Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 - A Golden Year for BWC

To the Chinese, 2010 was the Golden Tiger Year. It is a sign of courage. This fearless and fiery fighter is revered by the ancient Chinese as the sign that wards off the three main disasters of a household: fire, thieves and ghosts.

For my company, 2010 warded off the disaster of 2009.  We started off strong and only improved with five record setting months of sales revenue. It has been a drastic change of realities -  going from the silence of 2009 (a manufacturing floor that is silent is not a natural state) to the bustle and production of opportunities we saw coming through our plant in 2010.

I look back at this year and I am thankful for so much. Here are my top ten highlights:

1.       I am so thankful for the team of people we have at BWC. Last year we all came together to ride out the storm while this year, though not all smooth sailing, was a year of amazing achievements. When you are a family company, years like 2009 are very personal. We all come together and share the pain. But the positive swing we felt in 2010 allowed us to share in all the gains from our growth.

2.       Our growth this year allowed us to bring back an employee from layoff and do several internal promotions. I love being able to promote from within the company and provide employees opportunities for growth and the acquisition of new skill sets. The new employees that we have added to our team have been fabulous additions, bringing new ideas and skill sets.

3.       Drinking the LEAN and Continuous Improvement cool aid. Yes it is like a religion, and used correctly it can guide you to amazing results. While we are still at the start of our journey, the benefits we reaped this year by having these processes and procedures in place was critical to our success.

4.       The growing comfort with making mistakes. I see my team more willing to take chances with less fear of failure as we come to understand that with failure comes new knowledge and possibly new opportunities.

5.       Bishop-Wisecarver became a Bay Area Certified Green business, making our customer’s and community aware that we care about our environment. We will continue to revise and create work practices that support this initiative.

6.       Adoption of social media. Our focused efforts on social media have created measurable results. Our presence on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogger, Vimeo etc. has generated increased exposure, driven traffic to our website and created leads for our company. It’s an exciting new frontier for marketing and well suited to the culture of a family business.

7.       The deepening of relationships with our customers. The last several years have helped us learn how to become a better partner for our customers. We revel when we are able to deliver a solution no one else can create. It is really exciting to help companies design solutions that give them superior performance and product differentiation.

8.       The creation of innovative, turnkey solutions to be launched in 2011.

9.       Bishop-Wisecarver became woman-owned. I am really proud to be a manufacturer. I am extremely passionate about manufacturing and the role it plays in the American economy. My efforts with the California Manufacturers and Technology Association ( as well as the National Association of Manufacturers ( are my small contribution to try and keep manufacturing alive and relevant in our country and state. We must engage our kids (boys AND girls) in school. We need to give them opportunities to experience STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) with hands on experiences. Our support for FIRST will be increasing in 2011. (

10.   Bishop-Wisecarver celebrated its 60th Anniversary. I am very proud to be building upon the legacy started by my father.

We now look toward 2011 and the year of the rabbit. According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves.  It is a time for negotiation.  Don't try to force issues, because if you do you will ultimately fail.  To gain the greatest benefits from a rabbit year, focus on home, family, security, diplomacy, and your relationships with women and children.   Make it a goal to create a safe, peaceful lifestyle, so you will be able to calmly deal with any problem that may arise.

May you all enjoy a wonderful holiday season with your friends and family.  My wish for the world is that 2011 is a year of security and diplomacy and that we can all enjoy prosperous and peaceful lifestyles.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What If?

I recently attended the Power Transmission Distributor Association (PTDA) Summit in Phoenix, Arizona ( There I had the pleasure of hearing Mike Rayburn speak as a keynote speaker ( title of Mikes’ address was “What If and Why Not?” Mike is an amazingly talented musician who uses music and comedy to get across some really big ideas. In this day and age we all want to be innovative. We all want to differentiate our products or services. We are all looking for value-add and a way to deepen our relationship with our customers. But we tend to get caught up on how to do it. Because usually truly achieving any of these goals requires a huge shift in thinking and/or behaviors. It means learning a new process or skill; defining a new technology or way of thinking. And that gets a bit scary and risky. But Mike pushes back and says why not just break it down into smaller parts and ask – What if or Why Not?
Mike stressed the importance of starting on the path to the goal. Don’t worry about having everything mapped out and solved. Interestingly enough that has been a theme I have heard recently from several people.  Mike says that often you just have to set your course and start moving and interestingly enough the solutions and resources will start coming to you. Deepak Chopra taught us the same thing in the “Soul of Leadership” class I took at Kellogg School of Management.  Deepak said we need to learn to trust the universe; that when you put big ideas out there, and you start to gain awareness, the universe will start to deliver the solution ( Just last month in my WPO Platinum meeting our facilitator Chris McGoff, Founder & CEO of The Clearing stressed the use of primes in creating strategic vision for our companies. One prime we learned was “Trust the Universe”. A concept that if we set our sights on what we have the know-how to achieve we tend to limit our vision and constrain our future. Visionary leaders make declarations about the future trusting that what is needed to fulfill the vision will emerge as they step out and take action (
We are all looking at big changes within our industries and companies. The last year has created the need for new thinking. I think I am finally starting to realize that I don’t have to all the answers. I just have to be committed to the vision and taking the journey. So the next time I feel stumped by a problem I am going to pour myself a nice glass of Peju Estate Cabernet Franc Reserve and ask “What if and Why Not?” and trust in the journey that will follow.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I Want to Finger Paint!

