Well, I have my first published article on CEO World magazine. I called it “Executive’s Good Intentions.” Thank you CEO World magazine for publishing it.
You can read it at:
Well, I have my first published article on CEO World magazine. I called it “Executive’s Good Intentions.” Thank you CEO World magazine for publishing it.
You can read it at:
I wanted car audio.
The first thing that came to my mind was the big chain electronic store Best Buy. In the store, I do the looking at stereos like everyone else. I finally find one I feel is a fair price for the value. All I really needed was a stereo my daughter could plug her phone into. The salesman returned with the stereo and the install bracket and other things. He attempted to up-sell the steering wheel controls, which I turned down. He showed me the install bracket and wires which were required. So, I was paying for the stereo, install bracket, wires and installation with Geek Squad. Total $250.
I was then instructed to go home and set a time for installation with Geek Squad online because it cannot be done in the store, even though I paid for it in the store. So, I go home, get on my computer and find out Geek Squads schedule is very limited. It was three days out before they could get the car in for installation.
I didn’t like that I had to wait for days to have it installed. They emailed me the day before, the morning of, and an hour before to remind me of my appointment. Since it was my daughters car, I sent her down to have it installed. A few minutes later I receive a phone call from my daughter saying there was no one there. I called to find out what was the problem. An ‘ASSociate’, not an employee or a worker, told me the installer called in sick. I asked why that was my problem and why hadn’t I been notified this morning to reset my appointment. Instead I had been emailed many times to remind me of my appointment. At that moment the phone went dead. I was furious, drove to the store and returned all the equipment. The manager of Best Buy, not Geek Squad, didn’t do much but apologize. They’ve lost a customer for life. Yes, they made a huge mistake which didn’t help, but then did nothing to make things right. It was a terrible experience. Who cares, right? They’re a large chain store and don’t need my business to survive.
Days later it occurred to me to seek out a specialist in car audio. Not a big chain store. After some research found Slangin Car Audio, Video and Security in Mesa AZ. Now, let me tell you something. This is no place to look at, if your goal is to take a store front on a date, this is not the one. As I drove toward their building it seemed in a state of disrepair or ruin as a result of age or neglect, shabby, battered, beat-up, rickety, shaky, unsound, crumbling, in ruins, ruined, decayed, decaying, decrepit. I saw a black building with a yellow stripe and dirt for a parking lot. Who would paint their building black in the desert of Mesa?
However, let me tell you, if that keeps you away you’ve made a GIGANTIC mistake! These guys know their stuff. All they do is car audio and video, they are experts with exceptional service. I actually ended up taking three cars to them. Two cars had stereo’s installed at the same time. I was greeted by the man that spoke to me on the phone hours before, Scotty Karate. I told him what I wanted. It took him 5 minutes to look at both cars and tell me it would be $300 out the door for both cars within an hour. This guy is passionate about car audio. It was refreshing to receive great service, get exactly what I want, and not have a salesman up-sell every chance he got. Absolutely no one, at any time tried to sell me something I didn’t want. Wow! Listen up Big O and Discount Tire! That’s right, I had two stereos installed in two cars for $300 in one hour. $50 more than Best Buy for one car in three days.
While I was waiting, I found a great BBQ place. I could smell BBQ in the air next door. Allison’s Texas BBQ. I walked over and ate a delicious plate of pulled pork, potato salad and cole slaw. It was fun because there was red cream soda in the soda dispenser. The service was amazing and served quickly. The corn souffle was tasty as well. The owner was attentive, the BBQ was five star and the price was wonderful. If you like good ole BBQ, I recommend Allison’s near the corner of Power road and Main in Mesa AZ.
The purpose of business is to create value. A business that creates value survives, a business that does not dies. Customers want value received in exchange for value given. Simple. Slangin created much more value for me, for less money.
Another note: I am changing my shopping behavior to now seek out experts and steer away from the big chains that do everything. I’ve had much better experiences for less money.
Harmon’s Safe Lock and Key
905 E Main St, Mesa, AZ 85203
First, the auto part store made the key and said it would be $79. A good price for a key with a chip. However, the key did not work and the employee didn’t know why. They said it was a new machine and that was all they could do. I was a little frustrated, but at least they didn’t charge me for the useless key that they made.
I then went to the hardware store where they were very nice and friendly. He tested the key and said it did not need a chip and that it would only be $3.50 for a key. I was excited. However, he could not get the key to work. He then went into the back room where he tested it again and decided it did need a chip. Bummer, more money. But he could never cut the key correctly and it never worked. He finally admitted they didn’t have the correct key base to use, but he thought he could get it to work with this other base key. I was a little frustrated.
