostly vegan diet than benching or deadlifts. I don’t really look the part either. And that holds whether I’m hitting the dumbbells in my apartment building’s small weight room or fighting for space against grannies and teenagers or my local gym. (Note: not a health club — there is a difference!)

But regardless of personal appearances, I’ve got a newfound hobby: weightlifting. I haven’t not been able to run much the past couple of months thanks to leg injury brought on by a colleague — who will go, almost, unnamed — at Public Spend Forum, who espoused the virtues to me of ultra-high intensity interval training. (Hint: don’t put a treadmill on a 15% grade and run at a 10-12 pace for 20 seconds unless you’ve worked up to it and really, really know what you’re doing.)

So, thanks to Ash  — who is 10 times the health nut I am — I was forced to try something new. Which, of course, is not a bad thing. But lifting weights comes with a stigma of sorts. Even if, as I’m trying it, more Cross Fit-style than Arnold, the typical gym rat doesn’t necessarily know how to wax eloquent on the merits of lean operating models or Peter Kraljic.

This is a problem, as it turns out lots of lifters are actually quite the intellectuals in their respective fields. So to counter the typical anti-intellectual convention associated with lifting — and I must say, lifters tend not to be as social as runners, who often drink more beers than the miles they put in on the trails — I thought I’d work with and interview my colleague, Richard Lee, who has been lifting since his West Point days.

Richard is old school and well versed in the quasi-legal supplements that have been around gyms since the Carter and early Reagan years, back when Mr. Universe was not something President Obama aspired to be but rather a bodybuilding title built on the back of hard work and … well, we’ll leave it at that.

One conversation with Richard got me thinking: It turns out old school weight supplements like Ultimate Orange are a lot like many of the shortcuts that procurement organizations use to “juice” their results. (See also the real insider coverage on a site whose name I can’t even make up: steroidology.) These supplements pumped up the heart rate and the muscles — and did much more as well.

So, why not take this relaxed holiday season to let down our hair and write about some of these supplements and what they were purported to do, and compare them to a number of comparative techniques that procurement and supply chain teams often use to juice their results at the expense of, well, just about everything that truly matters (e.g., longevity, health, relationships, etc.).

Of course, some supplements aren’t necessarily dangerous — they’re just plain gross. Like Uni-Liver, a liver supplement (as in “eating liver”). There’s the procurement and supply chain equivalent of that, too, I’m sure.

I’ll also invite Richard to join in the conversation and share his thoughts as well — not that he will ever admit to taking these supplements, mind you — from the voice of experience. We’ll start with Ultimate Orange — the original formula, not the reissued wussy version — this week.

In the meantime, it’s time to get pumped up!

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…

The 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship (Part 3 of 3 part series)

EntrepreneurContinued from the previous post…

8.  Learn to sell – this is a must-have skillset, whether you have someone in charge of sales or not…  The good news, even if you’re not born with the gift of gap, you can become better by continually getting in front of prospects and practicing your pitch.  While I do not believe in entrepreneurs pitching vaporware but if you don’t believe in your products and services, it’s impossible to convince others to believe in them (you can read between the lines)…

9.  Redefine failure – when you have your own business, often the highs are so high and the lows are so low.  But even on their gloomiest days, successful entrepreneurs feel a compulsion to make sure that failure isn’t the end of their story.  It’s OK to fall down nine times, just make sure that you get back up the 10th time.

10.  Don’t be in it just for the money – a tricky statement¸ since most entrepreneurs I know are red-blooded capitalists like me.  But as an old saying goes, money is a great motivator, not an end-all be-all.  Successful entrepreneurs are driven by desire to accomplish meaningful things while embracing it as a way of life.  Jobs once asked Sculley (back then a senior exec at Pepsi) when trying to convince him to join Apple, “do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water or change the world?”  Sculley came on board as the CEO of Apple (only to get fired later but that’s for another post).

While writing this 3-part post, I found myself reflecting on my own current endeavors.  Am I following the rules myself and doing everything I can to ensure their success?  What’s your answer?

Get Control of Your Network Through Inventory Management

Protect network investments with an Inventory Control Management System

If you consider that your company’s computer system and every network device connected to it as an asset, you should consider a network inventory management system (NIMS).  Here are some of the common risks and issues that can be mitigated as potential threats to your network with some diligent inventory practices.

Information Theft – A network IMS not only keeps track of your hardware but also your software. It also shows you who has access to that software. A regular check of your system’s inventory will let you know who has downloaded and used unauthorized software.

Equipment Theft – A network management system will automatically detect every piece of equipment and software connected to your system. Certain IMS’s will also let you know which items are not working properly, which items need to be replaced, and which items have mysteriously disappeared.

Licensing Agreements – An inventory of your software and licensing agreements will let you know if you’ve got the necessary licensing agreements for all your software. You do not want fees and fines for inadequate licensing.

System Upgrades – Outdated equipment and software can cost your company time, money, and resources. Downtime and slow response times are two of the biggest time killers for your business. By setting filters on your network IMS to send alerts when it’s time to upgrade software or replace hardware. You do want your systems running as smooth and efficiently as possible don’t you?To me, it makes sense that if you do a monthly inventory of the products that you sell, shouldn’t you do the same for your computer network which I consider to be your most valuable assets?

Network Routing – Where There’s the Will, There’s a Way

As an IT professional, the right network management tools help you simplify your ongoing IT responsibilities. After all, your company’s network is certainly the last thing you would want to have fail. With the right tools in place, however, you can ensure you’re always on top of keeping network connectivity up and running.

Three key points discussed below illustrate why your IT department should strongly consider leveraging network management tools as part of their daily tasks:

1. Appropriate network routing.  You probably don’t want the computer on your desk communicating with the printer out in the shop. Certainly, you don’t want all of your associates to have access to the company’s financial data. And who would want to drive across town to the satellite office when they get a copy of their most recent invoice?  Network management tools interconnect each piece of networking equipment – computers, hard drives, printers, and even phone systems – allowing them all to communicate with each other efficiently.

2. Network system management security.  A good network system management includes a traffic monitor that allows you to view everything on your network. You’ll see where users are going, the IP addresses they’re coming from, and if they’re trying to access unauthorized information or files. Whether intruders are coming from within your company or from the Internet, you’ll be able to stop information theft before it occurs.

3. Take inventory of your network.  A quick scan of your network will enable you to view inventory of all hardware, software, applications, and equipment connected to your network. Not only will this give you a snapshot of your IT asset inventory, it will also allow you to detect unwanted users on your network who may be stealing bandwidth or, worse yet, confidential company information. Regular scans will help eliminate internal equipment theft and also detect malfunctions before they take down your entire system.

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