Filling the Knowledge Gap

If a CEO filled his executive ranks with friends and acquaintances from the President’s Club, the golf course, or the philharmonic board, he and all his pals would soon be sent packing. But when it comes to choosing board members, the criterion of being a corporate highbrow with friends around the table has generally been considered sufficient. Not for long. More

In the Trenches

In battle, the generals, the captains, and the kings have traditionally watched from a distance—either all the way back at headquarters or at least from a nice, safe hill. Their value rested in their wisdom, their skill, their ability to strategize. Not to fight. In banking, the rules had been much the same. The generals—the directors—made strategy and issued orders from the relative safety of the boardroom. Not so anymore. Bankers say the battle has become too heated. They need every man and woman on the field, wielding whatever weapons they have. More

Scimeca’s Italian Grocery: Like the Old Country

The first thing that hits customers when they walk in Scimeca’s Thriftway is the smell: sausage – pungent, spicy, meaty sausage. Some grocery stores smell like a water cooler. In Scimeca’s, the old family recipe being churned out in the back wafts over the cling peaches, the peanut butter, the toilet paper and the dandruff shampoos that make up two-thirds of the store. It summons the customer to the back, where the soul of Scimeca’s lives. More

South Umpqua: Pretty Cool for a Bank

A CUSTOMER visiting South Umpqua Bank in Roseburg, Oregon won’t get charged for talking to a teller. What he will get is a cup or, heck, a pound of South Umpqua Blend coffee. He’ll get a stool at the computer cafe where he can check his bank account and surf the Net or a comfy chair in the rustic room where he can slouch down and watch financial news on the television. He’ll have access to a self-serve post office. He’ll get invited to come by for Monday night football. More

Standing Out in a Crowd: Niche Banking

By day, Brian Williams made loans for Third National Bank in Nashville. By night, he roamed the city’s famed Music Row, mingling with musicians and half dreaming of becoming a performer himself. He heard stories about how bankers rarely took the professional aspirations of artists seriously, evidenced by exchanges like the following:

“Occupation?”

“Songwriter.”

“Right, but what do you do for a living?”

Williams began to see that songwriters and other musical artists might wait months between the time a song became a hit and the arrival of a royalty check. So he decided to break new ground at Third National, later SunTrust Bank, creating a type of personal loan specifically for individuals in the music industry. More

Lonely Hearts Discover an Online Farming Dating Service

She was a 65 year old living in rural Ohio. She’d been lonely for a decade, she’d gone to church and prayed for a husband, and suddenly she saw an article about www.FarmersOnly.com, the dating site for farmers. She called website owner Jerry Miller at home: “I don’t know anything about computers but I have to get on this site,” she told him. He talked her through registering. The next night she called him again: “How do I get a picture on here?” Again, he coached her, finally offering to get it on the site for her if she mailed him the photo. A couple of nights later the phone rang again: “How do I send emails?”

It was about three weeks later that he heard from her again. Expecting to talk her through a technical problem, he was shocked to hear, “Thanks, I got married.”more

The Challenges of Starting a Business in Midlife

At 22, you might wake up and say: “I’m quitting my job today to start a business.” But it’s a different story when you’re a first-time entrepreneur in midlife, in a down economy, with kids, aging parents or just the screaming awareness that you’ll be facing little or no income for the foreseeable future.