NSA Logo

All organizations exist in a dynamic environment. The very nature of that dynamic environment means there will be things that will necessitate change for the organization. Constantly.

One way the most successful organizations cope with change is to constantly be a student of their environment while constantly asking “what if…” questions, then brainstorming potential strategies. I always liked how Ray Kroc of McDonald’s fame put it:

I was never much of a reader when I was a boy. Books bored me. I liked action. But I spent a lot of time thinking about things. I’d imagine all kinds of situations and how I would handle them.” – Ray Kroc


A good approach is to be ready and willing to make a modification, be it small or large, short-term or ongoing, to the entire business model if necessary. And recall, “business model” is just a fancy way of stating how the organization accomplishes its purpose.

Here’s a salute to all of those organizations out there who have courageously tackled the challenge of pivoting over the last few months in order to survive during the pandemic and for striving to deliver VALUE for us customers. That’s not an easy accomplishment under any circumstances, but especially under a tight deadline in unprecedented, uncertain times.





If you watch Shark Tank, read an article about business, or just find yourself in a conversation with somebody who’s trying to sound smart about business, you’ll undoubtedly hear them use the term “Business Model.”

Textbooks define “Business Model” a lot of different ways, but my favorite was from the late, legendary Peter F. Drucker who said it is simply how the business makes money.

I think that applies to any organization, even if you consider your organization to be a not-for-profit, because even a not-for-profit has to make money in order to survive.

But if the whole “profit” thing ruffles any feathers, how about trying this definition on for size?

“The business model is the means through which the organization accomplishes its purpose.” (I’ve taken to using the word “Purpose” instead of mission in my later years just ’cause I think it’s more powerful).

The purpose involves

Read the rest of this page »

Comments Off on Definition of the day: Business Model

That first step?

By Dr. Burt Smith May 5th, 2020

Who knows what the new normal is gonna be, or what is the best, fastest way to get there? Lots of uncertainty to be sure, and navigating this new normal will undoubtedly be challenging, frustrating, even downright scary for all of us.

But the future is upon us and we’ve got to get out there and get into it.

As I was looking for stuff to write about and share with you here, I ran across a quote I thought could serve as inspiration as we begin to literally “go back into the world” as a nation and try to get things moving again.

I found Dr. Martin Luther King’s words especially uplifting so I’ll share them with you in hopes you’ll find them as inspiring as I did wherever you are in the world as you read this.

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Comments Off on That first step?

What’s next?

By Dr. Burt Smith May 2nd, 2020

Everybody wants to know “what’s next” in terms of the post-pandemic 2020 and beyond. I wish I knew.

I’ll add that I don’t have a lot of faith in anybody who claims they do know, to be quite candid and just a little snarky.

The optimist in me likes to think

Read the rest of this page »

Comments Off on What’s next?

A lot of great things have happened in Oklahoma City in the 25 plus years I’ve been part of the business community. The opening of Costco here in town is but one example of how it’s just getting better and better!

It’s no secret Sam’s loses a lot of sleep over the threat Costco poses, and rightfully so. I predict we’ll see quite the battle for market share here in town, with both sides upping their game. I don’t know what all campaigns and tactics we’ll see deployed as the big box war rages on, but I can make you a promise today and not back down.

I know who will win…

And you can take it to the bank….

The winner will be: THE CUSTOMER!

In the free market economy, more competition equals more choice which equals more value for the CUSTOMER.

Since that’s you and me, please touch your screen and join me in a virtual high-five!

Nothing is worthwhile unless it touches the customer.” –Edgar Woolard, CEO, Dupont

What about my wife?

By Dr. Burt Smith March 6th, 2019

Image result for on cue logoThe other day I was making my ritual purchase of a soft drink at the OnCue Drive-Thru.  To my “yes” response to the question “Will that be all?”, Erika,the nice young lady who often takes care of me when she works the drive-thru asked, “What about your wife?”

“Well, what about my wife?” was the first thing that popped into my mind, wondering what the heck she was talking about.

Then it hit me…

When I’m in “good husband mode,” I’ll often grab my dear wife a Diet Dr. Pepper. When I’m trying to either stay in good husband mode or get out of trouble, I’ll even drop a Diet Dr. Pepper by her work. Erika knows this, and because she typically waits on me, Erika wisely thought to ask and I have her to thank for getting to be the hero that morning as well.

