Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Friday night Halloween dress up bowling was on the docket tonight.
We came out in full support of a charity event for a local soccer team called the Port Coquitlam FC Warriors. One of our staff, Wendy was involved in the fund raising, and we thought it was a great way to have some staff dress up time and support a great cause at the same time. At Costless Express we have been know to dress up and act a bit silly all year anyways, but Halloween is extra special.

The event was held at the Port Coquitlam Bowl. I'm sure the center has been there for over 40 years and it was a blast from the past with the decor. What was really a blast though was all the fun we had. Lots of great costumes (that's me as Gumby), great turn out with all lanes packed, and lots of prizes and food. We helped raise $1800!

The most fun we had was during the second game when were were asked to follow a sheet of different bowling styles and positions like - bowl with your other hand, on one leg, bowl thru someone's legs and the best one, with a long balloon between your legs. The pictures dont do justice to the amount of fun we had.

Thanks to all our staff for the great turn out and support.


P.S. On a side note - the .05 drinking law seems to be really working. Most people were not drinking at all because of it. Seems there was so much confusion around how much is too much that is was better to not even risk it. That's fine in my books as it makes a staff event less of a concern for staff that may have a bit too much and we need to intervene. Glad to see people taking responsibility for drinking and driving, it really is a serious issue, especially for employers.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Brian Tracey

This morning was an early one - up at 4:45am. I was off early to work to pick up 3 of our sales staff and then head downtown for a 7:30 -Noon seminar with the world famous Brian Tracey.

Thru an organization I belong to called EO, we were fortunate to have Brian Tracey spend an incredible 4 hours with our chapter. Mr. Tracey usually works with Fortune 500 companies, or speaks to rooms of hundreds or even thousands at a time, so we were very excited to have him in an intimate setting of just under 100.

A few weeks back, I put an open invitation out to our sales team and asked for a short letter on why they felt they should be invited to attend the event. The three letters I did choose were from Lisa, Michelle and Sidney. They wrote wonderful letters and were very passionate about persuing growth and learning - one of our 10 Core Values. It was great to spend some one-on-one time with them and I know they were excited too. Even before we arrived at the event in the morning, we already had some great discussions and ideas about new initiatives in the car. It was energizing to hear from the front lines on how to improve our company and the customer experience.

Here is a bit of info on what Mr. Tracey covered during our time together. I personally came away with several insights and great ideas I could implement right away.

Learn how to out-think, out-market, out-sell and out-compete in any market. Brian Tracy teaches you the SEVEN essentials for business growth and increased profitability. You learn practical, proven strategies and tactics you can apply immediately to get better business results.
  1. Become a GREAT Leader: The seven roles and responsibilities of business leadership that determine success or failure;
  2. Build a GREAT Business: Learn the indispensable elements of planning and execution required for increased sales and profitability;
  3. Offer a GREAT Product or Service: The single factor that determines 90% of your success- how to develop it, measure it, improve it;
  4. Attract GREAT People in Every Position: How to find, interview, hire, manage and motivate a team of top people;
  5. Develop a GREAT Marketing Plan: Attract a continuous flow of qualified prospects who are eager to buy what you sell;
  6. Perfect a GREAT Sales Process: Learn how to prospect, build trust, identify customer needs, present persuasively, overcome objections and close the sale;
  7. Create a GREAT Customer Experience: Learn how to meet expectations, exceed expectations, delight and amaze your customers so they buy again and again, and eagerly refer you to others.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Are you a Stage 4 Tribe?

Today our shipment of Tribal Leadership books arrived and we were all pretty excited.
Each member of our staff... ahem... TRIBE... gets a free copy. Earlier this year, I gave each member the e-book of Tribal Leadership, and the hard cover is just another way to keep reinforcing the message we live by at Costless Express, "Its all about WE not ME!"

What is Tribal Leadership, you ask? We are so happy to let you know all about it, and hopefully excite you and your company to take the journey to becoming a Stage 4 Tribe. It's not easy, but the rewards and happiness are worth the sacrifice.
Here's some info and a great TED Talk by the author Dave Logan.
Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization
Free Audio Book Download -
Logan, King and Fischer-Wright suggest that individuals participate in organizations as members of one or more tribes. A tribe is a basic sociological unit: a group of 20-150 humans. (Like schools of fish, and flocks of birds, we have tribes of people.) The authors used linguistic research methods as well as relationship structures to identify five tribal states that build on one another dimensionally. Each tribal state is more productive and meaningful for its members than the ones below it. Each stage has unique leverage points that nudge people and teams forward in their productivity and expansion, versus an existence of universal principles for teams.


