I'm With Jack

I read the revealing interview with Jack Stack ["Plan B," May] and was delighted to learn about SRC Holdings's dedication to constant self-reflection, self-examination, and strategy adjustment. Such proactive paranoia is rare. In fact, most entrepreneurs don't have a clear Plan A they occasionally update, let alone a Plan B. The process of facing reality does not come naturally to entrepreneurs. Very impressive!

Daniel M. Murphy
President and Founder, The Growth Coach Franchise System
Cincinnati

Leading by Example

Your story about Tony Hsieh ["Get Happy," May] was on target, because he practices what he preaches. I've had the chance to speak at two events at which Tony was also a speaker, and at one of the events, he gave a $100 gift certificate from Zappos to every attendee -- no strings attached. It was close to my wife's birthday, so I bought her a nice blouse and got it the next day. The only problem was that I ordered the wrong size. I shipped it back and got the new blouse a day later. Another strength most CEOs lack -- but Tony has plenty of -- is humility. He was gracious enough to take a photo with me.

Robert Smith
CEO, Champion Media Worldwide
Loves Park, Illinois

Compare and Contrast

I strongly agree with Joel Spolsky's column [How Hard Could It Be? May] about B&H and the demise of Circuit City. I purchased a TV at Circuit City at "closeout price" -- only to find it at the same price two weeks later at a competitor. Every time I went to my local Circuit City, I could walk around for an hour until I was approached. Even when I was approached, the product knowledge was spotty at best. B&H, on the other hand, is a model of efficiency and competence. I have been a loyal customer of B&H for 20 years and am continually amazed at its printed catalogs and the helpfulness of its website. My hat is off to B&H for its honesty, superior service, knowledgeable staff, and well-organized retail store.

Geoff McCollom
President, Dutch Valley Auto Works
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

It is disingenuous to use the demise of Circuit City to praise B&H, with only surface descriptions of how Circuit City failed. It was not just customer service, although that was a significant contributor. There were also issues of real estate, retail leadership, store experience, and brand evaporation. There was so much negative perception at the end, thanks to the bankruptcy, the firing of 3,400 store workers, and a lack of positive PR, that the equity generated by the good things the company did (such as creating one of the best consumer-electronics e-commerce experiences and leading the industry with product comparisons, customer reviews, and third-party product reviews) was diluted. Circuit City's prices were typically on a par with Best Buy's, but consumers didn't perceive it that way.

The author is right to applaud the B&H store experience, but he doesn't need to stand on the bones of Circuit City to make his points -- especially if he isn't willing to acknowledge that Circuit City invented the category. Circuit City earned its troubles, but the author doesn't need to be smug about it.

Bob Tarren
Senior vice president of marketing, The Boomer Project
Richmond, Virginia

Spolsky is comparing completely different players. One is a huge chain of hundreds of stores throughout the U.S. Another is a single-location superstore. These businesses operate at different levels of scale and under different local laws. That defies all arguments and makes this article inaccurate. It is like comparing Joel's small software company, which sells basically two relatively narrow products, with Microsoft, which sells software products that are ubiquitous and are in almost every household.

Alex Buran
President and CEO, Voolkan Online Technologies
New York City

Endless Possibilities

After reading about the Seattle company Modumetal [Innovations, May], I was impressed by how far we have come in this branch of science. What carbon fiber did for the 20th century, Modumetal could do for this century. With this ability to literally grow parts, anything that can now be imagined could possibly be produced. Someday, you will be able to grow your own car. I'll take orange, please.

Mark Chorm
Vice president, Blue Sky Partners
Vancouver, British Columbia

This Sounds Familiar

My husband and I run a national in-home personal training company. I am so happy that Meg Cadoux Hirshberg decided to share her story [Balancing Acts, May] with us. Meg, I am living the life you led in those early days. The doubts you can't discuss, the financial worries, the resentment, the arguments, the sacrifice…everything. You wrote the sentiments of my heart.

Faith Ritter
Vice president, BeneFit Personal Training
Westmont, New Jersey

A Regular Gal -- but Noisy

Jane Berentson's Editor's Letter [June] had a significant impact on me. I must be asked five to 10 times a week how I do so much, and my simple answer is that I'm a regular gal who works hard to stay organized and uses technology to work smarter, cheaper, and faster. In today's economy, women are feeling more empowered than ever and are learning the art of balance between work and home. Jane, you're a regular gal, too.

Debbie Quintana
President and CEO, Gourmet Gifts
San Jose, California

Jane, it's hard for me to imagine that your staff is happy with the work environment you described. Even "cheerful" yelling to get people's attention would be really annoying, especially to people immersed in writing articles. Wandering around the office digging up impromptu meetings shows a lack of respect for the time of others. I'm amazed that your staff puts up with it.

Rob Nance
Publisher, AccountingWEB
Westerville, Ohio

Correction

The Editor's Letter in the June issue incorrectly identified reader Zan Jones as male.

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