There are any number of reasons I can list why I go out of my way to patronize OnCue, but this kind of service is high on the list, and Erika deserves a special shout-out for setting that tone.

Great lesson for any of us no matter what industry we are in: Know thy customer!


Before you write an ad, rent a list, dash off a press release, fix your service.” – Harry Beckwith, Selling the Invisible



Comments Off on What about my wife?

Simple formula:

If you want MORE business, simply go GOOD business.

Do the kind of business that will make your customers happy they chose to do business with you.

Do the kind of business that will have them choosing YOU for any future business.

Do the kind of business that will encourage them to happily refer you to others.

Maybe it’s not that easy, but it really is that simple.

Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” – Walt Disney



Comments Off on A simple formula for getting more business…

No, don’t bang on your screen. Your monitor isn’t showing the picture upside down.Upside Down Christmas Tree_1.jpg

This is a real Christmas Tree, real people do buy it, and they eagerly pay real money for it, too! Really!

You can be the first on your block to have one of these babies for an investment of anywhere from $150 to over $700 bucks. Some even come pre-lit!

The “benefit” of this tree is that, because it’s narrow at the bottom instead of the top, there’s more room for presents underneath! That’s the supposed value proposition. At some level, that actually has a fair amount of practicality and suggests that this should be how all Christmas trees should be designed.

I think we all know this kind of tree will never become the “standard,” but that’s not to say that there isn’t a decent, if not respectable-sized market, for it! There are consumers who think this is a neat idea and one worth paying a premium for. And what they’re buying isn’t the utility of being able to put more presents under the tree, but the bragging rights associated with having something different from their neighbors. The real value they’re buying is the “buzz” of beating the Joneses not by keeping up, but by being different! In a playful sort of way, of course.

A very important marketing lesson we need to remember is that when seeking a target market for our product, we don’t necessarily have to serve the biggest market segment to have a very lucrative business. Recall that for a market to exist, there must be enough who have the ability, willingness, and desire to buy. If you’ve got enough prospects who meet that criteria, whom you can serve profitably you’ve got yourself a market.

As long as the numbers work, there can be success in taking so-called “conventional wisdom” and turning it upside down!



Comments Off on A crazy idea (To everyone but the target market, that is)

Oklahoma City Jeweler, BC Clark, used the same jingle for their Christmas promotion year after year. Then a few years ago, they got to thinking that maybe the market was tired of this jingle, because they were getting tired of it, so they decided to change it. They quickly learned it was a big mistake because their customers let them know! They very quickly changed it right back. You can get the whole story here.

While some might consider this a “strategic hiccup,” it’s actually quite a story in the power of their brand, and a profitable lesson for us all. If a customer is so attached to any aspect of your business they’d miss it if you changed it, you know you’ve got a loyal following. Any time your customers will take time to speak up and let you know they’re unhappy, that’s a golden opportunity to fix it. You’ll likely keep and grow a customer relationship, and you may even impress them so much with your handling of the situation that they’ll tell all their friends about it and your net result will be even MORE customers and more profit!

Keep in mind that customers you get from referrals have no acquisition costs attached to them, so the margins are that much better! Strong customer service is a critical component of effective branding!

It also reminds us precisely When We Should Change A Strategy.

The wise person isn’t the one who makes the fewest mistakes. It’s the one who learns the most from them.” – Harvey Mackay

Comments Off on Thanks for the lesson, B.C. Clark!


By Dr. Burt Smith December 4th, 2018

Yep, I run this this story every year. I grow to love this story more and more every year! – Dr. Burt

A guy named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night. His 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob’s wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn’t understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dads eyes and asked, “Why isn’t Mommy just like everybody else’s Mommy?” Bob’s jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob’s life. Life always had to be different for Bob. Being small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he’d rather not remember.

From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl.

But it was all short-lived. Evelyn’s bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938. Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn’t buy a gift, he was determined a make one – a storybook!

Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal’s story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose.

Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn’t end there. The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book. In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter.

But the story doesn’t end there either. Bob’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore , it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry.

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of “White Christmas.” The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn’t so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing!

It’s choice–not chance–that determines your destiny.” – Jean Nidetch, entrepreneur & founder of Weight Watchers”


Comments Off on Rudolph!