Last week I was back at the Mayo Clinic with my Dad in Rochester MN. It was a really amazing experience. I was so impressed with their business model for interacting with their patients. The care that we received was so thorough and definitely world-class from every aspect. I even got my own experience as a patient when I started having symptoms of a detached retina. Luckily that was not the case. But I did walk away from the Mayo Clinic with a few mottos. You realize that there are many sick people in the world, and at an institution like the Mayo you see many that are at the end of their lives. It is a very sobering experience. So I realized two things – very profoundly. One – Use it while you have it! I sat there watching so many people that can no longer lead full and active lives. I have the ability yet, don’t always schedule time enough for me to allow myself to stay fit and healthy; time to go do fun and active things I want to do right now. And second – Be grateful every single day. Every day you are healthy is a day to be thankful and to show gratitude. It is amazing how fleeting your health can be. While I was waiting to be checked for my eye, I had to come to terms that I may within a period of hours no longer have sight in one of my eyes. Luckily that was not the case, but gosh it was a wakeup call.

From Rochester I flew on to Vancouver B.C. where I am a student in the Strategic Coach® program. ( Strategic Coach is an organization run by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs use the Program’s concepts and tools to create greater success and freedom for themselves, and more value and satisfaction for their clientele. I have been in the program for 6 years now and I just love the perspective shift I get each quarter during my daylong session. The last class introduced us to a tool named “Absolutely Unacceptable Regrets”. It was such a synergistic event coming from my Mayo Clinic experience. In this exercise you look back at your life from the perspective that you are about to die. What would be your largest regrets? It is an eye-opening and sobering thought process. I must admit that the room got really quiet during this exercise. Once again I realized that I really have to put myself and my health at the top of my priorities. At Mayo, my Dad had complained about being old (he is 82), to which the doctor responded that really nowadays old is when you are over 100. I had to get really honest with myself that if I want to live to be old (my goal is 115), I have to get in shape now, and use it while I have it and be thankful that I can!

Since my class this whole concept has been bouncing about in my brain. What other regrets do I have? And then it hit me. Finger painting! I absolutely loved finger painting as a kid. I can’t explain the joy and freedom I felt when I was able to finger paint. It is such a primal feeling, having your fingers in the paint. I think that is one reason I love to bake. I love having my fingers in the dough. But I guess I was in the era of budget cuts and finger paints and the special paper needed was probably too expensive, so it was phased out. I can remember that I yearned for the opportunity to finger paint throughout elementary school.

 So… have no regrets and take advantage of what life throws you. And on that note, I think I may just go out and buy some finger painting supplies!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Firms Spend More-Carefully

This week I was quoted in the WSJ. See the article below.

The Wall Street Journal


AUGUST 11, 2010

Firms Spend More—Carefully

Equipment Purchases Make Up for Recession Cutbacks, Not to Raise Production


(Please see Corrections & Amplifications items below)

Companies in the U.S. are stepping up purchases of equipment and software at the fastest pace since the late 1990s. But much of the spending is aimed at replacing older equipment after recession-related postponements or to improve efficiency—not to raise production or boost hiring.

After one of the sharpest declines in spending on equipment and software, companies in the U.S. boosted their spending on such products at a 21.9% inflation-adjusted annual rate in the second quarter, after the first quarter's 20.4% increase, the U.S. Commerce Department said.

The second-quarter jump was the biggest since 1998, when enthusiasm for technology was running hot. It was a much stronger increase than what was seen after the previous two recessions.

That stands in sharp contrast to the muted hiring and lackluster consumer spending that have characterized the economy since it began growing again in the middle of last year.

International Paper Corp., for instance, cut capital spending to $534 million last year from $1 billion in 2008. This year, it expects to raise spending to about $800 million.

Some of the company's higher spending will add capacity in developing markets such as Brazil, where demand for paper products is growing. But in the U.S., where the bulk of International Paper's operations are, the money will go into maintenance, improving energy efficiency and meeting regulatory standards, rather than boosting capacity.

