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VOL. 127 | NO. 19 | Monday, January 30, 2012

Biz Book Bestseller Discusses Spirit of Service

By Andy Meek

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Business consultant Dr. Joseph Michelli got pretty much the entire crowd on its feet during a private reception at the University of Memphis hosted by masterIT.

It was a joint event Thursday, Jan. 26, between the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, and the U of M’s MILE and LEAD programs. In keeping with the spirit of mentorship that animates much of those groups’ efforts, Michelli – the author of business book bestsellers like “The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage and Wow” – at one point posed a few questions.

How many of you are mentors?

Many people in the crowd of students, educators and business leaders stood up.

But when Michelli followed that up by asking how many people in the crowd aspired to be a mentor to someone in the future, nearly everyone was soon on their feet.

Michelli was in town in recent days as a guest of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club to share some of his ideas that can be translated into powerhouse customer service principles for businesses.

“My legacy is pretty simple,” he said. “I’m here to change the way people serve.”

Michelli spoke at the U of M only a few days before he’s scheduled to be in the office of Howard Schultz, the chairman and CEO of Starbucks – whose company was the subject of another of Michelli’s deep dives into an organization that he turned into a successful book.

In “The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary,” Michelli wrote about how Starbucks’ success is attributable to the way it creates “personalized customer experiences” and does things like energizing employees and creating customer loyalty all at once.

Michelli kicked off his talk at the U of M in an unconventional way. He decided to start with the idea of death.

He told the crowd about a business in Japan where actual coffins were brought in, and executives as part of an exercise laid inside them for 30 minutes. Those executives were then asked what they thought about while laying there, the trappings of death around them.

Likewise, Michelli fired his crowd up early by asking, “What’s your life going to be about? What’s the point?”

Michelli has carried his message to clients that range from Nokia to the American Cancer Society to Hewlett Packard. A recent Amazon.com customer review of his Starbucks book described it as full of “pretty straightforward storytelling with some ‘Ideas to Sip On’ at the end of each chapter. It’s up to the reader to decide how much of this is relevant and useful, and what the important lessons may be.”

PROPERTY SALES 41 308 2,265
MORTGAGES 47 379 2,607
BUILDING PERMITS 128 1,018 6,068
BANKRUPTCIES 53 255 1,787