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Business quotes designed to improve your bottom line, or, at the least, your disposition.

Pithy quote: If I were a fan, I’d boo me too…

Pithy quote:

                   If I were a fan, I’d boo me too…

 

The baseball season, at least for the Atlanta Braves, is over, sadly over – but there’s a message that lingers on.

 

Case in point, Dan Uggla, the multi-million dollar man who couldn’t bat his weight for the first few months of the season.  Counted on to be the long baller and the .260 hitter he’d always been, Uggla struggled mightily.  The pithy quote from Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench was applicable: “Slumps are like a soft bed. They’re easy to get into and hard to get out of.”

 

Most every big leaguer goes through a slump, but not for nearly four months. The unwritten rule of fandom is the higher the salary, the closer the scrutiny. And, as was to be expected, some fans got on him.  They paid their money and they were exercising their right to pass judgment on General Manager Frank Wren’s biggest decision.  Boos could be heard at the park, frustration could be heard on  sports talk radio.

 

So what did Uggla do? Break bats? Blame playing for a new manager?  Feign minor injury?  Avoid the media and their questions? Did Uggla grumble and grouse?  No, in the vernacular, he “manned up.”  Baseball executive Paul Richards had a salient snippet to the point a few years back that applies not only to the business of baseball, but to business as a whole. “Trust your gut,” said Richards, “don’t cover your butt; they pay you to do what is right.”

 

The season was half over, Manager Fredi Gonzalez could have swallowed hard and asked Uggla to work it out in the minors; the Braves were in a race to make the playoffs. Maybe General Manager Wren opposed it – we’ll never know because Gonzalez did what was right.

 

Uggla could taken his money, moped and written 2011 off as a bad year. We know  he didn’t; he stuck with it – ultimately showing fans what they’d paid to see. “If I were a fan,” said Uggla in a June radio interview, I’d be booing me too.” Whoa, vulnerability and accountability.  By season’s premature end,  the  scrappy second baseman who had remained accessible to reporters throughout, had raised his average nearly 100 points, ending with a .233 batting average and 36 home runs – more home runs than the 31 year old  had ever before hit in the majors.

 

What happens at your place when someone fails to meet expectations? Do they get top level management’s support?  Do they grumble, point fingers, hide from accountability, or do they accept responsibility and “man up” Dan Uggla style?

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Braves Blow Season’s Biggest Test

Quick question: If someone where you worked made vulgar homophobic taunts to a group of customers, what would happen?

What if that same person then made lewd suggestive gestures towards a family of customers who had been offended by his comments and then threatened physical violence, what would have happen?

That would likely be in violation of your company’s values and culture, be bad business; they would be gone; fired with cause.

Not so with my hometown Atlanta Braves.   Team President John Schuerholz is quoted as saying, “The Atlanta Braves organization prides itself on being one that values integrity, diversity, professionalism and respect…” and he then abdicated his responsibility to discipline his errant employee leaving it up to Major League Baseball.

Baseball is a business.  Pitching Coach Roger McDowell’s response to being heckled reflects poorly on the game of baseball in general and the Atlanta Braves in particular.  He violated what Schuerholz claims to be the team’s (read: company’s) values.

Does the name John Rocker ring a bell?

Rocker’s rant was featured in Sports Illustrated and he, not the game, became the focus wherever the Braves played that year.  You would have thought an organization “that prides itself on being one that values integrity, diversity, professionalism and respect” would have learned its lesson.

McDowell, a former major league pitcher, hurled his slurs and made his threats in a public arena, yet cowardly apologized in a written statement.

The decision as what to do should have never ended up in Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig’s lap. McDowell is an employee of the Braves. Either Schuerholz or General Manager Frank Wren, one or the other, should have seized the initiative and shown that the values the organization’s claims really do mean something and fired McDowell.

Now a show boating attorney who has never seen a TV camera she didn’t love is getting involved and the circus begins.

Ironically, another former major league pitcher, years ago, had a pithy quote appropriate to the occasion.  Former Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Vernon Law said, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first and the lesson afterwards.”

The Braves have now failed two tests: John Rocker and now Roger McDowell.

When will they learn the lesson?

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Goals, Roles, Rules, Pizza and Profits

Editor’s note:  Some things have changed in the more than a year since this was posted.  Thought you might appreciate the update:

Through all the economic chaos, with most business leaders struggling up the tough side of the mountain, it’s good to step back and realize there are some, albeit a diminished number, who are having good years.  One with which I am familiar, having worked with him now for more than 10 years, is succeeding, profiting,  not through luck, but through a consistent application of a strong management system, a diversification of product offerings and tapping into the sage counsel of other CEOs  committed to his success.

Pierre Panos fled the violence of his native South Africa in the early 90s after accomplishing the equivalency of a CPA (and spending five years in management with Coopers and Lybrand there) and gaining experience in several food service ventures.  Not sure where he wanted to migrate, he composed a matrix of all things important to the young couple in a new country – wherever it may be and graded the possibilities, ultimately choosing The United States and Atlanta.

Here, he applied his restaurant background, earning equity as he turned around a marginal mid-price point operation. Next, Panos created a new concept: Stoney River Steakhouse. Panos and his partner ultimately sold the Stoney River concept and their two local stores (and 2 under construction in Chicago) to the O’Charley’s chain. He then bought out his partner in a popular suburban mid-price point restaurant, Brookwood Grill, and began to diversify.

The 46 year old Panos bought several Papa John’s franchise stores, revamped the Brookwood Grill, and ultimately created yet another new dining concept: F2O – Fresh to Order. Papa Johns is at the low end when it comes to the average ticket, F2O is somewhere in the nine to ten dollars range for lunch and restaurants like the Brookwood Grill usually have price points in the mid-20s.