"Businesses invest when there's demand," said International Paper Chief Executive John Faraci. "There's not going to be any [U.S.] capacity expansion, or for that matter job creation, until you see an increase in demand."

American companies, particularly manufacturers, recently have been raising output without adding workers.

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that productivity, measured in output per hour of work, fell at a 0.9% annual rate in the second quarter from the previous quarter. It was the first quarter since the end of 2008 in which productivity didn't rise. That's a hint that companies may soon need either to increase workers' hours, hire new ones or install more labor-saving equipment.

Companies may keep increasing spending on equipment, computers and software even if they don't add capacity. Nomura Securities economist David Resler calculates that businesses didn't spend enough in 2009 on new equipment to offset the wear and tear on their existing equipment. As a result, the capital stock—the inflation-adjusted value of all business equipment and software in place in the U.S.—dropped 0.9% from 2008—its first decline since World War II.

Mr. Resler estimates that even with the recent sharp increases in capital spending, the total capital stock is still $100 billion less than it was two years ago. That suggests that capital spending could continue to grow strongly the rest of the year.

The rebound in capital spending and strong demand from overseas markets such as China have boosted companies that make equipment and software. Revenue at technology companies in the S&P 500 index was up an estimated 21% in the second quarter versus a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters, and profit rose by 65%. Capital equipment makers such as Caterpillar Inc., Rockwell Automation Inc. and Illinois Tool Works Inc. reported large second-quarter sales and profits gains.

Sales at Bishop-Wisecarver Corp, a Pittsburg, Calif.-maker of motion systems used in everything from wood-shop machinery to food-processing plants, are up sharply from last year, and are on track to be as strong as in 2007, before the recession kickded in.

Bishop-Wisecarver President Pamela Kan thinks some of the rebound has come from companies trying to make plants more efficient, but she worries that many customers are catching up on projects put off during the downturn. That makes it difficult for her to gauge how strong business will be in the future and plan accordingly.

"I don't know how much of this is just pent-up demand," she said. "It's a finger in the wind now."

As a result, she's hesitant to hire, but is looking to add a few workers to the company's payroll of about 45. She doesn't plan to make any big purchases, in part because the company did major upgrades to its equipment right before the recession hit.

In general, manufacturers, which are benefiting from the global economic upswing, are boosting capital spending more than services companies are.

In a survey conducted by KPMG International in June, 35% of U.S. manufacturing executives said they expected to increase capital spending over the next year, while just 7% said they expected such spending to decline. In comparison, 27% of service company executives expected to increase spending, with about 9% expecting to spend less.

On Monday, Carrols Restaurant Group, which operates Burger King franchises and other restaurants in the U.S., said it expected to make capital expenditures of $40 million to $45 million this year, up from $37 million in 2009, but below 2008's $62 million. Most of that increase will be devoted to remodeling and equipment purchases at existing restaurants.

"We have limited capital spending for new-unit development this year so that we can continue to reduce debt," said company President Dan Accordino.

Ariens Co. of Brillion, Wisc., which employs about 1,000 workers making lawn mowers and snow blowers, has been buying capital equipment steadily over the past two years, taking advantage of the flood of inexpensive machinery that came on the market as other companies pulled back. Those purchases were aimed not at increasing Ariens' manufacturing capacity, but rather to bring in house work that it used to have outside suppliers perform.

Last year the company bought a pulley-making machine from a former General Motors Co. supplier for $1 million—a new one would have costs $4 million, said CEO Dan Ariens—and began making pulleys it used to buy. "It kept about 15 of our people busy," he said, helping the company avoid layoffs.

Mr. Ariens reckons he will keep buying equipment, but that he will be getting less bang for his buck in the year ahead than he has in the past year.

"I'm pretty confident that the cost of hardware and software is going to go up as the recession abates," he said.

Corrections & Amplifications

International PaperCorp. plans capital spending of about $800 million this year. This article incorrectly gave the figure as $800 billion.

Write to Justin Lahart at


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Leadership by Inches, Seconds, and Degrees

This time of year is one of my favorites. For three weeks I am up before the sun to watch the Tour de France live. I even had the extreme luck to be in Paris in 1997 for the final stage of the tour. What a great party that was! What never ceases to amaze me is that even over almost 3 weeks of racing the leader of the race is often determined in more cases than not by seconds.
I started thinking more about this subject. Often the difference between winning and losing is the smallest of fractions. One degree difference turns hot water into boiling water. But how many times have I told myself that a little extra effort probably won’t be worth it, or noticeable, or matter in the end? Yet what really makes a champion a champion is that they consistently make that extra effort, and yes in the end, it does make a difference, even if it is just one degree, one second, or one centimeter.
I think this applies to business as well. I really loved Tony Hsieh’s book “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose ”. He had one key element for himself and all his employees. Make yourself 1% better each day. I was struck by the simplicity of this and that once again that continual small extra effort is what really leads one to stand out from the rest of the crowd. So I have decided that I don’t have to take on everything at 110%, I really just need to be consistent with that 1% change. In the end it will set me apart from the pack.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why STEM Matters

