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Missed Opportunities

Several friends of mine recommended that I watch the program "Drop Dead Diva" (A new Lifetime series featuring Deb Dobson, an aspiring model who begs to return to earth after being killed in a car crash. Deb gets her wish, but is horrified to be brought back to life in the body of an intelligent, overweight lawyer named Jane Bingum.) They told me the show was smart and funny, so I programmed it into my DVR. I watched my first episode the other day entitled "The Dress." The protagonist, Jane was unable to get a dress because the store had decided that they didn’t want to sell to "Plus Sized Women" (even though this segment of the market represented the majority of the buying populace). It was a great episode.

That probably would be the end of my story, but....

I recently had my own "Drop Dead Diva" moment. I was shopping for a new suit for a special event at an organization where I serve as a volunteer. Since I have lost a lot of weight recently, I thought it would be a nice idea to treat myself to something new, so I headed to Banana Republic. As I was searching through the racks of clothing, I noticed that the largest size was a 44 regular. Now, I am almost a 44 regular, but it’s still a little tight. I asked the sales associate if they had anything larger. The answer was, "No. If you want something larger, you’ll have to shop online." Wow, that was discouraging. The sale associate was informative, but I also felt that he wasn’t really interested in helping me. Maybe I was also too large for the store? Just like the episode of "The Dress."

Well...the event was in a few days and I don’t like to buy expensive clothes on line since I think it’s important to see how things look when you put them on. Plus, I had procrastinated and needed to get this suit quickly, so Banana Republic was out. I left the store and went to Neiman Marcus, which is of course a more expensive store in the mall. "Out of the frying pan and into the fire," I thought. Will this place be too expensive?

Neiman Marcus (as you can imagine) had a great selection. Many of the clothes were too expensive but the sales associate was fantastic! I told him my budget and how quickly I needed the outfit. He was creative, proactive, and very helpful in suggesting items that could work within my budget... and I did get that new outfit. When I wore it two days later at the event, I have to confess I looked great and what a fun way to celebrate the weight I’ve lost!

But what about Banana Republic? Well, Banana Republic lost a big sale. And I am not sure how willing I’ll be to spend more time in the store. Now, I wonder: How many other people have had the same experience? How many retailers are dropping the "Drop Dead Divas" and losing out on customers, goodwill, and sales? Probably more than they’d like.

What does this have to do with business, service, and you? In the new series with Tom Peters that I have been editing, Tom goes into great lengths to point out the obvious. He tells advertisers to pay attention to people over 50 (as they represent a huge market). He reminds businesses not to ignore women as customers - after all they do represent 51% of the buying population. Maybe Tom should also remind retailers that they should consider being more thoughtful to customers who are taller, larger, or shorter. Maybe stores should be more welcoming of anyone who walks in the door because we all come in different sizes and most of us have money to spend!

Just a thought...

Posted under Customer Service, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Tom Peters by Stewart on Sep 24, 2009 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Business Success and The Basics

I have been hard at work editing a series of video "Success Tips" from Tom Peters (more on that in a later post). These video clips cover everything from strategy to service to personal development, and one thing has struck me: So much of what Tom has uncovered in his years of research and analysis boils down to very basic ideas.

For example, Tom speaks about the power of communicating all the time (that includes MBWA - Managing By Wandering Around - and Listening). He also speaks about the importance of experimentation and willingness to learn from mistakes. He tells people not to get trapped by "best practices." He loves the power of thanking, apologizing when things go wrong, and simple courtesy.

I know, this is so basic, but it is also really great advice. We all need to be reminded about the power of apologizing. We all can learn more from our colleagues, if we only listen. In a way, Tom’s simple message reminds me of something that a friend told me. He said that he went to a speech by Miss Manners (Judith Martin). In the speech, she was asked about discrimination and sexual harassment in the office as well as nasty office politics. As I understand it, her reply was that if people tried to be more courteous to each other and more considerate of each other - that if they had better manners - then many of these costly and demoralizing office issues would go away. I’m not sure if she is totally right, but it sure does seem to make sense.

So, I think both Tom and Judith Martin are right. Perhaps one of the key ideas of success does boil down to common sense and manners. Maybe a lot of success comes from simple courtesy, thanking, listening, apologizing, showing, up, and smiling.