Finally I decided to go to a key specialist. Harmon’s Safe Lock and Key on main street in Mesa, AZ. It is an old business, since 1958, and the largest in Arizona. It was interesting looking at all the old locks, safes and keys. The store front isn’t much to look at but don’t let that fool you.
I went in, told them I need a duplicate key for my Honda. Just by looking at it he told me it had a chip, without testing it. He immediately said that it would be $35 because its a chipped key. I said I’ll take one. I had a key in my hand after 7 minutes from entering the store, and it worked! Wow, a working car key in 7 minutes and for half the price! Boom! Done! In and out!
They have me as a customer for life. I will go to them for every key or lock issue I ever have. Great service and a great price. The value I received was well worth the value I gave, $35.
Harmon’s created value for me by getting me exactly what I needed in the shortest amount of time possible at a great price and didn’t waste my time trying to up-sell me something I didn’t need or want. They had the best tools, the best training and a great culture of key making. They were experts. And what a great price!
Thank you Harmon’s Safe Lock and Key!!!
The purpose for reporting this is to give an example of great business. Great businesses create great value. The reason Radio Shack is out of business and Harmon’s Safe Lock and Key is in business is because Harmon’s knows who they are and creates value. They make keys and are the best at it. Radio Shack never knew who they were and flailed to and fro in chaotic lumbering trying to make a buck. They thought, wow, we sell electronic parts, lets sell the whole computer. Ooops, bad instincts. That’s like Harmon’s Safe Lock and Key having an epiphany that they could make more money selling cars because they make the keys that open the car doors. Or a car part store deciding they will sell cars because they sell car parts. It sounds ridiculous, but that’s what Radio Shack did when they decided to sell computers and now phones. Their leaders did not know how to lead people and they did not know who Radio Shack was at the core. They should have stayed with their initial core – supply parts to the niche techie. Sell uncommon phone accessories and cool phone stuff. Not phones!
There is more about Radio Shack on my blog.
The following story and recommendation is solely based on the information I’ve gathered from news articles, wikipedia, glassdoor, and any article I could find on Google. Enjoy.
The following is a brief history of you, why you were born and the cause of your death.
As you can see, you were never a stable company but lucky to ride a few waves of popular products during your life. This luck hid the fact that you were mismanaged and lacked leadership. You were technically bankrupt, spending more than you earned at the time of your purchase in 1962 by Tandy. The debilitating birth defect that continually haunted your innards was your uncaring nature, and it trickled right down to your customers. I don’t know of a time when you treated your employees as if they would produce a high return. Instead you treated them as your enemy, whipping them to submission. So, what do you expect other than death? Most likely your managers and employees would have built you into a giant if you would have listened.
From what I could gather, Radio Shack had a true identity. The founding concept was to supply parts to ham radio users. They didn’t sell ham radios, they sold the parts to repair them. This proved to be profitable. However, somewhere they became distracted with riding that big wave of a new innovation and began to thrash back and forth from one direction to another, on a crusade to make the mighty dollar.
The main problem was never building a lasting culture where employees could create value in their stores for their customers. They should have focused their efforts toward their people and creating value in them, giving them stable, clear direction.
I enjoyed Radio Shack growing up. Any hard to find electronic part could be found in a Radio Shack store. I frequented them often. But then I noticed them change when the computer was introduced. Radio Shack divorced their name and sold computers as Tandy. They thought Radio Shack had a bad name. It didn’t work.
Radio Shack would have been better off sitting down and discovering who they were instead of trying to complete with other electronic and department stores. Now they’re only a cell phone store. A shopping mall kiosk, which makes no sense. In a sense, they are trying to sell the radio, instead of the parts.
Autozone doesn’t sell cars… they sell car parts.
The last three times I was in their store, they did not have what I needed. It surprised me. I haven’t been back.
Although they are dead, here is my recommendation. Radio Shack began as a specialty parts store for techies of ham radios. Theses enthusiasts could find any ham radio part they needed for repair.
Why not become a techie part store for computer geeks and any other specialty hobby. There is a whole population of geeks that love building their own computers. Why not be a techie store for electrical components for cars, chipping your car is a popular thing. A techie store for sewing machines. You don’t sell sewing machines, you sell aftermarket components for sewing machine experts. I’m sure there are all kinds of tech out there to supply parts.