I feel strongly that we have to engage our kids at a young age in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). I was recently asked to write an article about why company supports the FIRST Robotics competition. This was one assignment that was easy to write. I am really proud to be a sponsor. It is amazing to see the change that occurs in the kids that participate in this program.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Thriving in the New Economy - WOMEN PRESIDENTS' ORGANIZATION - Annual Conference
EVENT: KEYNOTE ADDRESS – MARSHALL GOLDSMITH, best-selling author and Executive Coach and FRANCES HESSELBEIN, President and CEO of the Leader to Leader Institute / formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, former CEO, the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. (1976-1990)

WOW! What an amazing opportunity to see these two together. They have such a real affection and respect for each other’s abilities. I came away with severl pearls of wisdom from such a seasoned and smart duo.

Some thoughts to ponder…
-          Live by example
-          Lead by example
-          Have personal humility and total respect for others – otherwise the rest does not matter
-          You must have trust
-          How our your treating the people around you?
-          Find solutions through respect
-          “Manage to the Mission” like our armed forces, you have to have a real passion for the mission. Clearly know the “why” and the “purpose”
-          Innovate or die – Innovation is the change that creates a new level of performance
-          We all have losses and sorrows – But we have to see these as opportunities to make a difference
-          Don’t waste energy you could be using to make a difference
-          Get your staff to your passion level
o   This should be your first mission
o   Talk about your passion/mission and live it
o   Respond with “That will further our mission” or “That is mission focused”
-          Remember – MISSION COMES FIRST!


Thriving in the New Economy - WOMEN PRESIDENTS' ORGANIZATION - Annual Conference
SPEAKER: Jeanette Gibson, Director, Global Social Media, Cisco
SPONSOR: Wells Fargo
DESCRIPTION: Conducting communications in this new Web 2.0 world is a challenge for any company. How, when, why to use video, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and all other forms of social media tactics and strategies can be hard to navigate. Jeanette Gibson, Director of Global Social Media, Cisco will discuss the company’s strategy for Web 2.0 and share best practices on how Cisco transformed its product launch process using web 2.0 technologies and integrates social media into its communications and marketing campaigns.

I am totally sold on the value of social media for business, even in a B2B space like mine. I enjoyed learning more from a seasoned industry professional.

When considering social media remember:

-          Social media creates a 2 way street between you and your customers

-          Your customers are now defining your product in the market

o   When they are upset and post a negative comment

§  Say  “thank you” and “I’m Sorry” – most customers don’t take the time to post a negative comment, so treat it as the opportunity that it is to keep them

-          See it as a “social hub” – a place to aggregate – provide RSS feeds

-          What are your customers' passionate about?

o   That should drive your content

o   See sites like this was driven by their customer response

-          You can use sites like Twitter to poll your customers during your meetings and presentations

o   Get real time feedback

o   Create a Twitter address for your event

-          Like it or not – every employee is now a media producer for you

-          Videos should be “snackable” – 90 seconds or less

o   Tie your videos into other technologies

o   People like to see behind the scene views

-          Use Twitter to conduct interviews

o   Answer with a video

-          Tweet Ups provide a way to create off-line events

o   Allows people to meet face to face

o   They get to meet you in person

o   Tools like Eventbrite are great for scheduling


It is an important tool in creating engagement with your customers:

-          Look what Starbucks in doing to create engagement with their customers

o   Allow their customers to  - share, vote, discuss, see new products, submit “My Starbuck Idea”

-          Dell has created the Idea Storm  -

-          Check out and learn from the top companies  -


Lessons Learned:

-          Remember you can put your meeting audio on iTunes

-          FTC guidelines around disclosure on your blogs  and postings

-          Public and private lines get blurred on social media

-          When filming videos remember your backgrounds and lighting



Thriving in the New Economy - WOMEN PRESIDENTS' ORGANIZATION - Annual Conference
SPEAKER: Marshall Goldsmith, Best-selling author and Executive Coach
DESCRIPTION: Marshall Goldsmith is a world authority in helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting change in behavior: for themselves, their people and their teams. In this fast-paced, interactive session, Dr. Goldsmith will describe classic challenges faced by successful leaders and how they can use ‘what to stop’ in personal development and coaching. Participants will practice feedforward – a positive, focused tool for development that has been successfully implemented by leaders around the world. He will then share a proven process for leadership development and coaching – along with published research involving over 86,000 respondents from eight major corporations. Finally, Marshall will have participants practice peer coaching and share exciting new research on how it can produce great results – at very low cost to the company.

