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Arrogance Has Founders Seeing Red (Cups, Meat and Eyes)

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Of the icons that mark the holiday season, few are more celebrated than the Starbucks Red Cup. Communities count down the daysto their arrival, and their presence is so ubiquitous in crowded shopping areas that they take on a talismanic quality. The first day red cups are in stores signals the beginning of the holiday season — and commences America’s annual debate on the role of Christmas in secular society.

Starbucks is known as much for their mediocre coffeeas it is for the unabashedly — and publicly — liberal views of long-time (former) CEO cum celebrity Howard Schultz. Schultz has made a practice of imposing his personal beliefs onto the company — he may believe his views are in the right, but data indicate customers are not terribly excited about connecting coffee with cause. His co-opting of Starbucks as a platform for his own opinion means that the release of each year’s holiday cup is more than a statement on aesthetics: it’s to be parsed as a salvo in the ongoing “war” against Christmas. Schultz may value the red cup as a symbol of belonging to his blue tribe, but should agreement with his opinions on the treatment of refugeesbe a prerequisite to enjoying a latte? …


What I Learned in the Recession: Never, Ever Give Up

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For the first eight months, 2008 was a really good year.

Elauwit Media, a community newspaper company founded by long-time friend Dan McDonough, was entering its fourth year. Dan had persuaded me to drop out of school a few years before to join this adventure, which had become a rapidly-growing example of how community news, and print, could still thrive in the digital era. We were crushing it.

Elauwit started with a single newspaper in Haddonfield, NJ, and by the end of 2007 we were in seven towns across South Jersey. I lead the company’s sales and marketing efforts, and in 2008 our two-dozen employees were in the thick of an expansion into the Main Line of Philadelphia. …


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Gilded Corporate Palaces Are the Ultimate Rejection of Customer Focus

One of the nation’s most prominent tech companies is in the market for a second headquarters. They’re based on the West Coast, start with the letter “A,” and have a brand that simultaneously delights their customers and frightens their rivals: Apple. They are undergoing a quiet, deliberate search for space to house more new employees. It hasn’t been front-page news — and maybe that’s because Apple has learned a messaging strategy built around the corporate headquarters isn’t all its made out to be.

The growing company recently opened its long-awaited “spaceship” campus. While the accolades about design have piled up, the HQ’s development has paralleled with a number of uncharacteristic missteps. Reports have noted that Jony Ive, Apple’s design leader, has been spending more time on the campus itself than products. Public reports indicate he’s not involved in this next HQ project, which is probably for the better: deploying your most valuable resources on your own office space is the opposite of customer-centric thinking that Apple claims to embody. …

About

Ed Lynes

Partner & founder @wodenworks. Lover of Boston, bourbon, bow ties, and (a wheaten terrier named) Bailey.

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