Business Books

The Business Books That Make Me Smarter

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog about the email newsletters that make me smarter. Today, I want to share some of the business books I have read and loved, and learned from.

Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury.

An oldie but goodie, this book was published in 1Roger Fisher981 and is almost as old as I am. It is still the best book on negotiations that I have read, I go back to the five propositions on a weekly basis:

  1. “Separate the people from the problem.” (watch out for emotion, make sure the negotiation builds the relationship, instead of destroying it)
  2. “Focus on interests, not positions.” (what are they really asking for?)
  3. “Invent options for mutual gain.” (grow the pie)
  4. “Insist on using objective criteria.” (commit to a real conversation)
  5. “Know your BATNA.” (best alternative to a negotiated agreement)

Love Is The Killer App by Tim Sanders. 

Other than the amazing title (the world needs more love), I return to this book almost daily for the way Sanders suggest we treat others in the workplace. Every day, I try to be a “lovecat.”

How? By sharing my knowledge, my network, and my compassion and love. Because, “Those of us who use love as a point of differentiation in business will separate ourselves from our competitors just as world-class distance runners separate themselves from the rest of the pack trailing behind them.”

Good To Great and Built To Last by Jim Collins.

From Good To Great, I go back to the idea of the bus: get the right people on the bus, then figure out where to drive it. Not necessarily the other way around. “First who, then what.”

From Built to Last, I go back to the acronym BHAG, Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I ask myself, is my BHAG big enough? It is clear and compelling enough?

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Duhigg explains habits as cue, routine, reward. He also explains that you can’t stop or extinguish a bad habit, but you can work on the cue and the reward, and thus change the routine, change the habit.

The concept of keystone habits (the habit that makes every other good habit easier) is also eye-opening.  

On that same topic, on my reading list next is Atomic Habits by James Clear.

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.

I love lists. But am I using my various lists in the most impactful, efficient manner? This book is about how to create the right checklists, and how to use them to save lives (in hospitals or in the airline industry for example) and make businesses work better. I read it twice, and still feel like I would learn more by reading it a third time.

The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma.

There are so many lessons from this book, I wrote a separate blog post on it after finishing it. It is a reminder to think about our thinking. Indeed, as Sharma puts it, the “one thing that makes us fully human is our ability to think about our thinking.”

Think about your thinking. And read books that help guide, improve, challenge, grow your thinking.

What are your favorite business books?

Seasons… of the Land, and of Business

I have had the privilege of hearing Seth Mattison speak at various industry conferences and have always come away from his presentations feeling inspired, energized, and motivated. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity of hearing him speak once again, in a more intimate setting over breakfast, and what I came away with was inspiration, energy, motivation – and calm and faith (in the process).

Having grown up in a farming family, Mattison spoke of the seasons of the land and drew parallels between the rhythm of farming and that of business. “When you are close to the land,” he reminded us, “you are close to the seasons of the world.” And “seasons,” he continued, “are relevant not only to farming, but also to business and to life.” As I remember working at my great-uncle’s farm harvesting corn when I was a young teenager, the connection between the cycles of the land and the cycles of business resonated particularly strongly with me.

“Winter is a season to rest, reflect, look back, and recharge.” Indeed, this is very much the symbolic of the months of December and January – months governed by analysis and planning.

“Spring is a season to plant and put seeds in the ground. Diligently, faithfully, every year.”

Summer is a season for monitoring growth and making adjustments to changing (weather or industry) conditions.

Fall is a season for harvesting, the season during which the year’s planning, planting, and labor yields fruit.

I have a love-hate relationship with January. I love the “newness” of it – a blank slate, the ability to start fresh. And I hate the “virgin-ness” of it – all (or most) of the business metrics I measure start back at 0. I don’t like 0s.

Mattison helped me understand that January can never be September, as that would just not be natural.

He helped me understand that I should love January (and winter) for what it offers, and work with the rhythm of nature, not against it.

He helped me understand that in business as in farming, there are many things we cannot control (the weather and the markets for example).

And finally, he helped me understand that while we must “surrender the outcome, we simultaneously must diligently work on the controllable.”