Drones are the craze now and I’ll bet they’ll need repair. I wonder who could be the “go to” part store for the drone pilots… not Radio Shack… I mean The Shack… or maybe it’s Tandy?
The point is never deviate from your core, which is a techie part store. You sell uncommon parts for the uncommon techie. The do it yourself-er. So, whatever the tech, you sell the parts.
Not only parts and accessories, but hard to find, high quality, really cool parts and accessories.
The real problem with you Radio Shack was the disconnect from the tire hitting the pavement. There was no leadership, and no connection to your business. You never knew your store managers and never listened to them. I believe they could have saved you years ago and today would be a retail giant to the do it yourself techie.
Radio Shack is the example of what not to do when leading a business. It seems they lead by instinct and did not follow many of the leadership perspectives I discuss in “Attitude Reflects Leadership”. After reading the history and many of the articles, it does not surprise me that Radio Shack is now six feet under.
Goodbye Radio Shack… The Shack… or What’s Your Bucket?
I grew up knowing Sears. One year I even purchased my school clothes through the mail order catalog. I also purchased many craftsman tools over the years which I’ve enjoyed using.
Sears looks like its in trouble and this is what I would do to help.
1886 Sears and Roebuck mail order catalog is born and later grew into a 500 page catalog. In 1925 opened up it’s first brick and mortar store and became the largest department store until sixty four years later in 1989. Walmart dethroned them. In 1980 Sears began focusing on un-Sears like business, such as Allstate Insurance, Dean Witter, Coldwell Banker and Discover Card, and began closing retail locations. This focus resulted in neglect of Sears core. Many of these assets were later sold to help pay off debt.
In 1992 they changed their wages and commission structure which resulted in up to 40% reduction in pay, and employee anger with more cuts in 2007 & 2011. This was done in order “to be successful in this highly competitive environment.” In 1993 they discontinued the mail order catalog because of sinking sales and profits. In 2004 announced that they were being purchased by a floundering Kmart. In 2013 Sears was the fifth largest department store behind Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Home Depot.
To summarize, Sears is in trouble of becoming a headstone in the sematary of leaderless doom. Dying from a disease I like to call the Blue Plague. It’s the lack of leadership, these blue suits that have taken this ship and steered it without knowing the source that fuels the engine. Know who you are. A hammer is useless when measuring a room. A nail is useless when pounding through a brick wall. The first big fault of Sears was not knowing who they are.
I find it interesting that they are compared to Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Home Depot. To me they should have been compared to Amazon. Sears was the Goliath of the mail order catalog. Amazon is the Goliath of the online catalog. Sears was primed to transition into online ordering. They would have been ahead of Amazon, who started out as an online bookstore.
Here is what I would do if I were CEO. Go back to Sears roots with a high tech flare. Revive the mail order catalog and create an online shopping experience. The hurdle is to get the product to the buyer quickly. Sears is positioned to do this with their retail stores! Guess who is bidding on the Radio Shack stores? Amazon. Interesting.
Next, I don’t care how online we live and breathe. Everyone needs an auto mechanic and tires. No one likes dealing with mechanics and most have a bad reputation, we always feel like we’re getting ripped off and it’s expensive. Sears is positioned to do this with their auto centers. The problems is trust. Sears must bring back, not customer loyalty but Sears loyalty. Fix the car! No up-selling, no making up repairs to make more money. Take care of the customer and get the word out. Be like the local home mechanic who everyone can trust.
I would also add two things. 1: create an auto repair shop like a NASCAR pit stop. Make it fast! Especially tires. Bring back the full replacement warranty at no additional cost as long as it’s a Sears tire. Stop itemizing everything so you can quote a lower priced tire. Give great value and service at a great price. Big O used to be like this, now they’ve gone the way of Discount Tire. Everything is an up-sell and trying to get the most money out of the customer that you can. Stop doing this! Make the customer feel they’ve been cared for and that they’re important. You do this by giving them great value for a great price. 2: Sears will have to ask me what number 2 is, the idea is revolutionary.
Next, beef up the appliance department. Kenmore is one of the most reliable brands and is being forgotten. This department can be it’s own company. Buying, selling and repairing appliances at a great price with great service. It doesn’t matter if you have an iphone or a smartphone you still need your clothes washed and your milk cold. Nothing has changed except the way we communicate and shop.
Each of these lines should be separated on a corporate level. Place a leader in charge of each and let them be independent entities, financially, and organizationally, within the Sears world.
Have each of these lines be integrated into the online catalog and leverage the technology of the internet.
With the right leadership and people, I know each of these lines can not only be successful but perhaps be the leader of their respective markets.