I really enjoyed hear Dr. Goldsmith speak. He provided a lot of food for thought. Below are my notes from his session. It is hard to capture the try spirit of the session since much of it was interactive.
 -  #1 - You need to learn what to STOP doing!
 -  We all get stuck in our egos
 - Challenge is not theory but execution
 - Change happens when you follow up and really stick with it
 - The world becomes a better place when people "do"
 - Let others watch you develop
 - Peer coaching is a valuable tool
 - learn to be happy and reduce your feelings of guilt

Classic challenges when interacting with your staff
 - Try to win too much
 - Wanting too much value (no longer their idea) reduces their comfort of sharing with you
 - Passing judgment

As a leader - Remember
 - Your suggestions become orders
 - Before you speak - is the comment worth it? (even if you're are right?!)
 - Learn to say "Great idea!"
 - Take a deep breath and let it go
 - Help more, judge less, don't critique
 - Let go of the past
 - Learn
 - Help

Are You Stuck!?

Thriving in the New Economy - WOMEN PRESIDENTS' ORGANIZATION - Annual Conference
KEYNOTE ADDRESS – PROFESSOR REBECCA HENDERSON, Senator John Heinz Professor of Environmental Management, Harvard Business School
SPONSORED BY: Foley & Lardner, LLP

Professor Henderson finds that most companies do not achieve their strategic plans because they just have too many of them. We tend to have a hard time saying no. What does your pipeline REALLY look like? Are you trying to do too many things at once? Goals that are beyond the resources of your company? Are you "being too busy"? Most companies run at ~300% overload

These are the dynamics of overload
-The dangers of firefighting
-Why we tend to stay stuck
-How to break the cycle -what can be done
What are the realities of overload?
-Most everyone knows that the bottom projects will never get done
So kill those projects
Stop burning up your people
Over commitment reduces productivity
When you are constantly moving from project to project there is no time to reflect
Attention to projects actually declines
Focus shifts to short term versus long term
-Why does overload persist?
Overload is not about the person failing, it is a structural dynamic
people get blamed instead of the systems
Imposes pressure
Switch into firefighter mode, providing insights, fixing things instead of developing strategy, setting priorities and systems, and killing the project
Want to get unstuck?
-Manage your capacity - look at your projects like your product production pipeline
Don't take a bottoms up estimate approach
Most often tasks established are unreliable
it NEVER goes as planned
Always easy to make space for 1 more
keep good records of actual times required to complete past projects
Compare past projects to the new one - understand how really feasible the new one is
-Learn to like killing projects
Have a clear strategy and live by it -even if it is a "good" project - say NO!
Run a funnel not a tunnel
Clearly articulate the priorities
Let staff know what can "fall of the table"
Learn to face worse before better
Accept short term pain for long term benefits
fix problems - don't punish
-Change your habits around dealing with problems
respond to them as opportunities
-Build trust within the organization
Think about your relationships - don't just CYA

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thriving in the New Economy - WOMEN PRESIDENTS' ORGANIZATION - Annual Conference

KEYNOTE ADDRESS - PROFESSOR NEELI BENDAPUDI, Ph. D., Professor of Marketing and Director, Initiative for Managing Services Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University

We had the pleasure of hearing Professor Bendapudi speak today at the opening session of this year’s annual conference. Here are some of the highlights from her speech.

Title of Speech – Customer Apostles
·         Do you REALLY know who your customer is?
·         Do you REALLY know what they want?
o   Try standing behind your customer and looking at the world from their viewpoint
o   Does every level of your company see their part of the process from your customer’s viewpoint?
·         How do you create WOMP? (Word of Mouth Potential)
o   Your employees are your living brand
o   Can every employee tell your company story?
-        Effective way to teach your culture
o   Do your employees know how to create a Gumby moment?
-        Being flexible to your customer needs
-        The ability to really listen and solve their problems
-        And do it with speed and accuracy
o   Your customer highest trust is in what other customers say about your product service over what you claim
·         Your employees are your living brand
o   Hire correctly
o   Do they show passion
·         Customer Apostle versus Terrorists
o   Do you know which buckets your customers are in?
o   Only 4% of customers ever complain
o   You should see a complaint as a gift
·         Make a LASTing impression when you receive a complaint
o   Listen
o   Apologize
o   Solve the problem to the best you can
o   Thank them

Monday, April 19, 2010

How Do You Guarantee Good Service?

