Author Archives for Curt Fowler

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About Curt Fowler

Curt is a graduated of the Kellogg school of management, and has had a hand in hundreds of millions of dollars of investment.

Learning About Customer Service from a Gas Station

March 6, 2015 3:43 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

I’m a bit of gas station food & drink aficionado. I’m pretty sure it all started with the “Kangaroo” station in Athens that always had a two hot dog and jumbo fountain drink deal for $1.99. It was staple in my diet for most of my years there. Once I moved back to my hometown of Valdosta, GA, I was very disappointed in the gas station selection. No Circle K, no RaceTrac. We were suffering. Then came Murphy Express. I had never heard of the brand before, but they were a bright light in a town desperate for some good gas stations. The service was excellent, stores clean, the employees were “almost” Chick-fil-A caliber and the Icees and fountain Diet Mountain Dew were priced just right. That is saying a lot for a gas station!


Sitting is Killing You… And Making You Fat!

March 4, 2015 2:20 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

“Sitting increases risk of death up to 40%!” As many of you do, I sit a lot. A greater and greater percentage of American jobs (and most all of the high income jobs) are “knowledge” jobs. Knowledge jobs generally have us sitting for most of the day. In fact, the average person sits for 9.3 hours per day. That is more time that we spend sleeping (7.7 hours). All this sitting is killing us. A recent study found that if you sit 6+ hours per day you are 40% more likely to die within the next 15 years than someone who sits less than 3. And going to the gym doesn’t counteract the ill that sitting does to your body. In a previous article on the health habits of the Amish, we noted that their active lifestyles were a key...


Training for Emotional Intelligence at Starbucks

February 27, 2015 10:42 am Published by Leave your thoughts

“At best, IQ contributes about 20% to the factors that determine success, which leaves 80% to other forces; these forces are Emotional Intelligence” – Daniel Goleman Starbucks doesn’t sell coffee (no reasonable person would pay that much for just coffee). Ask any Starbucks executive what they sell and they will tell you it is customer service. So, what do you do if you are a Starbucks executive in charge of a $250 million dollar advertising budget, when one of your employees scribes the word “b**tch” (female dog) on a customer’s cup rather than her name? Continue to imagine that after this experience this customer goes home, calls the local TV station, changes into a lovely blue blouse and meets the news reporter in front of your Starbucks store to tell the world the story. I assure that this story will...


4 Things I Learned from “Happy”

February 25, 2015 7:29 am Published by Leave your thoughts

“Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness.” -William E. Gladstone As I mentioned in a previous post, my wife is on bed rest, 36 weeks pregnant with the next Fowler (modified bed rest at this time – thank you Lord!). As a deliberate battle against the overwhelm of undone tasks one experiences with two young children and a wife on bedrest, I decided we should watch movies while the girls nap on Saturdays. So far, the only complete movie we’ve watched is The Nutty Professor – it was a worthy choice (kudos to Jill). But, as we were perusing the list of free Amazon Prime movies this past weekend, I stumbled upon this movie – and I can’t stop recommending it to people! (Disclosure: Jill and I...


The Starbucks Training Program – Why it is So Good!

February 20, 2015 3:42 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” -Aristotle Starbucks has been very successful. The Starbucks Training Program is one of the key reasons why. Below are a few facts: Starbucks has grown by an average of two stores per day for the last 27 years, Starbucks plan to add 1,000 stores in China alone next year, Starbucks spends more on employee healthcare than coffee beans, and… Starbucks stock is worth over 23x what it sold for in 1992. They’ve done good, real good! Why? Great people and the amazing Starbucks Training Program! (Starbucks also helps their baristas respond well to angry customers...


Work Less, Accomplish More

February 11, 2015 11:47 am Published by Leave your thoughts

“It might seem counterintuitive that you will perform better at work if you spend more time with your kids, leave work early to volunteer at a local nonprofit, or take an hour out of your workday to go to the gym. But that’s just what happens.” – Stewart Friedman, Wharton Professor and former head of Ford’s Leadership Center __________ Have you snuck out of the office to exercise at lunch or for a quick lunch date with your wife and returned to work with almost startling clarity? In contrast, have you ever beaten your head against a problem at work for hours on end only to find the solution slipping farther and farther away? While many of us have felt more effective at work after we take a break from it, few of us have the gumption to make working...


How Starbucks Hires the Best

February 6, 2015 1:52 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

“The easiest way to ensure that your employees smile when they greet a customer, is to only hire employees who smile all the time.” – Howard Schultz Starbucks starting pay is not much more than minimum wage. Employees have to clean toilets and are expected to smile all of the time. Yet, it is perennially on most of the best places to work lists. And their turnover rate is half of the retail industry average. How?   Last week we talked about how Starbucks continuously delivers excellent experiences to their customers. It is clear Starbucks has some great processes and those processes are part of how they deliver excellent customer service. It is also clear that they would not have a chance of delivering that service without great people.


Executive Health Secrets of the Amish

February 4, 2015 8:46 am Published by Leave your thoughts

The traditional Amish diet is considered by most doctors to be terribly unhealthy. It is high in fat, sugar, salt and calories. They eat relatively few vegetables. They spend much of their time working in the cancer causing sun, don’t partake in modern medical diagnostics and even have bad genes. And I’ve never seen a gym in an Amish community. But, they have lower rates of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. They age better and most are able to do hard, physical labor into their old age. What gives? According to Dr. Alan Shuldiner, who has led more than a dozen studies of the Amish in Pennsylvania, their genes are not the reason they are healthier. Shuldiner says that many Amish have genes that cause high cholesterol and obesity, while some have a gene variation that actually protects their heart....


How Starbucks Rocks Their Customers

January 24, 2015 1:25 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Starbucks charges $4+ for a cup of coffee… And people keep buying. Why? Below are 5 ways Starbucks delivers the kind of customer experience required to get people to make $4 coffee a daily habit. Which of these ideas could you implement in your business?