For the first time in over half a century, a comedy album sits atop the Billboard charts. Back in August 1963, Martin Luther King had just delivered his historic "I have a dream" speech in Washington, DC. Allan Sherman, meanwhile, would appear at #1 on the Billboard charts with his "My Son, the Nut" album, featuring the classic tune "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh". John F. Kennedy was in the Oval Office. The Beatles were about half a year from making their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Flash forward 51 years. Mobile technology and the internet have revolutionized communications and entertainment. Serious global challenges still abound. Paul McCartney still sells out stadiums. The Rolling Stones still tour from time to time. Social media lets us see Bruce Springsteen cover "Stayin' Alive" and Barry Gibb singing "I'm on Fire". These weren't parodies, like the disco scene in the spoof movie "Airplane!" And speaking of parodies, this brings us to Weird Al Yankovic, who first gained fame with such gems as "Eat It" and "My Bologna". Over three decades later, he has his first #1 album, "Mandatory Fun". For those of us who love the written word, be sure to check out "Word Crimes".
As President Obama and other world leaders grapple with challenges in the Ukraine, the Middle East, and elsewhere, it's fascinating to see humor regaining popular acceptance. Even such a serious columnist as Op-Ed writer Thomas Friedman of the New York Times recently compared current challenges to the Mel Brooks hit TV show "Get Smart!" So whether Weird Al's latest parodies make you ROTFL or you cannot stand them, perhaps we owe him a thank you for reminding us that in a serious world, laughter sometimes is the best medicine.
A recent visit to a leading department store made me think about how easy it is to provide customers with good service. It also can be a huge challenge if the team either is not aware when it fails to provide good service, or simply doesn't care. My family was waiting patiently at the customer service desk to ask a simple question. Several employees were behind the desk. One was with another customer so it wouldn't be fair to expect anything from that associate. After about five to ten minutes or so of waiting, and not being acknowledged by anyone, we decided it was time to leave. Not all experiences are like this nor do they have to be that way. A handful of memorable positive moments and customer-centric service strategies come to mind:
What these examples have in common is the relentless focus on the customer, and perhaps more so, respect for the customer. It is less about the customer always being right, and more about understanding that the customer is the reason those companies remain in business. If these companies always keep in mind solutions that allow them to meet their business objectives, while keeping customers top of mind, more often than not this will result in a win-win situation.
At the All-Star break, the New York Yankees are having about as mediocre of a season as possible - 47 wins, 47 losses. Over the decades, however, they have won far more World Series than any other team. Those of us who live within driving distance of Yankee Stadium have perhaps been a bit spoiled by this seemingly never-ending excellence. Sometimes a great trade or free-agent acquisition worked wonderfully in the Yankees favor - Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson, and Alex Rodriguez come to mind. In one of the media capitals of the world, performing at a high level of excellence over a decade or two can be a daunting task, with constant media scrutiny, tabloid headlines, and finicky fans. Nonetheless, there also has been a steady stream of talent over the years that has been homegrown and loyal. Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra (played a few games for the Mets at the end of his career), Mickey Mantle, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter all played their entire careers in pinstripes with the Yankees. I remember seeing another career Yankee, Bernie Williams, hit a home run in a minor league game years ago when visiting my brother at SUNY-Albany.
Why have the Yankees done so well over the years? You could ask 100 different people and get 100 different theories. Here's mine - the Yankees have had big stars such as Ruth, Maris, Jackson, and A-Rod, but it is perhaps the quiet leaders who roll up their sleeves day in and day out who have earned the greatest respect from their teammates. Gehrig's resilience until disease took its toll enabled him to set a record for consecutive games played, earning him the nickname "The Iron Horse". When I was growing up, Mantle's career was winding down, but I remember taking a piece of black tape and putting it on a T-shirt so that I could have a uniform like my favorite Yankee. Living in northern New Jersey, I have had the pleasure of visiting Yogi's wonderful museum on the campus of Montclair State University, as well as seeing a few games in The Bronx. I think that one of the intangible factors that comes into play with the Yankees is an unrelenting focus on teamwork, perhaps best shown by the lack of player names on their uniforms. It is teamwork first and individual acclaim second, even if many of these players are in the Hall of Fame or on their way to Cooperstown.
Blog Author - Ken Felsher
With over 25 years of writing, editing, and research experience. I enjoy sharing with my readers my love of working with content on a variety of subjects.
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