Last week my brother -in-law was visiting us. My family loves a great meal so I decided to book a table at One Market in San Francisco. Even though I live nearby I have never been to the restaurant. Since they were just awarded a Michelin Star again I thought it was a safe choice. Boy was I wrong! To sum up our experience I will give you the lowlights - we were informed that since we are not "regulars" or one of their "good customers" we would be receiving a different amuse bouche (it was awful), I was labeled "trouble" by our waiter for asking questions, the food was marginal, when we denied dessert the waiter stated "what not even a shot of Jack Daniels?" and then he proceeded to abandon our table. The woman who gave us our bill left our credit card out on the counter and never returned to our table, so we had to find and retrieve our card ourselves.

This experience was offset the next night by a very enjoyable and tasty meal at Chevalier in Lafayette. There our waiter warmly chatted with us, happily answered all our questions, and no request was a bother or an issue. It also helped that the food was fabulous and exceeded our expectations. Then yesterday before flying out to Chicago I had to make a mad dash to Safeway to get cat food. It was early morning with only one checker (interesting that they turn all the self check registers off). Of course there is an issue with the person being checked out. The line starts to pile up. The checker calls for another checker. Minutes pass. She calls again for a checker. Minutes pass. She calls for an override. Minutes pass. Then a very snide page comes on stating that the checker's pages are not understandable. The checker repeats both of her requests. The same snide and snarky page is repeated again that the pages are not understandable. The checker now resorts to her phone. Minutes pass. Then out stomps a girl who is obviously pissed at being called out from her office. She starts berating the checker the whole way across the floor. Meanwhile the line is probably 15 plus people deep. The girl never acknowledges any of the customers. Punches her code into the register and then turns and stomps back off to her office. Still no additional checkers. The checker pages once again. Finally several checkers show up. I get checked out by a sourly woman who is upset about being called of her break (at the wrong price to boot) and I am finally on my way. Do I really need to state that this is my last choice in grocery stores?

Each one of the scenarios had the potential to succeed or fail. Two failed and one cemented us as a repeat customer. We all have the ability to wow our customers. What is even more amazing is that it usually just takes courtesy, a good product and the willingness to listen.  I am sure all three of these companies have a corporate mission to please their customers. Yet only one succeeded. How do you create a company culture where every employees truly gets  and lives their mission? You can read many case studies on how the Ritz Carlton achieves their consistent world class service. Every customer interaction large or small is crucial to your company's success. How do you train and create an environment that guarantees a winning interaction each and every time?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Best Ways to Overcome Small Business Ping Pong Syndrome"

The above is an article I read this morning from USA Today by Rhonda Abrams She addresses the multi-tasking nature of anyone who runs a small business. We all struggle to stay focused and organized. The term “ping pong syndrome” was coined by Staples and not surprisingly their poll revealed that "Organize the Office" with 22% of the vote, was the number one goal in their Fourth Annual National Small Business Survey. I think we all feel like we are more in control when our office is organized. I know I always feel that a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind. So I stack items on my desk (very neatly), off to the side, and over time they get higher and higher, until one day I just have to address those stacks. For those of you in Strategic Coach you will understand that my Buffer days never are long enough for me to actually clean and organize. And yes I know that is not effective use of my time regardless. Oh I have lofty goals, I write out my lists, yet as soon as I walk into the office my day is totally out of my control on most Buffer days. I envy those people that operate totally paperless, who have the “virtual” office. I try to achieve this, but I still don’t feel comfortable reading and proofing items off my computer screen. Then that makes me feel guilty, I am wasting paper, being totally un PC. But I just feel the need to be able to mark up items by hand. I know, I am weak and being very old school. But I am doing more of my lists on my computer now. I am in love with and have been totally sucked into the wonder of Mindjet’s Mind Manager software . My brain operates a bit like a ransom note so this software allows me to map out all my thoughts quickly and in an organized manner. It even syncs with Outlook. What more could a girl ask for? Well I guess I could ask for more Focus days and less interruptions; hence my post prior on this blog about working on the weekends. I am open to your ideas and suggestions. How do you stay organized and productive? I’d love to read your best tips.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CFO Survey Says Dining Out Makes Good Business Sense

Today I read a tweet that sited “Meals Matter” By Jill Jusko of Industry Week. She writes – “Breaking bread with a client may be a key to business success. According to a study developed by Robert Half Management Resources, 36% of CFOs surveyed said their most successful meetings outside of the office were conducted over a meal. The next-most-popular location was a trade show or conference.”


In my travels I really find this to be true, especially so in foreign locals. Yes, we all have to have business meetings with agendas, priorities, take away action plans. But I find the real opportunity to get to really know those that sit across the table from you in that business meeting is when you get them across the dining table. Breaking bread together is as ancient a custom as you can get. You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal with them. Some people loosen up, drop the business persona, and have a good time. They enjoy their meal, share personal stories and let you learn about them from a more social perspective. Others stay more distant and maintain a professional mode the whole dinning affair. Business meetings provide content, but the meal provides context. I usually know after one meal whether I not I want to do business with someone.