You should have invested in your greatest asset Sears… your employees.
Good luck Sears…
I wrote in my book, critical thinking should be a continual study for every exceptional leader. To study further, I’ve created this blog and have added more information to research and discuss.
I believe Purpose is the origin of life. Everything I do is conceived from purpose. I breathe in order to live, which is the purpose of breathing. Purpose is what drives me. Without purpose there is no action. Even a couch potato, when he gets off the couch to get a drink has a purpose, to quench his thirst, and to sustain his life.
I determine my purpose either consciously or unconsciously, thoughtfully or instinctively. I prefer the conscious, thoughtful method and critical thinking is a great tool to help create and discover my purpose throughout my life.
According to Webster, conscious means “perceiving, apprehending, or noticing with a degree of controlled thought or observation.” Unconscious would be the opposite which is uncontrolled thought. In other words, if I live unconsciously, I am not in control of my thoughts which means I am not in control of my beliefs, which means I am not in control of my actions. Most likely, I sit around wondering why life happens to me the way it does. I feel out of control.
According to Webster, instinct is defined as “a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason.” Probably not a way a human should decide the majority of their actions in their life.
A side track…
So, I can choose to pursue critical thinking which takes conscious effort and create value in my life, or just let my instincts take over. Would it be the case that instinct is our default programming? To react to life through instinct?
Choice implies two or more options. Instinct is not an option, it is programmed from the beginning and we cannot choose not be instinct. We can only choose to live consciously, not unconsciously. I think that is interesting. We only have one option, which is not a choice. Maybe this is why consciousness is life, and maybe implies unconsciousness is death or at least comatose.
If you are a leader, and you are leading from instinct which is uncontrolled thought, no wonder no one wants to follow, you are dead. I’m pretty sure no one wants to follow a corpse, a zombie, a tyrant. People seek life.
…return from side track.
Thinking is inevitable, if I don’t give my mind something to think about, it will make something up on it’s own. This can be dangerous. My mind has a tendency to create my fears and prove my insecurities to be true. And, it never seems to have much faith in me. I don’t think it’s a good idea to give my mind control over itself.
Meditation is the process of keeping the mind focused on one thing and not let it distract itself with random thoughts. Simply put, to discipline the mind not to think, to rest and take a break. This submits it’s will to me, and gives me control of my thoughts. My mind serves me, I do not serve my mind. Another way of saying it is my mind is useful to me, I am not useful to my mind.
So to me, critical thinking is the practice of taking control of my mind to thrash through the jungle of illusion and misinformation that my mind is constantly bombarded, some of which it makes up on it’s own. It’s up to me to crunch through the complexities of my mind and keep life simple.
It is also the skill of dis-associating myself from my emotions and using them as just another form of opinion and information as if contributed from somewhere else. The purpose is to be more objective and equitable. To choose the best decision with all the current information at my disposal and not look back. Never second guess myself after the decision is made with the information I collect afterward. There is no value in this other than to learn and improve my decision making skills for the future, my critical thinking process over time. Critical thinking is a discipline for belief and action.
I believe the definition of critical thinking is the self-disciplined ability to take the complex and crunch it into a simple form for the purpose of taking action that will create value in my life.
Critical thinking is composed of all four quotes –
The self-disciplined ability to make the complex simple, which requires imagination and courage, in the search for value.
Our thoughts determine our purpose which drives our actions. Our thoughts are constructed with the language we speak. Therefore, we must understand the words we use. We must use words we mean, and mean the words we use.
Critical: exercising or involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation… Of, relating to, or being a turning point or specially important juncture. Critical, may also imply an effort to see a thing clearly and truly in order to judge it fairly.
Thinking: the action of using one’s mind to produce thoughts.
To reason: the process of thinking about something in a logical way in order to form a conclusion or judgment.
The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as the ‘intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.’
With courage and imagination, I must carefully evaluate my thoughts in order to form a conclusion, resulting in an action that will create the most value for my life.
Now that we’ve gone through this exhaustive exercise and I made everything complicated. I will simplify.
Critical thinking is the analysis of my thoughts, imperative to discovering my purpose to create maximum value for my life.
And, I want maximum value.
What is the value in this mental exercise?
In order to be an exceptional leader, I must take action that creates the most value for my life. As I create value for myself, others will follow. In order to do this, it is required that I be in control of my thoughts. Critical thinking is a discipline of the mind, as weight-lifting is a discipline of the body. It creates growth in my ability to crunch more complex situations into simple solutions.
To be continued…