Child Hunger: Watching Wal-Mart At Midnight

Historical US Poverty Rate
source: US Census Bureau Current Population Reports

This is what a rising poverty level looks like. Bill Simon (Head of Wal-Mart operations) says more Americans paying necessary goods with government assistance. The desperation in the U.S. consumer can be seen in their current buying behaviors.

The paycheck cycle we’ve talked about before remains extreme.

And you need not go further than one of our stores on midnight at the end of the month. And it’s real interesting to watch, about 11 p.m., customers start to come in and shop, fill their grocery basket with basic items, baby formula, milk, bread, eggs, and continue to shop and mill about the store until midnight, when electronic — government electronic benefits cards get activated and then the checkout starts and occurs. And our sales for those first few hours on the first of the month are substantially and significantly higher.

And if you really think about it, the only reason somebody gets out in the middle of the night and buys baby formula is that they need it, and they’ve been waiting for it. Otherwise, we are open 24 hours — come at 5 a.m., come at 7 a.m., come at 10 a.m. But if you are there at midnight, you are there for a reason. And we have to look at that and we have to watch that and we have a commitment to serve those customers who need that. And we are very, very focused on that.

I think this says a lot about the tepid U.S. economic recovery (or lack thereof). You can download a full transcript of the the talk Simon gave at the Goldman Sachs Retail Conference last week.

CEO Reading Lists

Back in July, Fortune polled a number of executives to find out what’s on their summer reading list. They’re read everything from books about the financial crisis to tomes on history’s great leaders. Of course there are a number management self-help and how-do-I-run-this-damn-company? books, as well as a handful of fiction. The results of the poll are below:

Brad Alford, Chairman and CEO, Nestlé USA

  • 1776, by David McCullough
  • Drive, by Daniel Pink
  • A paperback spy or mystery novel from the airport

Mary Erdoes, CEO, JP Morgan Asset Management

Jim O’Donnell, President, BMW

Marc Cenedella, founder and CEO, The Ladders

Alan Miller, CEO, Universal Health

Greg Sebasky, CEO, Philips Electronics North America

Lisa Stone, CEO, BlogHer

Tom Wilson, CEO, Allstate

Gilbert Harrison, Chairman, Financo, Inc.

George Barrett, CEO, Cardinal Health

Heath Golden, CEO, Hampshire Group

Christine Jacobs, CEO and President, Theragenics Corporation

Les Berglass, Chairman, Berglass and Associates

Jim Greenwood, CEO, Concentra

Stephen Wiehe, CEO, SciQuest

What To Read Before Taking $25 Billion In TARP Funds

A few (one?) of the new interns at JP Morgan had the guts to email Jamie Dimon for a recommended reading list. And he actually emailed them back. The following is his list of recommended books “which includes a variety of business and history books.”

Business
The World is Flat
Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors
Security Analysis – Classic 1940 Edition
The Intelligent Investor
Execution – The Discipline of Getting Things Done
Jack: Straight From the Gut
Sam Walton – Made in America
Double your Profits in 6 Months or Less
Built from Scratch
Only the Paranoid Survive
Built to Last

History Bio
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
Autobiography of Ben Franklin
Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America
Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West
Eisenhower: Soldier and President
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
Washington: The Indispensable Man
Lincoln
Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant
Jefferson
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

History Other
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos
A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future
The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order
The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some are so Rich and Some so Poor

Dimon also attached a copy of his Syracuse commencement speech and a copy of a fake Bill Gates speech in the email.

Bureau of Workplace Interruptions

We harness interruptive technology to expose the secret possibilities of the workday. As a time-stealing agency, the Bureau of Workplace Interruptions works directly with employees to invisibly insert intimate exchange into the flow of the workday. Our promise is to create interruptions that challenge the needs of our users and the social and economic conditions of the modern workplace. If anyone actually tries this, please leave me a comment.