Featured Posts

NSA Leaks: The Big Data Two Step for Businesses This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on June 10, 2013.  To see the original post click here. I expect we will be seeing a lot of dancing over the next few...


Coming to an Agency Near You! This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on September 23, 2013.  To see the original post click here. I am often pondering what is next in the world in which we...


Customer Service Week: Here's Your Call Center This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on October 7, 2013.  To see the original post click here. As we begin Customer Service Week I want to thank all those...


Defining the Customer Experience Role This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on October 2, 2013.  To see the original post click here. Customer experience is a term growing in popularity within businesses...


Apple's #Fail When Dealing with @MarthaStewart This post originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of their influencer program on September 30, 2013.  To see the original post click here. It feels like it was the Tweet heard around the world: "I...


  • Prev
  • Next

What do Murals Teach Us About Leadership?

Posted on : 10-09-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Inspirational, Living in Philadelphia

Tags: , ,


Photo of Jane Golden courtesy of Philadelphia Magazine

Photo of Jane Golden courtesy of Philadelphia Magazine

This is a follow up to my post titled “Part of Leadership is Giving Back.”  In that post I spoke of the importance for leaders to give back to the community, but I did not address what really makes a leader.  We call many people leaders as a sign of respect for a level they attained in life or business, but that is not leadership.  Leadership can take many forms and in many areas in life.  To me a leader is someone willing to take risks, and do something completely different.  Not because they are told to, or because others are having success doing it, but because they believe it is the right thing to do.  Leading the way has risks, and many failures, but that willingness to have the insight and accept the risks make the person a leader.

Holding Grandmothers Quilt, © 2004 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Donald Gensler, 3912 and 3932 Aspen Street, Photo by Jack Ramsdale

Holding Grandmother's Quilt, © 2004 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Donald Gensler, 3912 and 3932 Aspen Street, Photo by Jack Ramsdale

In business we see many following others.  One of the areas that I have seen a lot of following is with process improvement programs.  When Motorola had great success with Six Sigma, every company seemed to jump on the bandwagon in embracing the Six Sigma concept.  Black belts and green belts were everywhere.  I think it is a great program, in fact my wife was a green belt with GE and I was trained on the program at the Vanguard Group, but implementing this based on the success of others is not leadership.  It is simply following.  Risk in implementation was minimal based on the success already demonstrated by others.  I know many may say that even Motorola was following the lead based on work of many in Japan.  This is correct, but the tools and concepts developed by the Motorola team were innovative and took the concepts to another level leading to the popularity in American business.

So what does this all have to do with murals?  Well over the past 2 years I have worked at Comcast I have had an opportunity to be a part of incredible life experiences.  To me the greatest of these experiences was the opportunity to hear from Jane Golden about the creation of the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network, which has evolved to the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.  As part of the leadership program that I am luck to be a part of, Jane joined us to discuss the history of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.  Imagine the year 1984 in the streets of Philadelphia.   Graffiti was a major problem, just like most major cities in the US.  Jane Golden came in and took the unique approach of embracing those that were doing this graffiti and providing them a more structured outlet to release their artistic energy.  Many could not believe that someone would invite perceived criminals into her home.  She helped them harness this energy and release it into amazing works of art, like those on this page.

Bridging the Diaspora, © 2008 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Willis Humphrey, 5741 Woodland Avenue, Sponsored by the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health, Photo by Jack Ramsdale

Bridging the Diaspora, © 2008 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Willis Humphrey, 5741 Woodland Avenue, Sponsored by the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health, Photo by Jack Ramsdale

Today the Philadelphia Mural Arts Programs is considered to be one of the best in the world.  Others often attempt to imitate it.  People travel from all around the world to see the amazing show that is part of the landscape of Philadelphia.  All started through the vision of Jane Golden.  Many of the people that joined the program from the streets have gone on to college and paved their own path in the arts, business and many other fields.  I am sure they are now leaders on their own, thanks to the mentorship of a true leader in Jane.

The moral to the learning was part of leadership is going against the expectations of others and setting a path that moves your team, organization or simply yourself into a uncharted territory.  As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the mural arts program, I would like to thank Jane for her leadership.  The work of the program is cherished by so many.

How do you lead each day?  Who are some of the unsung leaders that have made a difference in your life?

Visit http://www.muralarts.org/ to learn more.  If you are in Philadelphia, I highly recommend going on a tour!

