Live To Tell | April 5, 2019

The underground story of business, entrepreneurs and influencers.

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Fantastic: Labor Department’s New Joint Employer Rule

Franchisors, rejoice! The U.S. Labor Department proposed new rules for joint employment that would utilize a simple, four-part test to clarify whether two companies share liability for labor laws like minimum wage and overtime pay. The proposed regulation would narrow liability for franchisors that utilize third-party staffing firms and was praised by the IFA, that said it “creates certainty for America’s 733,000 franchise businesses.”

Celebrity: Russell Wilson’s Mind Control

Seattle Seahawks quarterback and entrepreneur Russell Wilson has launched a new venture called Limitless Minds, a business coaching consultancy that leverages Wilson’s competitive thinking and mental conditioning and brings it to the corporate world. The startup’s goal is to help organizations develop the skills to handle adversity under pressure in high-stakes environments.

Cash Money: McDonald’s Second Tech Investment in a Week

After staying dormant on the acquisition front for nearly two decades, McDonald’s has reemerged with a vengeance. Fresh off of its acquisition of tech startup Digital Yield, McDonald’s has doubled down on its digital-centric strategy with a second tech investment: a minority stake in Plexure, a mobile app vendor that powers the brand’s mobile app in 48 foreign countries. McDonald's spent about $3.7 million on a less than 10 percent stake in Plexure.

Forward Thinking: Thermoelectric Camping Stoves That Charge Your Devices

While startup BioLite is known for its innovative camping gear, the effects of its technology are actually much more far-reaching. Choosing to reject fossil fuels, the company developed a portable stove that not only creates smokeless fires, but is also capable of using its own thermal energy to charge personal devices. BioLite is using this technology to help remote communities around the world that lack easy access to electricity, which comes out to three billion people, or nearly half of the planet.

Friend or Foe: Softball-Sized Meatballs

As part of its “Giant Italian Classics” limited-time menu developed to emphasize large portions at value pricing, Olive Garden is offering a spaghetti dish topped with a softball-sized meatball. The initiative was developed after Olive Garden saw a 4.3 percent rise in same-store sales in Q3, which it credits to its decision to include 50 percent more chicken in its signature Chicken Alfredo dish. First and foremost, would you eat a softball-sized meatball? And are these outlandish LTOs friends or foes of restaurant operators as they seek to entice customers through quirky promotions?

Heating Up

The reach of e-commerce giant Amazon is clearly pervasive, but can it actually destroy restaurants? Its Whole Foods acquisition and the growing presence of Amazon Restaurants indicate the company is trying. In his latest column for 1851 Franchise, No Limit Agency CEO Nick Powills tells restaurant operators not to panic and focus on innovation, create value for employees, re-engineer their store design and embrace a digital footprint. In order to stay relevant, Powills argues, operators should view Amazon less as a threat and more as a motivator.