Travel Changes You and Your Eating Habits

The foodie is an imperiled class. Its members could be given to ingredient dogma and a rather sanctimonious snobbery, all the while ignoring some of the messy origins of global cuisines. It’s enough to know that agriculture is failing the palate. For instance, the rude conditions of certain subcontracted chicken farms, the violence of foie gras production, and other newfangled methods of improving crop yields, for instance, do not show up as much on Instagram, but these realities should simmer in a food rebel’s consciousness.

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The prime example of this rebel is Anthony Bourdain, whose drug-fueled early days in chaotic kitchens are petering into a more pleasant denouement. He now has a life of authorship, travelogue, and near-royal food tasting everywhere he goes for his travel show, CNN’s “Parts Unknown.” Bourdain himself is a graduate of insalubrious culinary backstages, hence an authority in the trickeries of food production. His bestselling book, “Kitchen Confidential,” outed to diners kitchen practices that should not have cut it. The kitchens he’s been might have allowed Friday fish to spoil into Monday, chefs to gain weight out of laziness, and steaks to be cosmetically done up into passable portions, but multitudes of unknowing foodies the world over might still be lapping up the mystique.

It seems travel could balance out the blissful ignorance. Bourdain has been to the most unlikely places for food enjoyment, and is known to slum it in the most unaffected food havens, such as the streets of Shanghai or the watercress mud mussel ponds of Kerala (which he scoped in his previous show, “No Reservations.”) Such is food that might as well be openly partaken on a spitfire, fresh game away from the veneer of tidiness of starred restaurants and the hype of food criticism. To read (and watch) Bourdain is to return to the vestigial knowledge of food and chuck Michelin-preached canon. Only travel, it seems, can instruct the real foodies where it’s at. A restaurant gassing up on truffle oil has nothing on the white truffle forest hunts of Croatia.

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Thomas Wolters is a former senior director at ConAgra foods, and is an avid reader of international culture tackled with authenticity. Know more about him through this LinkedIn page.


REPOST: Managing: How do I handle an inherited employee who won’t do his job?

Alison Green answers a question from a manager having issues with an inherited employee who wasn’t doing his job. Read this article from and learn how Green formulated solutions:

Each week Alison Green, who also writes the “Ask a Manager” website, answers workplace and management questions from readers.

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Each week Alison Green, who also writes the “Ask a Manager” website, answers workplace and management questions from readers. Please comment or ask your own question by emailing her at
Question 1. Inheriting a longtime employee who isn’t doing his job

I’m a young manager who is having an issue with one of my employees. He has been with the company for 35 years and is over 65. His previous supervisor was a longtime friend of his and basically allowed to him to get away with not doing his job for years and years. Now, as they say, there’s a new sheriff in town and I am having a very hard time getting him to do his job functions.
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There are a number of objective job functions that he simply avoids, but he does the primary job duty well. I’m not sure what to do. I was hoping he’d simply retire, but he told me that he doesn’t want to retire for at least another year. So now I am faced with disciplining someone who’s been poorly managed for years and who has been with the company even longer. I don’t even know how to go about having the initial conversation with him because he thinks he’s performing the job well (due to the previous manager).

How key are the job functions that he doesn’t perform? If they’re relatively minor and if his value to the company is high enough because of the primary work that he does well, it might be reasonable to redefine his role so that the stuff he’s not doing is no longer part of it. That’s not crazy if he’s otherwise a high performer and the work allows for that kind of rejiggering — but only if he brings a ton of value; if he’s not, then you shouldn’t be rearranging things to accommodate that.

If that’s not the case, though, then you need to give him clear and direct feedback. Just be straightforward: “Bob, I’ve noticed that you’re not doing X and Y. They’re important parts of your role and I want to get them back on your radar. Can you make sure you’re doing them weekly (or whatever makes sense here)?” Then if you don’t see it happening, you revisit it: “We talked a couple of weeks ago about the need for you to do X and Y. It hasn’t happened. What’s going on?”

