Book Notes: Customer Mania by Ken Blanchard

Here are my notes from Customer Mania: It’s Never Too Late to Build a Customer Focused Company by Ken Blanchard.

51W16Z9jRvL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_If you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will. The goal is not to create happy customers, but raving fans (example: a personal 7 AM wake up call with the weather report)

Keep people well informed and let them use their brains (example: restaurant staff understanding the profit margin is only 5-10%)

Casting a Compelling Vision

  • Disney said he was in the “happiness business.”
  • Picture of the future.  “keep our guests smiling”
  • Disney – safety, courtesy, the show, efficiency.  These were ranked in priority and all employees knew it.
  • Culture – shared system of what is meaningful.

When casting vision, be a 3rd grade teacher – say it over and over until they get it right.

Listen – defending what you have done will irritate people.  Help them understand. Leaders are responsive to the needs of people.

Creating Customer Maniacs…recruit and hire, train and develop, performance management, career development.  Hire for character, train for competence.

Do role plays in interviews.  Good people love to be tested. Nobody says “we lost some of our best losers last year, so let’s go out and replace them.” A coaches job is to help stars shine and help team wins.  Good coaches are not figureheads, they are nearby.  Coaches are not successful if their teams are not successful.

Anybody can coach anybody – it’s not limited to top-level leaders.

Effictive leadership requires good systems.  People who seem to always remember birthdays have a system for reminding them 10 days out to send a card.  Effective systems always include accountability (people knowing what they are being asked to do – where to focus their energy), information (what the goal looks like) , feedback (how well they are doing), training (redirection), and recognition (catch them doing good).

Praise progress – it’s a moving target.

“How many of you are sick and tired of all the compliments you get at work?”  Recognition is a universal need – people everywhere want to be appreciated.  Find reasons to celebrate achievements.  Recognition is your secret weapon as a leader.

We believe in people, trust in positive intentions, and encourage ideas from everyone.

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Starting Something New


If you’ve been here for a while, you might have noticed a redesigned look and a little shift in the content. That’s been intentional, because I want to use my blog to talk about starting things, starting things again, and starting things that matter.

For the last six months, I’ve been working behind to launch a new company (well, two of them actually…but I’ll get to the other part of the story later). I’m going to use this blog to share some of the behind the scenes stories from this new venture.

The next series of posts (at least seven of them are in draft mode right now) will cover these topics.

  • Naming a new company
  • Building a brand
  • The partners and the team
  • Clarifying mission, vision, and values
  • Defining a strategy
  • Building a suite of products
  • Lessons learned along the way

After this “Behind the Startup” series, I’ll write more on startups and creating things that really matter.  I’ll share some leadership and productivity stuff as well.  I’m excited about this new direction.

For those of you who are pastor types and church leaders, don’t worry. You’ll still have lots of ideas and resources coming your way. I think you’ll love it.

And if starting things that matter interests you, consider joining my mailing list.  It’s brand new, which means even if you’ve subscribed to things in the past, you’ll need to opt in to get this newsletter.

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The Best Lists of 2014 List

It’s that time of year again.  Everyone is publishing their best lists.  The best books.  The best movies. The top this and the top that.

But I’m all about saving you time, so here’s my 2014 list of best lists.

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The Six Best Kickstarter Campaigns

I’ve backed a half-dozen projects or so on Kickstarter – from a novel to a brewery to a kid selling cupcakes.  And my daughter did a Kickstarter to raise money to self publish her book.  It’s a great way to validate an idea and generate activity right off the bat.  I love it.

Here are my five favorite Kickstarter projects from 2014. It’s amazing what kind of stuff catches on.

#1 – The No Phone. A technology-free alternative to constant hand-to-phone contact that allows you to stay connected with the real world.  The product description is amazing and 915 people agree.


#2 – Meat Soap.  Yep, it’s soap that smells like meat.  And at least 42 people thought this was a good idea.

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#3 –  Graphing the Deliciousness of a Chipotle burrito.  This guy wanted to raise $8 to buy a burrito.  And with 258 people pledging over $1,000, I’d say he was successful.


#4 – A tie between the Ultimate Spatula (nearly $50,000 raised) and the iFetch – an automatic ball thrower for dogs ($88k raised after a $20k goal).

# 5- The Coolest Cooler.  How about a cooler that has a built in ice-crushing blender, bluetooth speakers, and charging stations for your device.  More than 62,000 backers gave more than $13 million to this project.  It was all over the news.


That’s my list of favorites.  Would you have supported any of these? Have you ever supported a project on Kickstarter?

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Best Books of 2014

Here are a list of the best books I read in 2014.

1.  Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull.  This book is all about creativity inside Pixar.  It’s part story and part leadership development.  It was the best book I read this year.

2.  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  This is an incredible story of resilience and redemption.  You’ll probably see the movie version, but don’t skip the book.  I also ordered the young adult version for my teenage daughter.

3.  When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan.  I started reading this on vacation and couldn’t put it down.  Regardless of your political views, you’ll love the story and the lessons learned.

4.  The 80/20 Principle.  I’d heard a lot about this principle, and the book was a great reminder.  20% of your efforts produce 80% of your results.  This book will help you focus on what matters.

5.  Mindset, by Carol Dweck.  Fantastic read for parents and anyone who leads.  It’s all about how the growth mindset (rather than a fixed mindset) is the key to advancement and improvement.

6.  The Smartest Kids in the World and How they Got That Way by Amanda Ripley.  I’m learning a lot about education and this was the best education book I read this year.  She tracked several American kids through foreign schools and tells us what we can learn from nations like Iceland and Poland. Every year, I create a reading list and work through books I want to read.  This wasn’t on the list, but I’m glad I read it.

7.  Hatching Twitter.  I love Twitter, so reading the startup story and the craziness of the first few years was fascinating.

I read most of the books on my reading list the old school way – hardback or paperback.  I usually keep a few on the Kindle app for plane rides.  But I listen to several a year using Audble.  I love the double speed setting on the Audible app.  You can download a free audio book from Audible here.

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