We Become What We Think About

Poster_stay_the_course_2 This isn’t a new idea.  In fact, it’s been around for a long time.  But someone on the radio mentioned it today, and since I hadn’t thought about this in a long time, I thought it might be worth sharing.  We become what we think about.

Earl Nightingale wrote many years ago "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve."  In other words, you wouldn’t have that idea if it weren’t possible.  Your subconscious mind, which is a very powerful tool, will naturally gravitate toward the things that you think about with your conscious mind.

Here’s an example.  Have you ever been shopping for a car?  You’ve narrowed the field to a particular make and model.  All of a sudden, it seems like about every third car on the road is the one you’re thinking of buying.  Funny, you’ve never noticed that before.  Has your particular car choice suddenly become the most popular one on America’s roads?  Probably not.

What’s happened is that since you’ve been thinking about the car, your subconscious starts alerting your conscious mind when a similar one approaches.

Now, let’s say that you want to be successful.  If you consciously focus on success, your subconscious will begin to alert you to opportunities.  If you consciously focus on the things that can go wrong, guess what?  That’s the direction  your subconscious will take you. 

There’s an entire industry that’s devoted to coffee cups, and hats, and shirts, and posters with positive motivational messages.  It may seem hoky, but they do actually work.  If you’re surrounded by success messages (or successful people) your subconscious will get the hint and start alerting you to things that will help you.  Of course, the opposite is also true.  It may be a little late, but if you’re still doing your spring cleaning, getting the negative messages out of your environment is a great idea.

Small Business Optimism

Here’s some good news from Inc.com.  A recent survey of 626 small business owners by American Express found them more optimistic about the US economy.  87% of those surveyed reported a "positive outlook", planning additional hiring and spending in the coming months.  Another 60% plan to increase spending on equipment, software, and real estate.  Only 30% said their businesses were suffering from the recent drop in new home sales.

This good news, along with predictions that gas prices may have topped out and could start dropping soon, should mean a good summer selling season.

Casa de Waffle

If you don’t live or travel in the southeastern United States, you may not know about Waffle House.  Picture an old-fashioned diner.   There’s a lunch counter which fronts the cooking area.  Then there are a handful of booths and tables.  There’s a juke box, bright fluorescent lights, lots of windows, and about as casual an atmosphere as you could ever ask for.  Like any good diner, the wait staff (their badges say "salesperson"), call out their orders to the cook in shorthand.  It sounds completely random, but the orders always seem to come up right, so they must know what they’re doing.

Obviously the signature item is the waffle.  Actually it’s waffles (plural) because they come in various flavors.  The House is primarily a breakfast place, though they’re open 24 hours.  They also have sandwiches, and Burt’s chili, and even steaks for the adventurous.

Getting back to the juke box, or "music machines" as they call them, Waffle_house_cd
they have the usual country and rock music, but they also feature  original  Waffle House tunes including, "844,739 Ways to Eat a Hamburger", "Waffle Do Wop", and "There are Raisins in My Toast".  (You can order the CD for $10.95)  A meal at Waffle House is never boring.

Every once in a while, my wife and I will eat Sunday breakfast at the Waffle House in our neighborhood.  If there’s a lesson to be learned from the folks at the House, it’s that they’re not just in the food business, they’re in the hospitality business.  When you walk in the door, everyone working there stops what they’re doing and says "hi" or "good morning" or "welcome to Waffle House".  You just have to smile.  No matter what mood you’re in when you come in the door, you’re going to be in a better one when you leave, and not just because of the great tasting, inexpensive food.  Just to be sure, they also stop what they’re doing to yell "goodbye" or "have a nice day" or "hurry back".

It’s not rocket science.  After all, they sell waffles.  But making people happy is good for business.  Since House #1 opened in 1955, the chain has grown to over 1,500 locations. According to  the "Fun Facts" section of their web site, Waffle House customers consume more than  185,000,000 eggs per year, or 2% of all the  eggs consumed in restaurants in the United States.

If you want to build an exceptional shopping experience, take a tip from  Waffle House and  make sure  your customers feel welcome  in your store as soon as they walk in the door.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, Casa de Waffle, Spanish for Waffle House, is the brand name of their salsa.

