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

I was reading a website called the other day, and ran across a piece about an old friend of the food retailing business - Jim Donald, the former CEO of Pathmark, Starbucks and Haggen, who is now CEO of the Extended Stay America hotel chain.

It is a really interesting piece about how to reinvigorate a company and a culture ... The story says that "Donald has reenergized the ranks through a tenacious tide of communication that has ranged from emails, 60-second company-wide voicemails, an ambitious strategic plan called 'DANCE,' and culminated with Donald’s still-ongoing, 200,000-mile journey across more than 350 properties of the extended-stay chain’s nearly 700 properties."

So what is DANCE all about?

Well, it is an acronym....

"D" is for delighting guests through property refreshes and enhanced service.
"A" is for activating associates and preventing slack.
"N" is for neutralizing costs through cost-containment measures.
"C" is for caring for the community of both guests and employees
"E" is for expanding revenue.

Now, Extended Stay came with its own set of issues - it had been acquired out of bankruptcy by an investment group, but seemingly was unable to marshal any sort of momentum toward becoming both more efficient and more effective.

That's where Jim Donald came in - and it is critical that his background is as both a merchant as well as someone who understands how and where to find efficiencies in a way that will not only not undercut the creation of a compelling consumer experience, but actually bolster it. And, he's used a proven technique that he's employed in every company he's led - the daily voice mail to employees, designed to encourage them, provide them with a new goal or insight, or inform them about a strategic or tactical priority - to create a direct line of communication and accountability between properties and the home office.

But I have to say that I find the use of the acronym "DANCE" to be ingenious. When you think about dancing, it is a word that summons up two immediate images - action and joy.

When you think about it, those are two essential ingredients for any business that is using front line personnel to interface with shoppers. Action and Joy. And I'm not surprised, having written about Jim Donald over the years, that these are two key factors in what seems to be an amazing turnaround at Extended Stay America.

Action and Joy. Two words we need to think about in all our businesses ... and especially those - and we all know what and where they are - that could use some serious DANCE lessons.

You can read the entire story by clicking here.

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

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