The More Things Change, the More They Stay The Same

November 25th, 2014

As you celebrate with family and friends, take a few minutes to read Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation creating Thanksgiving.  (Prior to Lincoln’s proclamation, Thanksgiving was celebrated by different states at different times.  The history is very interesting – link is below.)

Whatever your religious beliefs might (or might not) be, take a moment to ponder the peril the United States faced in 1863.  As talking heads tell us the world has never been a more dangerous place and our standard of living in the US is declining, ask yourself if you’d rather be alive in 1863 or 2014.  I don’t think that’s a hard choice.

Enjoy your time off, enjoy your company, and make someone’s day by thanking him or her for being in your life.

http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/thanks.htm

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,

Secretary of State

College Game Day at Harvard-Yale: A Great Business Lesson

November 19th, 2014

ESPN’s venerable (Since I’m writing about Harvard-Yale, I have to use big words.  It’s the law.) College Game Day program is broadcasting live from beautiful Cambridge, MA, this Saturday.  For those of you unfamiliar with the program, ESPN sends its Saturday pregame program to an important game to broadcast live.  As someone that played football at Harvard for a few years, I’m fired up that they decided the Game, which will decide if Harvard is the outright Ivy League champion or shares the title with Yale, is the most important game this week.

Of course, the major college football schedule has changed, moving a lot of rivalry games to the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Traditionally, most of those games, like Harvard-Yale, were played the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Playing an extra week generates a lot of revenue.  I’m not naïve enough to think that’s not an important driver of why ESPN chose this game. Of course, there are a few people like me that care about the Ivy League championship.  And that’s the lesson behind ESPN’s decision to broadcast Game Day from Harvard.

We’ve had efficiency hammered into our brains over the last few decades.  Consultants have made billions touting the 80-20 rule: 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers, so spend your time on those 20%.  I have to admit – I’m a believer.  It is critical to spend your time where you get your biggest bang for your buck.  I’m only a believer to a point, however.  We all have lots of “small” customers that we most likely don’t know a lot about.  They’re too small for a sales force visit.  They get our email marketing but that’s about the extent we interact with them.  They occasionally place orders with us and we’re happy to fill them as efficiently as we can.  Maybe we can entice them to buy online and not bother us at all – that’d be even better!

The fastest and most efficient way to grow your business is with your existing customer base.  Yes, when you look at it logically, the optimum part of your customer base to grow with are your big customers.  We can all learn a little from our smaller customers as well.  I’m very confident saying everyone one of us has a lot of potential in the rest of our customer base.  Pick up the phone and call them.  Even better, hop on a plane and go visit a few.  You might be surprised at how it helps your business.  One last thing – Go Crimson!

    Technology and the Print Industry:  Adapt or Perish  

November 11th, 2014

I enjoy reading missives by John Mauldin, an economist/investment strategist.  A recent newsletter referenced the print industry.  A link is below to the full article (warning: it is quite long and addictive if you are a nerd like me).  I cut and pasted the part pertinent to the printing industry (emphasis added by me):

http://www.mauldineconomics.com/outsidethebox

I just turned 11 years old, and it was Christmas morning. I’d retrieved a few toys out from under the tree and was looking forward to going out to play with friends. But my dad said that first I had a project to do. He had just bought all the equipment to open a small printing shop in Bridgeport, Texas. This was 1959 (we had just left the Stone Age), and printing was still done with hand-set type and on letter presses. The small press that was invented in the early 1900s was now powered by an electric motor.

My dad had brought home a type case full of 12-point Franklin Gothic lead type. He turned the case upside down on the kitchen table and said, “Put all the type back and then you can go out and play.” There was nothing else to do but sit and look at each small piece of type, figuring out what each character was and putting in its respective small box. It took forever, but I eventually finished and got up to leave. My dad said “Wait a minute.”

