Be My Guest

I personally love the policy companies have taken to refer to customers as guests.  When it isn’t simply a policy.  And when you are also allowed to acknowledge that they aren’t just guests; they’re also your customer.

I know it sounds simplistic or jaded to speak of how the customer is the reason for you getting a paycheck, but it’s not true to say a guest helps you put food on the table.  The guest typically gets the best you have to offer, and in that regard, yes, you should absolutely be on your best behavior and roll out an excellence unequaled the each customer.  But you must further offer customer service, not give away the store, and sell something!

The positives are obvious.  You treat each visitor with respect, whether they are a paying customer or not.  You shouldn’t be short, bitter, angry, etc etc etc.  You should get to know regulars, learn their names, greet them warmly.

But don’t get things twisted.  You can’t spend all day entertaining company if you want to have a profitable company.  And you can’t spend all your time with the guests you prefer over the ones you don’t.

Treat your guests like customers and your customers like guests.

Math Class

They teach you how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.  They teach you fractions and geometry.

They teach you the basics.

Life teaches you how to take your paycheck and perform miracles.  How to stretch a dollar and make it more valuable than the sum of one hundred pennies.

You have to be able to do both what math class and life teaches you to be a success.

Reality TV

There are quite a few reality TV shows that focus on better management skills.

  • Tabatha Takes Over
  • Kitchen Nightmares
  • Bar Rescue
  • Restaurant: Impossible

There are pro’s and con’s involved, of course.

Tabatha Takes Over

Tabatha Coffey (Tabatha’s Salon Take Over and Tabatha Takes Over)


Reality shows lie.  They sometimes stage their content, and they always simplify the complexities of the real world into a simple narrative.

For example, you can break any episode of the popular series “Intervention” into this simple equation:

  1. Show why the person is worth saving by opening with the positive aspects of the subject’s personality.
  2. Shock the audience with just how bad their addiction has changed them.
  3. Do a historic retrospective that shows the subject’s life, creating a simple narrative that traces their addiction to a single traumatic event.
  4. Show the intervention specialist trying to convince the family that they have to address the trauma in order to help the subject to accept help.
  5. Have the intervention, where the family either complies or denies.
  6. The subject makes their decision.
  7. We see the consequences of that decision, whether positive (and life changing) or negative (and devastating).


“Jesse is too friendly with her staff and needs to learn when to put her foot down” is a much easier message to take away than “Jesse is a complicated person with various shades of relationships with her employees, including a few instances of poor judgement.”

Watching an episode of “Intervention” can be an incredibly moving experience, because it’s a winning formula.  Combating addiction isn’t as simple as identifying a single trauma, but seeing where your life took a turn helps you brave the fight to take back control.

Sometimes it takes a storyteller to look at our lives and reflect it back to us in a parable that helps us better see it from the outside.

Gordon Ramsay (Kitchen Nightmares)

Gordon Ramsay (Kitchen Nightmares)


[Insert reference to Paula Dean here.]


What you’ll find the most surprising about success stories about loud, passionate people is that they were loud and passionate before they were success stories.  For example, if you watch the segment 60 Minutes did on Judge Judith Sheinlin before she became Judge Judy, you’ll see she was exactly the way she was exactly the same in her actual courtroom as she was later on her televised courtroom.

Gordon Ramsay was a soccer star before a career-altering injury sent him in search of a new vocation.  He’s known for his anger, fowl language, and intense pursuit of perfection.  I bet when his wife cooks for him, he picks her meal apart and asks her if the veggies are fresh or frozen.  The reality behind the star is that even Gordon Ramsay will muse about not wanting to sound like Gordon Ramsay.

The key to finding the correct balance is in treating people with respect.  Define whether the problem is the result of a mistake or a bad decision.  That will help you identify the best course of action in dealing with prevention of further mistakes or bad decisions.  If this problem is chronic, you need to decide whether it’s a battle worth choosing.  If it’s a chronic problem, your business is at stake, and you haven’t figured out how to get your message across, it’s time to tap into your inner Taffer and put some heat behind that message.

Passion is crucial.  Don’t put the flame under a bushel.  But also, don’t be a jerk if it isn’t necessary.

Jon Taffer (Bar Rescue)

Jon Taffer (Bar Rescue)


Shows like Mythbusters and Ghost Hunters and Deadliest Warrior boast the use of science.  They are also constantly criticized for their lack of actual science.

How much science can there be between “We’re going out of business” and “Now we’re the toast of the town”?


