Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Three Cheers for Those Mundane Products

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Three Cheers for Those Mundane Products

Article excerpt

I recently wrote a forward to a marvelous book, the forthcoming ``Rethinking Business to Business Marketing,'' by long-time Raychem product developer Paul Sherlock.

Though he has effectively marketed some of the most sophisticated products imaginable, Sherlock emphasizes the non-rational side of decision making, the need to trust your intuition, the importance of personal integrity to the development arketing process. He also provides a short list of his favorite products, topped, surprisingly, by Velcro and Ziploc bags. These apparently mundane products, said Sherlock, are truly better mousetraps.

The book led me to jot down a top-of-the-head list of more or less business-related things that I like (and a few that I don't). From that list, I intend to construct no less than a ``theory of business.'' Here goes.

Ziploc bags. Amen. They have a million uses and I can't live without them - I always stuff a handful in my briefcase before leaving on a trip. How about Post-It notes? Could we survive without them now? Not me. Next: a sign I recently came across in the Cameron, Mo., Wal-Mart. The discount store urges you to play it safe and buy more film than you need before leaving on vacation - then bring back any you don't use.

Add in the rare airline pilot or gate worker who explains exactly what's going on when there's a delay. I came across a first-rate explainer the other day at United, and walked away from a mess feeling good rather than cross.

I get a kick out of old-time Manhattan cabbies who are philosophers in disguise; I often don't want a ride to end. And don't you get a charge out of front-line employees who are obviously having fun doing what they're doing? The waiters at Pearl's Oyster Bar in Palo Alto, Calif., take the prize here - my visit frequency far exceeds my love of oysters.

Three cheers and then some for executives who engage and make you feel for an instant like you're the only person in a room that brims with a thousand other people. Wal-Mart's Sam Walton tops the charts on this.

I get a buzz from being around people who are absolute fanatics about the project or product they're working on, who insist upon showing and telling you everything about it. I'm also mesmerized by the likes of Domino's stellar franchisee Phil Bressler and peerless Dallas car dealer Carl Sewell - they can't comprehend why most execs don't understand that you only make money if you treat employees and customers like royalty. (I find them incapable of explaining their point of view beyond stammering, ``It's obvious.'')

I have a soft spot for big shots like Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin and California Governor George Deukmejian, who still retain their humanity. …

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