Friday, December 31, 2010

Maybe next year...

Maybe next year...
The economy will be going gangbusters
Your knowledge will reach critical mass
Your boss will give you the go ahead (and agree to take the heat if things don't work out)
Your family situation will be stable
The competition will stop innovating
Someone else will drive the carpool, freeing up a few hours a week
There won't be any computer viruses to deal with, and
Your neighbour will return the lawnmower.

You can ship, you can launch your project, you can make the impact you've been planning on.
Of course, all of these things won't happen. Why not ship anyway?

[While others were hiding last year, new products were launched, new subscriptions were sold and new companies came into being. While they were laying low, websites got new traffic, organizations grew, and contracts were signed. While they were stuck, money was being lent, star employees were hired and trust was built.

Most of all, art got created.

That's okay, though, because it's all going to happen again in 2011. It's not too late, just later than it was.]
My last blog entry for 2010 courtesy of Seth Godin.
2011 is going to be a landmark year at Costless Express - Seth.....we promise to "ship" this year and not wait!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tech's Biggest Surprise of 2010: The Rise of Groupon

So, did you get a Groupon for Christmas? A spa visit or a dinner for two at the Pan Pacific?

It sure would feel great to have a gift like that under the tree and the best part is knowing your gift giver didn't pay full retail.

Not a Grouponian just yet? Let me fill you in:

In April, Groupon was worth $1 billion. By November, it was worth $6 billion. In other words, the group-buying website's average value is growing by more than $20 million in value per day. That makes it the fastest growing company in history.

Chew on that one.

Groupon now has more than 3,000 employees selling brands on the daily deal business model. And business is booming. Now the company is shooting for greatness after turning down Google's $6 billion offer. The eventual Groupon IPO will be the most anticipated public offering since Google (unless Facebook beats them to the punch).

Nobody could have predicted that Groupon and the group buying business model would explode like it did in 2010, not even Groupon's founders. Local business and advertising has been changed forever by the flood of daily deals that now permeate the web. And remember this: We have yet to see the limits of the Groupon phenomenon.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gingerbread Buddies!

Today was the first day for 2 more call center staff we just hired - Jen and Brynn.

Our winner - Sharon!
What better way to have them start at Costless Express than with a Gingerbread Man Decorating Contest? The Girls walked around Costless HQ and gathered staff to come to the break room to decorate the yummy little cookies.

Have a look at the MAD artwork and creativity. Vote on your favorite. Can you guess the cookie I decorated? 

Special Thanks to KERRS CANDIES for donating their awesome gift basket to the winner as voted by our staff.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our Christmas Family

Today we packed up a truckload of gifts and food to take over and surprise a family we are helping this Christmas. Special thanks to Cindy in our office for introducing this family.

After reading Cindy's email (below) about this family, we rallied our staff and vendors to gather donations to make their Christmas a special one. Have a look at my skills as a movie maker. We aired the video in the offices and people were a bit choked up and a few tears flowed. It was so warming to the heart to see pure joy in a child's face.
As you all may know we are sponsoring my friend and her 3 small kids this year for Christmas.

I have known my friend Chantille for 25 years and she has had some pretty bad luck. From her house being caught on fire and she lost a lot of personal items to moving to Newfoundland and having to sell everything she owned. When she moved back here to BC, the only thing she had to her name was her kitchen table and chairs, 2 suitcases and a smaller suitcase for her 3 year old daughter Summer, which had very few clothes inside. I have taken her to yard sales and thrift stores to get a few things to make her place somewhat livable. She had a used couch given to her and a 19" tv from my mother in law. She is on Welfare at this time, and had a struggle finding a job. She found a part time job the other day, but because it is a new store, they are uncertain when opening day is. So she sits and waits until she gets that phone call. I have helped her get food in her house, had her and kids over for dinners, but there’s only so much I can do as I have to support myself as well. With your help we can provide a very Merry Christmas for them.
Well Cindy - we did our best to help. So proud of you and all our staff!

