How Steinway (Still) Makes Pianos | Mental Floss.

For those of you who have the time (8 minutes), watch the video of how Steinway manufactures pianos in NY.  Great video describing the craftsmanship that goes into each piano.  I’m not sure how many new pianos they manufacture each year (as you will see they are a job shop with very manual processes), but the process described and captured in the video is very impressive.   What they do at Steinway is clearly a work of art.

Rindge Leaphart

I’ll cut to the chase on this post.  Recruiting customer facing employees with the “Right Attitude” drives customer satisfaction and increased spend.  The genesis of this post is based on my grocery shopping experiences.  I frequent a number of grocery stores on a regular basis.  There are several, though, that I am going to comment on in this post.  I am always impressed when I interact with employees from the following grocery stores: Market Street, Whole Foods, and Central Market.  In my experience, these stores generally have higher prices and in some cases less selection than other grocery stores I frequent.  Even with higher prices and less selection of the foodstuffs that interest me, I continue to frequent these stores.  Why?  The employees.  When I interact with employees from these stores, I am always impressed with their customer facing skills.  The employees  exhibit a number of traits that I do not find in other grocery store employees.  These traits are as follow:

  • A positive attitude
  • Knowledge about the products in their store
  • Willingness to assist
  • Provide customer service with a smile

I have a recruited a number of employees in the past and while you can teach employees technical skills, I am not sure you can teach them the traits outlined above.  What I find interesting is that the majority of the employees I come across in said stores seem to all have the same type of positive attitude.  Hats off to the leaders of these stores for recruiting front line employees with the “right attitude”.  I suspect employee pay at these grocery stores is higher than at others.  If so, this is a great example of why paying more to recruit talented employees is worth it.  I am sure there are many other factors at play beyond salary.  Whatever they are, there is something to be learned from these companies and their recruiting policies.  People often talk about the great service provided by Nordstrom.  I believe employees at Central Market, Whole Foods, and Market Street are another example of how recruiting employees with the right attitude can positively impact financials.  Because of these employees, I gladly drive out of my way and spend more than I typically would on groceries.  I think the image I found below drives home the point.  Your thoughts?

 

Regards,

Rindge Leaphart

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart
http://rindgeleaphart.wordpress.com/

Just read the following blog posting Howard Marks: Dare to Be Great II | The Big Picture. – that is  focused on on what makes one a superior investor.  As I read through the article the points that the author covered are applicable to more than just being a successful or superior investor.  The points he covered can be applied to any area or profession.  It is not limited to the field of investment.  Some of the key areas covered in memo are:

  • Dare to Be Different
  • It Isn’t Easy Being Different
  • Dare to Be Wrong
  • Dare to Look Wrong
  • Looking Right Can Be Harder Than Being Right

The dare to be different point rang true for me since I have always marched to a somewhat different beat (and some might argue that I dance to a different beat as well, but that is a different story).  I have always counseled my kids to not follow the crowd.  Along those lines, though, many of us realize that being and doing things differently is not easy and never will be.  It takes a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to “be different”.  The other points highlighted in the memo are all insightful and once again are applicable to all walks of life.  Hats off to Howard Marks for his second installment on the subject of “Dare to be Great”.  The posting is a little lengthy, but worth the effort – scroll to the middle of the blog posting to see the memo from Marks.

Rindge Leaphart

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart

 

 

Came across this article the other day and was quite impressed.  Might be considered a little intrusive by some, but it appealed to my inner geek.  I’m not sure who the first airline customer will be, but I am sure their premium class customers will be very happy.  Way to go B/E!

The Business Class Seat of Tomorrow Will Blow Your Mind, and Freak You Out a Bit – Skift.

Rindge Leaphart

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart

http://rindgeleaphart.wordpress.com/

rindge leaphart:

Sony where art thou? The creator of trinitron, walkman, ps-x9 (turntable), and a host of other gadgets has been lumbering from one crisis to another. The author of the re-blogged post below believes you could be on your last legs. You can cut cost all you want, but until that next innovative product comes out (and a water proof tablet is not going to move the needle) you may continue to struggle. I wish you well Sony and hope you don’t end up like Nortel, Motorola, or others who once reigned supreme, but eventually fell from grace (or should I say gracenote).
Rindge Leaphart

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

The PlayStation. The Walkman. The Trinitron. The transistor radio. All icons in Sony’s storied history from an era when the Japanese giants still roamed the earth. The Sony of today is not like the Sony of yesterday. For every memorable blockbuster, there’s an infamous flub: The late embrace of MP3, losing its hold on the digital imaging market and of course, failing to attract adoption to Betamax, UMD, MemoryStick, and endless other formats and systems.

The Sony of today is a bloated industrial machine barely holding together. It’s worn out and slowed to a crawl. The once innovative company now follows instead of leads. It’s playing catch-up instead of breaking new ground. But things are changing.

The Sony of tomorrow is looking leaner than ever. It doesn’t look like the Sony of old with total market dominance, but for the first time in ages, Sony is becoming a competitor.