He asked me to come over and look at another case where he hadn’t labeled all those individual little compartments with the letters that belonged in them. He pointed to one and asked me which letter belonged in there. I didn’t know. Then he asked me a second one. I didn’t know that one either. He went back over to the kitchen table and turned that type case  – much like the one you see in the picture above – upside down. “Do it again.”

I’m only a little slow. When I finished and Dad started asking questions, I knew the answers. It was the start of a decades-long process love-hate affair with the printing business. I actually made money in college going around to the print shops and offering to clean up their “hell boxes,” which were the boxes and buckets full of type that had gotten jumbled and that no senior printer wanted to take the time to put back. So what do you find in hell? You find a printer’s devil, which is the young apprentice who does all the dirty work. And it was dirty. But by the late 1960s printing with actual type was on its way out, and then there were no young apprentices. Business was good, but within a few years all that knowledge was simply arcane trivia, of no use in the real world.

I’m sure there are many printers that can relate to this story in a very personal way.  While I’ve never set type, I’ve seen technology change our industry.  At my first Label Expo, I stopped by a flex die booth.  A passionate Swiss man with a heavy accent told me in no uncertain terms flex dies were the future.  Being relatively new to the industry, I had no background on flex dies.  I came back to our shop and said we were going to try flex dies.  I got laughed at and heard they’re junk, they don’t work, etc.  Guess what?  70% of the dies we buy today are flex dies. (PS Thank you, Markus.)

 

It can be hard to let go of something that works.  Flexo works.  Linered labels work.  Desktop printing works.  So do inkjet, linerless labels, and mobile printing.  Times change.  If you don’t change with them, you’ll be irrelevant.

Meet Your New Congress, Same As Your Old Congress

November 5th, 2014

As I watched the election results, the Who song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” kept popping in my mind.  If only it were true.  Matt Bai wrote the following about the yesterday’s election:

Lost in all the headlines about a Republican takeover this morning is a single salient fact about where we are as a country politically: Barack Obama will now become the third consecutive president to come into office with governing majorities in both houses of Congress and leave office having fumbled away control of both of them. http://news.yahoo.com/what-obama-s-loss-of-congress-means-for-2016-candidates-043807682.html

So Clinton, Bush, and Obama all had “mandates” to govern with their party in control of Congress.  Somewhere along the way, the public got fed up with what the party in control did and went back to a divided government (executive/legislative branches controlled by different parties).  Every time we do this, more and more money is spent on elections.  Does anything really change?  One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  By that definition, Americans are insane.  The optimist in me takes a different view.  Americans are hopeful by nature.  We buy into the rhetoric put out by both political parties.  “Compassionate conservatism” and “Hope and Change” sound great.  We believe (or at least a majority believes) – for a while.  Then reality sets in.  What we were led to believe isn’t quite true.  The governing party overreaches and irritates a majority of the people.  We can’t throw a president out after 2 years but we can throw out Congress.  That’s what we do.

Hopefully, both parties realize that despite our differences, most Americans generally agree on big issues.  To further complicate things, politicians have to run on extreme platforms to get elected (mobilizing their bases to use the trite political term) but need to govern in the center to stay elected.  Compromise is part of daily life.  I hope our elected officials understand that.  Otherwise, expect more of the same – a flip flop of Congress in 2 years.

Did the Great Recession Permanently Scar Us?

