Sunday, July 24, 2005

Ongoing education requires an open mind

"Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one."
-- Malcolm S. Forbes

Mary Callahan Edros, CEO of JPMorgan Private Bank, is profiled in today's NY TImes column, The Boss.

In it, she tells of recovering from an early career blunder in handling a client's account that cost the client a seven figure loss in his holding. How she dealt with this experience is instructive for all business owners and entrepreneurs.

As soon as she realized the situation, she got on a plane and flew to Louisiana to meet with the client. When she explained that one of the client's major holdings was about to go bankrupt, the client wanted to know how this happened. Mary Edros explained that she had made a bad choice and took responsibility for the decision. The client then asked what they should do about the situation going forward.

The experience marked a major milestone for Mary Edros for the following reasons. She learned that:
  • Taking responsibility means accepting the consequences for both strong and poor performance.
  • Staying connected and staying in communication with your client makes a world of difference.
  • How you handle yourself under adverse conditions can as easily mean a positive turn in a business relationship as it could a negative turn. The client is still with her, 7 years later.
  • Monday, July 18, 2005

    Use Refunds to Lower the Risk

    Theaters are struggling. After all, people feel pretty sore after spending $10 a ticket to have a mediocre entertainment experience.

    That's why I was amused to read the Wall Street Journal story about AMC and Cinemark offering "no-hassle" refunds for limited engagements for films like "Cinderella Man." It's encouraging that distributors are taking some of the risk. Perhaps by having that skin in the game, they'll be able to leverage their feedback (in terms of quantitative refunds and qualitative anectdotes) in discussions with their suppliers.

    How do you offer your clients and customers ways to reduce their risk?

    If you're clever, you'll use their feedback to improve your product and/or service.

    Thursday, July 14, 2005

    Lessons from the Front Line: Malcolm Bricklin

    Inc.’s profile of auto industry entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin in “Would You Buy a Chinese Car from This Man?” offers some refreshing insights into the business acumen of a 50-year veteran of the car industry. Here are some of his sage words of wisdom:

    1. Persevere
    “Where would we be if Edison had stopped after 10,000 tries?”

    2. Hiring
    “I love nepotism. My friends and family are smarter than most people and they certainly care more.”

    3. Leadership
    “As CEO I don’t have all the answers, just the questions.”

    4. Failure
    “The things that people see as failures are often the steps to success. I got my fame and power from the failure of the Bricklin. What did I get for the biggest failure of my life? I got a stamp and a $20 coin in Canada with my car’s likeness on them.”

    5. Working with international partners
    “I have gone out of my way not to learn other languages because I will inevitably say something incorrectly. Besides, listening to me is like listening to a fire hose. So I depend on an interpreter. If the person I’m speaking to isn’t smiling then I know the interpreter is saying the wrong thing.”

    6. Business Savvy
    “Being smart can keep you from being wise. Logic is the biggest deterrent to awareness.”

    7. Email
    “If there are too many e-mails on my computer, I just turn it off. I had so many e-mails recently that I just got up and erased them all. If you want to be in touch with me you’d better do it in person.”

    Draw some inspiration from Bricklin’s words and see if it can help you build a stronger business.