Sometimes You Just have to be a Little Crazy

August 27th, 2013 by Rich Christiansen

We’ve been attempting to open a certain brand for the last two years and it’s driving me nuts. These guys have been snobby, snooty, and they put their nose in the air every time we approach them. We would be an incredible asset for these guys, but I can’t get the time of day from them!

I was down at a trade show in Las Vegas this week and ran into them and I got a little indignant back. I told our potential account manager, “Everyone wants to kiss us but you. What is the problem?”

Well, at a certain point it just doesn’t matter anymore so you have to surprise Broca. I’ve got my team here and I’m going to do something a little bit unexpected. I’m going to send them a nice Zigzag book here and a letter. I’m not going to use their real names, in case they watch this video.

Dear Bill and Bob,

Bob, great to see you again at the show this week. As discussed we invite and challenge you to come check up on Froghair and at Bill’s request to come visit us at our corporate headquarters. We not only invite this but we’d be delighted in it. Enclosed is a coupon for two free airline tickets. That’s right. We’ll pay for you to come visit us here. Let us known when and where and we’ll arrange the tickets.

We know we could drive some really high-end sales to high-value customers. We’re tired of throwing these dollars away. Let’s reclaim them.

P.S. The story of Froghair is at the end of each chapter in a section called “Eating Your Own Cooking”.

I’ve signed and dated the book and am going to add ripped up bills. I’m including $26.00 worth of ones, fives, and tens. If that doesn’t get their attention I dont know what will, but at some point, who cares? Go do something crazy! It feels really good.

Sometimes You Just have to be a Little Crazy

August 27th, 2013 by Rich Christiansen

We’ve been attempting to open a certain brand for the last two years and it’s driving me nuts. These guys have been snobby, snooty, and they put their nose in the air every time we approach them. We would be an incredible asset for these guys, but I can’t get the time of day from them!

I was down at a trade show in Las Vegas this week and ran into them and I got a little indignant back. I told our potential account manager, “Everyone wants to kiss us but you. What is the problem?”

Well, at a certain point it just doesn’t matter anymore so you have to surprise Broca. I’ve got my team here and I’m going to do something a little bit unexpected. I’m going to send them a nice Zigzag book here and a letter. I’m not going to use their real names, in case they watch this video.

Dear Bill and Bob,

Bob, great to see you again at the show this week. As discussed we invite and challenge you to come check up on Froghair and at Bill’s request to come visit us at our corporate headquarters. We not only invite this but we’d be delighted in it. Enclosed is a coupon for two free airline tickets. That’s right. We’ll pay for you to come visit us here. Let us known when and where and we’ll arrange the tickets.

We know we could drive some really high-end sales to high-value customers. We’re tired of throwing these dollars away. Let s reclaim them.

P.S. The story of Froghair is at the end of each chapter in a section called “Eating Your Own Cooking”.

I’ve signed and dated the book and am going to add ripped up bills. I’m including $26.00 worth of ones, fives, and tens. If that doesn’t get their attention I dont know what will, but at some point, who cares? Go do something crazy! It feels really good.

Survival of the Fittest

August 19th, 2013 by Rich Christiansen

I’ve never been a big fan of Charles Darwin and his theories on natural selection. (Although, theoretically, I know it’s true.) In the back of my mind I have always felt that I would likely have been the bird that got tossed out of the nest, the animal that got eaten, or in my case, the business that never got selected for the big dance. Most of my career has been spent assembling teams of bad news bears that manage to pull off the upset and I take great pride in this.

The past week I’ve been deep in the Amazon jungle, eight hours up the Tambopata River which is a major contributor to the Amazon River. While here I’ve seen the law of natural selection up close and personal. One of the major sights was the big macaws, those brightly colored tropical birds. All around were birds of brilliant blue contrasted with vibrant yellows, reds, and greens all combined into magical combination of colors.

While I was at the Tambopata Research Center I was dismayed to discover that while each pair of these macaws mate for life they only lay three to four eggs at a time and they do not allow all the chicks to live. The first chick to hatch is fed by the parents and then sometimes, but not always, a second chick is allowed to live. The parents will then stop feeding the others, let them die, and toss the dead baby birds out of the nest.

This became an obsession with me. I asked our guide two, three, four, five times trying to get out the details, “Is there not some way to allow these chicks to live?” Finally in exasperation our local guide, a bit put out, said, “Rich. You’ve got to get it. They don’t have enough resources. If they attempted to feed all four of those hungry little mouths the whole family would die. It’s a matter of survival.”

I took a step back and realized he was right. Often times in my attempt to defy the laws of natural selection I have put my business in jeopardy. In reflection I’ve come up with three specific things that I can and will do better at in the future regarding this law. This is not even a principle. This is a law. In other words, this is not negotiable.