October 29th, 2014

I had a great conversation with a friend at the recent TLMI Annual Meeting.  Of course, the “how’s business” question enters into the conversation relatively soon.  “Brian, we’re having a good year.  But it doesn’t feel like it.  Everyone’s on edge, everyone’s nervous, and no one’s happy.”  I responded, “You nailed it – things aren’t fantastic but they’re not bad either.  But everyone thinks things are bad.”  We continued our banter and it really got me thinking.  We’re all worried about what’s around the corner.  As I’ve written in the past, visibility has decreased dramatically in most industries.  The lack of visibility certainly has its challenges.  But are things that bad?  We’ve had price stability for the last 3 years or so.  Yes, I know there have been some raw material challenges and operating costs (especially health care costs) have risen.  But the last increase that made it through the value chain was in 2011.  That’s the longest we’ve gone in my time in the industry.  (Suppliers – don’t get any ideas just yet.  I know you “need” increases due to raw material cost increases.  It’s still a challenge due to my next point.)  Growth is not robust, but we have growth.  It’s certainly not 2009 out there.  Yet if you talk to the average person, he’d say we’re still in a recession.  Our government is dysfunctional but that is probably a good thing.  Look back in history – our most prosperous economic times come with a divided government in which neither party advances its agenda.  Yes, there is discord in the world but there’s always discord in the world – we just hear about it a lot more.

I’m not a Pollyanna.  As I wrote, things aren’t all rosy.  We do have to prepare for inflation – it’s coming.  I’m reading a great book – thank you @MattHlavin – titled “The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Building a Business When There are No Easy Answers” by Ben Horowitz (http://www.amazon.com/Hard-Thing-About-Things-Building/dp/0062273205/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414583875&sr=1-1&keywords=ben+horowitz) (Note to IDI Team: this will be on the reading list soon.)  Ben takes a different approach to Jim Collins’ truism that part of a leader’s mission is to confront the brutal reality.  Ben thinks leaders tend to be too optimistic.  In general, I think he’s right.  But, as in the political arena and most of life, the pendulum swings too far one way or the other.  Take a step back and talk about the good things that have happened.  Not every meeting has to be about what went wrong and what you’re doing to fix it.  Have a meeting about the good things once in a while. I think the experiences of 2008 and 2009 have made everyone a little skittish and reluctant to acknowledge reality in a positive way.  You owe it to yourself and your team to confront reality.  Right now, reality isn’t all that bad.

 

Packaging Part II: We Need to Tell Our Story

October 22nd, 2014

Based on comments and feedback on last week’s post, it’s obvious I hit a nerve in discussing how packaging creates sustainability in other ways than just reducing packaging mass.  It’s somewhat timely.  I attended TLMI’s annual meeting last week.  Coincidentally (or prescient thanks to the conference chair and great business leader, Ingrid Brase), the conference centered around marketing.  One of the speakers asked the audience to rank our industry from 1 – 10 on marketing.  I think the consensus came out around a 3.  The good news is we’re honest about being horrible marketers.  The bad news is we are horrible marketers.  As Peter Drucker said and I’ve written before, there are two ways to grow a business:  marketing and innovating.  We’re pretty good as an industry in innovating.  We’re not good at telling the story.

I’ve been scratching my head at how we better tell our story.  I give our industry association, TLMI, credit for forming L.I.F.E. (Label Initiative For the Environment).  I.D. Images is L.I.F.E. certified.  We feel good about it and try to market it.  When I Google Project L.I.F.E, labels don’t show up on at least the first 3 pages – I gave up after that.  Obviously, the label industry isn’t doing a good job marketing what we’re doing.  (This is not an indictment on TLMI or TLMI’s marketing committee – there’s only so much that can be done by one organization that is driven by volunteer members. )  There’s FSC, SFI, SPC, and a whole laundry list of acronyms printers and packagers like to talk about.  Guess what?  They matter to us, not our customers and certainly not in the consumer world.  We need to try something different.  I think as an industry we can.

My friend, Rosalyn Bandy, Avery Dennison’s sustainability manager, responded to my blog last week.  Part of her comments were: “Recently, Coke, Colgate, Keurig – GMCR, J&J, P&G, Pepsi, Unilever, and Walmart all put money into a pool of funds called the Closed Loop Fund. This fund will provide no-interest loans to municipalities (up to $20MM) looking to increase/improve recycling infrastructure.  These companies are hitting the problem where it counts.  Our job in the label industry is to understand the impacts on recycling of the films, papers, labels and adhesives we produce and do our part to make these leading CPGs and retailers successful in their efforts. There is already enough plastic in the world for all time. We just need to recycle it.”  Note how traditional rivals are banding together to tell their story.
How about we do a similar thing and band together to MARKET the great things we’ve done for sustainability?  We need to keep in mind sustainability isn’t just reducing basis weight or recycling card board.  It’s reducing freight, reducing food waste, etc.    Of course, we’ll need to come up with a catchy acronym to name ourselves (sarcasm intended).  I think there’s an opportunity to band together and tell our story as an industry.  Collectively, we’ve done and continue to do great things.  We need to let people know.  If you are interested in joining me on this quest, let me know.  We’ll figure it out.

Don’t Be Fooled By Conventional Wisdom: Packaging is Growing (in Certain Areas)

October 15th, 2014

 

Here are 3 “facts” about packaging that have been beaten in our heads over the last few years:

  1. Consumers want less packaging.  They see packaging as wasteful.
  2. Corporations have environmental initiatives and want less packaging as well.
  3. E commerce is changing how goods are marketed and distributed and will result in less packaging.

Wrong, wrong, and wrong.  Do people want to pay less for packaging and throw less in a landfill? Of course.  Is it reality?  No.  I will use my applesauce example.  Our son likes applesauce.  We used to buy a jar of applesauce, he’d eat a few bites, we’d stick it in the refrigerator, and throw it out a few months later after it got shuffled around and forgotten about.  He discovered portable applesauce.  We now buy boxes of portable applesauce with individual sized servings in pouches.  We don’t waste applesauce anymore.  Oh, and guess what – we pay about 8 times more per ounce of applesauce in the portable pouch versus the rigid jar.  Do you think the CPG that makes the applesauce and the retailer that sells me that applesauce want less packaging?  Do you think it’s cheaper to pack and ship a box of portable applesauce in a nice rectangular box or an awkward shaped jar that requires packaging fill so it doesn’t roll around in a box if I order it online and have it shipped to my house?  Does my cost end up being about the same if I use the right measurement to compare, which is what I paid for the applesauce that is actually eaten?  It might not get to parity, but I know the jar always had a lot left when we finally disposed of it.  I would also submit the individualized and recyclable pouch is more environmentally friendly than we think: no dish to wash, no spoon to wash, and no shirt with applesauce all over it to wash after he’s done eating.

Of course, the guy selling the rigid container (plastic or glass) and the label to the applesauce manufacturer has a problem.  The guy that makes barrier films and the printer are quite happy.  The contract packager that fills those pouches is quite happy.  The trend towards individualized portions are changing the types of packaging used.  But packaging will always be necessary for marketing and product protection.  That’s not changing anytime soon.

 

If Technology Worked All The Time, There Would be a Lot Less Jobs

October 6th, 2014

My title came from a quotation I took from our head of IT at I.D. Images. (I often joke about the “IT Empire” he’s built – we’ve gone from 1 part time to almost 3 full time IT people over the last several years.) I’ve had an interesting few experiences with technology lately that have frustrated me.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a notice about an update for my IPad. Like a fool, I did the update. My device started to freeze on a regular basis. Finally, it completely froze and was inoperable. After consulting our IT department, who told me to shut it off, wait a minute, and turn it back on, I went online to look for a fix. (Amazing how the fix is shutting something off. I wish that worked for flexo presses. Yes, IT nerds, I know it has to do with temporary memory issues – that’s why shutting technology devices down works most of the time.) Here is what I got from Apple’s website. I took the screen shot out.

To put your device into recovery mode, follow these steps:
1. Turn off your device and leave it off.
2. Plug in your device’s USB cable to a computer with iTunes.
3. Hold down the Home button on your device as you connect the USB cable. Keep holding down the Home button until you see the Connect to iTunes screen.
4. When you see this screen, release the Home button. If you don’t see this screen, try steps 1 through 3 again.