Cheers and Merry Christmas

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Vancouver girl who silenced the world for five minutes

Take 5 minutes to watch a powerful video from a 12 year girl from Vancouver who presented before the UN Council Earth Summit. She received a standing ovation at the end.

Here is the transcript from her speech.

It was 1992 when she made that speech. Who is she and where is she now?

Her last name might give it away.


Friday, December 10, 2010

This will make you laugh today...

Girl Goes Crazy Over Webcam Special Effects

And here's the undistorted version, if you're curious!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Congratulations to Ethical Bean!

Ethical Bean Coffee is on Oprah Winfrey's Christmas list this year!

Ethical Bean Coffee is featured in the December edition of O Magazine as one of Oprah's Favorite Things gift list. And no wonder - it's great coffee, fair trade and organic, and roasted right here in Vancouver. (You can buy it through in whole bean bags and pre-ground portion packs. You can think of it as a gift to your breakroom!)

The boost won't just help a local company that we're proud to do business with. Partial proceeds from their coffee sales this December will be given to the Ethical Bean Guatemalan Scholarship Fund, which helps Guatemalan children to attend school, and Project Somos Children’s Village, a Vancouver-based charity that helps orphaned and abandoned children in Guatemala.

Read more about it on Ethical Bean's blog here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Would be bride donates reception to homeless

I saw this story and had to share about a young woman in Colorado who had her wedding called off days beforehand. With a reception room booked and catered and not enough notice to cancel, she decided to do the most beautiful thing. She contacted the Salvation Army to organize an early holiday meal for a local homeless shelter.

This woman took a heart-breaking life event and turned it around into an amazing and selfless gesture.

When life tosses you lemons, make lemonade is my motto.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Zappos Tour Part 6 - Keeping Culture Alive

Even the mighty Zappos was not immune from the economic downturn and they laid off 8% of their workforce in October 2008.Since then, they have hired back and increased their head count to almost 1400.

Now in 2010, since Amazon has bought and owned Zappos for about a year, I have heard headcount is being tightened but that could just be due to the synergies with having Amazon as your big brother.

We had stopped in the cafeteria when this was filmed. Here Zappos employees are offered free snacks and drinks as well as basic sandwich fixings. After seeing this I immediately introduced this at Costless Express. We now offer all our staff free breakfast, lunch and dinner. The staff love it and it can save someone several hundred dollars a month.


Zappos Tour Part 5 - Blog Bus and the HR of the Tiger

Donavon tours us past the very cool BLOG BUS. Who decorates this stuff?

Then it gets even more crazy when we walk past the HR department. Now remember there are 4-8 tours a day thru Zappos so imagine hearing Eye Of The Tiger that many times a day, every day, and still have a smile.

The people are genuinely happy and love being a bit weird. It is infused into them.

Have a look.

Zappos Tour Part 4 - Heat Map and Monkey Row

Here is the epicenter of entreprenurialism - Monkey Row.

In true Zappos fashion, the offices are open concept even for the executive team.

Down Monkey Row is where Tony, Alfred and other key executives sit.

I had seen Monkey row in the pages of Fortune Magazine and on CNN business shows so to be here was like a sports fan standing on home plate at Yankee Stadium.

A highlight for me!


Friday, November 12, 2010

World Kindness Day!

Did you know tomorrow (Saturday, November 13th) is World Kindness Day? Do a good deed for someone (Here are a few suggestions) and help spread the word!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We are all here for a reason

What an amazing set of circumstances. Have a look at this story out of France that happened today.

We have all made an incredible difference in the lives of people around you and people you may not have even met. Take a moment to think about something you did that may have changed the life for someone else. It may have been small for you but HUGE for someone else.

