Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 3/4/16

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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 Walt Disney Company, TurboTax, GD Copper, Snapchat, and Publix.

From Eilene Zimmerman: How a 93-Year-Old Media Company Keeps the Magic Alive

“The ability to innovate quickly and frequently is par for the course at startups and small businesses because their size makes them inherently nimble. But what is it like to try to innovate at the largest entertainment company in the world?”

From Ben Steverman: TurboTax Is Killing It This Filing Season

“TurboTax, already the dominant player in online tax filing, has boosted customers by 9 percent through Feb. 20 compared with the same period a year ago, according to a quarterly earnings report from parent Intuit Inc. TurboTax is taking market share from both professional tax preparers and its online rivals, the company says.”

From James R. Hagerty: A Clash of Cultures at Alabama Factory

“GD Copper, as the U.S. subsidiary is known, created about 290 jobs for locals with the $120 million plant in Wilcox County, Ala., which is among the dozen poorest counties in the U.S. The company hosts employees’ families at an annual picnic and gives each worker a turkey at Thanksgiving. A banner in steel-walled factory reads in part: ‘You control OUR future.’ Yet tensions, some from cultural misunderstandings, persist between the company and its American employees, providing a cautionary tale for the growing number of Chinese firms making acquisitions or establishing new plants in the U.S.”

From Max Chafkin and Sarah Frier: How Snapchat Built a Business By Confusing Olds

“Compared with Twitter or Facebook, Snapchat can seem almost aggressively user-unfriendly. If you’re new to the app and looking for posts by your kid, your boyfriend, or DJ Khaled, good luck. It’s hard to find somebody without knowing his or her screen name. This is by design. ‘We’ve made it very hard for parents to embarrass their children,’ Spiegel said at a conference in January. ‘It’s much more for sharing personal moments than it is about this public display.’”

From Christopher Tkaczyk: Bag Boy Confidential: My Five Days as a Publix Employee

“Publix may have the happiest, most motivated workforce in America. What’s the secret? Our writer spent a week inside to figure it out.”

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