Working Without Wires

Quote of the Day: "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" associates of RCA chairman David Sarnoff in response to his suggestion that the coproration invest in radio technology in 1920.

Radio technology. It is at the core of today’s wireless explosion. Without radio technology, there would be no cellphones, PDAs, pagers, or a number of other communication enablers that so many of us use several times each day.

One of the most interesting things about a cell phone is that it is actually a  radio– an extremely sophisticated radio, but a radio nonetheless. The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, and wireless communication can trace its roots to the invention of the radio by Nikolai Tesla in the 1880s (formally presented in 1894 by a young Italian named Guglielmo Marconi). It was only natural that these two great technologies would eventually be combined!

I don’t know about you…but I like being wireless! I can take music with me when I work out. I can talk on the phone from virtually anywhere. It’s great to take my office on the road–here in the states, or overseas. I have the freedom to stop in a store, sip some coffee, catch up on the news–all while getting some work done.

As a young boy, I  would read the Dick Tracy comic strips–and imagine how "cool" it would be to call my friends on a wrist radio. If only I could have a wrist radio, a Jetson-style flying car, AND a "shoe phone" like Maxwell Smart…how great would that be!?

Thanks to the visionaries and risk-takers who turned a deaf ear to the nay-sayers of their day, we in the 21st century have an extraordinary number of mobile options at our behest. From a technological standpoint, we’re living in the future.

Oops! Gotta get going–late to a meeting. Now all I need is one of those flying cars…


Posted in: Web/Tech

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Failure to Communicate

Quote of the Day: "What we’ve got…is failure to communicate." – Strother Martin (as Captain, Road Prison 36) from the film Cool Hand Luke.

It’s 2005–Do your customers know where you are?

One of the most recognizable (and often misquoted) lines in American film history serves as a reminder that sometimes, depsite our efforts, we fail to get our message across to the customer.

In our dealings with customers–successful communication is absolutely critical. In an age of "option rich" customers, those of us who make our living providing services and experiences for others will succeed or fail based largely on our ability to communicate effectively.

Take a look around you. Look at the "communication-enablers" carried by the typical business person. Cellphones. Pagers. PDAs. Wireless-enabled Laptops. Yet, even with these tools…how often do we wait hours–sometimes even days, for a response from a merchant or service provider? These and other devices facilitate communication–but it is up to each of us to use these tools to listen, speak, understand and respond on a timely basis.

From the "option-rich" customer’s point of view, "failure to communicate" is not an acceptable option.


Posted in: Customer Service

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Time for Play

Quote of the Day: "The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground." – G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) English poet, novelist, essayist

Play. Not the opposite of work. A way to "recharge the human battery"Just a temporary diversion from the daily duties of life. And what a great diversion it can be!


Posted in: Life

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Talk, talk and more talk…

Quote of the Day: "Loquacity: n. A disorder which renders the sufferer unable to curb his tongue when you wish to talk." – from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914)

Talk is cheap. Talk is plentiful. Talk can be little more than noise.

If you doubt the veracity of these statements, try "googling" the word blog. I did this morning and came up with a list of 74,500,000 results (that’s about 1 result for every 4 U.S. citizens).

Talk, in the form of the spoken word is available via television, radio, casette tape(remember them?), CD, Webcast, Podcast, etc. Words, accompanied by still or moving images are available through just as many outlets. 

Talk is, and has been since the invention of moveable type, widely available in written form as well. It seems that, although public libraries, bookstores and publishing houses work in concert to make current and classical wisdom available in printed form–we often don’t have time…or make time to spend with books. It’s so much easier to "plug in" or to surf the internet than to crack the cover of some dusty tome. Besides, its much too noisy in many restaurants or coffee shops to read–over the sound of the ubiquitous television monitors blaring sitcom re-runs, or the latest "World News" from CNN.

I intend to spend a bit of time each week in which I get away from talk–if only for a short time. This may enable me to hear what I am thinking–and to think about where I am going. Perhaps you will do this, as well.

Imagine a world in which we slow down for a few moments each day to reflect, contemplate, meditate, dream–and listen.

WOW! Would you like to talk about the possibilities?


Posted in: Life

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Quid pro Quo

Quote of the Day: "Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude toward us." -Earl Nightingale

My first taste of the food business came when I was a high school student. Like 1 out of 7 adult Americans, one of my first jobs was working as a counter clerk at McDonalds (perhaps you have heard of them). A group of us thought it would be pretty neat to work at a place where you could get half-price meals during your lunch or dinner break.

Once hired, my friends and I went through our first training session–something called orientation. We were taught to look every customer in the eye, to smile, be courteous, and above all…to offer a sincere thank you at the close of each transaction. In fact, we were admonished to make sure to thank departing customers as we saw them leave the restaurant.

I took this charge to heart–so much so, in fact, that on one particular occasion my manager called me aside for yelling across the restaurant to express my company’s gratitude lest a previously ignored patron should slip out "unthanked". Most of the time, however, my efforts to sincerely thank the customer met with a positive result. Over time I began to understand that the majority of our "regulars" enjoyed the enthusiastic practice of thanking them.

Thirty-something years later, I still think about some of the lessons learned as a McEmployee. It has caused me to think about my attitude toward work, family and friends. I believe that the attitude I see in others is, at least in part, a reflection of the attitude I exude.

Do I like what I am seeing?

Quid pro Quo.


Posted in: Life

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Time for Convenience

Quote of the Day: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." – Matthew Broderick (from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).

Moving fast to serve an increasingly "convenience-oriented" consumer is critical for any place of business in 2005. As the marketplace for meal solutions welcomes more and more competition, Supermarket service departments would be well served to heed the wisdom in a paraphrase of today’s quote.

"Customers today move pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss them."

How do well-intentioned service people miss these customers? Here are a few of the "customer avoidance" methods I have observed in stores within the past few weeks:

  1. Task orientation versus customer focus. Or, to put it another way–making stuff instead of selling stuff.
  2. An inappropriate focus on convenience. Wrongly believing that my personal convenience is more important than that of the customer.
  3. "Off-stage" behaviors. Doing and saying things that irritate, offend or send would-be customers a message that reflects poorly on the place of business.
  4. "SAMENESS". Failing to provide anything new, different or interesting that will slow down or stop shoppers who are looking for something new, different or interesting.

As service people, we must remember that our offerings have to be refreshed, redefined and repositioned frequently. Business success is not an entitlement, it is earned by the consistent execution of smart tactics–tactics that will make us the most convenient, highest-value  provider of the goods/services/experiences we offer. In short…we must put the products/systems/training in place to ensure that we take the time necessary to be convenient.


Posted in: Customer Service

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Food for Thought?

Quote of the Day: “MyPyramid is about the ability of Americans to personalize their approach when choosing a healthier lifestyle that balances nutrition and exercise. Many Americans can dramatically improve their overall health by making modest improvements to their diets and by incorporating regular physical activity into their daily lives.” – USDA Secretary Mike Johanns.

Mr. Johanns made these statements during his introduction of the 12 Nutritional Pyramids which are intended to replace the well known “Food Pyramid” which was introduced in 1992.

Okay…here’s a question for everyone: Does today’s “Quote of the Day” from Mike Johanns surprise any of you?

Nope? Nobody? Not Anyone??  Didn’t think so…

Maybe I’m missing something, but don’t most adult Americans know by now that making good food choices and engaging in moderate exercise will help keep a person’s weight under control? It seems a bit extreme(not to mention confusing) to go from one food pyramid with five basic food groups to 12 pyramids with many more choices.

Is it possible that we’ve reached a point our public discourse where we spend so much time reading about what we should do that we don’t have enough time left TO ACTUALLY DO IT?

Consider the following trends from the AOA (American Obesity Association):

  • Approximately 40 percent of women and 25 percent of men attempt to lose weight at any given time.

  • Nationwide, 55 percent of Americans are actively trying to maintain current weight.

  • Approximately 45 million Americans diet each year.

  • Consumers spend about $30 billion per year trying to lose weight or prevent weight gain. This figure includes spending on diet sodas, diet foods, artificially sweetened products, appetite suppressants, diet books, videos and cassettes, medically supervised and commercial programs, and fitness clubs.

  • Spending on weight loss programs is estimated at $1 to 2 billion per year.

  • U.S. food manufacturers are estimated to have spent $7 billion on advertising of highly processed and packaged foods in 1997.

One of the roles that service people play is that of educating their consumers. Busy, confused shoppers will draw direct benefit from their interaction with food servers who are knowledgeable and willing to direct them to GOOD NUTRITIONAL CHOICES. These shoppers are likely to become advocates for your employees and your company, and will continue to patronize your service departments.


Posted in: Food and Drink

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