Roundup of 2019 Beauty Conferences & Tradeshows

Yesterday, I realized that there are only 33 (now 32) days left in 2018. This realization was immediately followed by excitement for Christmas, full-on panic, pulling out my 9-grids and reviewing my 2018 goals, and an urgent need to start planning 2019.

A key part of planning 2019 involves deciding which tradeshows and conferences to attend. Thus, I started looking for dates and locations. After spending over an hour online, I realized there really should be a list, somewhere, that someone compiled – but I couldn’t find one.

So, for my (and hopefully your) benefit, here is my roundup of 2019 spa, salon, beauty conferences and tradeshows.

January

February

N/A

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

N/A

A few conferences are still finalizing their dates and locations. And I did limit this list to beauty conferences (and thus omitted some of my favorite “outside my industry conferences” such as Brigadoon – Sundance Utah, February 24-26).  And I am sure I missed a couple – so please help!

Also, I can’t decide if I am less or more stressed having compiled this list… maybe there is a reason it does not exist anywhere! You’re welcome.

Flashback to Warren Buffet – and his great advice

If you have seen me travel, you have seen me with a pile of magazines, going through them methodically, tearing out articles that seem relevant and of interest. Sometimes I read them immediately, sometimes I “save them for later when I have time.”

I brought such a pile of magazine tear-sheets with me to Tinos to read during my two weeks of R&R. And in the middle of them, somehow, I found very old notes (like from 11/14/2002 old!) about a speech I heard Warren Buffet give at the McDonough School of Business. I am not sure how these notes go into this pile, and I am not sure how they survived the last 16 years (!!) but they are timeless and still so very relevant today.

Buffet’s advice:

  • Do work you love and are passionate about.
  • Always follow the front-page test: if you don’t want your words or actions on the front page of the Washington Post, don’t say or do the thing.
  • Think about who your heroes are.
  • Don’t marry for money, especially if you’re already rich!
  • Don’t save sex for old age. (Yes, he did say that!)
  • Your life’s success is measured by who loves and respects you.
  • There is no such thing as “business ethics.” There’s just ethics.
  • Don’t pay attention to the economy. Focus on what is knowable and what is important.
  • Don’t be envious, it only makes you feel bad.
  • Run your business like it’s your only asset and you can’t sell it for 100 years.
  • Don’t be bought.
  • What you are later in life is determined today. Have good mind and body habits.
  • There are a lot of things you can’t control – but you can control the type of person you are.

 

Learning from the field

I spend my life in the field, and the start to this year is no different. By the end of January, I will have visited 30+ stores that carry Alchimie. From every visit, from every interaction, I learn something new – what is working with my brand, what we can do better, and more.  

 I also spend most of my waking hours trying to figure out why certain locations sell a lot, and others less. I asked Marie Cook, who works in The Woodlands Beauty Evolution store in Houston, how she does it – not just with Alchimie, but with all of the brands she carries. She has been successfully selling beauty for 23+ years, and is filled with knowledge and advice. Read on…

 AP: How long have you been working with Walgreens? 

MC: I started with Walgreens on June 27, 1994, so a little over 23 years and six months.

AP: Please tell me how you started with Walgreens, and why? 

MC: Before Walgreens, I had worked in the retail industry for 6 years and I loved the retail business. When my husband made the decision to retire from the U.S. Navy, we left Japan, and I came ahead to Texas, while my husband completed his last six months aboard a ship. When I arrived in the Spring, I made several friends who worked for Walgreens, and I decided to apply. When they placed me in Beauty Care, I knew I had found my home.

AP: To you, what does Walgreens stand for? 

MC: For me, Walgreen’s represents stability. The company is devoted to studying their clientele, and providing the types of product that will sell in any given location.

AP: Have you always been in the same store? If so, why? 

MC: No, this is my second store. In 1998 a District Manager (DM) from Chicago was sent to work in Houston. He heard about my performance and he came to my store and ask me if I would work for him to run the beauty department in one of his new store that was going to open on May 4 of 1998. I was glad I accepted the offer, because I had achieved and accomplished and received recognition awards for my hard work under his watch until he retired. I know I made him proud. Besides these two stores, I was actually sent by my DM to many other stores to help out in beauty departments. When Walgreens started expanding, I was sent with the District Beauty Supervisor to help set up beauty departments in the new stores. I was also sent to some existing stores to help the beauty departments set up for Christmas and help others do the resets.

