Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 11/20/15

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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 are about Blue Nile, Front Edge Publishing, Saladworks, Intuit, and b. good.

From Pam Danziger: Blue Nile: Internet Disruptor Makes the Virtual, Real

“Founded in 1999, Blue Nile set out to disrupt the way people buy diamonds, with a special focus on the engagement ring business, skimming the cream off of traditional jewelry stores’ business. The idea of selling engagement rings online grew directly from founder Mark Vadon’s personal experience trying to buy an engagement ring. After doing preliminary research into the 4Cs, the traditional gold standard for buying a diamond, Vadon went to a well-known jewelry store to make his purchase and was stymied by the fact that two seemingly identical diamond rings had a $5,000 difference in price. ‘Why the difference?’ he asked, and got a mealy mouthed non-answer from the sales clerk.”

From Frank Witsil: Cousins — writer and software guy — grow startup

“David Crumm and John Hile are distant cousins with similar interests — and complementary skills — who after long careers in other fields want to capitalize on publishing trends with their startup, Front Edge Publishing.”

From Jane M. Von Bergen: Paul Steck of Saladworks

“These days, chief executive Paul Steck, 53, is a happy guy, developing a new tahini salad dressing and bubbling over the future of Saladworks L.L.C., the franchise restaurant company that began in Cherry Hill in 1986. But a year ago, Steck, then Saladworks president, was miserable, ducking under his desk, figuratively speaking, as John Scardapane, the founder and then CEO, feuded with Saladworks’ major investor, Commerce Bank founder Vernon Hill.”

From Pete Carey: Brad Smith, Intuit CEO, on selling Quicken

“It’s tough to part with an icon, but according to Intuit CEO Brad Smith, it was time. In August, Smith and his board bit the bullet and put their legacy personal finance program Quicken up for sale. Quicken is the program that made Intuit, but it’s been left in the desktop dust by the trend to mobile and cloud computing for small businesses.”

From Jon Olinto: How a Fast Casual Chain Shows Employees Their Work Matters

“When my friend Anthony and I opened our first b. good restaurant in Boston nearly 12 years ago, we had 15 employees: people we’d interviewed and hired ourselves, who we worked alongside — grilling burgers, chopping vegetables, taking orders, and mopping the floors. We’d set out to build a community around the idea of ‘real fast food’—made by people, not factories—and the team felt like one big family, all working toward that goal.”

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