Dear Apple: I Love You Less When Your Quality Sucks

520157-apple_logo_dec07I just ordered a new MagSafe plug for my MacBook Pro. Because I had $80 burning a hole in my pocket? Nope. Because the one I got with my laptop (you know, the laptop I bought less than a year ago for $2500+), is already frayed.

Already frayed. Seriously? Even now, I’m wondering if I am going to finish this blog post before my computer surrenders itself to sleep.

I know I am hard on things. I wear out the tires on my car. Eventually, I will wear out my car. But that’s not today, or even this year. That’s tens of thousands of miles from now for the tires, hundreds of thousands of miles for the car. Can you imagine if you bought a car and had to replace the entire fuel system within the first year, just because the manufacturer didn’t care enough about quality? That’s sorta what it feels like Apple is doing to me.

I wasn’t expecting to have to replace my MagSafe cord in less than a year. It’s disappointing. And frustrating. And makes me love Apple less because their MagSafe cord quality sucks. And, if Apple can’t figure out how to do better, then maybe they shouldn’t charge me for the replacement like it’s made out of gold. Maybe they should say, “We can’t make a high quality one, but we don’t want to punish you, our loyal consumer, for our crappy ineptitude. When you buy the inevitable replacement we won’t gouge you quite as much as we normally do.” That sort of honesty would make me love you lots, Tim Cook. In the meanwhile…

Dear Apple: I Love You Less When Your Quality Sucks. Maybe, someday, I will love you less enough to love somebody more.

Upselling Without Apologizing

Del TacoMy youngest daughter has a favorite fast food restaurant—Del Taco. (I know. Feel free to praise/criticize Del Taco as you see fit in the comments below, but this post isn’t about the tastiness or nutritional content of their offerings—it’s about the upsell).

They have trained their staff to offer an upsell with every order. Every time we order Katie’s dinner, they ask, “Would you like a churro with that?” Every single time. And sometimes, just because, we say yes.

The other night we said yes to the churro and the order taker was enthusiastically, effusively appreciative. He was one happy guy.

Until we got up to the drive-through window—then he apologized. “Sorry about the upsell.” The funny thing was, we weren’t. The upsell never bothers us. Why?

  • It’s offered in a friendly way. No pressure. If he had tried to force the churro on us, or tried to shame us into ordering one, we wouldn’t have gone back.
  • It’s a logical offer. We are already buying their Tex Mex, and churros are a Tex Mex dessert. If he had tried to upsell us some sushi, it would have seemed odd.
  • It’s an offer that will benefit us, at least on some level. If not our waistlines, then our tastebuds.

Here’s my question for you: What is your upsell? Is it friendly, logical, and beneficial for your customer? If so, you don’t need to apologize. And if you don’t have one, you and your customers are both missing out.

Our Worst Possible…


Seth Godin describes American Airlines as, “our worst possible domestic airline.”


I read that on Seth’s blog more than a week ago, and I can’t stop thinking about it. It resonates more than all of the merger hoopla, all of the rebranding, the pretty plan painting, everything. “The new American” has flooded our television networks, magazines, websites with all their newspeak. And still, they are “our worst possible domestic airline.”

This got me thinking about smaller companies, local startups and companies like mine. If we don’t deliver on our promises of quality, no amount of marketing-speak will change the minds of those we disappoint. We can’t fake it with people that know us, that have taken us up on our promises. So we’d better get it right with them.

If we do get it right, then we can spend our marketing dollars on hoopla to attract new customers. Our current customers will already know us and, if we do it right, maybe even love us. And if they love us, there’s a good chance they’ll talk about us.

Are you keeping your promises? Are you doing it in a remarkable way?

Quality is Free (But It Isn’t Easy)

In Quality is Free, Philip Crosby wrote “Make a commitment to a standard, communicate it, recognize performance, and then recycle.”

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

You have choices to make:

Will you make a commitment? Or will you just pretend to?

Will you set a high standard? Or will you settle?

Will you have the courage to communicate it? Or will you put it on a shelf and hope no one holds you accountable?