Decoration Day

This item was originally posted on May26, 2006

The day was originally called "Decoration Day" as a day to decorate the graves of our fallen soldiers from the Civil War.  Today we call it Memorial Day.  It was first observed on May 30, 1868.  It wasn’t until after World War I that it became a day to remember the dead of all wars.

In 1971, congress passed the National Holiday Act moving Memorial Day to the last Monday in May so that we’d always have a three-day weekend.  Some say that we’ve lost the original meaning of the day by making it part of a long weekend, and they may be right.

Many of us can remember when everything was closed for days like Memorial Day.  It was a day of peace and rest.  Today, many of us will have to work on Monday.  The brave men and women who have given their lives for our country did so to protect our freedoms, including the freedom to work, play and shop on the day set aside to remember them.

In 2000, congress passed the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution.  It calls for all Americans to pause for a moment at 3:00 PM (local time) on Monday for a moment of silence.

Our lives move much faster in 2006 than they did in 1868.  We do everything in a hurry.  Under the circumstances, maybe a "Moment of Remembrance" means just as much as an entire day meant 200 years ago.

Where ever you are on Monday, whatever you happen to be doing, your friends here at Tacony Corporation hope you’ll join is in remembering those who have died so that we can enjoy living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

In 1915, John Mc Crae wrote a poem for Memorial Day.  It was called "In Flanders Fields."

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly

    Scarce heard amid the guns below.
    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

Technorati Tags: Decoration Day, Memorial Day

Posted by Blog Master on May 26, 2006 at 03:26 PM in Miscellaneous | Permalink


As a manufacturer, innovation is a fact of life for us.  It has to be.  If we went to market year-after-year with the same tired old merchandise, you would soon find someone else to be your supplier and we’d be out of business. 

Of course, there’s more to innovation than just products.  You also expect us to get better at taking your order, filling your order, and providing the other services that a first-class supplier provides their customers.  Part of our mission statement (at left) is "always find a better way" and we take that very seriously.

Every business, whether they’re General Motors, Tacony Corporation, or the one-man snow cone stand down the street has to innovate to survive.  But it’s not as easy as it sounds.  Way back in the 1600’s, Sir Isaac Newton observed that "objects in motion tend to stay in motion and objects at rest tend to stay at rest."  Of course he was talking about physical motion, but the same principle certainly applies to business, too. 

Most of us spend a good part of the day herding cats, trying to keep things running, solving problems, putting out fires.  It’s not always easy to find the time to work on making things better.  We like to call it working on your business, not just working in your business. It’s tough.  The important things often are.

I remember when my mom and dad were the first ones in the family to get a television.  It was small and black and white, and there was only one station which didn’t come on until 3:00 in the afternoon.  That was in the mid 50’s.  Today, barely half a century later, you can watch hundreds of channels on color sets that fill up an entire wall, or you can watch TV on your cell phone.  Those first sets seemed like a miracle but today they’re just a curiosity.

My parents bought that first TV from a local merchant who had the word "radio" in their name.  There are a few of those guys still around, but not many.  As fast as the products have changed, the way we buy them has changed just as quickly.  Who would have thought, not that many years ago, that you could buy a 60" flat-screen TV from the same store where you buy your tires and your groceries?

So, change is inevitable.  And change is good.  We’re all subject to Newton’s law of motion whether we like it or not.  We want to stay at rest.  But we can’t.   We have to keep moving forward so we don’t get left behind.   This country’s economy was built by independent businessmen (and women) who had the vision to see the future and the courage to do something about it.  No matter how busy we are running the business, time spent improving the business is the best investment any of us can make.


Summer doesn’t officially start for about for almost a month, but for most of us, Memorial Day really kicks off the season.  Major League Baseball has been up and running for well over a month.  Unless you live in the frozen north, you’ve probably cut your grass several times.  The NHL playoffs should be over in another month or two.  If the kids aren’t out of school, the will be soon.  Swimming pools and water parks open this weekend, even if the water is cold enough to satisfy a penguin.  Summer’s definitely here.

Days are longer.  Temperatures are warmer.  People just seem to be in a better mood and hopefully that translates into the mood to buy.  Warmer weather and longer days are the perfect time to attract attention to your business by holding outdoor promotions.  Sidewalk sales are the old standby and they still work.  For a lot of us, merchandise piled on a table in front of a store is like an irresistible magnet.  We just can’t pass up a sidewalk sale.  Variations would be tent sales, truckload sales, or anything else that attracts drive-by traffic to your store.

