• Five Guys CEO Shares Lessons Learned

    In this article, Five Guys CEO Jerry Murrell talks about how the company grew from a single Arlington, Virginia, hamburger restaurant to more than 1,000 stores nationwide after 25 years of business. Five Guys is in the fast-casual segment in the restaurant industry. Five Guys offers freshly prepared hamburgers and fries in an environment with somewhat upscale décor and slightly elevated price points. They don't spend money on advertising. They pay their employees above minimum wage and give them bonuses. Murrell says, "Find something you love to do and just do it. Make sure your hearts in it. You can't be everything to everybody. You got to be what you are. That's all you can do."

    What lesson did you take away from Jerry Murrell's experience with Five Guys?

  • Leadership Lessons from Scandals

    In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education Marybeth Gasman cited important leadership lessons learned from the scandals of sexual abuse at Penn State and the hazing at Florida A&M University (FAMU). In both scandals, leaders were more concerned about protecting the reputation of the institution than the welfare of children and college students. 

    Leadership Lessons 

    1. Leaders have an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
    2. Leaders need to tell the truth.
    3. Leaders need to be brave and look perpetuators of violence in the eye.
    4. Leaders need to remember that the institutional 'brand' is not more important than the lives of young people and children.

    How can leaders choose the collective interest over personal interests? How can leaders know when the "greater good" supersedes the "bottom line"?

  • Do Not Track

    Companies collect a vast amount of personal and financial data from online and offline sources about consumers. When someone visits a Web site or makes a purchase a "cookie," or digital marker, is dropped on the user's computer. That profile is matched with offline data like what type of credit card a person has, what products are purchased, and what type of car he or she drives. Then that person will receive specific ads based on where he or she lives (zip code), the Web sites visited, purchasing habits, and personal preferences. Consumers have little control over the data being collected. Watch the video at http://www.ftc.gov/multimedia/video/privacy.shtm.

    In its March 2012 report on Internet privacy, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommended that companies provide a "Do Not Track" mechanism, which allows consumers to opt out of having their online behavior monitored and shared. The report calls on companies handling consumer data to implement recommendations for protecting privacy, including:

    • Privacy by Design - companies should build in consumers' privacy protections at every stage in developing their products. These include reasonable security for consumer data, limited collection and retention of such data, and reasonable procedures to promote data accuracy;
    • Simplified Choice for Businesses and Consumers - companies should give consumers the option to decide what information is shared about them, and with whom. This should include a Do-Not-Track mechanism that would provide a simple, easy way for consumers to control the tracking of their online activities.
    • Greater Transparency - companies should disclose details about their collection and use of consumers' information, and provide consumers access to the data collected about them.

    Who has your information? Where is it going next? How can you find out what information companies have about you or if it's correct? Why should companies be concerned about the issue of consumer privacy?

  • The Power of Introverts

    "There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas." (Susan Cain)


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    Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, says introverts often make better leaders, and have more creative ideas, than extroverts. "Introverts prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; they innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; they favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh's sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer."

    Cain notes that at least one-third of the people we know are introverts, but our culture undervalues them dramatically. Gandhi's transformative leadership is another example of the great contributions to society made by introverts. Cain argues that workplaces are designed for extroverts, and that this bias creates a waste of talent, energy, and happiness. Based on intensive research in psychology and neurobiology and on prolific interviews, she also explains why introverts are capable of great achievement, not in spite of their temperaments -- but because of them.

    View her Ted Talk at http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html.

    Today's workplaces are geared toward team work and collaboration. But, Cain says that workplaces should have more space for privacy and autonomy. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What can you learn from introverts/extraverts? How should workplaces be structured to include introverts? How should managers conduct meetings?

  • CARE to Harness the Power of Social Media

    "Social networks and media now have much greater power than the businesses that serve them," says Barry Libert, CEO of Open Matters and author of Social Nation. Social networks, which include customers and employees, are gathering strength relative to organizations. As they gather strength in the marketplace, they create real risks for enterprises. Some business models have been destroyed, like those of Best Buy, Borders, Kodak, and Encyclopedia Britannica.