Last summer our family was out boating on Harrison Lake and I saw two people in the water next to a Sea-Doo water craft. I steered the boat closer to just see if everything was alright and as we came up on the couple we could see they were in distress. The man was holding up a girl who couldn't swim and she was in total panic. They went under the water several times and their life jackets were not buoyant to hold them up. We were able to pull them aboard and got them to shore. The man had taken a Japanese exchange student out for a ride and he didn't know she couldn't swim. He said they were in the water for 10 minutes and he was at the point where he had thought of letting her go because she was going to drown them both. She was crying and upset because of the situation but luckily didn't understand what he was telling us. She had no idea her life was that close to ending. I think about those two people often and I know their contributions to the world and other lives would be missed if they were not alive.

Christmas is soon and my favourite movie "It's a Wonderful Life" is a tradition. It really grounds me and gets me thinking about the year and how things in the world would be different if I never existed. Or if my wife, mother, or even staff never existed. We all make a difference every day - positive or negative.

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!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Outdoor Meetings Rock at Costless Express

It was great to see some of our staff holding a meeting outside today, taking advantage of the last few days of warm sunshine. What's on that flip chart?

We have spent a lot of time over the past year focusing on growth and learning. It seems there is always more to learn from outside sources and each other. Funny how that is??

One of our 10 Core Values is "Learn, Educate, Innovate" and it's our staff that has really embraced the idea of constantly pursuing new ideas and learning. An example of that are monthly sessions we call the "Sweat Box".

How the Sweat Box Sessions work is like this: We gather all our staff and tell them they are all equal shareholders in a company called Costless Express 2.0. There is no Org Chart, processes or departments. We need to walk thru the entire process from when a customer calls until the order is delivered, every step of the way. What happens in the Sweat Box session (about 4 hours) is we create departments, positions, draw out flow and justify everything. What happens is we uncover current systems and processes that are out of date. When you are in new company design mode, the fresh ideas are limitless as long as you can put aside the evil saying "but that's not how we do it here".

There are times when we looked at an old way we were doing something and just start laughing, because we can't believe how obvious it was that the process was so bad, compared to creating a new 2.0 process.

Our Sweat Box Sessions are moderated by Dr. Dave, our company business and personal success coach. As Dave says, "If there isn't any passion in the meetings, there won't be any change." I will admit, there have been a few fist poundings on the table, raised voices and even a few tears by participants during the exercises, but Dr. Dave has a way of making everyone feel positive and energized by the end of what are very long days.

We have held a few sessions to date, with more to come. The last session I wasn't invited to; change needs to come from within, not from the top down, so Dr. Dave decided I should not be present. I'm proud of our staff, we really have a great group and I love seeing those outdoor meetings.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What A Bag!

Our purchasing department is continually looking for the latest and greatest in products for our customers. I'm always impressed how they introduce a new line that is a little out of the box from what we normally sell. We love to give freebies to our customers from samples to value added gifts with purchase, and I loved the Elle lunch bag line when it was put on my desk. Stylish, functional & eco-friendly! How could we go wrong? It was the perfect thank you to our customers for being the great people that they are.

Michelle with one of the lunch bags

Erin had taken a picture with some goodies in it and I thought, why not add treats too? So with our fabulous suppliers rallying last minute, we were able to add some yummy additions to the bag. All in all, the lunch bag was well received with us being able to give away 120 bags in total! We had completely run out.

We have had some requests from our customers if they could purchase them, and we were able to obtain a few more. So for those that would like to get this fabulous bag, it is now available. The Elle Lunch Bag can be ordered by item # 395083 for $24.99. We were able to get a limited quantity, so when they are sold out, we can't guarantee when they will be available again.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Five Minutes of WOW!

Here is a video presentation I was asked to do for our Office Products buying group CIS.

They were asking us what some of the factors have been to our growth year over year. I was unable to personally attend the September Toronto conference so I grabbed our video camera and filmed 5 minutes about some of the main success factors (and Books) that I think make Costless Express REMARKABLE!