Friday, October 22, 2010

My Mom is our biggest supporter at Costless Express

Todd Suomu, Nico Human, and Calvin Johnson.
Picture courtesy of BCFPA
Great News!
We have just signed a deal to be the Official Supplier to the BC Food Processors Association!

Funny how things come together. It all started when I met David Eto at a wedding in the summer. It was actually my mom who was chatting with guests, and when she met David she thought he and I should meet since we were both in the food business. So she paired the two of us up on the lawn outside the house where the wedding reception was being held and made introductions. David and I had a great chat and had lots in common, including BC Children's Hospital involvement. From that meeting, David and I agreed to stay in touch and go for lunch.

About a month later, we got together for sushi and decided there was an opportunity to create an affinity program for the BC Food Processors Association, an organization David was closely involved in. From that lunch things moved pretty quick, involving Nico Human the CEO of the Association. We created a program for the association that would offer savings far greater than any individual company could achieve on their own - even it they had the best programs with Grand and Toy or Staples. Association members will see immediate savings on their Office Supplies, Break room, Janitorial, Printing, Toners, Paper and even the little paper booties they wear on their feet in a food plant!!

Last week we signed the deal, and this week it was announced to the 1500 companies that are part of the association. We are all very excited to bring value to the association, especially now that Costless Express is a member of the BC Food Processors Association.

Oh... and THANKS MOM!!!!

A Tasty Deal with the BC Food Processors Association!

We're now an official supplier to the BC Food Processors Association! If you're a BCFPA member, you're entitled to special membership discounts, custom pricing contacts and more. Here's the announcement in the BCFPA newsletter!

Just contact us at 604-444-4467 or and ask about our Membership Advantage Program for more details!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cisco Systems Tour in San Francisco

All this week I was in San Francisco with my forum group from EO. A few times a year we travel on a retreat to visit world class companies and learn best practices.

We stayed at the Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square. This illustrious chocolate factory dates back to the civil war era where they once made everything from uniforms and spices to of course, Chocolate. The Fairmont spent 4 years renovating the factory into a one of a kind destination. It was a place we had to stay and experience and the location didnt disappoint. We lounged on the outdoor patios overlooking the San Francisco bay as we held our meeings.

Several of the suites were 2500 sqare feet in size and had 3 bedrooms. Surprisingly there was real value when sharing a large room like this in comparison to renting several smaller rooms. I highly recommend the Fairmont Heritage and I'll be taking my family back some time soon.


VIP Tour of Cisco Systems

Today was a visit to Cisco Systems in San Francisco.

We were honored with the royal treatment for the entire day. About every 90 minutes we were given a new presentation from top managers on emerging and disruptive techlology and innovations. It was truly amazing to be allowed the kind of up front and inside access to the most powerful and innovative tech company on the planet.

Some of what we saw and were told about I cannot repeat due to Non Disclosure Agreements but without giving away too much I have to tell you of one fellow who came to speak to us. He was a top VP in charge of Innovation at Cisco. He reviews hundreds of deals and looks for technology that is truly life changing and disruptive to the market. Here is his criteria and actions he takes when he finds an idea.

  1. The idea must have the ability to be a Billion Dollar business
  2. He will spend $10,000,000 on the start up to fund it
  3. He will hand pick Cisco employees to build it out
  4. The team has 18 months to get it to market
It seems a tall order but he is responsible for launching a half dozen businesses in the last 4-5 years and he has several in the pipeline. Personally I would be happy to look at the deals he tosses in the trash if those are his standards.

Here is one such innovation. Video conferencing, where the operator is located in a data center and they can greet visitors who walk into a lobby of an office building. Kind of like a video concierge but the concierge can manage several building at once. The can give directions, pass people thru security and other functions, all 24/7 and global. This technology is also rolling out to other applications such as boardroom conferencing and even kiosks that can go in shopping malls and you can have visit with a doctor while you are shopping. The applications are limitless. Have a look and you'll see.

And at the end of the video you can watch me walk right behind an operator who is on a conference. So from the guy's view in the lobby, he would see a pair of pants walk on screen behind the operator - - Doh!


Doing Both at Cisco

One more story from Cisco.

Our day wrapped up with a real bang from a one on one talk with Inder Sidhu the Senior Vice President, Strategy Planning, Worldwide Operations at Cisco. Mr Sidhu as you can see from his title is one of the highest level VP's at Cisco.

