Archives for June 2014

The Best $25 Investment In Business?

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A CAKE.  To Celebrate Birthdays.  Or ANYTHING for that matter.

There is something universally acknowledged about CAKE.  It’s what you eat when you are celebrating something special, usually a birthday.  Some things come to mind when I think about a birthday cake….

  • The first impression of seeing the cake:  Is it chocolate?  Strawberry?  Ice cream?  Anticipation…
  • The flame of the candle and the drip of the wax.  Always a skill seeing how many you can light and the Hustle/bustle of rounding people into the room in time
  • The Singing.  I can’t sing to save my life, but I enjoy watching everyone sing Happy Birthday.  Someone is bound to ham it up
  • The blow out of the candles, and the occasional struggle to leave a couple burning.  And the ridicule that follows
  • The slicing ritual, a little different each time.  I enjoy critiquing the slicer, although some call it “ball breaking!’
  • The funny stories that usually flow while eating the cake.

One of the first of many happy memories I have at LM Foods was our first birthday celebration.

I struggle to remember the specific stories, the flavor of the cake, the time of day.  But I DO remember how my stomach felt.  Sore.  Not from the cake, from the laughter.  Better than 100 crunches.  And the knot in my shoulders loosened up for the rest of the day.  I suspect it did for my fellow team members too.  

Some businesses have more to celebrate than others.  But every business has people, and every person has a birthday.  Spend the $25.  Let them eat cake.  Enjoy the laughter.  

  • Celebrate Business with Cake!

    An LM Foods Birthday Celebration!

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Keys To the Shop: A Message of Trust

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Keys to The Shop

Do you remember what it’s like when you recieved your first set of car keys?  I remember the feeling of freedom rush over me.

What do I remember more?  When I received a key to the Liquor Store I worked at in high school.

The feelings were borderline euphoric.

  • TRUST:  Somebody (the owner) thought I was responsible enough to have it.  And use it, to open or close the shop.

  • I MATTER:  Not everyone had them, you had to be chosen.

“I got keys to the shop!”  

Some people flashed cool key chains on their car ring.  I flashed a gold commercial key to a liquor store.

This week something simple was done at my company.  Multiple office keys were made.  Everyone that works in the office is now trusted to have a key, not just the owners and a selected one or 2 people.

My only regret is that it happened on day #60 instead of day #1 of owning LM Foods.

Regrets for high action people are usually related to not moving fast enough…..  

Simple and basic.  Old School Fundamentals usually are.  

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The Minimum Wage Debate: Classic Smokescreen

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Smokescreens are great tools to for creating a distraction.  They conjure up old school cartoon images from the early ’80’s where the bad guy sets one off, blurs the vision of the good guy while bad guy is 90 degrees to the right, robbing the good guy blind.

Businesses have smokescreens all around them, especially in the political and regulatory area.  I witnessed it in TN for years as liquor stores fought tooth and nail to prevent grocery stores from getting liquor licenses in fear of competition. Wasted energy vs. protecting their assets.

The Minimum wage debate is always a hot button political issue, with passionate arguments from smart people on both sides of the issue.  People are usually on 1 of 2 sides of the argument:

  1. Raise it!  How can you possibly live on it?  Businesses will raise prices to cover it!

  2. Don’t raise it!  It will cost jobs, and therefore hurt the people you are trying to protect!

Or multiple other issues.

At the risk of minimizing the importance of the minimum wage debate, how about employers view it through a different, more proactive lense?

What could that be?

Whether employees are making minimum wage (current or proposed), isn’t a better quality of life for those people making that low wage a function of their skills and marketability in the market place? Said differently, if labor were a product (and it essentially is) and that product had value added to it, isn’t it reasonable to think that the price of that product would increase over time and the people buying it would happily pay for it?

Of course it is.

So the different lense for employers is not to engage in a debate (keeping minimum wage down for example) that is largely out of their control, but to focus on something that will be largely WITHIN their control:  The VALUE of those employees.  Adding to it.  Significantly.  And reaping the long term benefits.  

Sounds like “training” doesn’t it?  Call it INVESTMENT.  

  • Job rotation/Cross training – You have stock people at the retail shop?  Great, get them on the cash register.  Put them on the sales floor.  Let them master every position of the operation.
  • Invest in some type of training:  Communication skills?  Technical skills?  Start small and see if there’s a change.  Integrate that training into the job.
  • Create a buddy system: Take the same employees and let them mentor new one’s on the training, on-boarding and mastery of different areas.  Nobody is better suited to show how to do a job than the people that do it every day.
  • Give them opportunities to communicate to senior leaders.  Ask their opinion of what can be improved.  Listen. Act if appropriate.

If these simple things are done by employers, would these employees, NOT be in a much better position in the labor marketplace?  Wouldn’t the businesses have a much more capable and motivated workforce?

Smokescreens make for great dinner conversation.  They serve a purpose.  But in business, focusing on what you CAN control vs. what you can’t is usually the right course of action.

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Innovation in Action: 2 Cellos

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Re-invention.  Innovation.  Those words that businesses dream about for both survival and long term growth.  

It comes from a mindset that is open to:

  • New ideas, especially ideas that are “Not invented here.”

  • Outside thinking, completely different areas of life

  • A relentless pursuit of action:  “How do WE apply that to OUR business?”

  • A willingness to accept failure, scrape your knees and get at it again.

Take what could be one of the most boring instruments you can imagine from high school band:  The Cello.  Do you remember people dying to sign up for that instrument?  Could you imagine the masses ever paying money to see people perform it, outside of an orchestra?

With that said, I present 2 Cellos.  Their videos tell the story, as well as the millions of people following them.  

Gamechangers indeed. 

 

2 cellos - innovation in action

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