Have a watch - but go easy on me, I did it in one take. It was really quite fun so... to my good friend David Chalk the famous public speaker - "Watch Out!"


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Zappos Tour Part 2: Culture Makes a $ Billion in Sales!

Here is part 2 from our August 16th tour of Zappos.

Donavon the Culture Evangelist and tour guide for the day takes us to a hallway at Zappos HQ to explain about their Growth Milestones and Culture.
Have a Watch!

Many more episodes to come.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ban Comic Sans!

It's amazing what you don't know in life.
Here is an email today from our in house designer Erin, answering a question about a font I liked that had caught my eye and I wanted to know what the name of it was.
Seems my taste in fonts is not too good, and thank heavens we have Erin to keep us on the good side of the designer communities everywhere. We went to the website link she posted and were literally crying with laughter. Some of the YouTube videos did have some coarse language, but it was totally hilarious.
Thanks Erin for brightening our day on what is now known as the wettest August Day in Vancouver History.

On Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 9:13 AM, Erin Anderson wrote:
Hi ,
That would be (the widely mocked) Comic Sans. It's super common since it comes with Windows, and it's the only font I know of that has actual hate groups dedicated to eradicating it from the face of the earth. Google "Comic sans" and the first result is:
I would strongly advise against using it for anything more professional than a Missing Cat flyer. If you're looking for fonts that look like comic lettering or kid's handwriting, there are lots of better alternatives.


Erin Anderson
Graphics & Marketing

Zappos Tour Part 1: History

As promised, Here's Part 1 of the Zappos video! More to follow...

Friday, August 27, 2010

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Today I read this "snap back to reality" kind of email from a friend. At first as I read it I was thinking of one of my all time favourite movies - Brewster's Millions  where Richard Pryor has to spend millions of dollars in 30 days. I always thought that would be quite fun but exhausting at the same time. But it actually was so much more.
As I read to the end of the email - I really had a WOW moment. I just turned 43 and you know, I live each day more passionately now that I did when I was 25. This kind of email/inspiration or whatever you call it really hits home with me.

A few months ago another friend asked me "What gets you out of bed in the morning?" It seems like such a simple question but as I stumbled thru the typical answers like "the alarm clock"... "to build a great company"... "to sell office supplies" and others, he really challenged me to find a new reason to get out of bed in the morning. Something that will get me jumping out of bed, something so inspiring to me and others that it really is a life changer. Something so big I needed to enrol others to collectively make a significant difference in peoples lives. In the past few months I have begun a new project and it really does get me out of bed! I can't get into it right now, but over the next year you'll see the beginnings of our work.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Take the poll here and I'll draw for a $50 Cineplex Movie Gift Card on September 17th.

Hope you all have a great weekend!


Interesting concept, and so true.........
 Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest:
Each morning your bank would deposit $86,400.00 in your private account for your use.
 However, this prize had rules, just as any game has certain rules. The first set of rules would be:
1. Everything that you didn’t spend during each day would be taken away from you.
2. You may not simply transfer money into some other account.
3. You may only spend it.

Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another $86,400.00 for that day.

The second set of rules:

1. The bank can end the game without warning; at any time it can say, “It’s over, the game is over!”
2. It can close the account and you will not receive a new one.

What would you personally do?

You would buy anything and everything you wanted, right? Not only for yourself, but for all people you love, right? Even for people you don’t know, because you couldn’t possibly spend it all on yourself, right? You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right?


Each of us is in possession of such a “magical” bank. We just can’t seem to see it.

Each awakening morning we receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is NOT credited to us.

What we haven’t lived up that day is forever lost.
Yesterday is forever gone.
Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account at any time… WITHOUT WARNING.

WELL, what will you do with your 86,400 seconds?
Aren’t they worth so much more than the same amount in dollars?

Think about that, and always think of this:
Enjoy every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you think.
So take care of yourself, and enjoy life!
Here’s wishing you a wonderfully beautiful day!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Junior Mints Pt. II

Yesterday we had the emergency order of JUNIOR MINTS for our customer, the QE Theatre.