If he points out that he hasn’t been required to do this work in the past, you can say, “I can’t speak to what Jane needed when you were working with her, but what I need from this role is what we discussed. Can you do that?” Then, if you’re still not seeing the work getting done, then you treat it like you would any other serious performance issue — meaning that you escalate the seriousness of the conversation and start imposing consequences. More here.
Question 2. I’m not allowed to know the salaries of the employees I manage

About eight months ago, I was promoted to director at the small company where I work. I now oversee a department that had already existed prior to my promotion. At no time was I informed of any of that department’s salaries. When it came time to do a review for the head of that department, I completed the review form and asked for his salary information so I could figure out what raise would be appropriate.

I was told to give him the review, letting him know that I recommended he be given a raise, and to have him see my boss for details. I have no idea how much of a raise he is getting or if it’s fair. I have no control over it whatsoever. Am I right to feel uncomfortable about this? I’ve been in management over 18 years and have never experienced such a thing.

Yes, this is weird and not at all typical. Managers generally know what the people working for them are earning, and if for some reason they don’t, they can generally find out. Your boss is going to some odd lengths to keep that information from you.

I’d ask about it, saying something like, “I’d like to know what the people working for me are earning so that I can have open discussions with them about raises, retention and so forth. Is there a reason you’d prefer not to share that information with me?”

Tom Wolters is a business leader who has diverse knowledge and skills that helped him lead companies to success. Visit this Facebook page for more tips on management and business.

REPOST: How to make your workplace fun, productive, and creative

Work should never be boring no matter how painstaking it can get. It is in keeping employees motivated–through activities that lift spirits–that the morale in the workplace is boosted and success goals are fulfilled. The following article discusses more in detail the many ways to achieve such culture.

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Creating a strong workplace culture has become a staple of entrepreneurship.

Progressive businesses across the country are luring top candidates not only with high salaries and benefits, but with the promise to join a fulfilling team of like-minded individuals.

Considering how easy it can be to improve the atmosphere in a workplace, there’s no excuse to cling to antiquated practices that restrict the free flow of ideas.

There are plenty of ways to improve workplace culture, but in my experience, these are the quickest, easiest, and most effective ways to take your office life to the next level:

This sounds like a simple and obvious solution, but you’ll be surprised by how challenging it can be to keep fun a priority. In this case, practice makes perfect.

Make it a habit to evaluate morale in your workplace; if it’s suffering, a break for fun can lift spirits and boost success. Give your team a chance to enjoy themselves; it’ll undoubtedly create a friendlier, happier, and all-around healthier environment for everyone.

No great measures need to be taken for this to work, either. Small breaks or activities can work wonders and create a proud team dedicated to improving workplace culture. Foot the bill for a happy hour or incentivize goal-meeting with parties and prizes.

One of the most common issues plaguing workplace cultures today is a lack of overall direction. This has multiple negative effects on employees, from a decrease in motivation to general job unhappiness.

As a leader, you’re responsible for establishing a series of goals to achieve: These should guide your decisions and, by extension, your employees’. When employees are united in working toward clear, common objectives, your team becomes a cohesive unit rather than a number of vaguely related coworkers. The ensuing camaraderie will encourage and motivate everyone, and the overall atmosphere will dramatically benefit.

Which sounds easier to organize and lead: an army of disinterested drones or a fleet of burgeoning, self-starting entrepreneurs?

There’s no question that there’s value in encouraging your employees to see themselves as leaders at every level. Entrepreneurial thinking is characterized by its highly motivated and dedicated nature, and having a team of entrepreneurial thinkers does amazing things for workplace culture.

Not only will invested workers be more dedicated to their job, but they’ll encourage and inspire each other to do their best. As an added bonus, this kind of office climate has been proven to generate fresh ideas and more creative thinking.

