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).

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

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!

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?).

Are we Secure?

By guest writer Gregory Pickett.  Greg is a sought after Defcon speaker and leads RJSL’s (www.RJSLgroup.com) internet / technology infrastructure security practice.  He can be reached at gpickett@RJSLgroup.com


This is the question that many of us should be asking about our business and it’s systems but unfortunately most of us don’t really know.  Sure, there are many among us who are told they are secure but how do they know.  In most cases, it is because someone told them that they were secure.  If they asked the web server guy, what would he say?  He would probably say, “Of course, we are secure.”  Same goes for the email server guy, and the guy who handles the network.  If not, you might be asking what having we been paying you for all these years.  But are you really secure just because they say you are secure?  I am sure that every business that was hacked also thought that they were secure the day before it happened just because someone said they were.  So the question remains the same.

If we are stuck in the position of only having been told that we are secure but we don’t really know, how do you move to that point?  This is where testing comes into play.  OK, but what kind of testing.  There are several types of testing such as security audits, and vulnerability scans but the real action happens with penetration testing.  This is when someone, under controlled circumstances, actually tries to defeat your defenses.  With penetration testing, you move from someone telling you are secure to knowing you are secure because someone has tried to hack your systems, just like the bad guys would.  Using the same tools, techniques, and methods as hackers, they evaluate your systems and tell you the avenues of attack.  With permission, they escalate and attempt to breach your protections and take control of your systems and your data.  Afterwards, they prepare a report, tell you how they got in or if they didn’t how they tried, how they did what we did, and how to remediate it so that it doesn’t happen again.

With penetration testing, you not only learn if someone could get in but also how they would do it and if your supporting infrastructure and teams could detect and handle it.  Is your monitoring sufficient?  Would it let you know something was going on?  Would your team know what do?  Could they remediate it properly and recover the systems involved in a timely manner?  All these sorts of questions and more can be addressed during a penetration test.

Keep in mind, security audits and vulnerability scans are still important and provide different types of benefits but there is no better way to know whether you really are secure or not than penetration testing.  It is not a guarantee that you won’t ever get hacked but it is the closest you can come one to knowing for sure where you really stand.   Ultimately though, the important question is answered.   Are we secure?  Yes, because someone actually tried.

Another reason why Google is taking over the world…


An equities analyst on CNBC a while back labeled Google as a “one trick pony.”  True… but that is one helluva trick (I’m talking about its search engine technology of course) that has fueled growth / innovation since its inception.  The latest – Google selected Alcon, division of Novartis, to be its partner in developing what’s dubbed Google Lens.  These smart contact lens are designed to monitor wearer’s glucose levels in tears to proactively manage diabetic conditions.  Data are transmitted through a radio antenna embedded in the lens, fraction of human hair thickness then presumably alerts the wearer to take certain precautions through various mobile devices.  Norvartis tried to invent such lens on its own but was not successful.  This is the stuff that you’d read in Ray Bradbury’s novels in the 80’s.  Truly amazing…

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.

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