Well, this was interesting! I ended up at Barnes & Noble this afternoon in search of an led light for my NOOK. I hadn't been to this store, which is one of BN's top-tier "concept" stores where they roll out new retail concepts and designs. Lo and behold, in the couple of months since I'd last stepped in the door they had totally renovated. The Music section was finally gone -- I was surprised it had lasted as long as it had; I mean, who buys CD's any more? And smack in the center of the store rose a shining new edifice; a NOOK store. A really really BIG NOOK store.
The NOOK store sells Nook books and magazine subscriptions by displaying the original printed versions. It's probably the smartest way to do this! For example, there's a new biography of Queen Elizabeth on display. It's hardbound, and it's thick; I hefted the book. Probably 2+ pounds of dead tree pulp. I thought of buying that old-school book, and the "responsibilities of ownership": Bookshelf. Storage. And ultimately, when we move to a new place -- schlepping the heavy thing from place A to place B. Nope. I LOVE my NOOK!
I did spot one book on the shelf that caught my attention, though -- because it absolutely defines what I decided to do a few months ago. The authors of Reboot Your Life: Energize Your Career & Life by Taking a Break
lead readers through the four phases of a career reboot: creating space, reconnecting, exploration, and reentry.
I have been blessed to have the wherewithal to do exactly this! I'm now at the Reentry point, and am looking forward to the next chapter. This has been the smartest thing I could possibly have done.
I'll have to see about a NOOK version of this book!
A real BITCH: Brave, Intelligent, Tenacious, Creative & Honest
TABATHA Coffey’s Tabatha Takes Over
premiers tomorrow on Bravo. This woman is in my pantheon of modern-day gods and goddesses; she is the Mars aspect of business in a female-dominated industry, and she is one tough boss. Tabatha goes into underperforming hair salons and whips them into shape, a reality TV model perfected by Gordon Ramsay with Kitchen Nightmares and other shows. She’s steelier in the salon than Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen!
Hair salons and spas have a lot in common. Although I haven't worked directly with hair salons, I was fortunate to partner with the esteemed spa industry expert, Nancy Griffin
, for a few years before she sold industry insider site SpaTrade.com
to American Spa Magazine
. Nancy has a lot of the same toughness and practicality that Coffey exhibits; one thing I adored about working with Nancy was that she was ruthlessly matter-of-fact about the foibles and follies of spa owners -- who, like hair salon owners, tend to still be more mom-and-pop operations than major chains.
The biggest point Nancy Griffin made to me, along with her colleague and friend, Peggy Wynne Borgman
(president of Wynne Business Sps Consulting, whose company provides the best Spa Director management training courses available anywhere) is that when you ask spa owners what sets their business apart from the competition, the answer is most commonly "our customer service is the best". No, it's not. You cannot use customer service as your key differentiator if (a) every competitor also claims it as what makes them better, and (b) if it's a baseline expectation of your customers! Can you imagine Sprint's CEO saying "what sets Sprint apart from other carriers is that we really do connect your phone calls" -- ???
That's why I love watching Tabitha, and Ramsay as well: they don't let small business owners give them any BS about "what makes them special" -- and they call the owners on very fundamental issues of mismanagement, like demanding basic hygiene.
Tabatha has a new book out, and I grabbed a few excerpts from her Web site -- how can you not admire this sort of honesty? Talk about knowing who you are and being comfortable in your skin!
Excerpted from http://tabathacoffey.com/book: I always made it a point to say what I needed to say in order to accomplish what I needed to accomplish. Anyone who has worked with me knows that I don’t suffer fools easily and that I won’t hesitate to speak my mind. The irony of people’s reaction to my candor is that I just say what most people want to say but don’t have the balls to say. I tell the truth.
If, along the way, I’ve been called a bitch for being honest, I haven’t taken this personally. I developed a thick skin very early in life.
So I reclaimed the word “BITCH” as someone who is Brave, Intelligent, Tenacious, Creative, and Honest. And because I am all of these things, I now proudly own the title…
Bravery—Mine is derived from being a risk taker, personally and professionally, and from always being willing to face my demons head-on.