Today we received this fantastic voice mail from our customer. It really made our day.


At Costless Express we try to focus on any opportunity to WOW our customers. Seems we really made an impact here and our team was clapping as we shared it in our call center for all to hear.

I hope we have a chance to WOW you to some day soon.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Junior Mints!

Tonight we received an emergency call from our long time friends at the Queen E Theatre. The call was a desperate cry for ... JUNIOR MINTS!

Yes, Junior Mints. You see, Jerry Seinfeld was in town for his concerts at the QE and there was a mad rush on Junior Mints by fans of the hit TV show (Episode 60).
I have been a big Seinfeld fan when the show was on, but recently I haven't sat thru any syndicated repeat shows. But for this post, I wanted to do a quick research on the Junior Mints episode, and I found myself immersed back into the show. There is so much cool stuff at your fingertips online now about Jerry and the show. It's amazing how the internet has made everything so accessible.
Here are a few cool links:
The Junior Mints portion of Episode 60
How about the original script from Episode 60?
The Wikipedia page for the show!
Only in real life --  A sexual harassment suit just for discussing the episode:
A conversation in Milwaukee the day after the episode aired led to a lawsuit in which jurors awarded Jerold J. Mackenzie $26.6 million on July 15, 1997. Mackenzie was terminated by Miller Brewing Co. on the basis that discussing the episode with his secretary constituted sexual harassment. Later, however, the lawsuit was overturned by the court of appeals, and this ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.
May 6th, 1981 - Jerry's first TV appearance on Johnny Carson

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Switch

At Costless Express we just finished our year end. So August is a fun time for us here in the company as we set new goals for budgets, capital investments and the best part - our Marketing Calendar.

Our Marketing Committee spent no time adding on some new and exciting marketing initiatives for this upcoming year, including VIP Movie Premiere Nights for selected releases during the year.

Today we gave away exclusive red carpet premiere passes to the movie The Switch starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman. Have a look - it's a great movie from what we hear.

Our customer feedback was incredible, and I have special thanks to our marketing committee for chasing down such a cool idea and our close friends at Maple Pictures and Lions Gate Films for making this an ongoing promotion. We plan to have several VIP Premiere events thru out the year.

At Costless Express we supply many of the production houses in town and have made many friends in the Vancouver film community. It's been a soft few years compared to the booming times of the past (investment revenue was said to exceed one billion per year) but I'm happy to say that film business is on the rise again and we expect to see significant investment in the Lower Mainland in this category.


Visiting Zappos

At Costless Express we are obsessed with WOWing customers and offering the best customer service possible in an environment that breeds the best employee culture possible. So it would only make sense that we learn how to be the best by having close ties with one of the best companies in customer service.

For us, we feel exemplifies the culture and service ethics we strive for each day. If you are not aware of Zappos, then you only need to know that they went from zero sales to ONE Billion in sales in under 10 years, and the success can be directly attributed to WOWing customers with service. Check out for starters and I'll fill in more about them later.

Over the past year we have had a close relationship with Zappos and the team there has answered any questions we threw at them from hiring practices to service statistics and even how they build their culture.

This weekend we were invited down to tour the Zappos headquarters in Las Vegas and then to attend a VIP party for their staff, vendors and close friends.

All I can say about the party at this point is it has something to do with a BUS and a BOOK.

There are so many stories to tell and video to share that I'll break it up over the next few weeks. I'll also post an 11 part video series of the main highlights of the tour onto our YouTube channel  and share some fun pictures on our Facebook gallery.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eco Fair!

Today and yesterday our crew was downtown at Bentall Plaza for a yearly Eco Fair.

It's a great chance to showcase our extensive line-up of environmentally friendly products from recycled paper to cardboard binders, recycled waste baskets to eco cleaning products.

