Category Archives: Career

Video: 2 Ways to Know If You’ve Hit Your Career Ceiling

sn_Dog_Antoine Beauvillain

How you feel about your job is obviously an important indication. The other is whether your company encourages you to learn skills that will keep you — and the company — relevant. Acuff’s latest book is titled “Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work and Never Get Stuck”

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Book Report: All things must pass – Tower Records

sn_record_Luke Chesser

This will come as a surprise to those of you that know me, but I sat still and watched a movie over the weekend (thanks to a busted foot). 

I came across All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records. As you could guess, the documentary tells the tale of Tower Records as it grew from a drug store add-on in the 1940’s into a global corporation.

What does a documentary about a record store that died in 2001 have to do with the businesses typically discussed on this blog? There are actually great lessons about the culture they developed that made them successful and ultimately the decisions that led to their demise.

What they did right:

  • The company built an extremely loyal employee base over the years. The earliest employees went on to become the leadership of the company and fuel their growth.
  • Drilling down further into their employee base… they gave them autonomy. Stores were left to develop their own culture and methods. Leadership (Russ Solomon) had the luxury of cherry-picking the best ideas and implementing them across the growing franchise.
  • Employees had direct access to the top leadership – Russ Solomon and Bud Martin. Good ideas were acted upon quickly.
  • The stores attracted musicians and fans, establishing a community and a means of product discovery which resulted in more sales.
  • Everything that you saw in the stores was mostly created by employees: the murals, the displays, the art work (which eventually led to in-house print shops creating art that was distributed throughout the entire chain).

What they did wrong:

  • They expanded too quickly and borrowed too much money.
  • They expanded into markets that they didn’t understand (South America, Thailand, basically any Asian country that wasn’t Japan).
  • During the area of compact disk (CD), they killed the singles market, forcing customers to pay for full albums. Customers started to become weary of paying $20 for an album.
  • Big Box retailers like Walmart started selling CDs for cost and killed Tower’s community and walk-in business.
  • They didn’t adapt to changing technology and they failed to establish an online portal.
  • When they were failing, they eliminated all of the leadership that brought them to the dance (under duress from the banks) and had no plan to pull out of the death spiral.

Everyone assumes music piracy killed Tower, but that technology only broke an already weakened company. Tower over-expanded internationally and lost money. During this time, big box retail stores sold music at cost to improve their own walk-in traffic. Customers stopped going into Tower and it impacted their ability to help (up-sell) customers other music when they were in the store.

In their hubris, Tower also had a direct hand in eliminating the singles market. This forced customers to buy full albums at high prices. When peer-to-peer file sharing appeared, customers who felt that they were over-paying for their music embraced the new technology.

But did file sharing kill Tower Records?  Japan provides us with an answer to that question.

The first international expansion (before Tower even expanded into the Eastern US) was Japan. The stores were massively successful (the records were direct US imports. which Japan had demand for). At the start company’s financial troubles, the Japanese stores were sold off entirely.  They are still in business today and thriving.

In a time where even the biggest online retailer in the United States is opening physical book store locations, it is becoming clear that consumers are looking for a more personal shopping experiences and retailers are looking at better ways to understand customer behavior.

Perhaps there is wisdom to be found by looking at how Tower operated in their glory days by encouraging strong employee interactions, developing subject matter expertise, and growing a culture that customers wanted to be a part of.

Photo: Luke Chesser

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News You Can Use: 2/3/2016

sn_dogs_Ismael Nieto

  • C-suite career advice: Werner Knoblich, Red Hat

    Actually, there are three great pieces of advice that I’ve really taken note of and I’d find it hard to choose between them:
    i) Always strive to make sure that your ego doesn’t get in the way of making the right decision. Successful people always question themselves and continually seek new approaches to problem solving.
    ii) Take the time to make sure you have the right people in the right roles and don’t be afraid to move people around, if you can see a better fit for the team.
    iii) Never take short-cuts when hiring, it can take time to find the right person – but it’s worth the wait.

    http://www.idgconnect.com/abstract/11922/c-suite-career-advice-werner-knoblich-red-hat

  • Why 47 Percent of Your Best People Are Ready to Leave — and What You Can Do About It
    This is an alarmist headline, but the post goes on to discuss communicating with your employees and what you think may be positive feedback, might not register with them that way.

