Stretch international cyber book club – Ch 8
Exciting news book clubbers! We have landed on Mr. Sonenshein’s radar. If you check back to my Chapter 6 post on Facebook, he left us a message. If you have a specific question for him, set it aside. I’ll reach out to him after we’ve finished the book (which is right around the corner) and send him a list. How fun!! Yay book club!
Also, a couple people were late adding comments to previous chapters due to illness, travel etc. If you have time, please go back and see if you have anything additional to add to what's been written. Thank you!
Catch up here:
This chapter extends the “stretching” metaphor to the realm of physical exercise and makes an analogy to sports injury: it outlines 5 ways to avoid the kinds of damage that stretching unwisely can trigger.
1. The first warning makes an important distinction between being frugal and being a cheapskate. I was reminded of the stories about Amazon in the early days when employees were given desks made out of old doors braced by two short file cabinets. The frugality was hip. But the example of a company that didn’t spend sufficiently on good administrative systems and risk management shows that there’s a difference between prudent expense caution and risky expense reduction.
2. The second risk is “wandering” or a loss of focus. The advice is to have a core career identity, particularly important in the LinkedIn era, and then diversify and add skills and experiences. The example given is the story of Ronald Wayne, the 3rd founder of Apple, who left after 12 days (read why in his own words). He was an engineer who is depicted as a tinkerer with a failed slot machine business; however, again the benchmark by which he is deemed to be a failure is that he did not become a billionaire. He was a gay man who worried about coming out; he had personal property that would have been at risk in the new venture, while Wozniak and Jobs did not; and he wound up going back to Atari and spending many years at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. There’s no mention of his career there: what if he found meaningful work there? What if he was right that he just couldn’t keep up with Woz and Jobs, two men whose company he describes as “having a tiger by the tail” in the Wikipedia entry about him. Again, I felt that there was an inconsistency here: his life is being evaluated only by the benchmark of financial success.
3. The third risk is “leaping without learning” citing Ron Johnson’s failure at JC Penney. This is the man credited with inventing the Apple Genius Bar, which is one of my favorite things in the world, so I felt a pang that he relied only on his intuition and did not seem to know about the incremental approach of Lean Start Up to measure new initiatives.
4. The fourth risk explores the issue of having high expectations. The author looks at this subject more deeply and makes a distinction between the Pygmalion effect of positive expectations and the negative effect of performance pressure. This chapter made me think of my eldest in 5th grade when her favorite teacher kept praising her for her potential but then also criticizing her when her work was not as good as he thought her capable of doing. She stopped caring about schoolwork and threw herself into her theater work.
5. The fifth risk is “toxic mixtures” although I found this analysis incomplete. The first example cited was the major “fail” of Gerber’s line of frozen dinners; I thought this was clearly a branding problem: why would adults want to eat baby food? And the name was “Gerber’s Singles”, advertising the fact that the ideal consumer was someone who normally eats alone. Not exactly a draw but again more about mis-branding than anything. This section reminded me of the social media “Fail” meme popular a few years back.
Up Next: Ch 9 by Sarah Hunter
I enjoyed your review of this chapter more than reading the chapter! No offense to Mr. S. of course, The breakdown you provided makes it very easy to comment.
1.How many of us automatically thought of jobs/positions we once had, where we could see the potential, the brilliance of what 'could' happen, yet the people with the power made such ridiculous mistakes? Ugh.
2. Focus – omg I have got to share a piece I stumbled on about focus that I'd love to share with all of you – Tracey, how can I best do that without taking up a chunk of space here? Can I email it to you directly and go from there? It is an eye-opener to be sure. Simple, sweet and powerful. Focus suddenly has a brand new – old – meaning. I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts about it.
3.Those same people from #1 often would fall, then get right back up and make the very same mistakes, refusing to learn, or simply not having the ability or right attitude. I found it very sad, if they had just mellowed out, asked for help, then listened to opinions, thing might have gone very differently and we all could have advanced without all the ego, judgments and resentments.
4.My heart ached with this – as my memory went right back to a 2nd Grade teacher my youngest had who was cruel and did much more damage to a little girls self-esteem than any other teacher or experience has done since then. That little girl is now 26, there is still a scar.
5. I completely agree. You nailed it. I find it interesting, maybe even disturbing that a company that has been around as long as Gerber tripped. Were they thinking 'single parent'? or could reword to perhaps "Perfect Portion' might have saved them? Says me with no advertising experience whatsoever, or maybe it was just a lack of common sense, but common sense we've learned is also not so common anymore.
Well done Christine!
p.s. Okay Tracey, how did Mr. S find us? Are you friends with him on FB? How cool was that?! By any chance are you friends with Ryan Reynolds?? xoxo
Hahaha, Pat! I had to laugh at the Ryan Reynolds comment. 😀
Thanks for your insights, Christine. Had no idea about the other details regarding Ronald Wayne leaving Apple. I do feel that some of Scott's examples need more flexing as well, especially for #5.