Since we purchased Frogfile, the eco office supply company, in October last year, Costless Express has become the leader in eco products, with a industry leading selection of over 7500 products.

Did you see our Twitter feed on the 11th and 12th? Some of you did and came by for your free ream of Harbour 100 copy paper. Thanks for following us!

One program we have that was of big interest to the attendees was that we recycle Keurig K-Cups. Something not seen from other Keurig providers. I know we picked up a few new customers who were switching because their current supplier didn't offer this service. If you would like more info on our Keurig K-Cup recycle program just click here!

To learn more about our Keurig Machines and our selection of over 100 flavours, click here.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Happy BC (Broken Cooler) Weekend

The tip of the milk iceberg
OK... glass half full… glass half full… happy thoughts…

With every bad news comes a silver lining, and I'm going to take some bad news here and focus on the silver.

Over the BC Day long weekend, our power blew and our giant walk-in coolers and freezers shut down. Inside we keep $5-10,000 worth of milk, creamer, cheeses, bagels, breads, muffins, croissants, cookies and all sorts of fresh fruits like apples, oranges, pears and the list goes on.

Well, Sandy and I just stopped in the office Monday to install a Wii game console in the boardroom as a surprise to the staff for hitting a record breaking sales year. While walking in the warehouse as we came in, we noticed the coolers fans were not on (usually they are quite loud.) So we opened the cooler door and… $%#& #$@# (golly darn)… pardon my French… the power breaker had blown, and the inside of the cooler was as warm as the warehouse.

Food Bank donation - 400 dozen bagels!
OK… happy thoughts… all the perishable product was ruined, but the bakery product would still be OK since it was flash frozen from the factory. (Once thawed, it has 7 - 10 days of shelf life.)

So we pulled out all the bakery product and put it on carts to send to the Food Bank. They were so overwhelmed with product, they said they were going to divide up the donation and share it with 3-4 other agencies. So on that glass half full side, it was great to see the product go to good use. We wrote off about $6,000 of product, and we are now installing a thermostat monitored by our alarm so this doesn't happen again.

I wanted to give a shout out of appreciation to our staff who really pulled it together Tuesday morning to recover and restock (thanks Accounting, Sales, Todd, Kirsti, Joy, Kathie, Gord and all the Warehouse) so we could be back up right away.

My only concern was that we disappointed our customers who counted on us for these products after a long weekend. We called every customer and they all were OK waiting a day, but still - our brand promise is perfect every time - on time.
I do apologize personally to our customers for any disruption to your busy days.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Off To The Bathtub Races

Have you ever heard of Bathtub Racing? Or how about the world's largest Bathtub? Nanaimo BC holds the world famous Bathtub Races each year, and my "crew" and I have been involved for 14 years now.

If you have never seen a bathtub in action, then check out this video of our driver Wakeem as we test the tub in calm waters prior to the race. Our tub is racing in the Super Modified Class, the fastest class with the most horse power and tricks. Hey, after all these years, we know to go big or go home. Our tub was clocking out at a speedy 32 MPH and we were happy with that.

Here is the link to the Official Bathtub Site.

The weather for the race this year was sunny but very windy. We were in 6 - 7 foot swells, and even the chase boats were having problems in the waves.

Only 20 minutes into the race, and most of the field either didn't make it out of the harbour or much past the first check point, "Entrance Island." By the end of the 3 hour race, only 12 of the 49 tub and chase boat teams crossed the line. We sunk just after the first check point, but were able to throw a rope around the tub and save it from completely going under.

Although we didn't finish this year, we did have friends who came in first place!!!
Clint Heine of Marine Express / 1st Fiberglass.
Here is Clint sipping beer from the cup in the pub after the race.

On the BC Day long weekend, we will be up at Pitt Lake for the next bathtub race. No waves on the lake, so I hope we don't sink this time :-)


P.S. a special thanks to our Nanaimo customers for their support all year and during Tub Weekend.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Social Committee

The best part of being on our Costless Express Social Committee is "pre testing" venues for our parties.
A new bowling center opened up near our offices, so we thought this would be a great venue for our year end party (our year end is July 31.)