AP: In your own words, please describe your position to me?

MC: Sales and Customer Service: I promote best selling products to exceed my targets. I share success stories and learnings with other stores to enhance their performance, inform team members and leaders how to insure store success in beauty. I engage with customers in conversation about their beauty needs and exhibit a sincere concern for the customer. I am to offer tactful, informed, and personalized advice, tips, and product suggestions based on customer’s beauty needs and desires. I do demonstrations and makeovers. Most importantly perhaps I think about the long term, and offer extra customer care to build relationships and enhance customer loyalty to inspire the next purchase and repeat business.

AP: What is your favorite part of your job? 

MC: Making people feel beautiful about themselves inside and out.

AP: How do you consistently make your goal? What are your tips for success? 

MC: I consistently make my goal by planning ahead, monitoring and printing out my daily departments sales, and focusing on the goal to stay on top. I mix up the displays, do event tables, and keep the merchandising interesting for my customers. Also, I play with my outfits: I like to color coordinate my outfit to match with my theme. It attracts customers’ attention and it’s a great conversation starter.

AP: How do you self-motivate every day? 

MC: Loving what I do and my customers appreciating what I can offer is the key for my positive attitude.

AP: What are the keys to your positive attitude, regardless of traffic in the store? 

MC: Passion and drive are the keys for my self motivation everyday. I truly love what I do.

AP: What would be the one suggestion you have for Walgreens corporate? 

MC: My suggestions for Walgreens is to do more beauty training and keep us up to date with all the new beauty trends. For me, knowledge is power. Also better incentives would be helpful, including recognition for top sales, extra customer care winners. I would love to be invited to the headquarters in Chicago to receive an award before my 25th year. This is on top of my wish-list: to get flown somewhere again, all company expense to receive a recognition award and be on the Walgreens World Magazine one more time.

AP: What are the words of wisdom you have for your fellow beauty team members? 

MC: Do what you love and love what you do. Don’t be an expectation, be an inspiration. Own it, Love it, Live it. Care. Win Together. Inspire.

 

Wisdom from Jacques Courtin

I got away this past weekend – to a magical, beautiful place filled with soul and serenity – Tulum, Mexico. It was the perfect spot to rest my body and resource my mind.

Listening to the waves of the Caribbean Sea, I read a book that I have been carrying around with me for over a year – A Beautiful Success by Jacques Courtin – of Clarins fame. This is his story, his family’s story, his brand’s story. Established on March 15, 1954, Clarins began with a weight-loss device and a body treatment Institute. The first Clarins product was the “Tonic Body Treatment Oil,” a product that is still sold today. From an assortment of body products that complemented the Institute’s treatments, Clarins expanded to a full range of facial products, makeup, and fragrance. Combining the best of nature with the best of science, combining at-home products and treatment centers, Clarins came to represent “serious beauty.” A great example of what I want Alchimie to become!

While this book can’t be reduced to one-liners, there are some great ones, which are relevant beyond the world of beauty, and worth remembering on a daily basis.

“Do more. Do better. Enjoy what you do.”
(His key to success, and to happiness)

“Listening. Thinking. Acting. My company was based on this.”
(How often do we do those three things, but not in that order?)

“Everything starts with the word no.” He continues: “If someone says no you can immediately ask why. It’s pretty certain that with a little persistence you’ll wind up finding out the reason. At that point, you have all you need for adjusting your argument to fit the situation; you’re suddenly armed to win.”
(This reminds me of the most important lesson my sales teacher taught me: “No is just the start of a conversation.”)

“Always begin a difficult conversation with the magic words ‘You’re right.’ “You’re right’ is a sentence that everyone should be required to learn – human relations would take a huge leap forward.”
(He says this in the context of customer service challenges, but really it is true in general.)

“I sometimes ask people who work with me: ‘Would you like to be the one hearing what you’re saying?’ Sometimes nothing more is needed to help someone see they could maybe express themselves less awkwardly – and to make them want to try again, with different words.”
(We can never do this enough… in all personal and professional conversations.)