Thursday, September 29, 2011

Howard’s Inner Circle, No. 37: The Tapestry of Adriana Trigiani

Many of us grow up without role models or mentors. Others are luckier and able to observe the wisdom of others directly at a young age when their foundation is being laid, and are taught the importance of
• Relying on no one to take care of you;
• Having a moral code that elevates your thinking with your behavior following;
• Paying your bills;
• Defending your good reputation as you can’t get it back once it is gone; and
• Leaving your children your values, not your stuff.

When I was editor-in-chief at Practical Accountant, I would describe our articles as marble sculptures. They would start in the raw with an idea, and after contributions from experts, they would be shaped into the final form using the best that was given and letting the beauty and individuality of the article shine. We all are artists, not just in what we do day to day, but also, and more importantly, in how we conduct ourselves, and who we become.

Lucia Spades Bonicelli and Yolanda Perin Trigiani were two very talented artists both with the objects and the people that they touched. Yolanda was an owner of a garment factory who made sure every blouse that she shipped was of the highest quality. Lucia was a seamstress who believed that you should have the best whether she was making a worker’s overalls or an evening gown. They met only once at the wedding of Yolanda’s son to Lucia’s daughter, but these two artists contributed to a masterpiece, their granddaughter.

In the exquisitely and beautiful crafted (like the clothes her grandmothers made) Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers, Adriana Trigiani, shares the legacy of these two remarkable women. I fully understand what Adriana means when she says. “They showed me, in their own ways, how to get out of my own way and carve out a fulfilling life, a peaceful life, a gracious life, and a secure life.”

Adriana is so very lucky to have had Lucia and Yolanda teach her how to best sew together her life’s clothing.
© 2011
Above may be reproduced in full if that fact is stated and Howard Wolosky at is credited as the author.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Howard’s Inner Circle, No. 36: Pavlov’s Customers

Very few scientific experiments fascinate me. An exception was Milgram’s dealing with obedience to authority. Another is Pavlov’s regarding the creation of conditioned responses. They captivate me because of their detrimental implications in our lives.
Take the following ways merchants integrate Pavlov’s principles as a component in their customer relations management philosophies.
• Using so-called rewards-based loyalty programs to compel further sales to the same customer.
• Self checkouts that make the customer perform the duties of staff with no compensation.
• Lip service, form letters, and platitudes about providing superior customer satisfaction to complaints.
• Discouraging concrete and mortar store shopping by eliminating low-level supervisors and staffing store with inexperienced staff. Little attention to display and layout and standard response by staff if you can’t fine what you want, go online rather than accessing computer and offering to order it for you.
• Fast food restaurants where special orders aren’t listened to.
• Fish hooking with freebies that lock you into expensive long-term service contracts.
• New, must-have improved version of the same product unveiled every six months.
• Charging more for those who commit early or buy directly from provider, rather than via third-party Web site.
There are many other examples of customers being conditioned to buy on the merchant’s terms at the customer’s expense. But unlike the dogs in Pavlov’s experiments rather than salivating, customers are beginning to snarl, and bite those who ring the bell.
© 2011
Above may be reproduced in full if that fact is stated and Howard Wolosky at is credited as the author.