“When you empower your employees by creating an entrepreneurial environment, you take your business to the next level,” says BIZFIT 2015 founder Colin McGuire. “Motivated, passionate employees are resourceful enough to develop creative and effective solutions to problems and roadblocks on their own.”

Creating a collaborative process with your team has wide-ranging effects, and all are positive. When leaders share ideas and updates with their employees, open communication becomes second nature, and everyone feels equally invested in the company’s overall goals.

This goes both ways. When all ideas are heard and considered, everyone on the team feels valued, and ultimately more satisfied with their work. Include your employees in decisions and discussions whenever possible, and try to be transparent about the reasoning behind your decisions. You’ll find your team is more likely to side with you than stand against you, and they’ll come to value your guidance if they feel you consider theirs.

Once you succeed in building a team of entrepreneurs, use a healthy spirit of competition to your advantage. Don’t fall into the trap of pitting employees against each other; instead, consider this an opportunity to recognize the work your team members do.

It’s well known that incentives, rewards, and recognition increase employee satisfaction, but adding an aspect of public acknowledgment includes your whole team in celebrations of successes. As an added bonus, this improves workplace culture overall, fostering an environment that recognizes and aspires to key business values.

Aspire to a culture of success guided by positive affirmations.

Tom Wolters is a business leader who has the knack for establishing sound work environments through upholding interpersonal processes like teamwork, positivity, and good employee relations. For more workplace management discussions, click here.

Changing the way the workplace approaches diversity

A correlation between higher profit margins and more women and people from ethnic minorities in top-tier positions has been reported in a recent study by management consultancy McKinsey & Co. This so-called “diversity dividend” is attributed to better employee satisfaction, talent recruitment, and customer relations.

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And while the McKinsey study showed that many American companies are slowly embracing the principles of workplace diversity, there is still a long way to go in making diverse hiring a commonly accepted practice.

Increasing and raising awareness on the need for diversity in the workplace and in other organizations occasionally take controversial turns, such as the recent “Race Together” initiative spearheaded by Howard Schultz of Starbucks Coffee, which aimed to bring the issues of race relations into regular conversation.

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Other drives include the standard motto “ability over appearance,” which lies at the core of diversity training for most offices. This emphasizes the core need for diverse hiring, which aims to bring opportunities to hitherto unreached and untapped sources of talent, regardless of their appearance or identity. This erases the stigma of affirmative action being a quota-dictated requirement in every organization.

To supplement equal opportunity hiring, recruiting policies should be expanded to reach more qualified people from underrepresented groups. The policy involves encouraging referrals from within the organization and cooperation from local community organizations such as church groups and colleges.

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There is little doubt that workplace diversity, especially in higher tiers, pays off greatly for any company. There are higher chances of drawing in the best talent from a wider pool, but only if the company makes an active effort of gaining support for diversity initiatives and following through on such policy.

Tom Wolters understands the need for multicultural sensitivity within the workplace. Visit this blog for more updates on workplace diversity and other management topics.

Sustainability: The future of the food industry

Over the last few years, more and more players in the food industry have been trying to integrate sustainability into food production and processing. Doing this has meant more efficient supply chains and less negative environmental impact, but more importantly, it’s shown businesses moving in line with world leaders’ goals to feed a population that’s expected to balloon to 9 billion by 2050.

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According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, there is enough food to feed each and everyone in the world right now. However, issues like a population that’s growing exponentially every year, environmental problems, and distribution inequity mean global hunger still exists, and it might even be a bigger problem in the future.

This is the reason people, both food industry insiders and consumers, are becoming more aware of the importance of sustainable practices.

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The National Resources Defense Council pointed out how much food is lost during the different steps of the supply chain process in a 2012 report . As a response to this, companies have adjusted their methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve water, eliminate waste, and work with suppliers who espouse similarly sustainable practices.

It’s not just big food business that’s getting in on the act. Restaurants and even popular chefs like Jamie Oliver and Rick Bayless have been instrumental in creating awareness in sustainable practices by sourcing locally, offering incentives to environmentally-responsible farmers, and reducing waste. Furthermore, consumers are also becoming more proactive about buying from environmentally-conscious producers.