I recently attended a "swap meet" sponsored by a local retailer.  Inside a huge tent were used items on consignment from their owners.  The retailer also had sale items inside the tent.  Things were set up so that you had to go into the store to check out (and to shop).  Vendors were there with free samples and product demos.  There was an admission fee that went to a local non-profit. The place was packed!  It took over an hour to check out.  It was a
great sales and traffic-building event that people look forward to
every year.

Another possibility is to sponsor charitable events outside your store.  Barbecues and car washes are two ways to attract attention to your store and help a good cause at the same time.  There’s little or no cost and your reputation as a good neighbor is enhanced by hosting the event.  Parents won’t forget that you helped their kids raised money for their favorite cause. 

Use your imagination.  How can you extend your selling area to include the great outdoors? 

Not Quite Right

Have you ever seen something that just didn’t look right but you couldn’t put your finger on exactly what was wrong with it?  Nine people out of ten might not even notice, but it leaves you with a nagging feeling that you must be missing something?

It’s kind of like one of those "what’s the difference?" games that run in the newspaper sometimes.  There are two pictures that look alike, but they’re not.  You’re supposed to find the six things that are different between them.  I’ve never been very good at those.

Anyway, today in the local newspaper there’s a full-page ad for car insurance from AARP.  They promise to save "older" drivers money on their car insurance.  Nothing wrong with that.  Everybody wants to save money, especially retired folks on fixed incomes.  The offer in the ad is that if you send for a quote, they’ll send you a free pedometer.  Maybe it’s just me, but that seems like a strange premium.

If you’re trying to sell car insurance, should you really give something away that’s associated with walking?  Is the idea that if  you can’t afford insurance you can always walk?   I  can  see a free road atlas, or a tire pressure gauge, or a snow scraper or something, but the pedometer just seems out of place.  It asks more questions than it answers.

But, like I said, maybe it’s just me.

Starbucks Trivia

Thanks to Seth’s Blog for the following trivia question. 

Even after Starbucks had five stores and more than 20 employees, which item was unavailable for purchase at their stores:

Hot Coffee
Frappucino® blended beverage

Actually, it’s a trick question.  The answer is (E) all the above.  Turns out that Starbucks was in business for a while before they realized that there was more to coffee than just beans.  They had the equipment.  They offered free samples if you asked for them.  They just didn’t sell coffee in its liquid form.

I’d be willing to bet that there was at least one dissenter who thought that getting into the ready-to-serve beverage business was a bad idea.  But like most great entrepreneurial businesses, they took and chance, and the rest is history.

And that brings us to a non-trick question.  What could you do to expand your business? 

Hiring Family Members

Here’s a good article from Yahoo Finance on the subject of hiring family members, not just your own, but families and friends of your best employees as well.  It stands to reason that good workers probably have relatives and friends who share their values and might make good employees.  But the author, Rhonda Adams, warns that there are pitfalls and you should be extra careful when tapping this particular source of potential staff.

Bullet points:

  • Don’t hire someone’s relative just because they need a job.
  • Don’t have relatives working too closely together.
  • Ask specific questions about the relative’s qualifications before you even agree to an interview.
  • Watch out when hiring spouses!
  • Be extra careful about working with your own spouse!
  • Be toughest on your own relatives.
  • Never play favorites.

Keep this in mind.  If you have an excellent employee and you hire their friend or relative, there are two possibilities.  The best case is that you will gain another excellent employee.  The worst case is that you could get a bad employee and run the risk of losing the good one you already have.  Be sure you cover all your bases before you even begin the interview process.

It SEEMED Like a Good Idea

According to InFlightHQ.com, American Airlines recently launched a new web site for women at www.aa.com/women.  The idea was to build relationships with the growing number of women business travelers.  Unfortunately, somewhere between the idea and the execution, things went very wrong.

Instead of being viewed as a positive, the site has been the target of some serious criticism.  It’s being called stereotypical and insulting. 

The lesson?  Be very careful about marketing to selected groups of customers.  Targeting marketing can be very effective, but as AA has learned, it can also backfire if it’s not done well.  According to InFlightHQ, American has used the criticism as a guide to revamping the web site.  But when I tried to look at it I got the following message:  "We sorry, but the page you have requested could not be found.  It may have expired."