Posted under Customer Service, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Tom Peters by Stewart on Aug 18, 2009 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

RAO - Recession as Opportunity with Tom Peters

Yes, it’s RAO not ROA. Instead of Return on Assets, Tom Peters wants us to think about Recession as Opportunity. We really should.

Tom spent several decades and three recessions studying some of the top companies across all industries to find out what works and what doesn’t during recessionary times. Companies such as Nucor, Dana, Rubbermaid, Ryder, Unilever, Union Pacific Railroad, Lincoln Electric, Scandinavian Airlines, Hewlett Packard, General Electric, 3M and Sun Microsystems were all part of his research. Think you can learn something from these companies? We think you can.

Lucky for us, Tom outlined six critical strategies for recessionary times. "Smart Moves for Tough Times" is what he likes to call it. We call it "necessary and very relevant" for everyone to see and then implement. It really does make sense that we should now be focusing on world-class quality, customer service, and speed and he emphasizes that this focus can only be achieved through attitude, trust, and action.

Strategy number one is to redouble employee involvement and continuous improvement activities. The absolute sharing of all information with everybody during these times is essential because they have already heard the rumors. He further explains that this is crucial to cost saving measures because the sharing of information will help companies find where the "slop" is and cut it.

Tom’s second strategy is that "Pain starts at the top and moves to the bottom." He believes that this is the pinnacle to trust during a recessionary time and that all the efforts a company has made with their employees around trust and attitude can be destroyed in a very short period of time because of "perception." We are all very aware of this concept with the recent news stories about golden parachute bonuses etc.

"Partners in Peace, Partners at War" is what Tom likes to call his third strategy. Bring the outsiders in and share the news, information and pain with your suppliers and vendors. A recession is the time to work with your partners and vendors instead of making them the enemy.

"Quality NOW" - This is the "Golden Moment" to really get serious about world-class quality. Tom stresses this very passionately and with good cause. The PQC (Poor Quality Costs) is up to 25% gross revenues in manufacturing sectors and up to 40% of gross revenues in service sectors. During a recession, could you afford 25% or 40% of your gross revenues disappearing due to poor quality?

Speed up your competing-in-time programs and reduce the amount of time it takes to develop and deliver new products and improvements. In his fifth strategy, Tom believes that this is the time to take a competitive edge and be the first amongst your competitors to launch a new product.

Tom’s sixth and final strategy concludes with an extremely passionate conversation about not cutting the budgets in advertising, employee training, and information technology. Tom reiterates that this is the most common mistake that companies make during recessionary times and backs up his theory with real life examples of companies that DIDN’T do this and reaped the benefits.

The video recaps the first four steps that everyone should take today to start thinking in RAO. This program is essential to any company operating today. We feel so strongly that you should see this and share it with everyone in your organization that we are offering this program on our online LMS system for a one-day, unlimited amount of views for only $99.00. If you prefer the DVD, you can purchase it for $395.00.

Even though Tom created this program for the last national recession, we believe that if you are serious about surviving this recession, then you should use this program as your starting point.

If you are interested in some recent blogs from Tom himself on the recession, you can look here:

This week’s bingo number: O71

Someone MUST be getting close!

Posted under What’s New, Tom Peters by Stewart on Feb 26, 2009 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Talent: The Key to Rebuilding Ford's Brand? Tom Peters might agree.

As many of you know, Tom Peters speaks constantly about finding, cultivating and keeping talented people. Tom defines Talent pretty broadly. He says you shouldn’t always assume that a 4.0 grade point average is the answer. You should find people who think creatively, work well with others, and are innovative. This process works for the best baseball teams and symphony orchestras, so why shouldn’t it work for your organization?

To prove his point, Tom often uses former GE CEO Jack Welch as an example. Welch oversaw huge growth and success during his tenure at GE. Welch was a talent fanatic, and his obsession paid off in spades!

I thought about Tom’s ideas, as I was reading an article in Business Week about Jim Farley, Ford Motor Company’s new Marketing Czar. Farley, a veteran from Toyota, is trying to revive the Ford brand ("brand power" is another of Tom Peters’ favorite topics).

