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Family Matters

"You Do It for Family" [June] reminded me exactly of what I love most about small businesses -- their flexibility to deal with the human condition. For all its efficiencies, corporate America is incapable of dealing with human mistakes without pink slips or lawsuits. A cynic might deem Glenn Dahl's actions nepotism. And risky nepotism at that. But only a small-business owner would have the patience and empathy to allow Dave Dahl to flourish. I, too, hope it lasts.

ANDRES RINCONENO
Owner, BCE, Schererville, Indiana

True Vision?

I just finished reading the article on Y Combinator ["The Soul of a New Start-up Machine," June], and it killed my chilled-out evening vibe. Why? Paul Graham says, "In theory, we ought to get to the point where we can just look at a start-up and be able to tell if it will succeed or fail." Now step back. Please do look at the Last Supper photo of his funded companies. Who do you see missing? Hint: 50 percent of the population. Graham is clearly prescient, but I do question this particular blind spot.

JULES PIERI
Founder and CEO, Daily Grommet
Boston

In Praise of Second Chances

I completely disagree with G.L. Hoffman's strategy of never hiring back a quitter [Blogger Logic, June]. At any given time, anywhere from one-fifth to one-third of my staff is former "quitters." We have hired back dozens of employees after they left us and even hired back people a second or third time. If the employee left on good terms, we hire back a fully trained employee who is familiar with our customers and the way we operate. If I had employed Mr. Hoffman's practice, I would be short many of my best staff right now!

JACK GROOT
Founder and president, JP's Coffee & Espresso Bar
Holland, Michigan

The Pursuit of Happiness

Max Chafkin's article about Zappos ["Get Happy," May] was right on. As group vice president of Kenneth Cole Productions, in charge of footwear, I was charged with making the decision as to which websites, if any, we might consider selling through. In 2001, I met with 25 to 30 pure-play e-tailers, including Zappos. There has been a lot of talk about how Zappos's culture affects its employees and its customers, yet very little has been said about the effect on suppliers and vendors. It was a big risk to hold on to inventory for a Web start-up with impossible-to-predict inventory needs. It all boiled down to caring about the company's success along with ours. Zappos fostered a "we're in this together" attitude in those early days. Everyone on my team thoroughly enjoyed working with Zappos; its shared enthusiasm was infectious. Tony Hsieh wonders how to keep the magic flowing as Zappos grows? Stay true to the magic. Keep trusting, keep empowering -- and happy employees will continue to care.

VICTORIA STATEN
President, Victoria Staten
North Oaks, Minnesota

Correction

In our July/August issue, we stated that Alibaba.com had launched an escrow service. The service launched in beta and at this time is available only to select sellers.

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Last updated: Sep 1, 2009




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