PAUL & SARAH EDWARDS
LIFESTYLES FOR THE MILLENNIUM
HOW DO YOU STAND OUT in a crowd of 26,600
buyers who have only a few days to shop through
the booths of 1,650 exhibitors, all hoping to sell IN TODAY’S competitive busi-
their wares? That was the challenge facing potter ness world, here’s an idea to get
ahead: Go a little crazy.
Paul & Sarah Edwards are pioneers
in the home-business field.
They can be reached on the Web
Nina Walz of Bend, Oregon, as an exhibitor at this That’s the advice of Costco
summer’s California Gift Show in Los Angeles. member JoAnna Brandi, a cus-
It was an even bigger challenge four years tomer-loyalty expert based in
ago, when she first decided to expand her home- Boca Raton, Florida. She says that
based Off the Walz Studio (
www.worldwidewalz.com panies develop “hardening of
com) from selling directly to buyers at art fairs to the categories” when they’re satis-
selling wholesale to retailers at gift shows. Nina fied with the norm in terms of
was aware that there were always lots of potters service and products. “The result:
at these shows and most of their booths looked Your service goes stale while
competitors creating fresh new
pretty much the same, adorned with attractive and expanded into artichoke servers, asparagus plat- service innovations attract your
platters, bowls, pots, etc. But in taking an all-or- ters, corn-on-the-cob holders and olive boats. But best employees and precious cus-
nothing risk to invest in a booth at such a large the pièces de résistance are her salad sets. These tomers,” Brandi says.
show, she couldn’t afford to be just another potter. large, hand-rolled, delicately shaped lettuce- or The solution is to nurture
As small businesses, most of us face a similar cabbage-leaf sculptures with individual nesting a culture where it’s safe to be a
challenge. We are like a small fish competing not bowls are one-of-a-kind showstoppers. little crazy.
only with a lot of big fish but also with lots of “What’s that?” we asked, eyes wide with Set aside time for creativity.
other little fish. Nina’s solution was to create wonder, as we approached her booth. We were Ideally, you want to do this quar-
something appealingly practical, yet strikingly astonished to learn these stunning art pieces were terly, outside the office, and you
out of the ordinary. both functional and beautiful. No one would need should hire someone to facilitate the sessions so that the managers
She produced a line of brightly colored serving to find a place to store these pieces. You’d want can fully participate.
pieces that are shaped like the objects they’re them as a decorative center of attention. Start an Idea of the Month
designed to serve but look like works of art. She Her novel ideas were an instant hit from her Club. Get everyone into the
began with fish platters named after the fish they first gift show on—quite a splash from this little practice of questioning or look-
represent—rainbow trout, sockeye salmon, etc.— fish in the pond. C ing at things differently, using
questions like “How can I make
this better? How can we improve
the customer experience?” Offer
a monetary reward for the ideas
each behavior and then offers a that are selected for action.
Your worst enemy few action steps for combating it. Invest in creativity. There
It’s the kind of book in which are fabulous books, products,
you can scan the table of con- cards, games and activities to
IF YOU’RE LOOKING around expecting your boss to appreci- tents and then skip right to the help you break out of “normal”
for the culprit who’s been keep- ate you and wasting time. one, five or 20 negative behaviors thinking patterns.
ing you from succeeding, author/ In short, pithy chapters to which you feel you are prone. “If necessity is the mother
psychiatrist Mark Goulston h as highlighted with apt quotations Take guilt, for example. of invention, I’d guess the father
just the book for you. and anecdotes, he examines “There are few self-defeating is curiosity, absurdity, dissatis-It’s called Get Out of Your behaviors that separate effective faction, playfulness, considera-
Own Way at Work (Putnam, leaders from ineffective ones tion, imagination or any number
2005), and, knowing that, you more than feeling guilty,” of qualities that aren’t typically
can probably guess that the Goulston notes. a part of standard business
culprit just may be none other If you tend to feel guilty models,” says Brandi.
than you. when you make tough decisions “In most companies, mar-Costco member and involving other people, Goulston keting and research get to be
Connection contributor suggests you work to sift out creative while the rest of us wait
Goulston has identified a what is your own responsibility to hear from them. Let’s break
whole slew of self-defeating and what is the responsibility of out of the old molds and make
behaviors, including procrasti- others. Ask yourself, “Am I ‘creative flow’ a standard part of
nating, defensiveness, making assuming more than I need to?” our organizational cultures.”
excuses, deviousness, setting It is the first step toward avoid- For more from Brandi, see
low expectations, quitting too ing the confusion of feeling guilty
soon, being closed to input, with being guilty. C
NOVEMBER 2005 The Costco Connection 13