So if our paths cross and we get together for a meal what will it be – a glass of wine and a few good stories or just a continuation of the business meeting from earlier in the day?


The Intel-Affiliated Contra Costa Science & Engineering Fair

The 2010 Science Fair was held on March 25, 26 and 27 at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg. My company had the honor of supporting this event again this year. My father, Bud Wisecarver has been a judge for several years now and we have also been a sponsor. This year we gave out two special awards – one in the junior division and one in the senior division - for displaying the best "Principles and Technical Innovation within Mechanical Engineering". We wanted to reward students that showed some imagination and critical thinking. We awarded $200 to Caroline Lamoureux and $800 to Michael Blatz.  Caroline attends NorthCreek Academy and her project was "The Effect of Weight Distribution on Bridges". Michael goes to De La Salle High School and his project was the "Mitigation of Carbon Dioxide in Car Exhaust". I was honored to be present to give the awards in person. Armed with the company video camera I also attempted to take video. Stayed tune for the YouTube link to that as soon as it gets edited. It is so inspiring to be around kids that are excited about science and engineering. The enthusiasm is contagious and electrifying. I was really amazed at the level of some of the projects presented. We will be rooting on Caroline as she advances to the state competition. Michael was selected as an alternate. To learn more about the fair see

It was great to see so many people there to cheer on the students! 

Monday, March 29, 2010

More on the California Jobs Initiative

To learn more about the California Jobs Initiative 2010 and to download the petition go to

Fiorina slams California's global warming law (March 27)
Calling it an "unbelievable job killer," GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina on Friday urged the elimination of California's landmark global warming law. If AB 32 is not scrapped, Fiorina said, she will back an effort to suspend the law until unemployment in the state drops to 5.5 percent and stays there for one year. "Suspending it is better than keeping it in place," Fiorina said in a meeting with The Bee Capitol Bureau. Fiorina said the state law and a federal effort to cap greenhouse emissions would cost trillions in lost economic output. Calling it an "unbelievable job killer," GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina on Friday urged the elimination of California's landmark global warming law. If AB 32 is not scrapped, Fiorina said, she will back an effort to suspend the law until unemployment in the state drops to 5.5 percent and stays there for one year. "Suspending it is better than keeping it in place," Fiorina said in a meeting with The Bee Capitol Bureau. Fiorina said the state law and a federal effort to cap greenhouse emissions would cost trillions in lost economic output.
Rob Hotakainen in the Sacramento Bee

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Why Bishop-Wisecarver Supports the California Jobs Initiative

Earlier this week as a director for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association (CMTA)  I voted to support the California Jobs Initiative, a proposal to temporarily suspend implementation of AB 32 until California's unemployment rate sinks to 5.5% for four consecutive quarters.  The initiative will likely go before voters on the November, 2010 ballot.
 I believe along with the CMTA that adjusting the schedule of regulations under the state’s greenhouse gas reduction law until the California economy recovers is necessary because:
AB 32 will cost California even more manufacturing jobs
Restoring jobs and supporting a healthy California economy should be our state’s first priority.  We’ve already lost over 630,000 high wage manufacturing jobs since 2001 and AB 32’s costly regulations will put even more jobs at risk – jobs we simply can’t afford to lose. Temporarily suspending AB 32 will help keep manufacturing in California.
 AB 32 implementation will increase costs for manufacturers, employers and consumers
Sharp increases in energy and other costs for manufacturers under AB 32 will translate not only to lost jobs but to higher costs for employers and consumers at a time they can least afford it. This will worsen the current recession and delay the economic recovery California so desperately needs.   
 Temporarily suspending AB 32 will help keep California manufacturing competitive
Because manufacturers in other states and countries are not subject to AB 32 costs, implementation at this time will create an unlevel competitive playing field for California manufacturers.   The temporary suspension of AB 32 will give California manufacturers an incentive to remain in the state rather than move jobs and tax revenues to states where their operating costs would be more affordable. 
 California will still have the strictest environmental laws in the country even if AB 32 regulations are postponed until the economy recovers
AB 32 applies only to greenhouse gas emissions, which do not have local impacts.  Suspending AB 32 will not weaken or repeal other existing laws that protect our air and water quality, which have made California manufacturing facilities cleaner-operating than most in other states.
 I am part of a family that has lived in California since 1854. I love my state, and I want to see it return to the vibrant economic powerhouse it once was. Manufacturing jobs are essential to California’s economic recovery. Temporarily suspending  AB 32 will help preserve jobs and make it easier to create more.  The California Jobs Initiative will help put Californians back to work and its economy back on track.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's All in the Family

