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    Published on: January 30, 2015

    You may have seen that there has been a bit of controversy this week about a GoDaddy commercial that was scheduled to be seen during the Super Bowl, and then was withdrawn after a public outcry.

    The GoDaddy ad was a parody - some might suggest a mockery - of a series of Budweiser Super Bowl commercials, a new edition of which will be shown during this year's game.

    You can see both commercials at left, and decide for yourself.

    I'm actually going to take the unpopular position here. I understand that the GoDaddy commercial makes light of a puppy selling industry that a lot of people, myself included, find to be disturbing. But I also would argue that, in fact, the puppies are a lot more relevant to the GoDaddy commercial than the Budweiser commercial ... and in a lot of ways, by pulling the rug out from under the viewer in the end, it demonstrates the emotional manipulation (none of it having anything to do with choosing and drinking beer) on display in the Bud commercial.

    There's something else - I think the GoDaddy commercial is genuinely funny. And this year, they've made an ad that is connected to the product, as opposed to the sexually provocative ads they've run in the past. Sometimes, I think, people need to have a bit of a sense of humor about this stuff.

    KC's View:

    Published on: January 30, 2015

    by Art Turock

    Content Guy's Note: I'm not big on consultants as contributing columnists. To be honest, it always feels like they're selling something. Plus, there are websites out there that specialize in consultant commentary. That's a perfectly legitimate business model. Just not mine.

    However, today I'm making an exception. Art Turock is a leadership development coach with considerable experience and, more importantly, a unique perspective - he's focused, among other things, on the player development tactics of Pete Carroll, who will lead the Seattle Seahawks into battle on Sunday against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Art has a new book out - "Competent Is Not An Option," which is available from Amazon by clicking on the book cover at left - and in view of the Seahawks' return to the Super Bowl after winning the championship last year, I asked Art to offer what I think is a timely and unique perspective. Enjoy.

    “How do we develop leaders who are A-players when there’s barely enough time to get the day’s work done?”

    This question poses a dilemma business leaders view as an insurmountable problem inherent with being in business. Solve that dilemma, and you change the game. A game-changer opportunity requires looking in a different direction than your competition. One place to look for solutions is in a disparate field such as sports, where a coach’s top priority is developing an elite performing team.

    I’ve been privileged to learn leadership development lessons from Super Bowl winning Head Coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks. While Carroll coached the USC Trojans in 2006-2009, I immersed myself in coaching clinics and watching team practices. Over the next five years, I’ve adapted the best principles from his player development process to help my clients build all-star leadership teams. I’ve field-tested my adaptation, called the Learning-While-Working Process, in year-long leadership development projects, with food industry groups like Deschutes Brewery, Blue, Bunny, Hormel, and Doug’s Market (a two store grocery retailer in Minnesota).

    In this article, I will share two vital lessons I learned from Coach Carroll and describe how food industry leaders can employ them in developing elite talent.


    Coach Carroll says, “If I was writing down the keys to our success, I would write one point: we’re going to do things better than they have ever been done before. We are going to teach, practice, recruit, counsel, analyze, and do everything better than it has ever been done before.”

    At first, I relegated Coach Carroll’s outrageous “best-it’s-ever-been-done” standard as the ranting of a Baby-Boomer coach, who never met a positive-thinking course he didn’t like. College jocks who aspire to NFL careers will drink the Kool-Aid, but business executives never will.

    But I gradually realized that unless leaders can conceive elite standards, then their team’s performance capacity will conform to an industry’s customary role descriptions.

    For instance, what if the supermarket pharmacist wasn’t just a prescription filler? Elite pharmacists could reinvent their roles as cross selling specialists who recommend purchasing produce items and supplements which remedy depletion of vital nutrients caused by pharmaceutical drugs. What if sales reps weren’t merely pitch men offering up boilerplate presentations to extol their company’s brands and capabilities? Elite sales professionals provoke customers detect strategic blind spots and neglected growth opportunities, and then offer unique solutions they would never think to ask for. The goal is for customers to say, “I got so much value from that call, I would have paid for it.”

    One of my coaching clients, Chuck Lindner, owner of Doug’s Markets’ requires every employee on the sales floor to track their daily add-on sales generated from offering extra service and relevant suggestions to shoppers.


    Football analysts disparage Pete Carroll’s coaching style as over-the-top positive and new age. Actually, he is old school - like ancient Greece. Coach Carroll frequently refers to a quote from Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

    Habits are reinforced patterns of behavior that are repeated regularly and occur subconsciously and are hard to give up. So habits occur effortlessly–for better or for worse, for excellent or for watered-down decent performance. In Pete Carroll’s coaching style, practice plays a vital role in instilling excellent habits. Any enduring habit consists of a triggering event, which activates a routine, which ultimately leads to a small win.

