Andy Mac Makes Pogo-Sticks

Flybar - a new company by Andy Macdonald and CBI Enterprises. They go for $299 - that would have been a nice licensing gig for Airwalk, no?

Check out the Flybar website - at least you can see the Airwalks on the homepage...

Or if you want to buy one, its for sale on Amazon.

Starbucks, its brand, and toilet paper...

A Brand Is the Sum of All Touchpoints

by Guy Smith, MarketingProfs.com, September 28, 2004

There is a legendary story about Starbucks, its brand, and toilet paper. From within the offices of Starbucks, a branding guru had summarized the Starbucks brand into an extremely concise brand statement: A great coffee experience.

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The "New" Rules of the Corporation

From Greg Woodman:

This “rule book” is from a best selling book back a long long time ago in 1993! Why I pulled out this classic was purely to enlighten (people) that a book 11 years old is still somewhat an “aspire to” here in 2004. And I sense continuing schisms in philosophy. As we develop fully to our outsourcing model I am continually challenged on how to communicate my plans as it relates to people and roles and vendor partners. Certain people just do not get it, and continually challege these ideas. So with that in mind enjoy the basic tenants of the book “Reengineering the Corporation”…..a manifesto for Business Revolution…this book was all about processes and the cover said “Forget what you know about how business should work-most of it is wrong!” How are we doing 11 years later on the following……and if anything you can see why certain people do not fit into the following rules...

Old Rule: Information can appear only one place at one time
Disruptive technology: Shared databases
New Rule: Information can appear simultaneously in as many places as it is needed

Old Rule: Only experts can perform complex work
Disruptive technology: Expert systems
New Rule: A generalist can do the work of an expert

Old Rule: Businesses must choose between centralization and decentralization
Disruptive technology: Telecommunications networks
New Rule: Businesses can simultaneously reap the benefits of centralization and decentralization

Old Rule: Managers make all the decisions
Disruptive technology: Decision support tools (database access, modeling software)
New Rule: Decision-making is part of everyone’s job

Old Rule: Field personnel need offices where they can receive, store, retrieve, and transmit information
Disruptive technology: Wireless data communications and portable computers
New Rule: Field personnel can send and receive information wherever they are

Old Rule: The best contact with the buyer is personal contact
Disruptive technology: Interactive videodisc
New Rule: the best contact with a potential buyer is effective contact

Old Rule: You have to find out where things are
Disruptive technology: Automatic identification and tracking technology
New Rule: Things tell you where they are

Old Rule: Plans get revised periodically
Disruptive technology: High performance computing
New Rule: Plans get revised instantaneously

Cool Quote 9.27.04

"If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent van Gogh


Cool Quote - 9.16.04

"Ordinary people can spread good and bad information about brands faster than marketers." - Ray Johnson


What Should I Do With My Life?

The real meaning of success -- and how to find it

It's time to define the new era. Our faith has been shaken. We've lost confidence in our leaders and in our institutions. Our beliefs have been tested. We've discredited the notion that the Internet would change everything (and the stock market would buy us an exit strategy from the grind). Our expectations have been dashed. We've abandoned the idea that work should be a 24-hour-a-day rush and that careers should be a wild adventure. Yet we're still holding on.

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Fast Company, Po Bronson, January 2003

How Much Music Can You Make?

On November 18, 1995, Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, came on stage to give a concert at Lincoln Center in New York City.

If you have ever been to a Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him.He was stricken with polio as a child, and has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches.To see him walk across the stage one step at the time,painfully and slowly, is a sight. He walks with difficulty,yet majestically, until he reaches his chair. Then he sits down, slowly, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the braces and clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back and extends the other foot forward. Then he bends down and picks up his violin, puts it under his chin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play.

By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit quietly while he makes his way across the stage tohis chair. They remain silent while he undoes the clasps on his legs, they wait until he is ready to play. But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violinbroke. You could hear it snap -- it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what hehad to do.

People who were there that night thought to themselves, "We figured that he would have to get up, put on the clasps again,pick up the crutches and limp his way off the stage to find another violin or else find another string for this one, or wait for someone to bring him another violin.

But he didn't. Instead he waited a moment, closed his eyes and then signaled the conductor to begin again.The orchestra began, and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power and such purity, as they had never heard before.

Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know that,you know that. But that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know that. You could see him modulating, changing and recomposing the piece in his head. At one point it sounded like he was de-tuning the strings to get new sounds from them that they had never made before.

When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. Everyone was on their feet, screaming and cheering, doing everything they could to show how much they appreciated what he had done.

He smiled, wiped the sweat from his brow, raised his bow to quiet the audience,and not boastfully, but in a quiet reverent tone said,


Cool Quote - 9.13.04

"Only intuition can protect you from the most dangerous of all, the articulate incompetent."

- Robert L. Bernstein, president, Random House, on his experience interviewing MBA graduates

Cool Quote - 9.13.04

"Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration, if inspiration is not discernible at the beginning."

- Igor Stravinsky


The New Nike

The cover story in this week's Business Week. Talks about how NIke is no longer the brat of sports marketing, and has a higher level of discipline and performance.

Some points of interest and relevance...Nike has shortened its development cycles, getting products to market faster; embraced the operational/financial, bottom-line orientation, not just the aggressive top-line, market share building of its past; and embraced fashion, hiring an ex-Polo designer to head up the apparel division. Not to mention a solid aquisition strategy. And the results are impressive.

Full Story


The Customer Is -- and Always Will Be -- King

Every so often a customer will really try your patience. Consider him a blessing. If you can figure out how to keep him happy (at least for a while), you'll have developed skills and resources that will bowl over your other customers.

Leadership Strategies used the following story as an example to try to make a case that customers "aren't always right":

"When Citizens Financial Group CEO Larry Fish heard that a customer had treated one of his tellers poorly, he called the customer and suggested that she close her account. Although the customer had $172,000 deposited at the bank, Fish arranged for a check to be mailed to her."
Leadership Strategies praised Fish not only for protecting his teller but also for making the happiness of his employees his No. 1 priority. "People work for more than their pocket," Fish told Ronald Alsop at CareerJournal.com. "You can't have a successful business without happy employees."

I don't know the details -- I'm definitely looking at this as an outsider -- but it seems to me that Larry Fish, CareerJournal.com, and Leadership Strategies have gotten things mixed up. Businesses do not exist to make employees happy.

Businesses provide products and/or services to customers. It is the customer who, ultimately, pays the employees' wages. The employees are getting paid to service the customer. Toward that end, their main job is to make the customer happy.

When we say, "The customer is always right," we aren't naive enough to think that this is literally always true. There are many times when a customer may be uninformed, out of line, unrealistic, or downright unpleasant. What we mean is that in any employee-customer transaction, the end result must please the customer, not necessarily the employee.
If you think otherwise, you will destroy your business. If you begin with the idea that your business is about your employees, it's only a short leap to believing that if your customer interferes with your employees' happiness, you ought to "fire" him. That sounds like what might be happening at Mr. Fish's bank.

You can see this employee-first mentality on most airlines today. Whereas once the cabin attendants (Don't call them stewardesses!) were pleasant and bend-over-backward helpful, they are now self-centered and often belligerent (see "Word to the Wise," below) Hollywood wannabes who have no idea how to do their jobs. (They are, after all, nothing more than glorified waiters and waitresses.)

"One more word out of you, you filthy swine, and I'll have you manacled and dragged off the plane!"

I recently "softly" fired (i.e., relocated) a business manager who had that kind of attitude. She was hardworking and eager to please her bosses, but she treated her customers as if they had the plague -- and within a few short months, every member of her staff was treating them the same way. Eventually, they were treating me like something the cat dragged in. And I was paying their salaries!

If you want your business to grow, ignore the self-indulgent, inwardly turned, unforgivably naive management philosophy of the Larry Fishes of the world and stick with the old-fashioned customer-is-king approach.

Absolut Cool

Sure, the company's new website is sexy. But will it move the wheat juice?

Absolut is a leading producer of corporate chic. It has to be. Why else would you pay $35 for a clear, odorless liquid when a nearly identical bottle of Popov or some other supermarket brand is priced below $10? Is it Absolut's superior distillation process? Is it a company history stretching back 160 years? Perhaps it's the organic wheat, grown and harvested in idyllic Ahus, Sweden?

No, sucker. It's the mental image Absolut has created of you, sipping fabulous cocktails in a swanky nightclub, surrounded by beautiful people who hang on your every witty word.

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Business 2.0, Thomas Mucha, September 07, 2004