But I enjoyed this chapter, especially #2 as it reminded me that building my writing career, I shouldn't be trying to do many things at once. The temptation to do so (prove something or appear credible) is so attractive. I get too much on my plate and lose focus on important tasks that are aligned to my objective. I need to stop stretching myself too thin on that aspect.
OMG Patty..you crack me up. No, not friends…just tagged him when I'd post on Facebook hoping that he'd notice us somewhere along the line and he did!! I'll message him when we're finished, which will be after next week and Ch 9..I'm going to go back and review, but for me, right now, the question that lingers most is the value v. expectation question I had. There's nothing to say he'll answer, but I'm very interested in knowing more about that should he agree to do so. I'll remind everyone in next week's post. If you have a burning question, email it to me. And yes, re: the focus article. Do you have it as a link? Or..I can just email it to everyone. But yes, email to email@example.com.
And it's so interesting to me..both you and Christine had a similar experience with point 4. For me, there was a different experience. I think it was 4th or 5th grade for my girl, her teacher had a book reading competition. Read so many for a bachelor's degree, so many for a master's and so on. Well, reading was hard for my girl. Still is. She's a slow reader (as am I) and it's just not something she really enjoys doing (so NOT how I am!) but anyway. Her teacher knew reading was hard for her yet imparted to her an expectation that she could achieve a degree and she did end up earning a bachelor's. Now, for us, our girl is also extremely competitive which is a blessing and a curse, so she really wanted to meet that challenge. She ended up very proud and happy with what she accomplished, but I wonder what would have happened had she fallen short of the mark.
Christine, thanks for your summary and insights! I liked how Mr. S talked about cheap vs. frugal. I related to what he said about stretchers taking pleasure in spending money wisely–enjoy spending and having fun, but making sure to be smart with money. I'm happy to say my husband and I fall into this category. It's always been important to us to live within our means and get the most out of our money.
I also related to a part in the "Road to Nowhere" section, where he talked about how diversifying can be dangerous. I love this quote: "And believing the only way to diversify experiences is through major life changes that undermine existing resources, especially relationships, is sometimes (literally) perilous. It's possible to find much less disruptive ways of gaining different experiences while staying put."
When I was three months pregnant with our first baby, my husband was offered a great job, the next step to move up in his career. The hitch was that we'd have to move out of state. Most of our family lived near us and it was extremely important to us to raise our children with family close by. But, it was SO hard to pass on the job and big step "up the ladder." We went back and forth on the decision for weeks and my husband had a lot of pressure from upper management to take the position. But we knew what was best for US. We decided to stay. We've never regretted that decision!
I liked the Gerber Singles story, made me laugh. I guess they could've marketed it differently, but it really just sounded like a bad idea. The thought of eating mushed up meat or veggies from a jar isn't appealing at all to me 🙂
Thank you, Christine, for a great post and examples. I sure agree with you on your point 2 and how the author seems to have a limited view of what success means. Certainly, on the surface, leaving Apple after 12 days appears to be a blunder of incalculable proportion. But he seems to not use his own metric in previous writing of living by one's own terms and values. I sure don't know anything about Mr. Wayne and haven't even read the link I included about his leaving in his own words…but I think that part could have used more sussing out for sure.
Xeno, again, I love how you always connect what we're learning to your writing life. I made a note in the margin in the expectation section about blogging. I hadn't really thought about it this way, but the "small win" of writing posts, publishing them here and sharing them (whether or not people read them..which was HARD fact to deal with but a point for another time) is teaching me so much about writing and helping my craft in so many ways. For years (before blogging) I took many classes and tried to learn about craft and writing essays etc. My main complaint after every class was that we never got to the end of anything. I never took a class from which I walked away with a completed project I felt I could try to submit or share anywhere. Blogging is helping me learn how to find my way to ends, over and over again, regardless of whether they're "perfect" or not. The point is..there's nothing to put out unless you get to an end. Each end helps me get to the next beginning. All of this will, I hope, feed the writing of my book.
Thanks again, Christine!
LOL Jeni!! I second you there..mushed veg in a jar. I have a hard enough time eating the organic gorgeous stuff from the produce aisle!
Haha, me too Tracey!!
It does seem we tend to measure a person's success in life by his/her financial status. As if we really know the details of other people's finances just by observing the cars they drive, the houses they live in or the jobs they have! And why does that seem to matter to so many?
I am reminded of a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.: "…where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Content of character. That's the key.
This chapter was a no-brainer for me. I have always been frugal with everyday tasks in my personal life, so if I had to be in my store I could do without. My issue was with corporate because they thought in the formula and branding style of marketing. This works in most cases or locations, but not all. I do think this was a part of the closing, as well. Again, if I had more time, I could have changed a few things to it work better for my clients and location. Plus their ideas of profit numbers were a little off because of this thinking, too.Always be ready…
I myself need reminding every now and then of the wins blogging gives. I remind myself of the simple motto every now and then: just do it!