    A trigger is a cue to focus attention to the task at hand. For Carroll’s USC football team, one primary trigger was the day of the week, which calls for a specific practice routine. The practice regimen gets choreographed into a rhythm of varying intensity of physical and mental effort so the team’s performance peaks on game-days.

    "Tell the Truth Monday” calls for players and coaches to rigorously study game film and take accountability for problems and successes in their game plan execution to improve the next week’s performance. “Competition Tuesday” focuses on re-energizing players’ competitive instincts to bring ferocious engagement to the drills and scrimmaging. “Turnover Wednesday” casts attention on one single factor that contributes to winning or losing—ball control—to prevent the offensive team’s mistakes (like fumbles and interceptions) while the defensive team aims to cause opponents’ turnovers. “No Repeat Thursday”emphasizes flawless execution of the game plan. “Walk Through Friday” drastically slows down physical effort so players conserve energy while engaging in confidence-building rituals in final preparation for Saturday’s game. This weekly rhythm insures that learning the game plan, physical conditioning, and honing position-specific skills gets accomplished with no wasted effort.

    Small wins reinforce the value of practice routines. Each impeccable repetition of an agility drill reflects increased athletic prowess. The coaching staff devises metrics to analyze practice and game film to measure players’ praiseworthy efforts and spot areas for improving movement and split second decision-making. Players get recognized for modeling the teams’ unwavering beliefs: no whining, always protect the team, or always compete.

    When Coach Carroll endorsed my ability to translate his player development process to business, he referred to my Learning-While-Working Process, which instills a rhythm for building capabilities while real work is getting done. The Learning-While-Working Process alters the habitual cadence of work from “getting tasks done efficiently” to “engaging customary tasks as learning occasions.” Excellent habits for leadership, customer service or selling can become as automatic as efficiency-driven habits like multi-tasking, winging-it, and micromanaging.

    The rhythm to drive the Learning-While-Working Process comes from 5 triggering cues, called the 5Ps. Each of the 5Ps signals team members to choose from a number of time efficient, job-imbedded-development routines. In turn, each P triggers the next one, so there’s a rhythm to direct full engagement with potential learning opportunities designed into the work day.

    P1) Prepare: Move from presuming that basic leadership skills are already sufficiently mastered, to requiring clear defining and ongoing refining of basics.

    P2) Practice while real work gets done: Move from getting tasks done expediently, to consciously designing and improvising deliberate practice drills in the midst of daily tasks.

    P3) Perform in game-on situations: Move from simply going through the motions in getting a task done, to bringing second-nature proficiency to high-stakes situations for improving business results and enhancing learning outcomes (e.g. strategic planning, performance reviews).

    P4) Perfect the process: Move from expediently completing an activity, to scrutinizing the just-completed process, in order to extract every bit of learning possible.

    P5) Publicize fresh learning: Move from absorbing learning for your own consumption, to sharing learning generously with co-workers, trade association colleagues, LinkedIn group members, even customers.

    Any business leader who aspires to stage a game-changer innovation eventually discovers there is no choice but to seek an uncommon perspective and accompanying work process to leapfrog what’s already being done. In the same way Pete Carroll’s coaching style is called un-football-like, a truly game-changing work process will look un-businesslike since every possible minute isn’t devoted to getting work done efficiently.

    If sports champions employ a world-class talent development process, I invite you to make them a source for adapting liberating models, mind-expanding beliefs, and novel best principles. And learning from a Super Bowl-winning coach is a great place to start this journey.

    For more information about Art Turock's approach to elite leadership development, go to

    To order his book, click on the book cover above or go to click here.

    KC's View:

    Published on: January 30, 2015

    Shake Shack, the gourmet hamburger restaurant that started out as a kind of hot dog cart in a New York City park and has grown into a 63-unit chain with locations as far away as London, Dubai, Istanbul and Las Vegas, is scheduled to begin trading publicly on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) today ... with a valuation of almost three-quarters of a billion dollars.

    As the New York Times writes, "The success of Mr. Meyer’s chain stands in stark contrast to McDonald’s, the global behemoth suffering from its worst slump in more than a decade. The golden-arched restaurant chain announced a change in leadership this week facing sagging sales and a flat stock price, as it struggles to adjust its well-worn menu for modern tastes.

    "Mr. Meyer, 56, and his team have had no such trouble. Shake Shack has resonated with consumers who grew up on fast food but are both wary and weary of it. Burgers have been enjoying a makeover that began in the late 1990s, as younger eaters have flocked to a new generation of burger chains like Shake Shack, Five Guys and Smashburger."