An Amazing CEO! Maxine Clark

Posted on : 11-11-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service, Inspirational

Tags: , ,


A passion of mine has always been good Customer Service.  I look for it with every interaction I have with companies.  I also tend to be very vocal when I do not receive service that I expect to receive.  I feel it is important to be just as vocal when things are done that just overwhelm you for being so far above that words can not describe.  I have had just one of those experiences a number of years ago.  The woman that went so far above and beyond that I still think about today is a woman named Maxine Clark.


Many of you have never heard of Maxine.  She was a leader in the former May Department Store chain, and she served as President of Payless Shoe Source from 1992 to 1996.  I never heard of Maxine either, until one Saturday night.  That is when I came into this amazing woman who founded Build a Bear Workshop in 1997.  We received mail addressed to our deceased daughter Gia, a little over a year after she past.  To be honest I was in a rage over it, I could not figure how a company would have her name.  I obviously was not thinking straight because one of my fondest memories with Gia was at a Build a Bear Workshop.  I immediately looked up the CEO of Build a Bear and fired off an email asking to have her name removed from the mailing list.  To my surprise I almost immediately received a response from Maxine.  This began numerous emails back and forth.  She was very apologetic, but beyond that she wanted to learn more about us.  She started to review our website.  She also asked some questions to better understand what we went through.  I can’t tell you how impressed I was by her.  She was down to earth, yet a smart and savvy business person.  She has firm beliefs regarding service and she is obviously very hands on in creating the right experience for every child that enters her store.  I immediately knew I would be dedicated to her organization.  The interesting thing was she totally had me turned around by simply being herself.


Now if the emails were not enough, she was impressed with our work for charities and wanted to offer something to help them.  She asked about our favorite charities.  At the time they were the Candlelighters of Delaware (a great charity helping families dealing with pediatric cancer) and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Her team contacted these charities.  They provided numerous gift cards for Candlelighters to be distributed to the families going through so much.  You would not believe the gratitude from these families and this small charity.  Maxine and her team made a huge difference for so many people.  Build a Bear also donated parties to be auctioned off by the CF Foundation during an Evening with the Philadelphia Eagles, an event I helped organize and the year prior I was the speaker.  Unfortunately an employee of that charity kept asking for more.  To this day I am upset by that.  So on behalf of families dealing with CF, I apologize to the Build a Bear team and Maxine.  That individual is not associated with the charity anymore.  Anyway, Build a Bear went so far above the normal and I am so appreciative for what Maxine did.  She and her team have made a difference in many people’s lives.


All I wanted to do was make sure we did not get mail in Gia’s name.  There was no need for Maxine to do anything beyond that.  In fact from a business perspective, Lily and Robyn were not born yet, so I did not anticipate purchasing in the future.  But of course now I will.  Maxine, you truly did build a company with a heart, it is modeled after you!  


Have you ever have someone turn a negative situation into such a positive that you would think about it years later?

Inspirational Notes – Alexandra Scott & Lemonade

Posted on : 01-11-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Inspirational, Living in Philadelphia

Tags: ,


One of the items I will use this blog for is to share stories that inspire me. Sometimes this will be related to social media, other times service, but I wanted to start with a story more personal. These will be people that truly inspire the best out of everyone they meet. To start this off I planned to talk about people I have met recently but I kept coming back to a story very close to my heart. Have you heard of Alexandra Scott? You may better know her by Alex. She started Alex’s lemonade stand back in 2000. Here is the story how a 4 year old started something that will keep her close to people’s hearts for a long time to come. She and her family are the definition of inspirational.

Her story begins when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, 2 days before her first birthday. When she was 4 years old she wanted to have a lemonade stand to get some money. Her parents were willing to give her money for whatever she wanted. This is similar to any parent in this situation. But it turns out she wanted something bigger. She wanted to find a way that should could help her doctors find a cure for kids with cancer. She did this by starting her lemonade stand. Her family, in an effort to make sure she received the best care, moved to the Philadelphia area. They continued the lemonade stand in their new location. In 2002 the popularity continued to grow with many cancer survivors starting stands of their own. By 2004 the effort was national and raised close to $1 million. Alex took her message to the world through the Today Show and Oprah.  Even as her health was not doing so well, Alex lived the dream to raise funds to help her doctors make life better for so many others.  She had amazing strength.  Alex passed away at the age of 8 on August 1, 2004, just 5 days after our Angel Gia.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand has raised over $19 million for pediatric cancer research.

If you are looking for a great charity check out www.alexslemonade.org.  How can we create an online lemonade stand for everyone to have a refreshing drink for a good cause?

Jay and Liz Scott you are my hero’s for what you have done to keep Alex’s dream alive! The strength and leadership you have shown with your foundation is amazing.  Who are some of your heros?