Intelligence—I’m no idiot. Despite having left school early to pursue my career, I’m well read, well traveled, street savvy, and I’m a successful businesswoman with a strong gut instinct. What’s more, unlike many women who don’t want to appear intimidating, I never downplay my intelligence. I believe women can be both smart and beautiful.
Tenacity—If I’m really passionate about something, I never give up. I’m like a pit bull with a bone. I have always battled for what I want and what I believe in, and if I have to dig deeper for the energy to keep going, then that’s what I do to achieve my goals.
Creativity—If I didn’t have this quality, I certainly wouldn’t be writing this book! I thoroughly enjoy expressing my creativ- ity in all aspects of life, whether I’m experimenting with a new haircut, sporting a new couture outfit, or adapting to a new challenge. Creativity keeps me engaged and makes my life that much more interesting while I am coping with whatever comes my way.
Honesty—I think I’ve already covered that, haven’t I? It is the key trait that makes people perceive a woman as a bitch—it intimidates people and rubs them the wrong way. Although this reaction is often due to sexism, women are more than capable of being intimidated, too. For me, honesty is saying what I think to the people around me, but it’s also about being honest with myself. If I can’t do that, then I can’t be honest with anyone.
The more I thought about my own positive spin on the term “bitch,” the more I realized that, on some level, everyone would like to be a little braver, or exercise a little more intelligence, or be a little more creative, or tenacious or honest. The truth is, all of us, women and men, have an inner bitch. We just have to choose how much of it to let out and when.
I read an interesting article from INC. today called "Are Your Employees Destroying your Business?"
. It discusses the ways that the people we're around the most -- those we spend the most time with -- have a direct impact on our own psychology. So, if your staff or coworkers are unpleasant and difficult to get along with, guess what? YOU will begin to be the same way! Even if you started out as an upbeat, positive person -- being surrounded by Eeyores will bring you down.
Great point for businesses, and especially for smaller teams. Nowadays, unless you're working for a major corporation, you're probably at a company where the teams consist of small groups. Even at bigger companies, the typical day-to-day working group won't be huge... if "five people" are the magic attitude trigger, we need to pay close attention to the five people we spend the most time with. And reality is that for most executives, we tend to spend more time with our work colleagues than we do with our own family; so the people we hire and work with are essential to our own mental health. Interesting to ponder, isn't it?
Great quote from a Forbes article today: “I only ever hire ‘A’ players for me and my companies. If I hire ‘A’ players, they will hire ‘A+’ people below them. If I hire ‘B’ players, they will hire ‘C’ players below them. ‘A’ players don’t get threatened by better people below them; ‘B’ players do.”
This was from an article called The Best Advice I've Ever Received about Hiring Talent
. I agree with this completely! I always focus on hiring smart people, and encouraging them to hire even smarter people. It works like magic, because smart people thrive on being around other smart people. In any group, the slowest person literally slows down progress for the team.
Generally, conventional wisdom tells us that the fine art of job interviewing means that you maximize your strengths, and minimize (or even trivialize) your weaknesses. When I interviewed for my current job, my "weakness" was simply that the position was in an industry I have never worked in before -- financial services. So I was honest with the Chief Operating Officer and VP who interviewed me, so they were clear that although I'm a marketing expert, my only experience with their field was as a consumer (after all, I've had mortgages, credit cards, car loans, and checking and savings accounts!). Turned out that my commitment to do whatever it took to learn the ropes of my new industry sufficed. And I'm having a BLAST learning the field.
It reminded me of my first few weeks working as a product manager for a technology company. I'd sit in these large team meetings, and keep a running list of all the mysterious acronyms and techie terminology -- then every Friday, I'd invite a couple of engineers out to a bar -- I'd buy the pitchers of beer, and they'd explain the difference between TCP/IP and C++, HTML and codecs. Willingness to learn, and commitment to doing whatever it takes is what makes life exciting.