3/7/14: Stories and Strategies from Real Life

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Some of the best learning happens when you read stories about real people and real companies. Read them for ideas, for lessons, and inspiration. This week’s stories and strategies from real life life are about Basecamp, Lego, Coke, Home Depot, and Pingo Doce.

From Harvey Schachter: Would your company plan and pay for your vacation?

“Tech startups celebrate the long hours required to produce their offerings. To ease the load, there might be ping pong tables and free food on site. But those perks can be seen merely as lures to stay at the office instead of going home at a decent hour. Basecamp is different. The founders of the company, formerly known as 37signals want their employees to embrace a sustainable lifestyle in order to be around for the long term instead of burning out.”

From The Guardian: Lego builds yet another record profit to become world’s top toymaker

“It is a brand name familiar to children around the world, but a decade ago Lego was in crisis. Sales were collapsing at a rate of 26% a year, it lost 1.4bn Danish kroner (£150m) in 2003 and private equity firms were circling the 82-year-old family-owned Danish company. Now, after a series of job cuts and the ending of the family’s management of the company, the plastic brick business has rebuilt itself into the world’s most profitable toy maker ahead of Barbie’s Mattel.”

From the NY Times: Challenges for Coke to Stay on Top

“The very idea that the Coke brand may be in trouble is startling, given that Coca-Cola has thrived for 127 years, surviving countless passing health fads.”

From the Wall Street Journal: Home Depot Sets Up for CEO Succession As Focus Shifts To Web

“Home Depot Inc. named Craig Menear to be its U.S. retail president Friday, setting up a transfer of power at the top of the country’s fourth-largest retailer. The fix-it chain has been led since 2007 by Frank Blake, who restored battered employee morale and overhauled the company’s operations, sending Home Depot’s stock up more than 100% during his tenure. The chain’s next leader will need to expand the company’s presence online and integrate technology with stores to cope with an enduring shift in how Americans like to shop.”

From The Economist: Jerónimo Martins: A Portuguese explorer

“The family-controlled firm [Pingo Doce], founded in 1792, realised in the 1990s that little Portugal was a good place to be from but not a great place to rely on. It made two sorties. One, to Brazil, a former Portuguese colony, flopped: the country was too big, the company too small, and despite speaking the right language, Brazilians proved too different. The other—to Poland, just opening to foreign investment—was a master stroke, or maybe a stroke of luck.”

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