    According to Gallup’s research, 47 percent of your best employees are looking to leave you right now! Furthermore, during the course of surveying over 1.4 million employees, Gallup found that “65 percent of American employees said they had received no recognition from their manager in the last year.” Sixty-five percent is a staggeringly high number — but what if it’s actually incorrect?

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/254416

  • Data Breach Response Planning Part II

    Procurement will need to support supplier selection, contracting, engagement, and performance management of all necessary outsourced response services. Procurement will be managing different priorities and requirements from various stakeholders involved in a breach, i.e. all of the departments above, and will be expected to act as a cornerstone in ensuring that different requirements are met and balanced when and where they need to be.

    http://sourcinginnovation.com/wordpress/2016/01/28/data-breach-response-planning-part-ii/

  • You Can Become a Data Scientist. Yes, You.

    You can stay in tune with your business by identifying a handful of key statistics, such as average sales price or revenue per customer, and forcing yourself to track them over time. Soon you will see patterns in the data and identify trends much earlier. Trends that don’t seem to change much week over week may change significantly in the course of three to six months. Tracking over time gives you powerful insights that will help you to improve your business, making you an invaluable asset to your company.

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/254665

  • SCMR Columnist Co-Authors New Book on Supply Chain Disputes

    Squire Patton Boggs partner Sarah K. Rathke has published a comprehensive legal and operational guide to successfully managing supply chain relationships. The book, Legal Blacksmith: How to Avoid and Defend Supply Chain Disputes, is co-authored with Rosemary Coates, President of Blue Silk Consulting and Executive Director of the Reshoring Institute.

    The first book of its kind, Legal Blacksmith explains how to optimize supply chain relationships, starting with the first stages of supplier-buyer relationships through handling legal disputes when supply chain relationships fail.

    http://www.scmr.com/article/scmr_columnist_co_authors_new_book_on_supply_chain_disputes#When:14:26:42Z

  • Here’s Why Every Employee Should Have Unlimited Vacation Days

    It’s sad that we’re still compensated according to an assembly-line mentality. We work from whenever and wherever necessary to get results, so it only makes sense that our compensation and benefits reflect that shift.

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/269989

  • Which disruptions lose you more money: Black swans or routine risks?

    Dwelling over past risks which have altered the course of business, images of the September 11th attacks, or the 2013 Japanese tsunami or the global financial crisis first spring to mind. Similarly, when managers build their resilience plans, they worry about terrorist attacks or major political events.

    Past Procurement Leaders research has found that procurement professionals spend a lot of time worrying about events which have a low probability of occurring. Whereas the more routine risks of poor weather or machine downtown tend to catch out business and cause higher number of incidents.

    http://www.procurementleaders.com/blog/my-blog–jonathan-webb/which-disruptions-lose-you-more-money-black-swans-or-routine-risks-596025

  • HOW THIS WEEK’S TWITTER DEPARTURES REFLECT TECH’S CULTURE WOES

    But there’s another question worth asking, too, and it’s bigger than Twitter’s own woes: What message does the company send about what it takes to succeed in the tech world when time off is only “well deserved” by those who’ve failed? One source who spoke to Mashable claimed that the four departing Twitter execs “were not people in whom Jack has the highest faith.”

    http://www.fastcompany.com/3055937/lessons-learned/how-this-weeks-twitter-departures-reflect-techs-culture-woes

Photo: Ismael Nieto

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Video: How to Have a Bad Career

sn_computersupplies_Patryk Dziejma

Renowned computer scientist David Patterson came to Mountain View to provide advice that, as he puts it, “I wish I had been given at the start of my career.”

An entertaining and engaging presenter, Prof. Patterson takes us through a number of tongue-in-cheek examples of how to sink a career in academics and elsewhere. He also provides great tips on how how to steer clear of these mistakes and build a career that is both successful and satisfying.

