Friday, July 31, 2009

Lemonade stand as a harbinger

Steven Berglass' 3 point test to determine if you should be an entrepreneur starts with;

Did you build a lemonade stand as a kid?

Trite as it sounds, true self-starters have the tenacity and resilience to keep fighting. A store of aggression helps. As Nietzsche observed: "He who has a why to live can bear almost any how."

Player or Victim

Fred Kofman's "Conscious Business" offers this differentiation:

Players takes total responsibility for everything that happens to them and others

Victims have external factors that explains events in their entirety.

Which are you Player or Victim?

Less Bad

All the business news is less bad, which passes for fantastic in this negative vortex we are passing through. Glenfiddich has come out with 50 year scotch to help us celebrate, as this story from the Guardian relates:

The first smell is of citrus; grapefruit, to be exact. The next is a floral note that those more expert than I identify as rose petals, and finally there is a hint of green tobacco. It has a fresh, clean aroma that is matched by my first sip, which reveals more citrus, traces of soft vanilla, caramel and even a little smoke.

It is easily the finest whisky I have ever tasted, but then it should be. The tiny amount of golden liquid I have been allowed to sample, which barely covers the bottom of a commemorative glass, would probably cost £500 in the unlikely event that I were ever to find it in a bar. If you want to buy a whole bottle of it, it's yours for a mere £10,000.

This whisky in question is The Glenfiddich 50 Year Old

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Customer Service is so 20th century

Tom's post defines the next level of differentiation:

But customer service, like product quality, has become a basic, expected deliverable. Without it, you fail. With it, you are only at parity...

...Good customer service can help differentiate you only if it is a gateway to building relationships with customers. Customer relationships differentiate you from the competition in a way that customer service (or products) never can.

Tour de Vita:

Seth's post details on which part of the journey progress is made:

I look forward to the uphill parts, because that's where the work is, the fun is, the improvement is. On the uphills, I have a reasonable shot at a gain over last time. The downhills are already maxed out by the laws of physics and safety.The best time to do great customer service is when a customer is upset.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Branding in reverse

This is fascinating. Steve Johnson's report really opens up a whole new chapter in the Starbucks saga:

A Seattle outlet of the 16,000-store coffee behemoth is being rebranded without visible Starbucks identifiers, as 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It will be hard not to be green:

Walmart is about to supercharge the green revolution. Are you ready because your customers will be asking? Sandra Jones' article

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is taking steps to give the phrase "green" a measurable definition with an initiative to put eco-labels on the hundreds of thousands of products that end up on its store shelves, sources say.

The idea is to give products a simple, standard rating that allows shoppers at a glance to determine how sustainable a product is, akin to a nutritional label on food.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Coffee conversations

Let me try to comprehend this. The people that I am having a conversation with when I drink my coffee are not really there? I am good with that.

Susan Cosier's article examines a study about the link between caffeine and hallucinations

Have you ever heard a song when none was playing, clearly seen someone’s face when no one was there or felt the presence of a person, only to turn around to an empty room? If you’ve consumed a lot of caffeine—the equivalent to seven cups of coffee—you are three times more likely to hear voices than if you had kept your caffeine intake to less than a cup of coffee, according to psychologists at the University of Durham in England. Their recent study shows that overingesting the stimulant slightly increases your risk of experiencing other hallucinations as well.

Caffeine heightens the physiological effects of stress, lead author Simon Jones says. When someone feels anxiety, the body releases the hormone cortisol, and when people drink plenty of caffeine-infused tea, coffee or soda, their body produces more of the hormone when they encounter stressful events. Researchers have proposed that cortisol may trigger or exaggerate psychotic experiences by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine flowing into the brain’s limbic areas, evolutionarily ancient regions involved in emotion, memory and behavior.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Active listening is an art

Steven Berglas' article offers this;

The main thing to realize about listening is that it's an active process. For example, to truly absorb what someone is saying, you must be able to paraphrase that person's words. Irrespective of whether the message rings true or not, you still have to grasp the thesis.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Read for fun:

Dawn Foster's article about preventing burnout proposes a strategy that I wholeheartedly endorse.

Reading can be very relaxing, and I usually have at least one non-fiction book to expand my horizons while also reading a fiction book just for fun. ... Take a few minutes every evening to read something you enjoy. The key to making this work is to read something you enjoy so that it feels like a reward, not a punishment.

Smaller portions as a business model.

A twenty year study chronicled in Karen Kaplan's article confirms the following,

The study comes as some validation to the cadre of several hundred true-believing Americans who profess to practice caloric restriction in their daily lives. It was also welcomed by scientists who study the biological mechanisms of aging and longevity.

"It adds to the evidence piling up that caloric restriction, independent of thinness, is a healthy way to stay alive and healthy longer," said Susan Roberts of the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, who wasn't involved in the study. "Less diseases in old age has to be something most everyone wants."

The question is simple, "can a sustainable business model be built around smaller portions?" The assertion of the health benefits has been common knowledge for some time. If fact during the study period, the American diet and the restaurant industry has been enamored with the "go large' mentality that is in direct contrast to the findings of the study.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Menu embellishment

Chicago Tribune article encourages restaurateurs to review their flowery prose.

"Grilled to perfection"

What is perfection? Can you boil cabbage to perfection? We want a stove with a "perfection" setting.

"World famous"
Having a German tourist say she liked your chicken salad does not make it world-famous.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Fourth of July

Courage always in the face of adversity. Thomas Jefferson authored the words and those who signed pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the great enterprise of birthing a nation.

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal

Happy Fourth of July!