Stand Up & Under What You Believe

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to strengthen your values. Reading time: 1:46.

FALLINGWATER, a Frank Lloyd Wright designed home in Pennsylvania

            The building contractor balked when he saw the architect’s plan for a new home. “Too dangerous,” he said, eyeing the planned cantlevered terraces 30 foot high over a waterfall.

            He refused the job. Another contractor built the cantilevered terraces but then had second thoughts about removing the construction supports, even though the architect assured the contractor that the cantilevered terraces would stay up.

          And Frank Lloyd Wright proved it. Personally.

          The famous architect, much to the surprise of the contractor, personally stood up for and under what he believed in. He proved the structural integrity of his design.

         Standing under the cantilevered terrace, he kicked out the temporary support structure. Safely and securely. Wright On! Frank Lloyd Wright made history that day.

         His masterpiece—The Fallingwater Home in Bear Run, PA—would become the subject of a cover story in Time Magazine in January 1938 and Wright added another chapter into his leadership legend as the most famous architect of the 20th century.

   Wright Makes Might

          Leaders stand up – and under—for what they believe in.

         Wright also stood up for his design of the controversial mushroom-like pillars in the Johnson Wax headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin.

        The building inspector would not approve the construction of the pillars until Wright proved each pillar could support 12 tons. Wright conducted the test FIVE-FOLD, proving his pillars could hold 60 tons.

          Continue reading “Stand Up & Under What You Believe”

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Customer Leadership Mint #1: Staying Relevant

This is the 1st of a 10-part series on Customer Leadership.

In this LEADERSHIP MINTS series, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Steelcase Inc. (founded March 16, 1912) and salute Customer Leaders (a.k.a employees) who have consistently driven Steelcase Inc  as the worldwide, office-furniture industry leader for most of its 100 years serving/leading customers.  Today let’s examine Customer Leadership from an historical perspective at Steelcase Inc., the $2.4 billion company, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

            Here’s an example of meeting a customer’s specific need.

           How do you lead your industry let alone stay in business for 100 years? Stay relevant. Especially in customer-izing your products or services to serve a specific customer need –from Charles Lindbergh’s historic trans-Atlantic flight to collaborating with famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright to playing a supporting role when General Douglas MacArthur acceped the Japanese surrender ceremony ending World War II.

Steelcase outfitted Charles Lindbergh's touring plane with a customized desk he used to sign autographs.

         That’s the customer leadership performance that we begin examining today with a series of 10 Leadership Mints over the next 10 business days. These Leadership Mints, short stories on customer leadership, are designed to freshen our bottom-line thinking on business success that Steelcase Inc. has earned en route to celebrating its 100th anniversary in March.

     “If ever a company marched to its own drummer, this one does– and in perfect step.”

         More than 25 years ago, Forbes Magazine cited Steelcase Inc. –the world’s leading office furniture maker – for its unique leadership style in a 5-page story titled “The Steel Behind Steelcase” in the October 7, 1985 issue. “If ever a company marched to its own drummer, this one does—and in perfect step,” opined editor James Michaels. “All very sui generis.”

           Consider these historical highlights:

         The year: 1927. The place: Paris. The event: Charles Lindbergh soars the Atlantic. Lucky Lindy pilots his Spirit of St. Louis 33.5 hours over 3,610 miles of ocean from New York– the first solo pilot across the Atlantic. And after his triumphant flight, he celebrated with a promotional tour across the United States. When Charles Lindbergh came to Grand Rapids, Steelcase Inc. was there, outfitting his touring plane with a customized desk.

            Continue reading “Customer Leadership Mint #1: Staying Relevant”