    The Times adds: "Shake Shack has even helped transform Pat LaFrieda, which manufactures the company’s secret burger blend, from a local artisanal butcher into a nationally lauded purveyor of quality beef. But Shake Shack’s ambitious expansion plans — the chain plans to open at least 10 company-owned restaurants in the United States each fiscal year — may threaten the high level of hospitality the company is known for."
    KC's View:
    I anticipate that the Shake Shack folks probably will do a pretty good job of maintaining their culture as the company expands, though it almost certainly will get harder as the company gets bigger. But if they hire right, and think of it as "casting roles," I don't see any reason why, at least for the foreseeable future, Shake Shack can maintain its mojo.

    There happens to be a Shake Shack a couple of towns away from me, in Westport, Connecticut ... and it is wonderful. And when a space that seemed appropriate for a Shake Shack became available a lot closer, I can't tell you how many people said it would be perfect. The customers aren't just customers. They're advocates. That's a huge differential advantage.

    Published on: January 30, 2015

    • Amazon yesterday reported four quarter profits that were down from the same quarter last year and revenue that did not meet expectations.

    And, the New York Times reports, "Investors were thrilled."

    According to the story, "Analysts were anticipating 17 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters. When the retailer earned nearly three times that — 45 cents — on improved margins, it was a sign that maybe the sizable profits that all true believers in Amazon expect are on the way at last."

    The Times goes on:

    "Profits, however, were down from the fourth quarter of 2013, when Amazon earned 51 cents a share. Revenue was up 15 percent to $29.33 billion. But analysts were expecting $29.67 billion.

    "The good news was in the details. Amazon’s delivery service, Prime, is surging. Amazon said its worldwide paid membership in Prime rose 53 percent in 2014. A price increase for Prime to $99 apparently discouraged few customers.

    "Prime is the key to Amazon’s attempt to build an ecosystem where people use Amazon devices to watch Amazon-produced content that is surrounded by ads for Amazon products that are delivered by Amazon’s fleet of drones."
    KC's View:
    Amazon is not out of the woods yet. But maybe the company has bought itself a little time, putting the debacle of its smart phone behind it...

    Published on: January 30, 2015

    CityWire reports that Walmart has eliminated about 50 positions at its Bentonville, Arkansas, corporate headquarters. It is a small percentage - some 12,000 people are believed to work at the location.

    "February is the start of Walmart’s fiscal year, and it’s common for individual departments at the home office to make adjustments at this time of year to better support their and the company’s goals for the upcoming year," the company said in a prepared statement. "As part of these changes, a small number of departments did eliminate some positions. These decisions are never easy, and we are committed to doing the right thing for those affected. We believe these changes will help the company quickly adapt to meet the changing needs of our customers."
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 30, 2015

    • The Sacramento Bee reports that Nugget Markets, operates nine stores in the greater Sacramento Valley, has acquired Paradise Foods, which operates markets in the Marin County communities of Novato, Corte Madera and Tiburon. The stores will be converted to the Nugget format. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    • Starbuck and dating site announced that they "are offering singles new opportunities to connect at Starbucks. With more than 3 million members already listing 'coffee and conversation' as one of their interests, starting today, Match members will now be able to use the 'Meet at Starbucks' feature to more easily reach out and make that first coffee date. Additionally, on Friday, February 13, in participating Starbucks locations around the world, customers are invited to join the World’s Largest Starbucks Date.

    • The Joint Industry Coupon Committee (JICC) has urged retailers "to prepare for the retirement of UPC Prefix 5 barcodes from manufacturer coupons.  These symbols will no longer be used after June 30, 2015 as manufacturers shift to exclusive use of the GS1 DataBar format for coupons .... Most existing retail scanning systems are capable of reading the GS1 DataBar™, advises the JICC.  To ensure readiness, retailers may simply need to enable the functionality in their systems. In some instances, software and/ or hardware modifications may be required."
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 30, 2015

    • The Associated Press reports that best-selling poet and singer Rod McKuen, perhaps best known for the Academy Award-nominated song 'Jean' for the 1969 film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, has passed away. He was 81.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 30, 2015

    Great email from MNB reader John Rand about the claims that manufacturers make:

    As a somewhat-more-than-disinterested observer, I have been in several recent discussions about what we in the industry call “claims”…and it occurs to me, reading your summary today about the dichotomy of trust and purchase behavior, that we need to change the discussion at its foundation.

    It can’t be “claims” anymore. It has to be “provens.”

    The first vaguely commercial thing I think we taught our children was to be critical listeners and readers – to hear the emptiness of so many claims, to catch the quick-as-lightning-don’t-blink disclaimers, to be a healthy skeptic. Caveat Emptor I believe.