I love the hold down the home button while I connect the USB cable. Should I stand on one foot too? I’ll bet if someone from Apple put that in the directions, people would do it. After successfully rebooting in recovery mode – caused by Apple’s update, I want to emphasize, I had what I thought was a working IPad. I found out a few days later, I could receive email but it wasn’t sending email. It didn’t save them anywhere – any email I sent just vanished. Of course, this is another known problem that Apple has a fix for – delete your account and re-add it. After figuring that out, I apparently have a functional device.

I also recently got a new cell phone. Yes, its most important function is being a phone to me, not texting, not emailing, not social networking. I want a PHONE. My phone (Samsung) was working well. I got a notice about an upgrade for my voicemail. Again, the fool that I am, I clicked OK. Apparently, I missed the “you must shut off and restart to activate this feature” notice because I went about a week without my voicemail working. I don’t know how I missed it. Oh, wait, that warning never came up. No Mom, I wasn’t ignoring your calls.

All of this leads me to my point: we have come to accept problems from technology. It’s kind of sad actually that if you search for “Frozen IPad,” 14.2 million hits come up. Rather than solve the problems, we have massive help desks. All technology help desk personnel went to the same school. No matter what company you call regarding a technology issue, the first question will be, “Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on?” In any world other than technology, that would be an unacceptable fix.

It’s the Economy, Stupid!

September 30th, 2014

 

As Bill Clinton prepares to run for a third term (oops), As Hillary Clinton “explores” a presidential run, expect to hear more commentary from them about solutions for our stagnant economy.  (Is Hillary really just exploring?  Who is she kidding?)   President Clinton recently chimed in about fixing wage growth. I’ve heard President Clinton speak in person and he has an amazing gift to connect with his audience which is what makes him who he is.  He also has an  gift to summarize an issue in a simple to understand but powerful sound byte, like the title I borrowed from him.

I pulled out part of President Clinton’s  comments from his recent interview.  You can read more here. ( http://www.cnbc.com/id/102036225)

“Median income hasn’t gone up for three reasons,” Clinton said. “One is the labor markets aren’t tight enough, and we haven’t raised the minimum wage as we should. And the second reason is we haven’t changed the job mix enough, to raise the median income and have more poor people working into it. The combination of jobs has to pay, on average, higher wages.”

Clinton said he believes the current business climate is also to blame for income stagnation.

“Gross domestic product growth doesn’t lead to growth in median incomes because company after company takes more of its profits and spends it on dividends, stock buybacks, management increases … and less on sharing it with the employees broadly,” said Clinton, who is hopeful that corporate America is poised to change that view.

While Clinton said he hopes that corporations refine their moral compass, he also hopes Washington will act when it comes to the debate over whether tax inversions—the practice of American companies reincorporating in foreign countries to take advantage of lower corporate tax rates—are right or wrong

“America has to face the fact that we have not reformed our corporate tax laws when 100 percent of the people, from Democrats, Republicans, Independents, agree we need to,” Clinton said. “We have the highest overall corporate tax rates in the world. We need tax reform.”

 

No matter what side you’re on, it’s hard to disagree with what he says simply because he basically says nothing.  I will translate:
1.  We need higher paying jobs to have median income go up.  Wow.  Insightful.  Master of the obvious.  He does say we need to raise the minimum wage, appealing to the masses.  Mr. President, I hate to be a stickler, but technically you are wrong.  The reality is raising the minimum wage will have no impact on median income.  Median income is the wage in the middle, meaning 50% of jobs pay less and 50% pay more.  If you raise the bottom or the top wage, it has no impact on the median.  Median is different than average (or mean).  Note to Republicans: you’re not going to win an argument about the minimum wage so punt.  Raising the minimum wage won’t make anyone’s lives better.  It will lead to some inflation, which helps solve our debt problem.

