Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hey Mr. (Next) President: Show Me Some Skin

When an entrepreneur starts or buys a business and starts looking for investors, one of the first things those investors ask is, "Do you have any skin in the game?" Meaning: "You are asking me to support you and risk something, what are you risking? Shouldn't you have something valuable on the line?"

It's a great question. In order to get support from outside sources, entrepreneurs should be willing to invest their own money and risk losing their money, home, etc. If they believe in their vision and are passionate about their company, it shouldn't be a problem.

This brings me to the two nominees for president. Why don't John McCain and Barack Obama walk away from their high-profile Senate positions and just focus on becoming the next president. It's not like the citizens of Arizona and Illinois are getting their moneys worth out of them the last 12-14 months anway. They've missed the majority of votes on the Senate floor.

Where is the risk for these two guys? Neither are paying for this race (donors and parties are helping with that) and if they lose, they head back to their day jobs. (McCain continues to be an American hero and Obama has created more raving fans for his next best seller.)

I think there should be some risk involved in this. Heck, Joe Biden is running for both the Senate and Vice President at the same time. Talk about ducking risk. Is there anything else he can run for just in case?

Bob Dole made a gutsy decision years ago to give up his Senate seat for a White House run. I applaud him for that. If I have a job in the real world (and all politicians want us to think they know what it's like in the real world), I can't put my job on hold, still get paid, and take 1-2 years to apply for another job.

It would be interesting to see how these primaries and races would unfold if the candidates had to dedicate themselves 100% to the run for president. Would Obama risk his opportunity to evolve as a U.S. Senator for a run as president? Would Joe Biden give up his powerful Senate position to be Vice President? What would John McCain (a career public servant) do if he gave up his position in the Senate?

--Ron Ameln, SBM

Let's Put An End To Politicians' Books

I'm reading Newsweek the other night and I see Nancy Pelosi, Democratic speaker of the house from California, has a book out. Now, why wouldn't that surprise me?
This is what politicians do to cash in on their notoriety and celebrity status. John McCain has numerous books out, Barack Obama has a couple of books out, Joe Biden also has a book.
Public service used to mean using your position to create a better community for your fellow man, not to create greater wealth for the public servant. Not anymore. In fact, politicians waste no time cashing in. Obama may take the prize for a politician cashing in the fastest on his fame. When Obama gave his big Democratic convention speech in July 2004, I guess the iron was hot. His autobiography, "The Audacity of Hope," was published soon after. While Obama did author a book before his first run for political office, his autobiography was certainly timed to capitalize on his new found celebrity status.
And good for him. That's the American way. My question is: Who reads all these political autobiographies? Why do we care about a politician's autobiography? Isn't this like asking executives at Anheuser-Busch if their beer tastes better?
Do you remember the first time you heard your voice on a tape? Did it sound different than you thought? Of course. Is it possible that some of these political celebrities have miscalculated their voices? Why fall prey to their propaganda?
I guess I need to face reality. Becoming a politician today isn't all about helping people. It's also about cashing in.
Well, at least Pelosi's book is ranked in the 1,200s on Amazon. Maybe I'm not alone.
-Ron Ameln, SBM

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Let The Parents Train Your Employees

Years ago, a young St. Louis entrepreneur was so impressed by the reputation of Nordstrom clothing stores, he decided to check it out himself. After all, Nordstrom was known worldwide for its "one-of-a-kind customer service."
"How could a clothing store that employs thousands offer such great customer service?" he wondered. Let’s be honest. Working in a clothing store isn’t the most glamorous job, and Nordstrom employees could certainly make more money on a construction site. So, how can Nordstrom train so many ordinary people to behave in extraordinary ways.
The entrepreneur flew to California, pen and notebook in hand, to check it out. He strolled through the store and, sure enough, the service was fantastic. He waltzed into the office and asked for Mr. Nordstrom. Mr. Nordstrom came out and they began talking about the business. "I have one question," the entrepreneur asked. "How do you train your employees?"
"We don’t train them," Nordstrom said. "Their parents train them."
The entrepreneur left disappointed. He came thousands of miles, had his pen and notebook ready to write down these words of wisdom and all he came away with was "their parents train them."
Then, about a week later, it hit him like a ton of bricks. "All of a sudden, it made all the sense in the world," he said. "Parents train children to have the right values and morals. Those are the kind of employees you want working for your company."
That entrepreneur discovered the secret to finding great employees: Hiring employees whose parents have done a great job of training. You don’t have to talk with them about integrity or honesty or morality or initiative or commitment.
Remember, employee values, not particular skills, turn an average company into a success story. In the age of e-mail, desktop computers, the Internet and the global village, attentiveness—a token of human kindness—is one of the greatest gifts an employee can offer a company.
If you want to succeed in hiring, look at candidates’ attitudes and values. And remember, those attitudes and values started with the parents.