    In a mobile- wired –internet- connected- indexed- searchable world – the first claim you make that is false or even questionable is the last time I will ever believe you.
    Don’t bother me with claims. Give me provens.

    Got the following email from an MNB user:

    There is one point that I feel you missed when you last talked about the decline of McDonald’s (I agree with much of your assessment).

    McDonald’s value was always focused on a consistent (and later fast) food experience. I am now finding that solution in my grocery aisle, with items that are not branded as McDonald’s. As other successful brands have expanded into the grocery aisles (Starbucks, PF Chang’s, etc.) the McDonald’s brand has depreciated because they are not a part of this solution. There is also this: what item does McDonald’s have on its menu, that I (as a working mom) would be willing to put on my table, even if they had it in my grocery aisle? Keep in mind, I have Burgerville in my neighborhood which has on the menu: smoked salmon hazelnut salad, rogue blue cheese salad, halibut fish and chips…need I continue?

    In any case, this goes back to the many points you have made about companies who sit on the sidelines, no longer being in the game. McDonald’s has tried to stay in the game by changing their narrative at their locations (new menus), but they are missing the point—the narrative is no longer 100% held by a restaurant’s location experience. Instead, it is about making the customer’s overall experience, in every part of their lives, even better.

    And from another reader:

    I thought about your comment “but has anyone thought about making the freakin' hamburgers taste better?” and realized that it may not be one of the best options. I worked in product development for many years, our main business of custom blends meant that most of the time I was matching products that already existed. Many times my toughest challenge was to “dumb” down the product I had created. My product might beat our competition on taste, appearance, and performance and still not meet the expectations of the customer because what the customer wanted was what they were already buying (for less money of course). McDonald’s core customer (a shrinking base from reports) might not want “a better tasting hamburger” and it is much harder to bring new customers through the doors than to please those already standing in line.

    I feel for McDonald’s as they are treading a very fine line. How do you entice new customers through the door without offending those already there? I am guessing that to get you to visit a McDonald’s it would take a herculean marketing campaign because your perception is based on years of past experience and mediocre to bad food. They need to figure out how not to push the current customer out the door and down the street to Sonic or Wendy’s who essentially sell very similar offerings. I am not sure what it will take, it may be as simple or as complicated as going back to the basics upon which the company was founded, inexpensive burgers, fries and shakes with good service that is the same no matter which McDonald’s you visit.

    And another:

    It is not about making the hamburgers taste better. That could help.  But it should be about getting back to basics – go back to marketing to the children.  When your darling daughter was a child (they always are our babies) how many times did you go to McDonalds? – Buy a Happy Meal, buy yourself a burger meal & have her play in the “ball pit” in the Playland for 30+ minutes while you answered e-mails etc..  The Playlands are being removed – replaced by McCafe’s????

    My daughter never asked to go to Burger King or Wendy’s – it was because McDonalds marketed themselves to children & the parents followed.  They need to get back to their grass roots (basics).

    We avoided those ball pits like the plague ... largely because we thought that plague was actually what our kids would get there.

    Got a couple of nice email about my time with The Christophers and what I learned there about the importance of the workplace. One MNB user wrote:

    Great story. Thanks for sharing.
    Makes me realize I should spend a few minutes thinking about the people who helped me get to where I am today.

    And another:

    Really enjoyed reading about The Christophers and how your life was affected by them.…. It can be an eye opener( pun intended) when we realize something that has guided us or made us the person we are today… one of my favorite sayings is about how blowing out another person’s candle is not going to make you any brighter…. 


    However, another MNB user had an observation based on the video version:

    Mrs. Content Guy is not going to let you come home after seeing a pool and palm trees in your video.

    The good news is that she let me in the door.

    But in what must be act of karma, I've come down with a horrible cold ... everything hurts. Probably serves me right.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 30, 2015

    Been a busy week...haven't seen any movies...haven't read any books...and now I'm sick. So I hope you'll forgive me, but on this particular Friday, I can't quite find the energy to give OffBeat the attention it deserves. So I'm going to beg off ... except to say...

    Have a great weekend ... and I'll see you Monday.


    (And go Seahawks!)
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 30, 2015

    by Kevin Coupe

    I also tend to like commercials that challenge expectations ... which is exactly what this Kia ad, featuring Pierce Brosnan - who, of course, played James Bond in four movies after Timothy Dalton and before Daniel Craig - does. I have a feeling that the next time I see a Kia, I'm going to flash back on this commercial.

    That, when you think about it, is exactly what a sponsor wants.

    KC's View: