October 2016

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Apple CEO Tim Cook's verbal jiu-jitsu

Apple reported its financial results for the most recent quarter on Tuesday. The most anticipated piece of news was its update on iPhone sales. Apple sold about 5% fewer phones, and generated about 13% less revenue, than it did in the same quarter last year. That’s not good news. The art of earnings calls  I really
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Why is good customer service so hard? Because it requires courage

Chick-fil-A is one of the best performing fast food chains in the United States. They have some of the highest per location revenues in the industry. What’s their secret? Partly, it’s customer service: Chick-fil-A leads the industry in customer satisfaction, regularly topping the American Customer Service Index’s annual ranking. Compared to employees at 15 chains, employees
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The Apple car failure shows one of Apple's strengths

Apple appears to be shiftings gears. On Monday, Bloomberg reported that Apple, at least for now, is pulling back on building its own car. (I’m sorry for the pun. But not really. I can’t help myself.) Apple is on pace to have spent about $24 billion in research and development, from fiscal years 2014 through
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Revenue isn't always revenue. Even simple concepts can be confusing

I want to talk about revenue. Specifically, I want to talk about how it’s sometimes difficult to talk about revenue. Don’t worry. We’ll use an example, so it doesn’t get too meta. My fake plumbing business Say I run a plumbing business: Jeff’s Plumbing. Moving right past the uninspired name, let’s imagine I have five locations
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Comcast, Wells Fargo, and the public's demand for business regulation

On Tuesday, the FCC hit Comast with the largest fine it has ever issued to a cable operator. For Comcast, the amount of the fine, $2.3 million, is inconsequential. The bad press, and increased public scrutiny, is more painful. What happened? Comcast charged customers for equipment and service that the customers didn’t request. Sound familiar?
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Are you a problem solver? Or a problem preventer?

I recently listened to an interesting episode of The Ezra Klein Show. In the episode, Ezra interviewed Dr. Leana Wen, the Health Commissioner for Baltimore. The conversation is about public health and Dr. Wen’s approach to combating serious challenges in some of Baltimore’s most troubled communities. Here’s an interesting new data point I learned from
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A little math shows Twitter has a valuation problem

In the past five days, Twitter’s stock price has plummeted nearly 25%. Rumors have been circulating for a while that someone would buy the company. Now it appears that no one is interested enough to even make a bid for Twitter. Twitter’s stock price dropped because investors viewed a takeover as the most likely way to
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Henry Ford didn't worship at the shareholder value altar

In his 1922 book My Life and Work, Henry Ford wrote about the importance of paying good wages: What good is industry if it be so unskillfully managed as not to return a living to everyone concerned? No question is more important than that of wages — most of the people of the country live on wages.
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Businesses have a painfully simplistic view of employee accountability

Modern business has an accountability fetish. For a recent example, look at Wells Fargo. Management was worried that employees were slacking. So management set some aggressive performance expectations. And the people that didn’t meet those expectations were fired. Accountability was enforced. It turns out, the expectations were so aggressive that thousands of employees turned to
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