He used charm, others’ personal tragedies and fake celebrity endorsements. How Christopher LaVoie cast his reality show and reeled in successful entrepreneurs.
By Robert J. Schmitt
In the fall of 2009, the University of Delaware’s College of Arts and Sciences needed to create a new executive leadership program. The dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Stephen Brown, was convinced that one of the most important and under-represented skills in the workplace was developing leadership skills. For months, he had been seeking ideas from faculty, administrators, alumni and interested students.
Then, he and I, who taught a course offered in the Department of Leadership, served on a campus leadership review board – a group of faculty, administrators and staff people that looks at leadership and makes recommendations to the dean.
One student suggested that the dean and other members of the review board think about how companies such as Apple, Google and Starbucks could leverage the Internet to transform how people buy and sell products and services, while simultaneously improving the customer experience and cutting costs.
The dean immediately agreed with the student and asked for the student’s research to be shared with the College of Arts and Sciences leadership review board.
As I read the research, I was surprised by its novelty and creativity. The study explored potential ways companies like Apple, Google and Starbucks could leverage the Internet to transform how people buy and sell products and services, while simultaneously improving the customer experience and cutting costs.
It turned out that Starbucks could use the Internet to engage consumers and to offer new revenue opportunities. Starbucks had tapped onto what I call the “new consumer’s universe” – consumers that are more discerning, more informed and more technology-savvy than the average consumer. The same people that are in the marketing and advertising departments are often the ones who are in the customer service and customer service systems – the people whose job it is to serve the customers who buy the company’s products.
In the study, Starbucks had studied the consumer’s universe, which is how they