Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Guest Bloggers, Sansolo & Coupe

I would like to welcome Michael Sansolo as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Michael and his writing partner, Kevin Coupe, are currently on a blog tour for their latest book release, “The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies.”

Here’s a brief synopsis of the book:
"Movies are magical. They can release us from the stress of everyday life. But movies also contain valuable lessons to improve the way we do business. 

In their entertaining new book, The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons From the Movies, authors Kevin Coupe and Michael Sansolo show how to use the stories in movies to solve problems in business. From The Godfather to Tootsie, from The Wedding Singer to Babe, the authors use more than sixty of their favorite movies to teach important lessons about branding, customer service, leadership, planning, ethics, and innovation. Readers learn how to use stories from the movies to communicate clearly with employees, clients, and customers.”

Michael is here today to tell us about the danger of never changing.

Whenever February 2nd comes around it’s hard to avoid some discussion of Groundhog Day and Groundhog Day. The latter, of course, is a movie and the reason Kevin Coupe and I wrote The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies, because we believe films can provide easy ways to explain complex situations and help us build a new story of success. And this very minor holiday provides a great lesson for today’s business via this Bill Murray comedy.

The basic plot of the movie is that Murray plays an obnoxious and vain Pittsburgh weatherman who gets stuck in Punxsutawney, PA, and daily relives the celebration of America’s best-known rodent. But the metaphor is more important. Murray’s character is stuck in his nasty habits and simply never progresses. It isn’t until he tries to change, to learn and to grow that he escapes Groundhog Day.

There’s another way of saying it much more bluntly: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes. In the best of times that’s an awful strategy. In days like these it’s beyond tolerable for any business.
Against that background, think about challenges facing your business. All
businesses face problems and find opportunities, but too often we move past both way too fast.

For instance, consider all the changes happening to today’s consumer. Diversity, lifestyles and certainly economic pressures are changing the needs and characteristics of today’s shoppers. The emerging generations, the growth of the Hispanic population and more are issues every business leader knows, but are we changing to serve it? Or are these challenges we simply move past as other issues pop up?

Consider how the economy is building customer attention on frugality. None of us know whether this trend is permanent or passing, but the power of the economic downturn guarantees some measure of change among shoppers. But are you changing with it, or like Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, are you ignoring? And if you chose the latter, what opportunities for growth are disappearing before your eyes?

But it goes further. I recently heard political strategist David Plouffe talk about how he built electoral success for a very famous client: President Obama. His point was very simple again: focus on your inner circle to build advocates for your candidate or your business.

Here too is a lesson that we’d think everyone would know. Engaged employees form the foundation for great sales. They become advocates with everyone they touch. Yet too often, especially in tough times, employees’ needs are downplayed, their enthusiasm wanes and problems ensue. And after them, there is no one more valuable than a loyal customer, yet how often are product deals and specials geared at new customers, ignoring and possibly insulting long-time loyalists? As Plouffe said, focus on the base and build from there. It works in politics and it can work for you.

The bottom line is you need to watch Groundhog Day. You need to ask yourself how often you are like Murray’s character, repeating the same day and the same mistakes over and over again and wondering what it takes to end this nightmare. Ask yourself how you could change and grow so that each day takes on great value, meaning and purpose. 

And whether or not you see your shadow, get out of that hole.

Michael, thank you for guest blogging today. Sometimes we don’t realize that we are in a runt and repeat the same mistakes over and over.

Now for a little background on Michael and Kevin:

Michael has traveled around the world one supermarket at a time, yet stopped to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Great Wall of China, and Pikes Peak. A native New Yorker, Michael is a consultant and frequent speaker for the food retail industry, and is a contributing editor and weekly columnist for MorningNewsBeat.com, a daily newsletter on the retail industry.

Michael was the senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute and was editor-in-chief of Progressive Grocer magazine. His favorite book: The Big Picture (of course), and The Great Gatsby; favorite food: Sal’s Pizza; favorite team: the Mets; and favorite movies: read The Big Picture! Michael, his family, and his very annoying beagle live in the suburbs of Washington, DC.

Kevin has been a working writer all his professional life. For the past decade, he’s had his own website/blog—www.MorningNewsBeat.com—providing what he calls “business news in context, and analysis with attitude.”

In addition to speaking at hundreds of conferences in the U.S. and abroad and reporting from 45 states and six continents, Kevin has been a newspaper reporter, video producer, actor, bodyguard, clothing salesman, supervised a winery tasting room, ran two marathons (slowly), drove a race car (badly), took boxing lessons (painfully), and acted in a major (and obscure) motion picture. Kevin is married with three children and lives in Connecticut.

For more information on the book and its authors, visit http://www.brigantinemedia.com/author.php?id=coupe-sansolo You can also find Kevin online at www.MorningNewsBeat.com and Michael at www.michaelsansolo.com


  1. Mason - Thanks, as always, for opening up your blog to guest bloggers.

    Michael - I think it really is very easy for us to get so comfortable with doing something in a certain way that we don't consider trying something new. And yet, as you say, sometimes doing something different is the way to solve a problem, move our lives ahead, etc.. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. What a unique way to view movies! That is cool.

  3. Really good advice. I'm going to borrow and paraphrase the insanity definition for my classroom :)

  4. After reading this post, I immediately ordered this book as a gift. What a great concept! I am sure there are many people out there who would love the movie aspect, and learn something from the business side without even realizing it!

    Thank you, Mason! And thanks to Sansolo & Coupe!


  5. Thanks for hosting Michael and Kevin today. I've read this book, and even for someone who isn't a big movie goer (like me), there is a lot to be learned. Oh course, now, I don't think I'll ever be watching another movie without trying to figure out a good business lesson. LOL!

    Thanks again.


  6. Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by. This is an interesting book and gives us a different way to view the movies.

    Thanks Michael for sharing your thoughts on it today.

  7. What a fresh perspective. Thanks, Mason, for hosting. This probably wouldn't have made it onto my radar screen otherwise.

  8. Very unique perspective and interesting way to come up with a book. Enjoyed the whole feature article, especially the last line.

    The Old Silly

  9. A novel idea for a book! Interesting!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.