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While switching to sustainable practices might not be an immediately easy route for businesses, its long-term effects seem to be worth the effort for both the company, its consumers, and the world.

As an entrepreneur with a strong appetite for innovation and new experiences,Tom Wolters has used his diverse knowledge and skills to lead companies to success . Subscribe to this blog for more on how innovation can drive the future of industry.

The juicy secrets to building effective global supply chains

Fancying chocolate-dipped strawberries? Wherever you are—in Italy, Turkey, or New York—you can give in and indulge in these and other succulent treats at any time of the day, thanks to Edible Arrangements. Satisfying the cravings of fruit and chocolate lovers around the world is a gargantuan task for the emerging company, but with clever strategies, the fruit bouquet company has made it possible.


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Resources published in Forbes and have unlocked the secrets to making supply chain management look easy even to startups that manufacture and sell perishable products, and these approaches are the same ones that back the success of multinational companies’ supply chain mechanisms. Three of them are among the following:

1. Source out materials locally.

By arbitraging a significant volume of raw and substitute materials within the regions where you do business, you gain a remarkable advantage in cost, supply security, and performance. Because materials are on hand, production goals will be met with ease, orders will arrive at a client’s doorsteps on time, and you can manage to cover production costs for a cheaper amount.

2. Rely on local consultants.

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Companies with international operations manage to pull it off with the help of local expertise. Well-versed in the ways of doing business in their turf, these experts help you choose the most reliable suppliers and contractors and build goodwill with them, devise efficient and cost-effective logistics strategies, and avoid local taxes and other surcharges from cutting through your bottom line.

3. Invest in a reliable IT infrastructure.

Further contributing to efficiency is a well-built data management system in place. A uniform database ensures consistency in functionality, while a management software allows you to simultaneously evaluate every step of the supply chain across all your operating hubs.

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Tom Wolters has rendered years of experience in managing the supply chain of ConAgra Foods, one of the biggest fast-moving consumer goods companies in the world. Follow this Twitter page for relevant financial information and insight.

Sustainability: The new trend in supply chain management

A common goal among companies is ensuring an efficient flow of goods in less time, at less cost, and with less effort. In the last few years, another imperative that guides supply chains should work was added—making the process as green as possible.

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ConAgra Foods, makers of some of America’s favorite grocery brands, has been recognized for its breakthrough ideas in streamlining the supply chain for fast and efficient productivity delivery of orders. In recent years, efforts of the billion-dollar food company to implement sustainable practices in its supply chain are also getting attention.

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ConAgra’s strategies include teaching water-efficient irrigation practices to its partner farms, reducing greenhouse gas emissions through heat recovery, and converting organic and inorganic waste into fertilizers and recycled materials for packaging.

Green Toys, a company that makes playthings out of used-up milk jugs, has also become a benchmark in greening up the supply chain.

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The California-based toy maker has made notable efforts in sustainable production, assembly, and delivery of its products, like setting up manufacturing and warehouse facilities close to each other to reduce fuel use, and using 100 percent recyclable materials like corrugated boxes in the toys’ packaging.

Green Toys, ConAgra, and other energy-efficient companies perfectly understand how environmentally sound practices in the supply chain can fuel their growth. An energy-efficient supply chain enhances profitability in two ways. One, it effectively reduces food, water, and energy waste, and consequently, cuts the costs that companies lose from these wasted resources.

Second, as’s Adam Vacarro pointed out, green practices have become a convenient marketing strategy. Consumers are eager to support companies with responsible and conscientious practices. Hence, diffusing a brand’s sustainable strategies could translate to wider patronage and bigger sales.

A man with a knack for ingenuity, Tom Wolters spearheaded some of the revolutionary changes in ConAgra Foods, including its sustainable practices in supply chain management. Subscribe to this blog for vital business insight.