Being part of a family business has its pros and cons. Succession can be very tricky and can leave permanent scares on the family. I found a wonderful program at Center for Family Enterprises, Kellogg School of Management called Governing the Family Business. It was really great to sit in a room full of people that all know and understand the emotional side to running a family business. Professor John Ward knows family business like no one else I have come across. Now Kellogg, John Ward and Ivan Lansberg have added a new program, New Leadership for the Family Enterprise. This is a new one week, residential course for anyone who is nearly or newly taking on a leadership role in their family business – president, or chair or family council head, etc. For more information check out I know for me, their programs are the best bang for my buck!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Open House and Opening up Opportunities

I have the pleasure of serving on the board of directors for Wardrobe for Opportunity. This local non-profit has been helping clients find jobs, keep jobs and build careers since 1995. You can learn more at . Tonight we celebrated the renovation of our Oakland office. I want to give a shout out to my friend Teri Flynn for her wonderful design of the new space . The new design gives us so much more usable space. The whole energy and flow of the space is fabulous and makes it an environment that is comfortable and professional. Our classroom where we hold our Pathways and Success programs is expanded and provides a much better learning experience. It is really rewarding to be a part of a group that changes lives every single day.


Since chocolate is such a popular topic I thought I should share this recipe.
Though be forewarned if you are on Weight Watchers I have been told it will cost you 23 points!

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (MicroSafe)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).
And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world?
Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Even if you don't like whites - try this one

I am so lucky to live less than an hour's drive away from Napa and Sonoma. For someone who loves wine as much as I do it can be quite a temptation. I actually have boxes of wine stacked up in my bathroom at work that exceed the capacity of our current wine cellars at home. Hopefully I am only months away from moving into a house we have been renovating for the last 2 years (That's a whole other story!). Recently my husband and I enjoyed a fabulous getaway to another local gem, Monterey. We stayed at the new Intercontinental Clement Monterey. We enjoyed a relaxing and delicious dinner overlooking the ocean. I am expanding my appreciation of wines into the realm of whites. At the suggestion of the sommelier I tried Chimney Rocks' Elevage Blanc. SWOON! This is a meritage style blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris. I have been searching for this wine ever since. I think it's time for another drive up to Napa!

All By Myself

I don't know about you but how effective are you during a normal workday? With all the interruptions I find it hard to ever really get any time to really focus on any one project. Hence, the reason why I post this on a Saturday as I relish the peace and quiet of the office and NO distractions. I turn on my iPod and I can slip right into the zone. I find 3-4 hours of being in the office nets at least 1 to 2 days in the office during the work week. Am I the only one that finds this to be true?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Second annual study to be conducted by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute - Public View on Manufacturing: 2010 Annual Index

Last week at the NAM board meeting I sat in on the Manufacturing Institutes' board meeting. The Manufacturing Institute (MI) is the 501(c) 3 affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). As a non-partisan organization, the MI is committed to delivering leading-edge information and services to the nation's manufacturers. MI focuses on developing human capital strategies through education reform and workforce development, conducting applied research to provide critical information to public policy makers on challenges and opportunities for today's industry, and advancing the innovation capacity of manufacturers.

MI will be launching the findings of their second annual study to be conducted by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, "Public View on Manufacturing: 2010 Annual Index" this September. The 2009 study revealed the majority of respondents (71 percent) view manufacturing as a national priority with 59 percent agreeing that the United States manufacturing industry effectively competes on a global scale. However, only 17 percent named manufacturing as among their top two industry choices to start a career, and only 30 percent of parents said they would encourage their children to pursue jobs in manufacturing, revealing a wide perception gap.

I hoping that one positive side effect of the recent economic problems of our country is that it has highlighted the need for a strong manufacturing base to our economy. Within my business I see customers moving toward JIT requirements - with a focus on short lead times and having suppliers close to their facilities. This bodes well for a growth in manufacturing opportunities back here in the USA. I also see this as a way to engage our kids again in the education process. We have to support learning opportunities for those kids that want to work their hands. Children that learn and think in a kinesthetic manner. We have to go back to a culture that honors those the create and make tangible things.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Get your bearings

To follow my tweets that focus on engineering and manufacturing see

I am a nut

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A new start

Today I am launching my new blog page. Join me here to chat about US manufacturing, career technical education and STEM initiatives, travel, food, wine and my endeavors on the boards of National Association of Manufacturers, California Manufacturing & Technology Association, Wardrobe for Opportunity and my local grass roots non-profit Walnut Creek Dog Owners Group. And yes by day I am all about guide wheel based linear and rotary motion through my company Bishop-Wisecarver Corporation.