Will you have the confidence to recognize performance? Or will you disengage, let success go unheralded and/or allow your direct reports to remain unaccountable?

Quality is free, but it isn’t easy. Will you do the work?

The One Thing I Might Regret Is…

Jeff Bezos

It’s Sunday night. You are about to embark on another work week. Will it be just another week? Average or extraordinary? I used to downshift emotionally on Sunday nights because I dreaded Mondays. Now I look forward to the challenges I will face and the opportunities I will have to make things extraordinary.

Ask yourself this question: What would you regret not trying? What can you do about that this week?

For me, I am going to work through a Startup Opportunity Canvas for one of my consulting clients, then write web copy for another. That, plus the regular stuff I do, will keep me moving in the direction of my dreams.

How about you?

Entrepreneurship: Are You Willing to Work This Hard?

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” —Warren Tracy

It’s Saturday night. Your significant other is sitting on the couch next to you watching Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. You are supposed to be watching, too. And you are, sort of. roman-holiday

But you’re an entrepreneur, so you’re also reading Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup. And thinking about your lean canvas. And working on the presentation you’re doing Monday for a potential investor. Everyone likes Prezi, right?

If that’s you, you’re not alone. I’m doing the work, too—enjoying the present and betting on a brighter future.

“Success isn’t measured by money or power or social rank. Success is measured by your discipline and inner peace.” —Mike Ditka

Looking for the Pain (And the Startup Opportunity)

When people hurt, they want the pain to stop.

And to stop the pain, they will pay for a solution they believe will work.

Photo Credit, David Niblack,

Photo Credit, David Niblack,

Hate emailing yourself documents so you can have them whenever you have internet access? Dropbox. 

Hate trying to keep track of your Post-It’s and meeting notes/scribbles? Evernote.

Hate having to type, especially when you’re not very proficient? Dragon Dictate.

Hate having to email your vacation pics of the Grand Canyon to all your relatives? Flickr.

What pain do your customers have? What are you doing to resolve that pain? What can you do to resolve it better?

If you’re not sure, email me. Let’s talk.


Getting it Right (Startup Clarity is Hard)

ImprecisionI am developing a new startup. It’s fun to think about, fun to work on. I am excited about it and can’t wait to share it. But dammit, it is hard work.

I thought I knew what I wanted to do, what service I wanted to provide, what my “offer” was.

Then I tried to explain it to my friend Tony…


Don’t get me wrong—Tony is a smart guy. It’s not that he couldn’t understand what I was saying, it’s that I wasn’t being clear. He asked me some good questions, made some good suggestions.

So I worked on it, thought about it, worked on it some more. Finally, I thought I had it.

So I tried to explain it to my friend Tony…

It’s not there yet. It may be a better idea, maybe a little clearer, but not enough. Tony asked me more good questions.

I’m back to the drawing board, thinking harder about the startup, working on the concept, thinking about how to talk about it.

This is the most important work when starting a company: thinking precisely about what you are going to do and who you’re going to do it for, then figuring out how to explain it in a way that makes your friends, family and prospects go “WOW!”

Your business will grow and change from this initial iteration, but without doing the hard work up front, you won’t ever make it. You need a clearly defined starting place, a place from which to grow.

Send me an email and tell me who you are, what you are going to do for your customers, and who your customers are going to be. I won’t share your ideas or steal them, but I can help you think more clearly about them.

And if you aren’t sure, email me anyway. I can help with that, too.

Focus—Pick One Thing (And Do It Now)

I am in busy/distracted mode, and I am not proud of that. I like getting things done, I like finishing things. But right now my mind is going a million miles a minute in a million different directions. How about yours?

Here’s what I am going to do:

1. Quit Firefox.
2. Close all of my Chrome tabs except one.
3. Turn off my email notification pop up
4. Turn off the TV in the background
5. Put my iPhone face down so I can’t see the texts, the twitter push notifications, etc.

I don't always

Now I am going to spend the next 45 minutes making an actual difference in my life and business. I am going to do the hard work of focused thinking, which is always harder than being distracted. And because I can and will do this, I will win.

How about you?