If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I love the sciences that helps me do my job.  Whether it’s how you reflect your customer base or how you set up your merchandise, an well-informed decision is always more rewarding than a shot in the dark grope.  That’s why I have a special place in my heart for Jon Taffer.

My favorite moment on his show, Bar Rescue, was a very understated one.  Jon is meeting the owner of his latest challenge for the first time, and it happens under a ceiling fan that is turning the lighting in that spot into a seizure-inducing strobe.  He asks the owner, “What do you notice right now?”  The owner couldn’t think of a thing, so Jon explained the problem to him.  The reason I love this moment is because I’ve been there on both ends.  As an inexperience manager, I’ve had my boss point out a problem that I’d walked past every day and never even noticed, and once I had gained what I like to call “my manager vision,” I learned to walk into a room and scan the place like The Terminator.

Even though you certainly don’t have the time to employ the scientific method to every problem you have, there should be a science behind every decision you make in your business.  A television show isn’t going to be filled with science, because in the end, it’s an entertainment that is beholden to getting a broad range of viewers to watch their commercial breaks.  But a handful of bullet points wrapped up in a palatable experience is always easier to swallow.

At the very least, like a broken light, perhaps it will help you think about some things you may not have noticed.

Robert Irvine (Kitchen: Impossible)

Robert Irvine (Kitchen: Impossible)


American reality shows are obsessed with make-overs.

  • someone says “yes” to a dress that will make their wedding dreams come true
  • A well known celebrity mentors a group of unknown amateurs and weeds them all down to just one top contender
  • a group of groomers teach clueless people how to dress, giving them the confidence to be the person they were all along
  • half a dozen strangers get to live in a mansion and start being real in order to learn more about the bigger world around them
  • people compete in a series of challenges to win a lump sum of money and a crack at D-list celebrity
  • someone with TV good looks helps someone less photogenic remodel their home
  • people just like you and I get a chance to compete for a spot in the elite of any given profession, perhaps even becoming an idol in the process
  • someone with a small amount of money undergoes a risk in order to earn a larger amount of money, often giving us all a brief history lesson in the process
  • corporate CEOs get a view from the bottom and realize that actual human beings work for them, thus transforming the way they look at everything regarding their company
  • nerds get revenge by humiliating themselves for our enjoyment to prove that their king of a group of humiliated nerds

How is Let’s Make a Deal any different than Storage Wars?  They’re both just betting on “What’s in the Box?”  It’s game show formula, and it doesn’t really apply to real world limitations.

Besides, If I had a world-class professional come in to my business with a blank check, I’d be able to increase my sales too!


News Flash: Tabatha, Gordon, Jon, and Robert leave, and they take their checkbooks with them when they go.  If you can’t use their arrival as assurance that your business will succeed, you can’t use the fact they haven’t come as an excuse for failure.  Or complacency.

There’s a degree of art in management, and a great artist takes inspiration from everything.  Here’s a fun fact, Leonardo DaVinci had far less things to be inspired by than you do.  So if these shows speak to you at all, I highly suggest that you dig into these programs and get inspired.

If the guys from Duck Dynasty can build an empire out of nothing, there’s nothing stopping you!

To Me

My opinion matters more than yours.

To me.

Don’t forget to follow the first six words with the last two, because they always belong there.

The important part isn’t whether you argue your own point of view or not.  It’s whether you value what other people think or not, because if you don’t, you should really analyze why you’re in business in the first place.

Is it for you and you alone?  Or are you here to service the needs of others?

I’ll Need You for this One

Dearest Reader,

I’m compiling a list of top blog entries for 2013.

Which Managing Thoughts tip helped you or encouraged you the most?

Your insight is crucial for me.

And while you’re letting me know which entries I should include, I encourage you to let me know why you liked it.

Also, I’m very interested in finding out if you thought I missed the mark somewhere along the lines.

This blog is nothing without you.


Another Word on Merchandising

I call it the pet store philosophy.

If you have the puppy in your hands, licking you in the face, you will probably leave the shop with the puppy.

So when you are speaking with a customer about your product, make sure you place it directly into their hands and show them why it’s awesome!

And I think this goes without saying, but. . .  If the product is on a shelf, you want to make sure there is a “window” facing outward.  This could be an open area that shows the actual product (like the window on a Cabbage Patch doll’s packaging), a eye-catching graphic that shows off the brand (like you see on cereal boxes), or a cover page or a movie poster or. . .

You get the picture.

The important part is that you NEVER turn these windows off to the side for space.

You need to get the puppy on the glass, peaking out at your customers with longing, adorable eyes.