During our time with Mr. Sidhu we peppered him with questions and the insights and takeaway was like a year of business school packed into an hour. One memorable moment was when I asked him what he thought the next innovation in technology would be. He said, think of the dawn of computers, then the Internet - VIDEO will be the next innovation. We can see it starting already with services like NetFlix and the bankruptcy of Blockbuster. New methods of watching and delivery of video is going to transform movies, television and advertising in a profound way over the next 5 years.

Mr Sidhu is also the author of the recent best seller book DoingBoth. Please grab a copy of his insightful book.

Here is a quick video that sums up his philosophy.

I was at odds personally with a business decision that had me stumped and this exact recommendation from him when we met allowed me to see a new alternative and act on it.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Here Comes The Milkman

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving Weekend.
I stopped into the office early on the holiday Monday since I will be away in San Francisco all week for a visit to Cisco Systems. I'll write about that adventure later this week.

Funny how I just wrote about the Coke truck in my last post, and here was another truck delivering to us at the crack of dawn with our milk. Here was Island Farms droping off several pallets of milk for deliveries that will be picked tonight and delivered tomorrow. I usually don't see the trucks delivering, so I was amazed at how much milk we sell every day. This truck is here every morning with our order religiously.

It is so interesting to me when I see our whole organization, and all the working people and parts that make up the services we offer our customers. It makes me appreciate other services just a bit more. Like say, an aircraft flight - I can't imagine what goes into getting all the parts in order behind the scenes, so we can stroll up and stick our behinds in the seats.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Zappos Tour Part 3: The Buyers Floor

Donavon takes us for the first time into the call center. It's what I consider the nerve center of Zappos.

I was ready for crazy antics and a loud boisterous environment. But instead... everyone was heads down and working.

At Costless Express we are a pretty crazy and fun bunch at times, but other days you can hear a pin drop.

It was one of my best take-aways from the whole tour - that to have a great culture like Zappos, you don't need to be "Full On" all the time.

Enjoy Part 3.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Coke's New Hybrid Truck

The Coke truck delivers to us twice a week so its nothing new to see it rolling past our office windows on its way to receiving. Except today when I caught an eye of the trailer. Have a look. I ran outside with my camera to catch the driver as he backed in so I could ask him what is was all about.

Here is what I learned from the driver: "Drives like a truck" :-)

Here is what I learned from the internet:

 Coca-Cola Enterprises plans to purchased 120 hybrid-electric drivetrain-equipped trucks from Eaton Corp.

The Coca-Cola order represents the largest North American commercial order to date for Eaton's hybrid systems and follows the beverage company's purchase of 20 trucks with Eaton hybrid power systems in 2007.
Testing and evaluations conducted by CocaCola Enterprises found that Baton's hybridelectric drivetrain equipped trucks decreased emissions by roughly 32 percent and fuel consumption by up to 37 percent as compared to conventionally-powered trucks in Coca-Cola's current fleet. Coca-Cola also reported lower maintenance costs on the hybrid-powered trucks.
"We have been working with Coca-Cola Enterprises since 2003 to assess our systems" said Dimitri Kazarinoff, general manager for emerging technologies at Baton's Truck Group, Kalamazoo, Ml. "Coca-Cola is demonstrating its commitment to reducing pollution and greenhouse gases and Eaton is pleased to be a part of this effort. We are looking forward to working with them to deploy the systems into their transportation network."
"In addition to the environmentally friendly advantages that hybrid vehicles deliver, we also report that driver acceptance has been highly favorable, especially in high start-and-stop applications," says Dave Leasure, corporate director of fleet procurement, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Atlanta.
"The hybrid drive units have been performing very well in communicating with the electronic engines, always giving us the necessary torque and horsepower when it is needed."
Eaton employs parallel-type, diesel-electric hybrid architecture with Eaton's Fuller UltraShift automated transmission. It incorporates an electric motor/generator between the output of an automated clutch and input of the transmission.
The system recovers energy normally lost during braking and stores the energy in batteries. When electric torque is blended with engine torque, the stored energy is used to improve fuel economy and vehicle performance for a given speed or used to operate the vehicle with electric power only.
The system can also be designed to provide energy for use during engine-off worksite operations, further reducing noise, emissions and fuel costs.
Great Job Coke!!!


Monday, October 4, 2010

Gord's Tie

Most of the guys in the office wear a tie. It was great to see Gord our warehouse manager show up to show his support. Dude, where did you find that classic tie!

One thing about Gord many people don't know it that he loves wearing crazy hats while he is routing our fleet of trucks each day.

I'll snap a pic soon when he is not looking. (If he sees us coming with a camera, he can get a bit shy)
Great Fun Lovin' Attitude Gord!