Friday, April 29, 2016

May Book report

Don Kardux took a leave of absence from book reporting last month, but he is back stronger than ever with this book about customer service, something that we can all relate to.

To misquote Portia, "The quality of customer service, in American Business, is strained" so much so that when we get mediocre service we are grateful.

Can you imagine if your business provided superb customer service what would happen?

Well, Scott Brown's book "Who Cares?” highlights  his 'Six essentials of service' that when you understand and implement all of them your customers will cry out, "Mercy! Mercy! I will go nowhere else!"

As Scott says in his first chapter "The Foundations of Customer Service" "Customer Service is Caring about the people you do business with...caring is the key."

His emphasis is that you must implement all six. Picking only some of them just won't work.

  1. Essential # 1: Vision, he lists seven elements of vision but, my favorite is the                               second, "Ten things that people who care about you will do"                                        because those ten are transferable to business. 
  2. Essential # 2: Hiring, he quotes Walt Disney, "You can dream, create, design and                                  build the most wonderful place in the world...But it requires people                                     to make the dream a reality."  And Brown offers practical insight into                          the hiring process. 
  3. Essential # 3: Training, he lists ten elements of training that are critical to                                                 creating, 'Service with a purpose'. 
  4. Essential # 4: Communication, seven elements of communication and my favorite                   is the second, "Cherish your Complaints". 
  5. Essential # 5: Recognition, five elements and  of course, I like the second,                                              'It's Okay To Have Fun!' 
  6. Essential # 6: Revision, follows Deming's 'Continuous Quality Improvement' or                          my, 'Got to keep the plate spinning philosophy'.

I like this book because after thirty years of working with small to medium businesses I am convinced that Scott Brown is right "Caring about your customer (inside and out) is the key!"

Monday, April 04, 2016

Faucets and Fido

Last week I met with a new member of the Rocky River Chamber.  Ric Carpenter works in sales for Cleveland Plumbing & Supply.  I met him briefly at the monthly lunch meeting when I won his door prize..a very nice new shower head.  So I contacted him and suggested that we get together. 

First I got a tour of their new Rocky River showroom and it is truly beautiful and amazing.  I told Ric, that it will sell for him!  At lunch that day, though, I found an entirely different side of Ric that meant we could have talked forever.  He is active in dog rescue groups and from the sounds of it has been for quite awhile.  Currently he and his wife have two dogs that are rescues and also one rescued cat. 

What was so interesting about this whole exchange was that I asked just one extra question of Ric after we had talked about his work and his family.  "What do you do in the little bit of free time you have?"  That opened the door to this whole other side of Ric.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself to ask that one extra question, because I get so involved with business conversation.  I guess that is a good lesson for me to slow down and enjoy the exchange!

What surprising information have you found out about someone?

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Even If It Scared Me

A couple weeks ago I was challenged to have lunch and a chat with someone that made me feel uncomfortable when I thought about contacting them.  Like so many, I had this voice inside my head that said,

"She's so much better than you are and at such a high level, she probably doesn't even know who you are."  

Because of the challenge, I stuck my tongue out at that voice and emailed this person, who happens to be the mayor of Rocky River, Ohio.  I had met her before, but it was just a fleeting meeting.

I didn't expect to hear back and I think secretly I was kind of hoping that I wouldn't.  I could say that at least I had tried!  But of course, Mayor Pam Bobst, graciously accepted my invitation.  I did bare my soul and tell her that I was total apolitical and she still agreed to have lunch.

The person that met me for lunch wasn't the mayor..... it was just Pam.  And we had a great 2 hour lunch. (I was feeling guilty that I was taking too much of her time away from the city!) where we talked about everything under the sun, including canning of fruits and vegetables.  I found a new friend and an awareness of how crazy those notions inside my head had been.

I have wondered since then, how many times I have held myself back because of that voice inside my head.

What stops you from taking the big challenges?

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Food for Thought from Don Kardux

Don Kardux always is creative in his approach to giving us a book report that makes a person want to read that book.  This one is great in that while it was originally written for hospitals, Don realizes that  hospital is nothing more than a big business!  Enjoy!

I worked with the management team at Swanton Health Care and Retirement center monthly for over eight years.

Like most of the management teams I serve we read many of the books I've included in my Connext Nation monthly book reports.

Stacy, the wonderful chef, at the Swanton, Ohio facility recommended Fred Lee's book "If Disney Ran Your Hospital 9 1/2 things you would do differently."

We studied the book and for a number of months revealed our 'Take-a-ways'. We weren't exactly a hospital but almost all of the book's insights applied to our situation.  We had 'Residents' (patients)  Nurses, Doctors, Aids and all sort of support staff just like a hospital.

It was a great reading experience and I know those 9 1/2 revelations helped the staff improve on the excellent company culture which Mitch, the founder, created years ago.

This books main focus is on a 'Customer Service Culture' and I believe can benefit with any business.
All you need to do is substitute the words 'Doctor & Patient' with customer and hospital with your company.

There are literally hundreds of 'Take-a-way' in this book.
To help 'wet your reading appetite' I'm going to mention ten.
One for each chapter
1.       Redefine Your Competition and Focus on What Can't Be Measured. - "If Disney ran your hospital, you would define your competition for customer loyalty as anyone the customer compares you to."
2.       Make Courtesy More Important than Efficiency.  from the director of food service, "We had the idea that if our department really wanted to give great service, we would be offering room service any time during the day, just like a hotel" Stacy and the team at SHC implemented this idea and the results were: A decrease in anxiety medication, reduction in wasted food and many other patient center positive results

3.       Regard Patient Satisfaction as Fool's Gold  "A five means you are very satisfied" and they only count the fives. Remember the book "Raving Fans".

4.       Measure to Improve Not to Impress  "no amount of quantifiable numbers will ever have as much impact on behavior as anecdotal information.

5.       Decentralize the Authority to say Yes-  A highly rated indicator for customer loyalty is spontaneity. "The ability of frontline employees to solve problems spontaneously on the spot "

6.       Change the concept or work from service to theater  "What is the reality of this patient's experience and how can I make it real to me?"

7.       Harness the motivating power of imagination  "Motivational imagination begins with question like: What would you do in this situation? If such-and- such happened to you, how would you feel? These kind of questions prompt us to imagine a real situation, then analyze or rehearse our response."

8.       Create a climate of dissatisfaction  "If necessity is the mother of invention, dissatisfaction must be the father of improvement."

9.       Cease using competitive monetary rewards to motivate people.  "Participating in the reward system will breed cynicism and rivalry between team members and might even render suspect the moment of kindness in the customer's eyes."
10.   Close the gap between knowing and doing  "It takes desire to accomplish a dream, the 'want to' of motivation. ...If you are a competent and self confident manager, and want to badly enough, you will find a way. The great manager, like all great performer, will make it easy."

Intentional culture has been a key to the success of Disney. It's worth finding out the why and how.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Don't Do This at Home!

Even the best of us bite the dust from time to time!

Today, I had an early Monday morning coffee appointment.  I looked on my calendar last night to see what my next day looked like and noticed this appointment with Amy, no last name, at Panera.  My convoluted brain immediately changed Amy to Kim (you know, three letter names!).  Kim is in my BNI chapter and I know that we have a one-to-one meeting scheduled.  Don't ask about my brain!

So when I arrived on the dot at Panera a young women was sitting at a table and she made eye contact with me like she knew me.  Not being Kim,
I was mystified.  I thought, "She just knows me from somewhere, " and to be nice I said, "Who are you meeting this morning?"  Smooth, I know!  I'm sure you've guessed the rest of the story, it was AMY and she said, "You." with a very puzzled looked on her face. 

Now to a 20 something year old, how do you explain Convoluted Brain Condition?  Try explaining this story to yourself and you'll see what I mean. 

But that's not the end, oh no! I could not remember anything about her.  Nada.  I gave myself a few minutes of thinking time by excusing myself to get coffee, but those certain brain cells did not ignite.  I do think I covered myself by saying, so tell me about what you're doing.  As soon as she said the first sentence, I put it all together.  I had met her at a networking event ONLY last week, but you know, my CBC got in the way!

What's your story that can top this????

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

When You're Down, Read Don's Book Report

Whereas last month's book selection needed some time to read and savor, Don's selection for this month is a quick read, quick use, always relevant type of book.  The author Jeffrey Gitomer is a favorite of mine.