David Patterson wrote the book Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach with John Hennessy and helped lead UC Berkeley research projects Reduced Instruction Set Computers (RISC), Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks (RAID), and Network of Workstations (NOW). He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame, both AAAS organizations, and President of ACM.

Photo: Patryk Dziejma

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News You Can Use: 1/13/2016

sn_windows_Ricky Kharawala

  • A.T. Kearney Is Just Plain Wrong

    Not only are more than half of US manufacturers considering reshoring now, we have some really great examples of success stories including GE Appliance Park, Starbucks, Apple and others. In addition, we can point to other companies such as Haier, Nissan and Smithfield Foods where Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has directly resulted in the establishment of more manufacturing in America.

    All of the signs and statistics (other surveys by Boston Consulting Group, Alix Partners and several European studies) point to the rebuilding of manufacturing in America and in Western Europe. The trend is strong and we are very optimistic that it will continue to be so. US jobs loss to offshoring is now about equivalent to jobs created or reshored to America. We need to be reshoring supporters and make more of this happen, not detractors.

    http://www.scmr.com/article/a.t._kearney_is_just_plain_wrong

  • How Quitting Can Get You Exactly What You Want

    Quit selling those cheap houses to those unqualified, needy people who he didn’t like working with. If he was going to attract million-dollar sellers, he was going to have to give up on working with $100,000 homes. That meant reaching way out of his comfort zone and giving up on what he had built so far. If Jon was going to gain traction, pick up luxury sellers and earn more money, he was going to have to project the image of expertise, confidence and exclusivity. Exclusivity meaning he had to be selective of who he worked with. The days of taking on any old client were gone. If they didn’t fit the luxury mold, he had to refer them out.

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/253924

  • PAGING DR. ROBOT: THE COMING AI HEALTH CARE BOOM

    More than six billion dollars: That’s how much health care providers and consumers will be spending every year on artificial intelligence tools by 2021—a tenfold increase from today—according to a new report from research firm Frost & Sullivan. (Specifically, it will be a growth from $633.8 million in 2014 to $6,662.2 million in 2021.)

    http://www.fastcompany.com/3055256/elasticity/paging-dr-robot-the-coming-ai-health-care-boom

  • Strategic Sourcing predictions for 2016

    the doctor is already seeing a number of 2016 posts about how this is the year we replace “negotiate” with “collaborate” (which the thought leaders have been saying since strategic sourcing decision optimization started becoming common in the leading Sourcing organizations, also known as the Hackett Group top 8%), that analytics will take off (which is the same speech we heard 15 years ago when Business Objects and Cognos were the names in analytics), that the skills gap will finally be addressed (which reminds the doctor of conversations he was having nine years ago), and so on. It looks like the amount of future sh!t that is going to be dumped upon you this year is greater than the truckload Biff Tannen had dumped upon his head in the original Back to the Future movie, way back in 1985. (A reference that is very appropriate because every year at this time it seems we get taken back to the future.)

    http://sourcinginnovation.com/wordpress/2016/01/04/sis-prediction-for-2016-it-will-only-get-hotter/

  • To connect to last week’s podcast, How Millennials Are Affecting the Supply Chain

    Respondents said that the biggest impact millennials will have on the supply chain is in terms of how they change the way consumers buy. The move towards new marketplaces – online, mobile, via social media – will be one of the transformative ways supply chains will be affected.

    http://mhlnews.com/labor-management/how-millennials-are-affecting-supply-chain

  • In 2016, Intel’s Entire Supply Chain Will Be Conflict-Free

    Since Intel and other manufacturers began the program, the profits from mines have started flowing to miners themselves rather than to war. In the last study of three of the major materials—tungsten, tantalum, and tin—a nonprofit called the Enough Project found that the amount of money going to conflict had dropped 65%, and it continues to fall.

    http://www.fastcoexist.com/3055066/change-generation/in-2016-intels-entire-supply-chain-will-be-conflict-free

Photo: Ricky Kharawala

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