While playing hooky from a conference in Boston a few years back, three former colleagues from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management hopped in a car and headed on a road trip. They pulled into a shoe store in Maine and noticed that the sales help was unusually pushy. After a few questions, they discovered the store had a "secret shopper" program, in which employees would be marked down if they were not sufficiently aggressive with customers. A lightbulb went off.
Instead of teaching the tried-and-true case studies involving GE and Microsoft, these three wise men decided to pull their heads out of their ivory towers and go in search of insights about product differentiation, pricing, brand management, building a team, and a host of other topics. Why take your cues on employee compensation from Wall Street when you can learn from a Main Street company like Couer D'Alene's best crime-scene cleaner? Want to learn about scaling a business? Come meet Dr. Burris, the flying orthodontist, who operates multiple, profitable practices in rural Arkansas.
The book isn't all egghead; the chapters are spiced with the type of vehicular mishaps and Maalox moments that are common on any road trip.
©2014 Michael Mazzeo, Paul Oyer and Scott Schaefer (P)2014 Hachette Audio
I was lucky to have Prof. Mazzeo as a professor at Kellogg. Mazzeo, Schaefer, and Oyer do a great job of storytelling in this book. The examples give a common sense approach to business that is appropriate for any business owner.
It's probably about the same.
The details about the businesses: their hiring strategies, information gathering were great. The discussions of the authors personal lives, choice of clothing, housing and navigation skills detracted from book.
Whiel I mostly enjoyed listening to this book and learning about the wide range of businesses around the country, the authors chose to litter it with self-deprecating humor, comments on their personal lives, and their troubles navigating. I would rather have heard more details about the businesses. For example, the compony mining old cars for precious metals was fascinating. I would like to have heard a longer discussion about the merits of risk sharing with their customers as opposed to earning from getting better estimates about the quantities of metals in the various car models.
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