In less than 200 pages Jeffrey Gitomer blasts the reader with positive affirmations.
This book does not build chapter to chapter.
You can begin in the middle and move to the front or choose a different page each time you finish one.
There are no chapters only elements of focus on attitude.
Jeffrey identifies six elements, however, he calls the sixth element 'Element five point five'

  1.  Insight to your inside attitude
  2. Self Awareness 
  3.  Actions 
  4.  Attributes 
  5.  Achievement 
  6.  Fulfillment

At the end of a few Element selections he gives you the opportunity to take a self-evaluation test with the rating system of 1-5... 1 Never, 2 Rarely, 3 Sometimes, 4 Frequently and 5 All the time.
It's an interesting tool and can help clarify where you stand in his total rating system which is sort of a positivity index. 

The book is cleverly laid out with lots of eye catching font colors, size changes, cartoons and cute drawings.
While "The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude" is not deeply philosophical it's a good book to have around.
It could be visited every time you need your 'Attitude Battery' charged.
To follow my often used food metaphor this book is a great light appetizer for those days you just don't want to digest a full meal.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Don's book report this month is a little longer than usual, but it is worth every word.  Enjoy and learn!  Begin below!

I recommend books to read for the leadership teams with which I work. We read a little bit each month and discuss our 'Take-A-Ways'.

I've used a couple of John C. Maxwell's Teamwork and Leadership books (he is one of the world's best teachers of leadership)

In fact, last December (2014)  I reviewed 'The 17 Essential Qualities Of A Team Player' in this space.  I recommend books and my clients generally accept my recommendations.

So, in November 2015 Andy Wolfe, President of Arronco Comfort Systems in Burlington, Kentucky announced to his leadership team and me that the next book we would study together would be John C. Maxwell's ' The Five Levels of Leadership'.

This was a proud and humbling moment for me.

I am proud of Andy. He is action not reaction. His company has grown from 10 people to over 55. This is the third time I've been invited back to work on a monthly basis since 2000. I'm proud to be able to work with such a great group of people.

I was humbled. It wasn't my idea and in fact, I never heard of the book.

So, I read it and this is what I think.  Wow! Maxwell has been focusing on Leadership for over 35 years.  This book is at the core of his teaching.

In 286 pages he reveals those five levels and for each he:

·         Explores the critical definition

·         Focuses on the Upside

·         Examines the Downside

·         Talks about the 'Laws of Leadership

·         Points out how you can move to the next level

In each of the discussions about levels are wonderful stories which illustrate the insightful points he wants us to understand.  In the discussion of Level 1- Position he uses this analysis from the Andy Griffith Show.  "Barney Fife was your typical positional leader. His desire to feel important and have authority created many humorous story lines. Armed with one bullet and a badge, he took every opportunity to let people know he was in charge.  In contrast, Sheriff Andy who seemed to spend all of his time being a calming influence on his misguided deputy, had real authority and power. But he rarely used his position to get things done."

In the discussion of Level 2-Permission he uses the following story to illustrate his  point.

Peter, a successful businessman, had the opportunity to have breakfast at Nelson Mandela's home. He asked Dumi, one of his company drivers, to take him there. Peter reflects on that time.  "I felt both extremely  elated and humbled that Mr. Mandela was waiting outside for me. He warmly greeted the driver and me. He then gestured that we enter the house. However, in the traditional ways of corporate behavior and protocol, the driver retreated quietly and remained in the car. Mr. Mandela invited me to the breakfast table. Just before we started eating, my host seemed to miss something. He asked, 'Peter, I thought there were two of you.' I responded, 'No, sir, I came alone' 'What about the other gentleman? He insisted, and I replied, 'No, sir. That one is just a driver. He will wait in the car.' At that point Mr. Mandela stood up and went out to where the driver was. He introduced himself to the driver and asked him to join us for breakfast. Mr. Mandela then walked to the kitchen and said, 'Dumi is joining us for breakfast. Can we have another plate, please."  Peter continued, "When leaders learn to see the personalities that lie behind these seemingly humble titles the people in those jobs do not just feel appreciated, they discover and walk into new horizons of their lives."

I could provide stories from each level. I've identified 66 Take-A-Ways from this book.

But, you get the idea.

Get the book.

Read the book.

It's worth your time.