2.  “GDP growth doesn’t lead to growth in median incomes.”  Here’s where he gets political.  Corporate “evil doers” use the money as they see fit, investing in the business or returning funds to shareholders.  In the current environment, he’s right – they’ll buy back shares or reward shareholders.  That is done because the current economic (and political) climate does not justify reinvestment in the business.  It’s pretty simple: businesses are profit maximizers.  If a business can make more money by hiring more people, it will.  If it needs to raise wages to keep employees who help the business make money, it will.  If it gets a higher return by reducing its share count, it will.  I do love the author’s ending statement, “who is helpful that corporate America is poised to change that view.”  Corporate America does not have a “view” on sharing with employees.  Corporations respond to the environment they’re in.  It’s called CAPITALISM.  Capitalists allocate scarce resources in order to earn a profit.  If that changes, we’ve got a problem.

3.  We need corporate tax reform.  That’s an easy statement to make.  How about a plan?  Release a statement about cutting rates.  I’d be curious to see if the media would jump on how much it would “cost” the government if corporate taxes were lowered if the plan came from the Clinton camp.

It’s easy to romanticize how great things were in the Clinton and Reagan years.  As the election season heats up, prepare to be inundated with reports proving just how great things used to be.  We’ll also hear lots of people chime in on how to “fix” things.  One thing the Reagan and Clinton years had in common was the lowering of overall tax rates on business and investment.  That has changed over the last 14 years.  Capital is needed to create jobs.  If you want more jobs, make capital less expensive. Taxes aren’t the only cost on capital.  Regulations, as I’ve written in the past, are worse.  Encourage an environment that rewards risk and you will see jobs created and wages go up.

With Apologies to Tennyson: ‘Tis Better to Not Care at All Than Act Like You Do

September 24th, 2014

I recently got a letter from a clothing store thanking me for my patronage.  The letter was signed by the CEO and included a gift card to use “like cash in one of our stores or online.”  If I had any questions, the CEO included his “personal email address” that I could contact at any time.

Feeling like a valued customer, I went online to place an order, even though I really didn’t need anything.  I filled my online shopping cart and went to check out.  My code was invalid according to the clothing store’s website.  I tried it again, same result.  I called the 800 number on the website.  After waiting on hold for a while, I  finally spoke to a person in the company’s call center who had no interest in helping me.  (That’s why I shop online.  I find that theme all too common in retail stores and it drives me nuts.  I love when store employees see me coming and seemingly vanish into thin air.  I started to develop a complex thinking it was me but I have come to find that it is a common occurrence for employees to vanish in retail stores.)  She said the code wouldn’t work online; I had to place my order, download a form, and request a refund in order to get my “reward.”   I said, “That’s not what the card from your CEO says.”  She said, “It doesn’t matter what the card says; that’s the way it is.  Don’t blame me – I just work in the call center.”  Even more frustrated, I emailed the CEO.  I emailed him over a week ago and haven’t heard boo.  I know being the CEO of a major retailer means you’re a busy guy.  It’s not good to give out your email and not have even an intern respond.  Even a form letter would be nice.  If you aren’t responding, what do you think the rest of the organization is doing?  Needless to say, I canceled my order and will probably find a new store to grace with my fashion prowess (or lack thereof).

We live in an age of declining customer service and customer expectations.  We expect customer service to be poor.  Don’t make it worse by pretending like you are going to offer good service.  People know you don’t care; there’s no reason to remind them.  If you do care, make sure you follow through.  It’s really not that hard.

For those of you interested, here is the source poem (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174603 ) that I used in my title.  I’ll bet it brings back fond memories of high school English!

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 27

BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

I envy not in any moods

The captive void of noble rage,

The linnet born within the cage,

That never knew the summer woods:

 

I envy not the beast that takes

His license in the field of time,

Unfetter’d by the sense of crime,

To whom a conscience never wakes;

 

Nor, what may count itself as blest,

The heart that never plighted troth

But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;

Nor any want-begotten rest.

 

I hold it true, whate’er befall;

I feel it, when I sorrow most;

‘Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all.