February 17, 2010

Gliebers Dresses: Management Gossip

The Gliebers Dresses Management Team invited Kevin to lunch to discuss the latest developments at Gliebers Dresses.

Roger Morgan (Chief Operations Officer): "Kevin, are you enjoying your BLT?"

Kevin: "Absolutely."

Roger Morgan: "Good. Now tell us what the heck is going on?"

Pepper Morgan (Chief Marketing Officer): "Did I hear Mr. Gleason suggest that we're all going to be fired?"

Lois Gladstone (Chief Financial Officer): "Wouldn't that be just plain silly? I mean, as of this morning, Pepper's catalog strategy is +9% for the year, we're fixing this business."

Meredith Thompson (Chief Merchandising Officer): "Kevin, did Glenn give you any indication that this was coming?"

Kevin: "My conversations with Mr. Glieber are confidential, just like this discussion will be confidential."

Roger Morgan: "It's like Glenn threw all of us under the bus."

Pepper Morgan: "Is this about us, or is this really a function of the fact that this business is failing and Mr. Glieber wants to retire?"

Meredith Thompson: "Do you think we'll get a severance check if we're fired? I mean, how the heck would I feed my family?"

Roger Morgan: "Oh, I'm sure we wouldn't be out of a job for long, would we? I mean, there are tons of companies that are dying to hire people with our level of experience. We'd get jobs quickly!"

Lois Gladstone: "I heard that there are six job applicants for every available job right now. That's not very encouraging."

Kevin: "When is the last time all of you had lunch together, on your own, without Glenn arranging it?"

Pepper Morgan: "I think this has to be the first time that has ever happened."

Meredith Thompson: "It's almost like the possible sale of the company brought us closer together."

Kevin: "People don't talk about this often, but successful companies often have really good chemistry between business leaders. That doesn't mean there isn't conflict, but the leaders have a good relationship with each other."

Roger Morgan: "Kevin, what could we have done to fix this business? Didn't we do everything in our power to prevent this from happening? Isn't this just a consequence of a lousy economy and a shift in customer preferences away from catalogs?"

Kevin: "Let me ask a question. What would all of you do if you were running a newspaper? I mean, they are being clobbered by a shift from analog to digital."

Roger Morgan: "Boy, I'd be all over testing every possible strategy to grow newspaper readership online. I'd try pay walls, I'd try pay-per-article strategies, I'd try various free models paid for by advertising, and I'd probably start spin-off brands that are not tied to the legacy of the original newspaper brand."

Meredith Thompson: "And we did a lot of that. We tried a social media presence. It was a disaster. We could create a mobile marketing strategy, but our 60 year old customer isn't out there be-bopping with iPhone apps. A Mobile strategy couldn't work for us, heck, a lot of our customers are so rural that they don't even have cell phone coverage! So what the heck should we have done?"

Pepper Morgan: "Maybe we aren't the right people to help a business through such a significant transition."

Roger Morgan: "Of course we're the right people. And what we were doing was appropriate. Pepper, your new catalog strategy is, year-to-date, 9% above last year. Glenn didn't give us the time we needed to get us through the transition. He seems stressed, like he wants to cash out. Where the heck does that leave us?"

Meredith Thompson: "What the heck would new owners do with our merchandise? I just cringe at the thought of working with another company, one where we have to source our merchandise with a sister brand in order to fulfill some mythical operational efficiency that looks good on a p&l but is hated by the customer. That's my fear."

Pepper Morgan: "What would we do with Sonora? She needs a quality private school experience in order to blossom into the young woman I think she can be. I can't send her back in to the public school system. I can't. I won't. I mean some of those schools have 25 or 30 kids per classroom. Sonora deserves better."

Roger Morgan: "Did you hear how that guy addressed me? It was like he was taking direct pot-shots at me, as if I am the reason this business is failing. I almost got the impression that he didn't want me to be part of the future of this business. Isn't that crazy? I mean, I read a Neptune Research report that says that incumbent companies are always ousted by new technologies. That's not my fault, that's just life. Catalogers had it good for a hundred years, now, technology is disrupting our business model. It's just simple Darwinism, isn't it? Sure it is. It isn't my fault."

Pepper Morgan: "Marketing would be folded in to the corporate borg. Finance would be folded in to the corporate borg. Operations would be folded in to the corporate borg. What's left?"

Lois Gladstone: "The borg. That's all that is left."

Meredith Thompson: "I sure hope this doesn't happen. I just hope Glenn comes to his senses, and decides to believe in us."

Kevin: "What if Glenn doesn't have the money to continue to fund losses?"

Lois Gladstone: "Oh, that's crazy."

Roger Morgan: "I think I'm gonna get on LinkedIn and start networking. Maybe I can cash in on all of those relationships I've built over the years.

Kevin: "Good point, Roger!"

Roger Morgan: "Really?"

Kevin: "Really. How many of you have prepared yourselves for a day like this by maintaining a base of contacts, by providing help to others for the past several years so that when you needed help, you had an army of people waiting to assist you?"

Lois Gladstone: "Who has time for that? If I lose my job, I'll just send out an e-mail to my contact list, and I'll attach my resume. I'll have a new job in less than thirty days."

Kevin: "This is a challenge, isn't it? You have to prepare for an uncertain future while still working sixty hours a week. How do you balance the time? Do you have resources to even do it? And yet, a day comes when circumstances force you into the future. Either you are prepared, or you aren't prepared. It's that way with our careers, and it is that way when technology supersedes our business model. In either case, we have to invest a lot of time that appears to have little ROI, so that we're ready when circumstances conspire against us."

Meredith Thompson: "Yeah, I was at the SocialMerch conference in Atlanta, and they talked all about how you have to spend an hour or two a day developing your own personal brand, so that when something bad happens, you have your own personal brand to fall back on."

Roger Morgan: "Did you folks hear about Mack Collette at Woodside Research? He reported on Social Media for them, built a list of 27,000 Twitter followers, wrote a bunch of profitable research reports, and then left the company to start his own Social Media Research brand. Now Woodside Research won't let any employees write their own blogs, a strategy that is opposite of everything they've been telling all of their clients to do. So maybe a personal brand is important in this day and age."

Lois Gladstone: "E-mail with a resume attached, folks. E-mail with a resume attached."

Pepper Morgan: "Check, please!"


  1. Anonymous6:22 AM

    A "Borg" reference - Awesome!

  2. Gliebers Dresses aims to please!

  3. Anonymous10:52 AM

    Poor Sonora!

  4. Yes, we need to think about how all of this impacts young Sonora.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Winners? Units or Sales?

Pretend you have a $100 item that sells one unit. You also have a $5 item that sells 10 units. The $100 item generated $100, but just one cu...