Know Your Team – Know Your Strengths.

I love working on older trucks and cars.  I’m no mechanic, by anybody’s standards, but over the years, and through lots of trial and error, I’ve picked up a few pieces of information about how carburetors work, troubleshooting small electrical issues with lights, replacing a starter motor, removing skid plates from a Hummer (that’s a fun one) and so on.

I’m currently in the middle of a small restoration, reviving a 1963 Ford F100 pickup truck.  It’s definitely a family effort, primarily involving my wife and my stepson as well as any time I can squeeze out of my own schedule.  It’s slow but coming along and ultimately I will be the beneficiary of a daily driver when finished.


Thank goodness for the team.  My wife knows upholstery, carpeting and paint and body work pretty well (she’s done her share of projects over the years and started life spending time around race cars with her father who sponsored a few way back in the day).  My stepson is pretty handy with a wrench, can troubleshoot most mechanical issues, and pretty handy to have around for small, tight spaces that even a Russian gymnast might find challenging.  Between the three of us, we make a pretty good team and our strengths can augment and compliment one another.

When building or developing a team in business, it’s always good to step back and look at the overall landscape, rather than focusing too much on individuals.  As managers part of our role is to know the strengths of our team members, and then capitalize on those strengths.  They won’t all be exactly alike one another, but if we do our jobs correctly, they can compliment one another and ultimately enjoy success.  Any solid operational plan will involve this concept along the way.  The same goes for your supply chain, your logistics partners, and your service providers.

I’m looking forward to driving the F100 soon, and will likely brag (as I do) about how talented my team members were with the project.  Now…where did I leave that wrench?

Starbucks — Selling Comfort with your Coffee





imgres I don’t know all the details of the Starbucks story. I haven’t read too much about their successes and failures, business plans, or operational strategies. I do, however, remember a time when they simply did not exist.

How did so many people manage to survive without their Starbucks “fix” before every street corner included the familiar green umbrellas and small café tables and chairs? And if we really need coffee on every street corner, then how come Dunkin’ Donuts – which was selling coffee 21 years before the original Starbucks opened in Seattle – only yesterday got to the point of IPO? I hear they are trying to compete with Starbucks. But is it possible for them to repeat the phenomenon?A couple of years ago, it became clear to me that Starbucks’ popularity has something to do with this: they’re selling comfort as much as they’re selling coffee.

I was recently traveling with a colleague on a business trip to China. We had a brief stopover in Japan, and right there in the airport, with bleary eyes and the accompanying mental cloud that forms from several hours of overseas flight, I stumbled across a Starbucks. Suddenly the familiarity of the smell of their coffee, their green aprons, and a counter of treats to pair with my favorite drink (gotta love the caramel macchiato) provided me with a sense of comfort and belonging that had left me during my boarding back in San Francisco.

Like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts has spread to many other countries, is selling its branded coffee in grocery stores, and is trying to create a culture around its cappuccinos. But it remains to be seen whether Dunkin’ Donuts can make as many people feel the strong sensations and emotions that are experienced by so many Starbucks fans. In the meantime, I’ll still have my cup of coffee at home most mornings and I’ll even dare to drink the office “rocket fuel” from time to time.

Whatever your coffee preference, you’ve got to admit, the folks at Starbucks have a pretty amazing story, growing such a recognizable brand from such a basic commodity. Who would have ever dared to think we’d rush out in our cars, drive a couple of miles (or even just a couple of blocks), and throw down our hard earned dollars for coffee? Well, clearly someone believed in the concept. You can’t help but wonder what the next Starbucks-type of movement will be like, can you?

Getting Started–It’s Never Too Late.

IMG_1139Writing is not new to me.   In fact, I’ve always enjoyed writing as a form of communication and expression.   In college, my papers were written for classes using a typewriter and white correction fluid to fix my mistakes (the personal computer didn’t officially exist yet–hard to imagine, I know).  But writing a blog on the Internet is fairly new to me personally.

I hope to take advantage of this medium to achieve a few goals.  For one, writing articles on a blog post will allow me to empty many thoughts on many topics out of my head–providing me with a personal type of therapy if you will.   Another goal is to share information with others, information on a wide range of topics, everything from career advice, to expertise on operational functions in business, to automotive restoration techniques or thoughts on guitars/ music, Harley Davidson motorcycles, and yes, even the occasional discussion of religion and politics (my formal college education was a combination of Theology and Political Science).

For now, for this first post, I simply want to make two statements.  One– a big “thank you” goes out to my wife who’s prodding and constant attempts to better me as a human has made this possible.  And secondly —  it’s never too late to learn something new in life.  We hear that one often, and the older I get, the more I realize how true the statement really is for all of us.  Learning something new — trying a new sport, a new hobby, a new hairstyle, a new food, etc….whatever the case, be open to trying something new, it’ll be good for you and for those around you as well.

And so I begin.  More to follow!