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    Published on: August 24, 2012

    As is my custom, I am taking the week before Labor Day off.

    The MNB archives are, of course, open. And the MNB Mantra contest will continue taking entries. (Details below.)

    I may post the occasional note or picture on Facebook if something catches my fancy, but for the most part, I'm going to go off the radar until I return on September 4.

    Have a great final week of the summer, and I'll see you soon.

    Slainte! And Fins Up!
    KC's View:

    Published on: August 24, 2012

    Fast Company had an interesting story the other day about the importance of a company "mantra," which is defined as "a Sanskrit term, meaning 'sacred utterance' or 'sacred thought,' depending on the dictionary. Traditionally concentration aids given by Hindu gurus to devotees, mantras are words or phrases repeated to facilitate transformation. In business, a mantra is akin to a motto, albeit more fundamental to a company's internal purpose than simply a marketing slogan. It's concise, repeatable, and core to a company's existence ... Unlike mission statements, mantras are pivot-proof. They transcend current target markets and quarterly quotas."

    Or, to put it another way: "Make it short, sweet, and swallowable," says author Guy Kawasaki.

    Examples cited in the story:

    "Think different." (Apple)

    "Don't be evil." (Google)

    "Make something you love." (Huge, a digital agency)

    "Style to the people." (Stylecaster, a fashion website)

    A mantra, the story suggests, is necessary because it is "the guiding star, not the operating manual." And every company needs a guiding star.

    This has me thinking. While MNB always has been built around the phrase, "news in context, analysis with attitude," it sounds like the folks at Fast Company would define that as a mission statement. Not a mantra.

    Which makes me think it is time for a contest...

    Come up with an original mantra for MNB, and if you create the winner, you get an MNB goodie box, which includes a t-shirt with that mantra printed on it, an autographed copy of "The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies," and an MNB canvas shopping bag and an MNB canvas wine bag.

    I am pleased to tell you that we've received well over 250 entries to this point. I'm going to leave the contest open until Labor Day, at which point I'll go through all the entries, pick what I think are the top 20 or so, and then submit them to a panel of experts for their advice and guidance ... and then I'll get the last word.

    Let the games continue...
    KC's View:

    Published on: August 24, 2012

    This commentary is available as text or video. Enjoy either, or both. To access past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.

    Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

    One more story from my trip to the Pacific Northwest this summer...

    As I've mentioned here before, one of the many pleasures that I discovered in Portland, Oregon, was a place called Stumptown Coffee Roasters. It is a wonderful local coffee shop where on weekends you can wait for 15-20 minutes to make your way to the counter, but where the coffee is terrific, the ambience is authentic downtown Portland, and the people-watching can be rewarding.

    I enjoyed going there and ordering both a black coffee and a large nonfat latte - I generally had a lot of reading to do, emails to peruse and some papers to grade, and this combination of drinks pretty much got me through.

    But something happened one morning that I thought I would share with you.

    I ordered the large nonfat latte, grabbed a seat at counter, pulled out my iPad and started going through email. I kept one eye on the barista and noticed when he seemed to start making what was going to be my latte. A couple of emails later, I realized that I had gotten my drink so I took another look ... and he seemed to be starting the process all over again. I didn't think too much of it, and went back to my emails .... but noticed this time when he got almost done, took a look, dumped it out and started over yet again, this time calling over someone to help him.

    The third time was the charm, and when he handed me the latte, I couldn't help myself. So I asked him: "I'm just curious. What was wrong with the first two?"

    The fellow who helped him, who I later learned was named Bo, came over and explained that the barista was in fact just several weeks into training and wasn't certified yet. However, Bo also said that, in fact, a large nonfat latte was one of the hardest drinks to make - skim milk doesn't hold together the way whole milk or even one percent or two percent milk does, and so if they get to the end and they're ready to put a design into the foam and it isn't holding together right, they dump it and start over.

    Now, I was fascinated by this. I've been drinking large nonfat lattes for more than a decade now, and nobody ever told me before that it was a hard drink to make. And then I asked him: If I'd been getting this to go, and you were putting a top on the cup, would you have gone to all this trouble to make sure the squiggle was right?

    Bo grinned. "It's not worth doing if we can't do it right," he said.

    I have to tell you. That was exactly the right answer. And it is just that kind of dedication to excellence that every retailer should be seeking in its employees.

    Because the thing is, sometimes we can see the stuff that matters, and sometimes we can't. But it all matters. Even the little stuff.

    That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

    KC's View: