Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Book Review: Chief Culture Officer

Score: 3.5/5

Summary: Author Grant McCracken argues that today’s popular culture is much more fragmented yet also more crucial to the financial well being of companies as purchasing decision processes change.  He advocates therefore, for a CCO position, whose mandate is to drive the initiative to monitor pop culture and inform product design and brand marketing.

My thoughts: Interesting book with some great insights.  I’d like it more if it were shorter.

Book Review: Four Seasons

Score: 4.5/5

I picked up this book quite a while back but finally finished it this past weekend.  Many people probably don’t know that Four Seasons is a Canadian company.  This book is an autobiography of its founder Isadore Sharp, about how he entered the hotel business as an outsider and through determination and some luck, created the well known five star hotel chain as we know it today.

This is a great book and I’ve learned lots about Mr. Sharp’s courage and commitment in excellent customer service.  I’ve enjoyed the book and hope you will, too.

Here were some of my favourite moments in the book:

About Excellence

“Excellence is often just a capacity for taking pains.”

About Courage

Not long after Sharp entered the hotel business as a building contractor, while arranging the financing of his second hotel, he realized if the hotel didn’t prove successful, he would be in debt for the rest of his life.

He went ahead, and now his chain is 150 hotels strong.

About Excellent Customer Service

A black-tie event was held at Four Seasons Chicago.  Every gentleman was wearing a black-tie except one, who complained to his wife that he looked like an idiot because she didn’t say this was a black-tie event.

A Four Seasons employee, Hans Willimann, overheard this and leaned toward the couple…

“I’m sorry,” he said, “but I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation.  I work here.  I understand your dilemma, and I think I can help.”

Hans invited the man to follow him to the uniform office.

“Khaled, this gentleman doesn’t have a tuxedo.  Can you help him?”

Khaled invited the gentleman to have a seat in his office, excused himself, changed out of the tuxedo he was wearing, put on his civilian clothes, and rushed to the laundry to press his very own tuxedo for the guest to wear.  The pants were a little bit too big, so the staff seamstress came up and fixed them, and the gentleman rejoined the party.

The next day Hans received a lengthy and effusive letter of praise from Mr. Steingraber expressing his gratitude.  The letterhead indicated that he was the chairman and CEO of a major global strategic consulting firm, A.T. Kearney.  And he felt that if his consultants had the kind of attitude that Hans and his banquet manager had demonstrated, the company could be twice their size.