Sony’s…

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and instead start talking with them.  When I make presentations I always remind myself (and others) not to talk to the crowd, but instead talk with them.  Engage them in the presentation and you might find yourself participating in a robust discussion instead of another ho-hum presentation.  I know, easier said than done.

The same holds true in interacting with your customers.  The more you talk with them, the more engaged they are,  and the more likely they will be to share your product / service with others.  I recently read a couple of books that prompted this post.  They are “Contagious” by Jonah Berger who teaches at Wharton and “Highly Recommended” by Paul Rand.  A quick side note, the book written by the professor (Berger) is well done and does not come across in a professorial manner.  Reads more like a general strategy book.  On the other hand, the non-professor’s book (Rand) definitely reads like a professorial tome.  Somewhat didactic in nature as well.  But I digress.  In general, both of these books are good and focus on the same end goal, which is how products and services catch on with the masses.  They are also both somewhat critical of Gladwell’s Tipping Point and I must admit more insightful.

I am not going to bore you with passages from each book, but focus on what I think is the most important aspect, which also happens to jibe with my experience.  There are clearly a number of offline and online methods (Berger and Rand do a good job of describing) that a company can use to facilitate customer interaction.  Whether you are soliciting ideas from customers or engaging them in contests of some sort, you may find yourself 2-3 steps ahead of the competition.  Many companies have facebook pages, twitter accounts, etc.  Many companies do a fine job of pushing information to customers via these channels, but how many provide a meaningful mechanism for feedback?  More importantly, how many provide a meaningful mechanism for interaction?  Take a step back from your day-to-day responsibilities and consider what activities you can influence so that your organization can better engage customers.  What things can you do to influence “word of mouth” about the product or service you provide? Advertising has been around for quite some time, but an endorsement from another customer (an engaged customer) is much more powerful than a paid advertisement.

So, Stop Talking to Your Customers…And Instead Start Talking With Them

 

Rindge Leaphart

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart
http://rindgeleaphart.wordpress.com/

 

When Customers Make You Smarter.

A great post about the learning (and increased revenue) one can achieve when talking to potential customers.  Based on the article, the team at Tidepool is going through a very structured process in launching their service.  It seems, though, that the most important thing they learned (they were potentially leaving revenue on the table) came via an “aha” moment when talking to potential customers.  A very important reminder that organizations should try their best to engage with customers (as well employees, suppliers, and the  like) because “aha” moments do not necessarily come about when you are alone in the office (or lab) “thinking”.  Get out there and interact with the users of your product / service.  Listen to what they are saying and you might surprised by what you hear.  Make sure to check out the video at the end of the post.

Rindge Leaphart

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart
http://rindgeleaphart.wordpress.com/

rindge leaphart:

Hustle & Flow, might this be the North American equivalent of Yin and Yang. Having a balance is nothing new, but it always good to have a reminder on the importance of balance.

Originally posted on PandoDaily:

tired_horse

I have a good friend who, in an attempt to look productive and important, is constantly tweeting and posting about how hard he’s hustling. Not only are his boasts painfully transparent, but sadly, his ideas about what makes someone effective are usually just plain wrong. For example, a few days ago he posted a motivational video with the following quotes:

“If you’re going to be successful, you gotta be willing to give up sleep…” and “…you gotta want to be successful so bad you forgot to eat” — that’s for real. 

This is flat out ridiculous. How can someone possibly perform at their best if they’re not sleeping and forgetting to eat? If you’re the CEO or a manager at your company, do you want your employees coming into work exhausted and starving? Do you think anyone can do quality work while they’re in such a condition? Of course…

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rindge leaphart:

A little offbeat I admit, but as an old school hip hop fan, I couldn’t resist re-blogging. I’m sure I would enjoy a ride with Carter-san. Just one more reason to visit San Francisco.

Originally posted on PandoDaily:

lyft _ inside

Late at night, a red Honda Civic drives through the darkness in San Francisco. At the front hangs a trademark pink mustache, a familiar sight these days as rideshare startup Lyft takes off. But this isn’t any old pink mustache. It has a golden trim around it, with LED lights shining against the car silhouette.

Inside, 36-year-old father of four, Deco Carter, mans the wheel. His black dreads hang down from a cap, Lil Wayne raps from the speakers, and a glittering mustache necklace swings from the mirror.

Carter is no average Lyft driver. He is Hip-Hop Lyft, the man, the myth, the legend. You haven’t heard of Hip-Hop Lyft you say? Well if Carter has his way, the world will eventually know his name. He’s riding his Lyft business to stardom. That’s the plan anyways.

Carter runs a themed ride, where he plays old school hip hop for…

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MIT lab builds self-assembling robot cubes | The Verge.

Take the time to watch the video in the article above.  I think what the team at MIT has developed is very innovative and quite refreshing.  Seemingly they have taken a page out of sci-fi movies and brought it to life.  It will be interesting to see how their robots evolve over time.

 

Rindge

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart

 

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