Choosing good people who are screened and tested to ensure alliance with clearly defined values, Panos likely has a layer of management others would see as a cost, and unnecessary expense.  For Pierre it is an investment – a solid core of trusted chiefs who allow him the luxury to work on his businesses, not just in it. The result is that during a down economy, a time when many restaurants are taking it on the chin, some failing to survive, Panos’ company, QSAmerica (www.QSAmerica.com) has enjoyed two good years, very good, despite a dour, downturned economy.

His Papa John’s stores (he is now their third largest franchisee) in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Florida, out-perform the chain’s national average.  His F2O restaurants here in Atlanta, and one in Chattanooga, are in the black and attracting a long line of franchise seekers.   To this point, the numbers cruncher turned restaurateur has opted to keep the majority company-owned while “testing” the franchise possibility with a couple stores. Ask, and the modest South African will tell you that a rigid compliance with Vistage speaker Will Phillips motivational business quote, “The essentials to successful management are good people, roles and rules.”

To which Panos would likely add diversification.

Bud Carter

Senior Chairman Vistage Atlanta

Publisher of Chairman Carter’s Collection of Pithy Quotes (Business quotes designed to improve your bottom line, or, at the least, your disposition). www.Businessquotes.com

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Business Quote: “When you’re better than ‘good enough’…”

Now that there are signs we’re starting to come out of the recession, business leaders might do well to review the keen, albeit acerbic, insight of one Sam Bowers.  The consultant from North Carolina has a proven record of success in the real world – having played a key role in the growth of an Atlanta personnel company from $12million when he was brought aboard to over $400 million when he left, as well as providing advice and counsel to  his clients.  At the core of a very strongly held belief is his contention that CEOs who think that what worked well for them in the past will work again, are badly mistaken and likely heading for financial disaster.

It was Bowers, in his presentation in May 2009, who said that the old axiom, “Faster, better, cheaper – your choice, any two,” no longer applies. That, in fact, being able to provide your company’s product/service, better, faster and cheaper is now the price of admission in order to even be considered. “It is,” he said, “the new definition of Capitalism.”

Sam asks a key question: “What are you providing now that your customer does not value?” According to Bowers, “The concept of Value Added bankrupts more companies than any other.” Then, one other pithy quote to reiterate his point: “When you’re better than good enough, your price is too high.”

Bowers and subtlety, you have undoubtedly noted, are strangers. One of his comments is already on the web site, Businessquotes.com: “Looking for a place where price is not a factor today,” he said, “is going to be a long, lonely search in a dark jungle.”

Noting the chaotic economy already prevailing when he spoke, Bowers said, “The recession will end when consumers can no longer delay the purchase of durable goods.”  It made sense when Sam said it and it looks like we’re nearing that point now, 22 months later.

And not a day too soon.

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What would you do?

The Emperor’s Top 10

What would you change if you had the power, the authority?

I’m not up for the rigors (and likely revelations) that go along with running for office, but I am open to being named Emperor. And as your Emperor, here are the Top 10 Things I would change immediately (if not sooner):

1)      Order all billboards taken down. They are eyesores that detract from the beauty of nature and distract drivers.  Sidebar: The members of the Georgia House, in their infinite wisdom, recently voted to allow “vista pruning,” cutting down those terrible trees that stand between the billboard and the roadway. Claimed they were helping save jobs.

2)      Bury all utility lines. Another eyesore eliminated, a hazard for inebriated drivers removed, and no more concern about ice laden wires toppling in the aftermath of storms and pulling the plug on power for thousands of customers.

3)      Remove speed bumps.  These manmade monstrosities succeed only in profiting auto shops specializing in alignment work. Sidebar: the management of one Atlanta office building has painted stripes similar to what you see on speed bumps in their parking lot.  What happens? Cars slow down as if they were actual speed bumps.

4)      Make all political offices one term.  The President would serve for seven years, members of the US Senate for six and House members would be voted to four year terms – on a staggered basis. Sidebar: Journalist Peggy Noonan is quoted on www.BusinessQuotes.com as saying, “Voters think Washington is a whorehouse and every four years they get to elect a new piano player.  As Emperor, I’d leave the piano player and the girls upstairs alone, and start shuffling out the good ole boys in the backroom.

5)      Require the television networks (and local stations) to maintain the volume of their commercials at the same level as that of their programs. They actually do pump up the volume for commercials.

6)      Order full disclosure of all cash paid to or for the benefit of any and all publicly elected official as well as the bureaucrats they appoint.  Money spent in this arena is clearly designed to help gain access, access leads to influence and then to power, and power corrupts.

7)      Allow the residents (qualified voters) of every state to vote whether they want to be able to buy liquor on Sunday, gamble legally and/or give special tax breaks to attract new industry. Sidebar: A former Georgia Governor pre empted a public vote on a lottery for years; citing “moral grounds.”  The lottery approved by the voters after Joe Frank Harris left office has funneled literally billions of dollars into education.

8)      Ban the following words from all political debate: “They, Them, Nazi, Neo, Fascist, Anti American, Always, Never, and None.”

9)      Legally prohibit anyone par boiling or baking meat (regardless how much sauce they slather on) from offering it to the public as “Barbecue.”

10)  Eject from the theater (only after photographing and posting the picture) anyone caught talking during a movie.

Those are the things I’d change. That’s my list.  What would you do were you to become Emperor?  Post yours and I’ll compile and we’ll see how others react.

Your Emperor In Waiting.

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