    To harness the power of networks and social media, Libert recommends a four-step process, he calls "CARE."

    • Create relationships with the networks
    • Add networks' competencies
    • Reduce the internal focus and concentrate on what networks can do for the company
    • Eliminate the fear of social networks and media

    Why have so few companies or their CEOs focused on the growing power of social media and networks?

  • Marissa Mayer Becomes CEO at Yahoo

    Yahoo just named Marissa Mayer its new CEO. Mayer is a Stanford computer science graduate and worked at Google for 13 years. At Google she was responsible for the look and feel of Google Search, Gmail, Google News, Google Images, and Google Maps.

    Yahoo was one of the first search engines. It started as a directory with a team of experts to classify Web sites by subject and insert them into an orderly hierarchy that was easy to browse. Then, Yahoo became a portal, a starting point with lots of ancillary services from lots of content partners. The objective changed from "Where can we send you?" to "Why don't you stay here?"

    But, people didn't want to stay on just one Web site. Google became the dominant force in search, giving users access to information, and offering advertisers data about user's search queries. Today, people want to visit social networking sites with mobile devices to share, rate, comment, and co-create content.

    Yahoo has failed to keep up with what consumers want. Recent CEOs have not been able to turn the company around. What advice would you give Marissa Mayer?

  • Enchant Employees

    In last week's post, I blogged about Daniel Pink's ideas on motivation. Guy Kawasaki uses Pink's ideas and talks about MAP - Master new skills; Autonomous - work independently; Purpose - work toward a higher purpose to make the world a better place. Kawasaki's book is Enchantment. In this video he talks about "How to Enchant Your Employees." Managers should empower people and be willing to do the dirty job - do whatever it takes.

    How can managers show people who work for them that they will do what it takes?

  • Dream for Success

    Deirdre Barrett, Harvard researcher, studies how we can use our dreams to solve our problems. Her subjects "incubate" their brains to solve problems during sleep. The process is listed below.

    • Briefly write the problem and put it by your bed.
    • Review the problem just before you go to sleep.
    • Once in bed, visualize the problem as concrete as possible.
    • As you fall asleep, tell yourself you want to dream about your problem.
    • Keep a pen and paper and maybe a flashlight by your bed.
    • Picture yourself dreaming about the problem, waking up, and writing down your dream.
    • Arrange any objects or pictures that relate to your problem nearby.
    • When you awake, lie quietly before getting up. Try to remember your dream, and write it down.

    Do you pay attention to your dreaming life? Have you ever dreamed about a problem and solved it when you awoke? The next time you have a problem, use your dreams to help you solve it.

  • Motivate People Today

    In his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink examines three elements of motivation-autonomy, mastery, and purpose-and offers techniques for putting these into action. He notes that people perform best when they strive for mastery and believe that their task is meaningful.  He stresses that managers should strive to understand employees' thinking and behavioral preferences.  This helps get the workforce aligned with management.   

    Ten ways to motivate from Pink's book are listed below. 

    1. Analytical types want to know that a project is valuable.
    2. People who are structural by nature want to know their work aids the company.  They like to be rewarded in writing.  An encouraging email is an appropriate way to communicate with them.
    3. Social people want to feel personally valued.  They prefer to be rewarded in ways that touch the heart.  Written notes are appreciated.
    4. Innovative employees must buy into a cause.  To them, the big picture is important.
    5. Quiet staffers don't need a lot of fanfare, but they appreciate private, one-on-one exchanges.
    6. Expressive people feel more motivated when assignments are openly discussed.  They like public recognition, with pomp, and with ceremony.
    7. Peacekeepers hope everyone will move in the same direction.
    8. Hard-drivers are independent thinkers.  If they agree with you, they will be highly motivated.  They like extrinsic rewards and they tend to want whatever it is right away.
    9. Those who are focused team members must have confidence in the leader and the mission, otherwise, they will falter.  They want to know up front what kind of reward they can expect.  Leaders must make sure that promises are fulfilled.
    10. Flexible people go along with the team, as long as a project does not contradict the plan, and they will be happy with any kind of recognition.

