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  D.F.'s Column Archive


August 20, 2007

Your Rare Opportunity to Ask the Business Answer Man


I can think of some things to write about this week, but I don’t feel like it, so I thought I would answer some questions from readers instead. Many readers, of course, ask me questions and otherwise seek my business wisdom. I am probably not generous enough with my advice. It’s just that I don’t care about any of these people.


So listen up. This is a rare opportunity.


D.F.: How can I make my company a true “green enterprise”? I’m very concerned about our environmental footprint and want us to be on the right side of the issue. – Alan, Fort Wayne, Indiana.


Alan, I commend you for your commitment to saving the planet. It was this close to being sold to the Alpha Centuri solar system before you stepped in. There are some simple steps you can take that will go a long way. Consider going out of business, or at least firing all your employees. Just the reduction in car trips to work alone will make a big difference. You could also turn off all the water and lights in your office. Make your employees run to McDonald’s to use the bathroom. Also, limit the distribution of your products to a 500-foot radius around your office. Lower distribution costs, less fuel use . . . it’s brilliant.


D.F.: My sales force is struggling. There is a day-long sales motivation seminar coming to town. Should I take my sales force to it? I’m thinking they might learn some things and gain some motivation. – Gene, Pocatello, Idaho


Gene, absolutely. Many salespeople think that all there is to sales is A.) having the nerve to contact people seeking appointments; B.) understanding customer needs; C.) offering a product or service that meets those needs; D.) effectively explaining to the customer how the product or service meets those needs; E.) offering the product or service at a competitive price.


Obviously that’s ridiculous. Sales is about buzzwords, complicated formulas, zip code analysis, shouting cheers, posting signs with lots of exclamation points . . .


You get the idea, Gene. Take them to the seminar. They may be schleps now, but after they see the seminar presenters, they will be instantly and permanently transformed into sales firebrands. Trust me. It happens every time. You won’t see me there, of course, but you can tell me all about it later.


D.F.: I have too many vice presidents and it’s bogging down the executive decision-making process. It’s a hard decision, but should I let some of them go? – Roger, Los Angeles


Roger, let me put it like this: If you had a pack of Sweet Tarts, and you were hoping for a red one, but all you got was green, yellow and pink, would you say to yourself, “Well, they’re still tart and sweet, so I’m satisfied”, or would you start looking around for some Gummi Bears?


I think you see what I’m saying.


D.F.: My company recently released a product that sold like crazy and got gobs of media attention. It does a lot of things. But some people are now saying they don’t need all the things our product does, and saying others just bought the product to be trendy, and not because they really needed it! When I heard this criticism, I got very upset and cried for hours. Can you tell everyone to stop being mean to me? – Steve, Cupertino, California.


Everyone stop being mean to Steve.


D.F.: My health care costs are through the roof. My employees smoke, drink and eat too much. Should I start a wellness program to get them in shape and hopefully get my costs under control? – Larry, Beaumont, Texas


Yes. Here’s what you do. Start a company running club. Make it mandatory. Start everyone at 10 miles. Not all your employees will be able to handle this, but I’ve run some numbers, and funeral costs are actually more economical – and you only pay them once per employee – than rising health premiums. Also, for those who insist on continuing to smoke, consider supplying the smokes yourself, but sneak in low-tar cigarettes. You could even buy the tobacco and roll them yourself. At least that way they won’t always be stopping at the convenience store on the way to work, and you might get a little more productivity out of them before they kick off.


Thanks for all your questions. I try to share as much of my knowledge as I can so you can be a successful CEO just like me.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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