One of Farley’s comments struck me (and I thought it could easily have come from Tom Peters mouth). The article was talking about pulling together a team of top people. The team could come from anywhere and have a variety of skills: Here is the paragraph:

In early December, Farley sat down with Toby Barlow and George Rogers, respectively executive creative director and CEO of Team Detroit, the WPP agency that handles Ford’s ad business. Farley got right to the point. "Do you guys play Fantasy Baseball?" he asked. Both men had heard of the virtual leagues put together by baseball fanatics, but neither belonged to one. Farley said he wanted Team Detroit to put together a kind of fantasy league, scouring the planet for the most forward-thinking and creative talent. Farley didn’t care where the people came from. They could come from WPP, PR firms, universities, or digital agencies. They could be freelancers. They could be from Detroit or Dubai. "Team Detroit should be like a general manager of a baseball team," he says. "I’m looking to them to find me the best players for every game."

Reviving Ford’s brand will be a huge challenge and who knows if Farley can achieve his goal. But if you ask me (or Tom Peters), he is certainly going about it in the right way. The idea is simple: good people can find answers and help keep your organization ahead of the pack.

You can read the entire article in Business Week by clicking here.

Posted under Talent, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Tom Peters by Stewart on Jul 31, 2008 | Comments: 1 | Post a comment»

Top Ten Training Programs for 2007

Our customers and distributors often ask us which programs are our bestsellers. I think this can be useful because it shows how organizations are setting their training priorities. Here is the list of our top 10 for 2007:

1) Fish! This program (which was released in 1998) provides viewers with a visit to Pikes Place Fish Market in Seattle. It shows how anyone (even people who handle and sell fish) can have fun at work, deliver great service, and motivate themselves (and others) to higher levels of achievement. This program has been a worldwide bestseller for over a decade. Recently, the producer also released the complete training seminar version called "Fish! Culture," and the leadership training program, "LeaderFISH!"

2) Morris Massey’s programs remain top sellers for us year in and year out. The bestseller of all is his latest release "What You Are is Where You Were When... Again!" Funny. Irreverent. Provocative. Thought-provoking. Morris Massey is all of these and more. For over 30 years, he has explained how different generations think and how these generations can work together successfully.

3) Tom Peters remains a top seller. Our best selling programs include the classic bestseller, "In Search of Excellence" and Tom’s latest program "Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age." For over 25 years, Tom Peters has been inspiring people to achieve higher levels of excellence in customer service, leadership, and innovation.

4) The Lance Armstrong Series including "Who Says We Can’t Do It? Lance Armstrong’s Journey." I think one of the reasons this program has been a bestseller is the wonderful interview with Lance’s oncology nurse, LaTrice Haney. It is very moving and motivational.

5) John Kotter’s new release "Succeeding in a Changing World" has done really well. Harvard Business School professor and best-selling author John Kotter presents examples of organizations that have changed successfully and organizations that have failed when faced with change. He also provides an overview of his eight-step process for success. This program was voted one of the top training programs of the year by Training Media Review!

6) Muppet Meeting Films. Join Kermit, Grump, Leo, Sam Eagle, and other members of the Muppet ensemble as they add pizzazz to your meetings. These humorous meeting videos are lots of fun and have been perennial bestsellers!

7) The Bob Farrell programs "Give ’em The Pickle" and "What’s Your Pickle." Bob Farrell uses personal anecdotes to tell a powerful message on customer service. His messages are enduring - and they are also fun to hear and watch.

8) "Life is good... and Work Can Be Too!" This program has done well because it shows how the employees of the apparel company "Life is good" bring enthusiasm and passion to their work.

9) "Love Your Customers" with John O’Hurley. While we have only sold this for a few months, this new release has sold very well. The DVD has two separate training programs. The first, "Love your Customers," provides a blueprint for delivering great customer service. The second, "Love Your Difficult Customers," provides a step-by-step approach for working with customers who are angry or upset. Throughout, you will laugh as John O’Hurley delivers his message in a funny and engaging manner.

10) The Customer Service Training Series (including "It’s Show Time," "Six Steps to Greatness," and "Service Heroes"). This series - led by a profile of Stew Leonard’s Dairy has been one of our top sellers for years. The programs provide concrete examples of great customer service in action!

Posted under Corporate, Best Sellers, Lists, Customer Service, John O’Hurley, John Kotter, Tom Peters, Fish Philosophy by Stewart on Mar 03, 2008 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment» X

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