So, off our committee went on a Friday afternoon to check it out. Hey, someone's gotta do the hard work, and since we can't just send one person, we all had to go check it out.

Now that we were here, we thought, what's the harm to bowl a game… or two… or three… and order nachos? (The biggest plate of nachos I've ever seen - I took a picture!) Soon it was 6:30pm, and we had ripped up the lanes with some super competitive games. It was a great time, and the best part was keeping up with Todd who is on a league.

I'm looking forward to our bowling party, scheduled for mid August. I suggest bowling for any corporate get-together. It's quite inexpensive, everyone can do it, and it's easy for everyone to mingle and team build.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chewter's Chocolates

Today we went to visit my friend Wade and his company Chewter's Chocolates.

Wade just spent the past 4 months installing a new chocolate production line worth about $1,000,000!!!

This machine can take liquid chocolate (only the best Callebaut chocolate) and completely mould, cool and wrap over 350 chocolate squares per minute.

Watch a quick video to see how fast this machine makes them - it is amazing!

Wade said the "How It's Made" TV show wants to come film his machine - only one of a small handful in the world.

Soon you'll see Costless mini chocolates in your orders and handed out by our drivers, we are just waiting for the weather to cool down.

Also, check out these very cool custom wooden boxes Wade's company makes for the Vegas hotels like Bellagio and Wynn to name a few. He has really revolutionized the mini bar gift experience with these products. You can start to find his gifts as close as Vancouver hotels, and as far away as Dubai.

Way to go Wade, proud of you - (and keep the PB&J chocolate truffles coming our way, they are sooooooo addictive!)


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Todd is the world's greatest handyman.

Behold the power of duct tape!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

DJ Calvin is in the house

Calvin in the DJ booth at Liv - Photo courtesy of Graham
There are times in life when the stars align, everything goes your way and things happen that you couldn't possibly create if you attempted or tried to buy it.

Some people call this "Self Actualization." If anyone remembers Abraham Maslow from university Psych class, you know what I'm talking about.

Well, tonight I had my "moment." Here is how it all went down.

This is the last night of the conference and the entire hotel has been opened up for us to go anywhere we want, all paid for! Our group decided to bee-line to the night club LIV - known as one of the top nightclubs in the world, and uber impossible to get in. Just the other night, it was closed for the 14th Annual American Black Film Festival.

Anyways, we walked right into the club and took over a VIP booth (usually it was $30 to just get in - If you can - and the booth would normally cost $2000 for the night) and ordered drinks and food - all free!!!

Once the music got cranked up and people were dancing, I happen to look up to the giant DJ booth and inside the booth was my friend Graham. He had somehow asked security if he could hang in the booth. Amazing!

The back story here is Graham and I both put ourselves thru school as DJ's, and we were sitting together at dinner at Nikki Beach just the other night chatting about the new technology of the DJ art.

I went over to the booth and Graham was able to swing it to allow me in the booth also. From then on, it was like a dream - the whole club was pounding to the beats, and we were at ground zero. We were able to see the best technology in clubbing being put through its paces right before our eyes. After 3 hours in the booth, the club needed to shut down so it could reopen at midnight for regular business. The head of security told Graham and I to come back and he would let us back in. Tonight there were rumours of guests like Jennifer Aniston, Luke Wilson and Shaquille O'Neal visiting to see some hot girl DJ star from New York.

Did we get back in?? You bet. And things picked up right were they left off (except the drinks were $25 instead of free now - yowch).

My real take away from the experience was this - It was the best time I've had in a long time, and something so unexpected. It really is to me about being open to letting life come at you and just going with the flow. You don't get what you don't ask for, be a nice human and others will be nice too. Oh, and just live a happy life!

Here is a YouTube video of Liv -- not the same night, but you get the idea.