Editor's Note: Marking Birthdays, New Beginnings

This month’s issue of CSP celebrates the runner’s mindset as a business compass.

Mitch Morrison, Vice President of Retailer Relations

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When I was 6, I couldn’t wait for my 7th birthday.

According to my older sister, Reva, I began counting down from 200 days—a bit longer than a Ryan Seacrest New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York’s Time Square.

As she recalls, I was a total pain. My older brother, Howard, seems to vouch for my sister’s account: “Don’t forget my birthday—it’s just another 189 days.”

As I enter a new decade less than a month from our press date, I am amused by countdowns and inspired by looking ahead.

My rabbi recently talked about time. He quoted Exodus 13:17, in which Egypt’s Pharaoh, his country smitten by the devastating final plague of the death of the firstborn, expels the Israelites. God leads the Jews, but instead of taking the direct route through Philistea, He guides the nascent nation through a roundabout way toward the Sea of Reeds.

Why the long way home? The Bible says it was because Philistea was too close to Egypt, that the Jews, not battle-ready, might return to their enslaved surroundings, preferring a life encaged to the uncertainties of freedom.

Our rabbi offered another answer. The circuitous journey was akin to taking a long walk to think, an exercise that Ted Turner describes in his autobiography as an essential part of his career success: quiet time in the woods to contemplate, to take a pause from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

In truth, there is a need for urgency and also a time for reflection. One cannot live a life of nonstop fire drills. Equally so, life loses much if every day is a series of equal waves, predictable rhythms and uneventful cycles. There needs to be 2-minute warnings, ninth-inning rallies, an April 15. We also need a Dec. 31, a Thanksgiving and a July 4.

But how do we transition from one to another? It seems we go from sultry summer to blinding-blizzard winter in an instant, from a manageable 20 or 30 emails during the final days of December to a bewildering 150 on Jan. 2. It’s as if we interpret our momentary pause as a setback to be offset only by race-car acceleration.

There is another approach: that of the runner, whose pace is steady and sustained. Unlike a trip through lulling waves, a runner experiences moments when an extra push is needed and also ones that allow for a temporary coast.

In many ways, this month’s issue of CSP celebrates the runner’s mindset as a business compass. Angel Abcede’s cover story on mobile payment speaks of a radical transformation in how customers will complete transactions in convenience stores (and everywhere else). But instead of telling you to expect abrupt changes in your POS, we’re encouraging you to understand the nuances behind the overhaul in how society purchases, to be prepared for and to dabble in mobile payment, or at least mobile loyalty—and add a bit of extra speed to your pace. But don’t sprint just yet—you’re likely to fall. (Click here to read the full story.)

Likewise, beverage guru Steve Holtz delivers the highs and lows of the cold vault in our annual beverage report. There are surprises, such as bottled water, a mature segment that is enjoying a revival buoyed by our nation’s conversation about wellness. And, to no one’s surprise, soft drinks are continuing their gradual decline. Still, as Steve points out, soda remains the No. 1 beverage in cooler doors. So again, consider some shifts, and potentially increase more facings for water and/or for iced tea, which is growing in both standard and premium lines.

OK, Morrison, you’re preaching moderation. So where’s the wow?

It’s not in any countdown (such as with Obamacare). It’s in how we build up. It’s in Wawa and Thorntons pushing the envelope with dynamic store designs in Florida. It’s listening to Quinn Ricker’s excitement about taking out sponsorships at the Indiana Pacers’ home games and spelling out how his 50-store chain will compete against competitors 10 times its size.

It’s about thinking differently and letting your imagination go crazy—to think young and about the young, to think about tomorrow’s opportunities and plan for them right now.

It’s about turning 50 and thinking you’re 20 all over again.

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