The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 4, 2008

Book review: Books look at successful business philosophies

Periodically I get asked, “What is your favorite business-related book?”

A book on this topic really has to grab me if I’m to finish it.

In my last column, I reviewed “How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else,” by Michael Gates Gill. This book inspired to go looking for business-related books.

“The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary”

By Joseph A. Michelli

This book looks very closely at the philosophy behind the world’s largest and best-known coffee companies.

The five principles are named and then explained in detail how everyone, from the CEO to the baristas, is responsible for knowing and executing them. The philosophies are similar to those in “Fish: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results” (see below).

The Starbucks Principles are:

1. Make it Your Own: This is where all partners make their stores and their jobs their own by adapting to the communities they are in, following the “Five Ways of Being,” incorporating the Green Apron Book, and being involved.

2. Everything Matter: This truly means everything — attitude, appearance, quality, environment, cleanliness, etc.

3. Surprise and Delight: This principle is going above and beyond customer expectations; going out of your way to make working for Starbucks special and unique and creating that unique experience for customers.

4. Embrace Resistance: How do you handle criticism? Do you avoid conflict? Do you see it as an opportunity to improve your product and services? In this chapter you see how Starbucks does anything but run from the naysayers.

5. Leave Your Mark: How will Starbucks be known and remembered? How will individual stores and employees make a difference? This principle talks about how partners volunteer in the community and how Starbucks as a whole is community focused.

Michelli is the founder of Lessons for Success, a consulting company. He includes questions to think about in each chapter as well as ideas to consider for incorporating the principles in other businesses.

It’s a well-written, inspiring book on how to be the best.

‘Fish: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results’

By Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen

Fish Philosophy was created and designed by fishmongers at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. This book tells in story format what those philosophies are and how they put them to use every day.

The first philosophy is “Choose Your Attitude.” You may not be able to control how people interact with you or what your job duties entail, but you can choose how you interact with people and how you approach your job. Those who come with a positive attitude are more productive, more accountable and happier in their day-to-day activities.

“Play” is the second philosophy. You can have a good time and play a little, without derailing deadlines and tasks. Have fun at work. You spend too much time there not to be enjoying what you do.

Third, “Make Their Day.” What do you do to make a customer’s experience in your business or in your department a memorable one? Do you go out of your way to get an answer or to help solve a problem, or do you pass the issue off to someone else? All customers are not external. We all work with others, our internal customers. Are your co-workers and those you do business with treated the same?

And finally, “Be Present,” meaning pay attention to whom you are interacting with. Don’t be e-mailing while you’re talking on the phone. Is your cell phone interrupting a conversation with someone you’re talking with in person? “Be Present” means to really engage and interact with the person you’re working with, not trying to multitask.

Pair this book and the Starbuck’s book together for an excellent look at customer service.

‘The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness’

By Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

What do you think of when someone refers to you, another person or a situation as “Nice?” Do you automatically assume that whomever or whatever is truly nice or do you question it, thinking that person is just being polite?

In today’s world, being called “nice” or saying something is “nice” isn’t always a good thing. The authors take a close look at the word, its meaning and how businesses can accomplish a lot more if they took the word seriously.

Linda Kaplan Thaler is the founder and Robin Koval is the president of The Kaplan Thaler Group, a top advertising company. Together they give many examples on how the simple act of being nice and using common courtesy has brought good will and business to not only them, but others. They talk about going out of your way to be kind, compliment others, help others, laugh, and listen. Being nice doesn’t matter who you are or where you might be on the pay scale. Common courtesy improves morale, productivity and eventually, the bottom line.

“Nice Cubes” are at the end of each chapter. Here you will find exercises and suggestions on how to put into action what is covered in the chapter.

In a world where rudeness seems to be the norm, this is a wonderful reminder to be nice, if for no other reason than to make you feel happy and because you never know when or how your kindness may be returned.

Notes and an index are included.

Susan Wray is the director of Joplin Public Library.