Cocktail Hour

Reading about leadership right now and what an effect it has on a company. More importantly, on a team, staff, or on the “Who” that make up your “What”. The editors of HBR dropped some knowledge on me this week and wanted to share.

During his term, FDR hosted at regular cocktail hour every evening while he was President. At this time is was forbidden to talk about either the war or politics.

Unbelievable. Lead your team, by forcing them to be real people for at least an hour every day. Force them to more importantly rest and relax. Your people need an hour in the week where you are all together, but you realize that each other have lives outside of the office. Foster this.

Product Life Cycle

Where are you on this scale? Is it something that you have thought about, or something that you have been trying to ignore. Some people think that they can sit right on the maturity mark without ever beginning the decline, but it is inevitable…

There are ways to make sure that you sit up there as long as possible, but there is always a decline eventually.

Find a business model where you are making money from the start. The introduction phase does not have to be cash dry. Protect your margins because later in life you probably won’t be able to maintain them as much as you can in the start when things are good…

Overdoing Your Strengths

There is a myth about your strengths that you don’t need to work on what your bad at, because it is more valuable to develop your strengths than it is to develop your weaknesses. Or, that you don’t have to be able to adapt, or relate in a situation because, that isn’t one of your talents.

I think it is all bull.

In the real world, working this way makes you like the SNL skit -“How much ya bench?”. Guys sitting around bragging about how much they can bench-press, but are angered when they are asked why they don’t work out their lower body. You can’t get very far at work if you tell your boss, “Sorry I can’t do that, it isn’t my personality”, or “I don’t like doing that, so you should get someone else”

The point is, sure, you shouldn’t spend so much time on your weaknesses that you don’t even develop your strengths, but you have to be able to work as a team, and do things even if they aren’t your bread and butter. Know who you are. Know what you do well. Know what you aren’t the best at, and tell people that so they know. BUT, don’t live life thinking that your legs are pointless, or that people with strong legs and no upper body are just pointless. Working together as a team, and not overdoing your strengths to excess is just the reality of being apart of a healthy office.

Big 10 Tires

I’ll will keep this one short, since it is about the very exciting brake industry… but wanted to give a big tip of the hat to Big 10 Tires for great customer service.

Showing up at 10AM yesterday, I was told that I would be in and out of the shop in an hour and plenty of time to meet people for lunch. After having to more than just replace the pads, I was clearly going to miss lunch. The parts that they had to get delivered from across town, were the wrong ones. So the driver had to go back, and get the rotors for a honda accord…

During this process, the manager came up to me, and apologized, and handed me a voucher for a free oil change to help make up for it! Obviously the oil change doesn’t get me to lunch on time, but it restored my faith in Big 10.

Good job.

Jack in the Box

If a Brand is what other people say about you, and not what you say about yourself, and Advertising is what companies say about themselves, then it is extremely difficult, expensive and time consuming commitment for a established company to go through a true “rebrand”, if they choose to use only Advertising, because you are having to talk about yourself a whole lot to change what people already think or have experienced.

At the same time, it isn’t just visual, or design. There is an intangible of who a company is, or what they are like that has to be “re-communicated” through some effort.

Case in point, how much will Jack in the Box will have to do for me to forget the “bad meat scare” in the 90’s. A new logo isn’t going to do it, and funny commercials won’t either.

People don’t forget, and they like to talk and it is a good thing there weren’t blogs, twitter, and facebook when the meat scandal went down…

HBR Highlights

Reading the HBR is one of my favorite ways to continue my education while still in the workforce. At Auburn, we used them as a text book. Here is the highlight from this month’s edition.

Size often engenders bureaucracy and silos. Switching costs give incumbents a false feeling of invulnerability, which can lead to high-handed arrogance in dealing with customers and competitors. A protected core market can lull firms into complacency.

Are you using fear to convince your customers to stay with you? Fear of what it could be like if they found the wrong someone else? Or, do you realize that your current position, however good or bad that is, can be ripped from underneath you at any point in time?

Treat your customers as if they are paying you to do something… oh wait, they are!

paradigm shift

Matchstic has ruined me. I can’t see a business card, poster, post card, website, etc… without examining it. I look for paper type, layout, fonts, and just about anything else that makes up the piece. It is funny how doing something everyday for 6 months can completely change the way you see just about everything.

(i’m officially not a snob though, so don’t worry about that…)