Trevor Gay is a new “blog” friend from England….or perhaps more correctly the UK. Trevor has been in the health care field for many years. I came across Trevor’s blog on the Tom Peters web site. Our management/leadership ideas and thinking are quite similar. Anne’s grandmother was from Sheffield. Her father was stationed in England in WW ll and later in the early 60’s….so it seems that there is a strong connection here!. What really makes the connection stronger is the sharing of ideas from others not only here in America….but from around the world. This simply did not happen that easily in my early career. Now we have almost instantaneous exchanges and unlimited access to tons of information.
So what does this all mean. It means that we can use all the resources we can find to help us lead/manage our businesses and organizations in a challenging time. I often mentioned Tom Peters. Tom while a contemporary, also is a prolific writer and shares freely his seminars/presentations. Few others in this realm do that.
That’s Tom Peters on the left. Trevor Gay on the right.
Lesson Learned: Share…Learn….Grow. The end result: Everyone is better!
I really appreciate my service in the United States Air Force. In particular, the projects I worked on. Of course it was a different time. Yet, aspects of my small contribution remain in the force today. Anne’s father was a career officer. A P-47 pilot in WW ll….flew in France shortly after the Normandy invasion. A few months ago, I visited Seymour-Johnson AFB and the 4th Fighter Wing (F-15). I was not only impressed with the dedication and commitment of the enlisted and officer folks, but proud to be a former Air Force officer. Memorial Day is a time that we must remember past military men and women and take confidence in that we do have a strong deterrent that protects our freedoms.
All businesses/organizations have a natural life cycle, and many successful ones fade with time.
Being a leader/owner of a business or organization means a lot of thinking ahead. In the business and organizations I have worked with….some changed some didn’t. There is always the tension between doing better, not giving up on a model or strategy and the willingness to change course. Often business try to change….yet at the wrong time….usually when its too late and resources are limited. GE has expressed interest in selling its home appliance division. We have GE appliances….and they have been pretty good. However GE believes that the appliance division no longer fits its long term strategy and GE appliances is further along its life cycle.
Remember video stores. Talk about life cycles. There were numerous video stores when we moved to Cary. They rented VCR tapes. That life cycle was brief. Than video stores rented DVD’s. Than Netflix appeared and let you rent DVD’s through the mail. So much for video stores and Blockbuster. Now….NetFlix has announced that it will provide a $99 box that will allow us to stream movies via cable directly into the tv…..eliminating DVD’s by mail. NetFlix is creating a whole new model to counteract the DVD by mail life cycle that it created!
Lesson Learned: Don’t wait until you are too far along the life cycle curve to change your business model or strategy. The risk for any business/organization is to hold on to the past too long.
Tom and I met almost 40 years ago….and Tom became our business’s financial services friend. I say friend because Tom not only provided the insurance and financial products we needed….he created a long-term relationship with me and our family business. And that is the key to sustainable success. The financial products Tom sold have changed over the years and I am sure how he engaged folks often changed. However, at the end of the day, I believe it wasn’t the commission or fee that Tom earned….it was the life time friendship and relationship that Tom and his clients developed over the years that was most rewarding.
And the very cool thing….that Tom has done has been to enclose a “wienie” with everything he sends. See:
www.sethgodin.typepad.com 05.17.08 or
for the “wienie” story. Tom’s wienie…..a stick of gum!
If you follow my posts….I trust you get the idea of the importance of the customer. In our family business we depended on our ability to keep our customers for the long-term. That is what kept us in business. In the furniture business, it was our purpose not just to sell furniture, but to help people have nice homes.
Ram Charan, is a respected business adviser, author, and thinker on making businesses work better. I have read a few of his books. His latest is: What The Customer Wants You To Know. The premise is this:
“Instead of starting with your product or service, start with your customer’s problems. Focus on becoming your customer’s trusted partner, someone he can turn to for creative, cost-effective solutions that are based on your deep knowledge of his/hers values, goals and problems.”
If you don’t understand your customers you are not in business. As customer expectations and problems change so must you.
I am on my soapbox for the moment. Businesses and organizations seem to operate in vaccums. By that I mean they fail to use….borrow….any idea, concept, method to make them better. Why? Is it hubris on their part to think that they know everything and thus don’t tell me what to do?
Tom Peters today in his daily quote said this:
“Learn from … anyone. Anywhere. Any time.”
A recent article in The Economist addressed the turnaround of the Italian car manufacturer, Fiat. From the article: “a company that lost its way and needs to focus once more on what it’s good at”. The conclusion was….what can the troubled Big Three (Ford, GM, Chrysler) learn from the turnaround at Fiat. A company that was written off as one of the sickest firms in Europe’s sickest economy.
Any business or organization does not have an unalienable right to exist. In fact some shouldn’t as they deplete vauable resorces. We have to be willing and able to learn from anywhere, anyplace and than forget the stuff that doesn’t work.
Lesson Learned: Don’t operate in a vaccum.
I enjoy reading The New Yorker. While it presents a certain perspective in its editorial content, it does have excellent in-depth stories that I might not read elsewhere. In the March 31, 2008 issue is a story in Profiles, Pomegranate Princess. The story is about Stewart and Lynda Resnicks companies and one in particular, PomWonderful.
I have never had PomWonderful. It’s a bottled drink which is suppose to have antioxidants. What caught my attention was how Lynda Resnick knows how to market. Here is what she said:
“You don’t have to be a genius. You have to read the pop culture. You have to watch television. You have to see what people are watching. You have to listen to conversations. You have to pay attention.”
Lesson Learned: Know your potential customers…Pay Attention!