Let’s talk turkey

November 23, 2022

Haven’t planned your holiday spread yet? Woosah… Ina Garten — East Hampton’s dinner party doyenne — has given us her blessing to make it a “store-bought” Thanksgiving. Jeffrey approves.

Hot off the SMB press this week:

  • Tips for keeping your head up when life knocks you down.
  • Happy accidents: Mistakes that led to billion-dollar businesses.

But first, here are some headlines that caught our attention this week.


This week's highlight reel

  • Waka waka. The FIFA World Cup is officially underway, but given the competition’s unusual timing this year, U.S. advertisers were faced with a dilemma: football or fútbol? Companies have struggled to divvy their ad spend to take advantage of both the World Cup and the regular NFL/NCAA seasons — those holiday ads can’t watch themselves.
  • Gobble gobble. The U.S. will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, but that traditional turkey feast will come at a price — at least, one higher than we’re used to. Because of inflation, supply chain interruptions, and the avian flu, a typical Thanksgiving dinner will be 20% more expensive compared to last year. No need to pass the mashed potatoes.
  • This is your captain speaking… with an announcement of the best and worst U.S. airports. In the Wall Street Journal’s ranking, the West Coast came out on top — San Francisco was number one, while Newark, LaGuardia, and JFK settled at the bottom of the list. So… maybe you don’t need to see the tree at Rockefeller Center this year.
  • Winner of the ugly sweater competition: Clippy of Windows fame. In Microsoft’s version of the ugly holiday sweater, the Microsoft Office Assistant (commonly known as Clippy), is featured front and center, readying us for a season of nostalgia. The only bad news: It’s already sold out.


Tips for moving past never-ending challenges (and still living a darn good life)

A family relaxing in a hot tub.

Meet Saori Kawano.
In 1982, she founded a small business that specialized in Japanese chef knives and tools. Her company, Korin, soon became an industry standard and now serves 30K restaurants and hotel clients worldwide (you might recognize some of her A-list clients, like Jean Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, and Nobu Matsuhisa).

A fellow entrepreneur!
Indeed. But her journey was… less than appetizing. She faced more than her fair share of challenges. And now she’s distilled the lessons she learned along the way into six essential tips for overcoming those hardships and still leading a happy, fulfilled life.

  1. The power of determination. Kawano moved to New York with her husband in 1978 and started working as a waitress. But she wanted to turn her passion for the restaurant industry into a thriving business. With $300 in her account, she approached Sumitomo Bank (then the world’s biggest bank) to talk about her business plan. After being rebuffed by one of the managers, she doubled down on her request to work with Sumitomo to get her business off the ground. The manager was so impressed, he took her on as a client — she later found out that the bank’s minimum for business accounts was $8M.
  2. Persistence wins. When Kawano first launched her business, Japanese restaurants and cooking techniques weren’t big in the U.S. As a result, her cold calls to sell Japanese cookware and tableware were consistently turned down by restaurants. She shifted her focus to big retailers — specifically, Bloomingdale’s. After discovering she didn’t have an appointment with a buyer, they would consistently hang up on her. Kawano called Bloomingdale’s every day for a month and a half, never giving up until, finally, an operator connected her to a buyer. Her very first client? Bloomingdale’s.

👉 Read on for her other four tips.


7 companies we know and love that started by accident

One stork carrying a pack of Wrigley's gum. Another carrying a bottle of Coca-Cola.

To quote Bob Ross:
“We don’t make mistakes. Just happy little accidents.” It’s something that can be hard to believe — especially when Bob’s accidents lead to museum-worthy landscape paintings, and you’re stuck with a gigantic green blob where a tree is supposed to be. But there are some accidents that do have happy endings.

Say, a billion-dollar corporation?
How would you feel if you forgot a pot of oats on the stove overnight? Now how would you feel if we told you that mistake could spark the creation of one of America’s most popular breakfast foods?

That’s the origin story of Kellogg’s, probably the most recognizable name in the cereal industry. And there are a bunch of other companies that got their start from a similar “happy little accident,” including:

Pharmacist Dr. John Stith Pemberton created a syrup formula — made from coca leaf extract and kola nuts — to help with headaches and other common nervous disorders. He brought his syrup to a local pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, where they mixed the recipe with carbonated water and sold the drink as a “brain tonic.”

But when Pemberton sold the rights to his formula, fellow pharmacist Asa Griggs Candler started bottling and selling the former tonic as a fountain drink — and the Coca-Cola empire was born.

Back in 2012, a company called Tiny Speck shut down “Glitch,” an online adventure game that allowed players to collaborate in cooperative gameplay.

The game, which only had a modest 150K players, wasn’t financially sustainable — but the communication system that fueled the gameplay and collaboration between players was a diamond in the rough. So, the company rebranded itself with its communication app front and center. Now, Slack is used by businesses around the world for async messaging.

👉 Find out which other companies started accidentally.


This week on Organize Chaos: Process will set you free

Banner featuring Lisa Gonzalez.

Great minds think alike, and even greater minds write books about creating a playbook for your business. That’s why Chris Ronzio (author of “The Business Playbook”) sat down with Lisa González (author of “Process! How Discipline and Consistency will Set You and Your Business Free”) on Organize Chaos to talk all about (you guessed it) process. Want to listen to two process fanatics geek out about documentation? Then this is the episode for you.

Only have 10 minutes to spare? Check out these mini pods:

Organize the chaos
of your small business