November 30, 2009
I’m going to post a series of “Mentor lessons” which are lessons that I have learned from my various mentors over the years.
One of my most important mentors taught me many years ago that “it’s all in the recovery.” His point was that no business is perfect and no person within a business is perfect. So mistakes are going to happen. It’s not that we make mistakes it’s how we recover from them that differentiates one business from another.
My first business was a 325 seat restaurant. While we grew to be very,very busy (with 1 hour line ups in very cold Edmonton winters), we did a soft opening without any advertising or marketing. We wanted business to grow slowly so that we could work out the kinks in our system.
In the early days we permitted the smoking section to sit right adjacent to the non-smoking section, which was very common. Unfortunately, a smoking customer decided to light up a cigar which offended some of our non-smokers. One in particular became particularly upset.
In fact, this customer was simply irate and out of control mad. I made it my mission to turn him around and make him a raving fan of our company. Using a bit of humor, a lot of self-deprecation and even more humility I was not only able to satisfy him during that interaction, but he became one of our most regular (and lucrative) customers.
We were at very real risk of losing not only him and his business, but all the other prospective customers he would turn against us.
By taking a no questions asked, we messed up you are right attitude I diffused the situation and, in the final analysis, generated a lot profit from this circumstance.
We didn’t recover from every mistake we made, but we certainly recovered from this one.
In short, if your business, your employees or you make a mistake just correct it without question or qualification. You never know how a little humility will be repaid.
November 21, 2009
Obama’s belief in government as the solve-all to America’s ills is unfortunate.
The current administration, with the support of the Democratically controlled Congress, has used its non-negotiable belief in the purity of government to expand itself at rates not seen since WWII.
Amongst other things, it has impeded labour rights by eliminating the right to secret ballot during union drives and it has encroached on the free markets by becoming America’s biggest corporation. All the while it is undertaking an overhaul of its health care system (look at the obscene size – more than 2,00o pages – of the health care bill in the picture below) that is going to cost trillions.
The Obama administration has done this by financing our future.
The massive deficits that President Obama is now running will be exacerbated by the following axis of evil (yes, Obama has one too – he just may not yet know it):
(1) reduced tax revenues from retiring baby boomers.
(2) increased government spending on social programs (medicaid, medicare and the current health care reforms amongst others), and
(3) a run up in interest rates (increasing the financing costs of Obama’s debt, leaving less money for his cherished government programs).
So, Obama is either going to have to reduce his spending, increase America’s taxes or, put off the inevitable to his successor by continuing to run these questionable, bloated and growing deficits.
For our sake, I hope he gets this under control quickly.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin has a short piece on this very topic in today’s Wall Street Journal. If you’re interested then visit this link for good read: The Coming Deficit Disaster.
November 21, 2009
Until I find my next business (my third) I have to satisfy my entrepreneurial thirsts vicariously through various friends, acquaintances and colleagues.
I’ve referenced Robert Zalaudek and his business www.buildyourcore.com before (read the entry here). Robert has a passion for physical fitness and pursued that passion by making a side trip to Germany from a European vacation to cold call and pitch a Canadian distributorship for the SitFit.
Now several months later, Robert is in full swing with direct to consumer sales, business-to-business sales, “enterprise” sales (to corporate accounts who can buy many SitFits at a time) and, indeed, is even selling through his online store.
I came across this impromptu pitch Robert delivered at a recent student entrepreneurship conference. Here it is below:
And visit Jon Chui’s blog entry on the conference here: http://tinyurl.com/ydwqqes.
I haven’t met Jon yet, but I understand he is passionate about student entrepreneurship.
This is music to my ears especially in light of the very exciting entrepreneurship@UBC initiative I am helping set up at The University of British Columbia (more to come on this soon).