    Which of the ways listed above would motivate you the most? Why don't external rewards like money-the carrot-and-stick approach--work?

  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Launches Complaint Database

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is the first federal agency solely focused on consumer financial protection.  The CFPB began consumer response operations on July 21, 2011 and the Consumer Response team has been hearing directly from consumers about the challenges they face in the marketplace, bringing their concerns to the attention of financial institutions, and assisting in addressing their complaints. This taking in, resolving, and analyzing consumer complaints is an integral part of the CFPB's work. The CFPB maintains a database on banks and credit card complaints at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaintdatabase. It tracks which banks have received the most complaints about their credit cards. So, consumers can visit the website and determine which issuer received the most complaints and how it responded. See the attached file snapshot of complaints received (June 19, 2012). The CFPB plans to remove the "beta" tag by then end of the year and add complaints on additional financial products.

    If you were the manager of a financial institution, how would you view the database? Would you welcome the CFPB's reports since they'd show you what your customers don't like about you, giving you the opportunity to fix problems before your customers go to the competition? Or, would you fear that the database may open the door to frivolous and unsubstantiated complaints?

    Do financial institutions want to have a good reputation? If so, how can managers ensure that customers are treated fairly and that their complaints are answered in a timely manner?

  • High Jobless Rate Will Last Several More Years

    A majority of economists expect the national unemployment rate to stay above 6 percent until 2015 or later. Thirty-two private, corporate, and academic economists were surveyed by the Associated Press for its Economy Survey. (See the graphic below.) Under the Employment Act of 1946, full employment is defined as an unemployment rate of 4 percent. However, economists consider "normal" unemployment to be between 5 and 6 percent. That's because millions of Americans have become discouraged looking for work and have given up looking for a job. They are no longer counted as unemployed.

    Many states are encouraging the unemployed to go to Alison.com to "up-skill" themselves. They want evidence that unemployed people receiving benefits are taking active steps to improve their job prospects. Alison is short for Advanced Learning Interactive Systems Online. It is the brainchild of Michael Feerick, an Irishman. Over 400 courses are offered for free. Courses include those developed by Stanford and MIT. Employers can check the skills of job applicants who say they've taken and mastered an Alison course by asking the applicant to take a "flash test." The applicant logs on, takes a quiz from the course material of randomly selected questions, and passes or fails. Even though courses are free, Alison charges $30 for a certificate or diploma. A diploma printed on parchment costs $120. (See attached file.)

    How do Alison credentials compare to those of college graduates? How do credentials change as education goes online?

  • Search Engine Complexity

    Search Engine Complexity Infographic
    Courtesy Stone Temple Consulting

    With trillions of pages on the Web, managers want to make sure that their company's Web site is found. The infographic above depicts the massive numbers involved with indexing and searching the Web. How can managers ensure that their company's Web pages are found? Do you take search for granted?

  • Two enemies of training

    This video post is part of Sullivision on NRN.com, a resource center for restaurants looking for service, leadership and sales-building techniques from industry expert and NRN columnist Jim Sullivan.

    Two common enemies of training are (1) in the classroom - preoccupation or distraction and; (2) outside the classroom - habit. Managers must engage the team members so that they are active learners. The biggest enemy of training outside the classroom is habit. It takes at least 21 days of different behavior to change a habit. For example, try reversing the order of the way you usually fold your arms or fingers. It feels strange - just like trying to learn something new. Reinforce new training by teaching it each and every day.

    Read more: http://nrn.com/article/two-enemies-training-restaurant-employees?NL=NRN-03&Issue=NRN-03_20120702_NRN-03_524&YM_RID=&utm_source=MagnetMail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=gemmyallen@dcccd.edu&utm_content=NRN-News-NRNam-07-02-12`email`&YM_MID=`mmid`#ixzz1zTWYdn1f

    How do you like to learn? What methods keep you engaged in the classroom? On the job?