     1.    If someone is not contributing let them go. If I have a team member, despite the situation, that is not contributing I will release them. While the principle is the same this is not as violent as throwing them out of the nest to their most certain death and it ensures the survival of the entire team.
     2.    Select the strongest at the beginning. My tendency to select those in need is not necessarily the best way to survive and succeed in business. There has to be a combination of talent and desire.
     3.    Don’t advance too quickly. One of the mistakes I have made numerous times through my career is to take bright, capable young individuals and give them too much special treatment and responsibility until they think they actually rule the roost and are better and more important than they really are. There’s a timing to grow up that you cannot rush. There’s an integral timing to maturity and life lessons and that needs to evolve. I am going to be more deliberate and careful in the future not to rush that process.

Now I want to put context on this. I still believe we can be socially responsible entrepreneurs while still competing with, outwitting, and outmaneuvering the big businesses by being moral, fair, and very generous. However we have to be careful not to deplete our resources or get so emotionally involved and attached that we end up destroying our businesses.

After having now visited the Amazon jungle I have arrived at the conclusion that Darwin largely got it right. However we have the choice to help and lift people who are struggling and allow them to thrive and succeed on their own. I contend that the bad news bears and the underdog can and still win in the long run.

Survival of the Fittest

August 19th, 2013 by Rich Christiansen

I’ve never been a big fan of Charles Darwin and his theories on natural selection. (Although, theoretically, I know it’s true.) In the back of my mind I have always felt that I would likely have been the bird that got tossed out of the nest, the animal that got eaten, or in my case, the business that never got selected for the big dance. Most of my career has been spent assembling teams of bad news bears that manage to pull off the upset and I take great pride in this.

The past week I’ve been deep in the Amazon jungle, eight hours up the Tambopata River which is a major contributor to the Amazon River. While here I’ve seen the law of natural selection up close and personal. One of the major sights was the big macaws, those brightly colored tropical birds. All around were birds of brilliant blue contrasted with vibrant yellows, reds, and greens all combined into magical combination of colors.

While I was at the Tambopata Research Center I was dismayed to discover that while each pair of these macaws mate for life they only lay three to four eggs at a time and they do not allow all the chicks to live. The first chick to hatch is fed by the parents and then sometimes, but not always, a second chick is allowed to live. The parents will then stop feeding the others, let them die, and toss the dead baby birds out of the nest.

This became an obsession with me. I asked our guide two, three, four, five times trying to get out the details, “Is there not some way to allow these chicks to live?” Finally in exasperation our local guide, a bit put out, said, “Rich. You’ve got to get it. They don’t have enough resources. If they attempted to feed all four of those hungry little mouths the whole family would die. It’s a matter of survival.”

I took a step back and realized he was right. Often times in my attempt to defy the laws of natural selection I have put my business in jeopardy. In reflection I’ve come up with three specific things that I can and will do better at in the future regarding this law. This is not even a principle. This is a law. In other words, this is not negotiable.

     1.    If someone is not contributing let them go. If I have a team member, despite the situation, that is not contributing I will release them. While the principle is the same this is not as violent as throwing them out of the nest to their most certain death and it ensures the survival of the entire team.
     2.    Select the strongest at the beginning. My tendency to select those in need is not necessarily the best way to survive and succeed in business. There has to be a combination of talent and desire.
     3.    Don’t advance too quickly. One of the mistakes I have made numerous times through my career is to take bright, capable young individuals and give them too much special treatment and responsibility until they think they actually rule the roost and are better and more important than they really are. There’s a timing to grow up that you cannot rush. There’s an integral timing to maturity and life lessons and that needs to evolve. I am going to be more deliberate and careful in the future not to rush that process.

Now I want to put context on this. I still believe we can be socially responsible entrepreneurs while still competing with, outwitting, and outmaneuvering the big businesses by being moral, fair, and very generous. However we have to be careful not to deplete our resources or get so emotionally involved and attached that we end up destroying our businesses.

After having now visited the Amazon jungle I have arrived at the conclusion that Darwin largely got it right. However we have the choice to help and lift people who are struggling and allow them to thrive and succeed on their own. I contend that the bad news bears and the underdog can and still win in the long run.

How to Do Something No One Else has Done in the History of the World

August 6th, 2013 by Rich Christiansen

I’m on vacation and traveling with my family in Peru. Yesterday my sons and I entered into a discussion while touring in the remote Peruvian Highlands. We wondered if it was possible to do anything new or set any new world records. Our main question was this: With the billions and billions of people that have lived on the face of the Earth is there anything that hasn’t been done?

I eagerly embraced the bet and told my sons that I bet them their choice of drinks that night at dinner that within the next hour we could do something that had never been done in the history of the world. As we made our next stop at a little tea-house I had them assemble, had each put a leaf in his mouth, gather close, and above 15,000 feet proceeded to do the Chicken Dance while running around in a circle. They laughed and laughed, conceded the bet to me, and I have no doubt that we did something that arguably had never been done there on that spot in the history of the world.

Let me say with boldness that equal opportunities lie ahead of us in business and in our personal lives. Not only is it fun to dance like a chicken above 15,000 feet sea level, but it is also really fun and equally challenging to create and execute new, innovative ideas and actions in our business. The opportunities are plentiful. We just have to look at them with a bright, fresh, open-minded perspective. Have a blast. Go do your Chicken Dance on the high planes of Peru.