What Can a Bagel Shop Teach Us About the Community Experience?

In October, one of my clients and I presented at LavaCon, a digital media strategies conference in Portland. Mary Beall Adler, CEO and owner of the Georgetown Bagelry – one of my first clients -presented a case study about how her bagel shop – a fixture of the DC area – leveraged her amazing community of customers to streamline business processes and increase revenue.

LAVACON _Georgetown Bagelry 1

Mary and I began working together in 2010. Together, our passion for community building and creative approaches to business and leadership helped the bagelry grow in new ways.

Social media has always played a strong role in Mary’s business. Once we were able to build a consistent framework so that it could be maintained and managed, we began to strategize about how we can streamline many of the business processes that plagued the bagelry.

I don’t know much about running a bagel shop, but it was definitely clear that there were ways that we could make things run more efficiently. Mary, because she lives and breathes bagels and the shop, knows these processes inside and out and is always looking to improve them.

By outlining the problems we wanted to solve, we were able to improve online [and in-store] revenue considerably.

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The Strategic Peacock: Fall Tour 2014

FalltourIt’s September — a time when students and teachers head back to school. I love the start of a new school year, but alas as a business owner, I don’t always get to start fresh after a summer respite. As such, I’ve come to divide my calendar year into two parts — part 1 and part 2. During the first part of the year, I make an effort to learn and experiment. During the second part of the year, I make a concerted effort to put what I’ve learned into practice — usually by speaking at conferences. Last year, I was fortunate to speak at a plethora of conferences around the country. This year, I am lucky to do so again. Here’s where you can find me speaking this fall.

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The Problem With Goals

When I work with small businesses, the subject of goals is bound to come up. To understand what a company is working towards helps to drive strategies at play. As helpful as goals are, having a plan of action is better.

Companies who have goals set in stone can’t be agile. And agility is the key to success — especially where social media is concerned. Algorithms change. Platforms change. Audiences change. As a result, businesses need to embrace change and have workflows in place that can adapt easily.

It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to.

In college, I studied motivational psychology. My thesis examined why some athletes were able to rebound after injury, while others didn’t. In graduate school, I studied the driving force behind communities. The common theme is agility (and a high degree of intrinsic motivation). Being able to adapt to your surroundings or new realities is critical to one’s success.

So why, when it comes to business, are we force-fed the idea that we have to have big hairy audacious goals? Why aren’t we encouraged to have a plan of action, instead? Probably, because it requires work. It’s easier and more impressive to say that “by 2020, I plan to be a billionaire”, instead of saying how you plan to make it happen. Continue reading