What Business Does a Teacher Have Test Driving an $80K Tesla? …Plenty.

What Business Does a Teacher Have Test Driving an $80K Tesla?  …Plenty.

This is about Education. It’s also about innovation, creativity, thinking differently, technology, opportunity, sustainability, and the future. These are all things teachers are passionate about! It’s also about an amazing car, and I’m pretty passionate about those as well. Why am I such a fan of Tesla even though they’ve never so much as favorited a tweet of mine? Because, like Apple did with computing and mobile tech, they are going to transform the way my children perceive transportation and energy. They aren’t the only ones mind you; but their role will be significant. Right now the brand is primarily associated with cars, but the really exciting part is that they (specifically Elon Musk) are focused on infrastructure and renewable energy outside of transportation as well (TheVerge article re: utilities). Here’s a link to a recent post of mine about Tesla that addresses some big-picture things. My job here is to let you know that innovative technology has arrived and to describe it first hand. Over time, the price point will come down, so I want to spread the word sooner than later. And maybe they’ll learn a thing or two about customer experience from Discount Tire or Warby Parker along the way. And just so we’re 100% clear, this is all me. I admit my interest in Tesla is stalker-like, but I’m receiving no compensation, I promise. The Car The Tesla Model S is kind of like the Batmobile for the whole Wayne family. It’s big and crazy fast. But it uses no gas. It performs like a Porsche, but has 31.6 cu.ft. of cargo space (trunks in the front and back) because guess what’s not in the front? An engine. Look at comparable cargo numbers below: Lincoln MKS: 19.2 cu.ft. Chevy Impala: 18.8 cu.ft. Mercedes S550: 16.3 cu.ft. There are two options for the Model S based on battery type: 65kWh and 85kWh. There’s a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive option as well, but that’s a separate ball game. I drove the 85kWh. It has a realistic range of about 250 miles. The tour started with the massive touch-screen that controls literally everything. (Click the images for better detail.) In the above picture you can see that we’ve chosen to display navigation across the entire screen. The red dots are Superchargers. From where we are in Brentwood, I pretended like I needed to travel to Atlanta. I selected a Supercharger in Atlanta and with the help of Google Maps, it told me that I would be about 12 miles shy of my destination without recharging.  It recommended that I stop in Chattanooga at a Supercharger for about 20-40 minutes, just long enough to grab some coffee or lunch and use the bathroom.  If you don’t know what I mean by “Supercharger,” read my other post. When the Energy app is selected (above), it offers some customizable range data based on driving habits. It also lets you know when you actually gain energy. More about that in a second. This image also shows how you can customize the screen to split as needed. The settings screen above causes you to realize that you’re actually using a device similar to your smartphone that also happens to be a car. There are several fascinating features here but I’ll address just two: Creep You know how your car will “creep” forward when you take your foot off the brake? An electric doesn’t do that. So “creep” makes that happen. Why? Because you’re used to it. Regenerative Braking When you take your foot off the accelerator, the car is able to actually create energy through regenerative braking. In “standard” mode, you’ll actually feel that the car is braking as soon as you let off. In “low” mode, it will feel more like your current car coasting as you let off the gas. Why? Because you’re used to it. There are some incredibly cool features related to traction and suspension, but I’ll just quickly address one that blows my mind. Assume you have a really steep driveway. One that typically causes your car to bottom out. You can set the suspension to lift the car when you arrive at your driveway. But how is it going to know when you arrive at your driveway? Are you ready? GPS! Imagine that same technology at work in the P85D with a top speed of 155mph. You can research that on your own. The Web app is exactly that. But video is not an option for safety reasons. The camera feature is available not only in reverse but any other time as well. When parked, the bottom half of the image below shows anything...

TODCFORCYSHCNATAMCHP

TODCFORCYSHCNATAMCHP

This post is heavy on acronyms so I thought I would keep that theme in the title.  My wife didn’t see the humor in it either. I serve on the Family Advisory Council for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and I love every minute of it. This group explores ways to combine innovative healthcare solutions with high levels of customer service to people who are in complex situations. I have for years enjoyed finding opportunities to serve people well in the public sector (not always known for stellar service). Recently, I received an invitation to serve as Tennessee’s family delegate to the AMCHP (Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs) Conference in Washington, DC. I’m very thankful to the Tennessee Department of Health for the opportunity to serve in an area of interest and I’m pretty excited about going to DC as well. Simply put, AMCHP members consist of state directors of Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Programs and Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) Programs. These programs are funded by what is referred to as the Title V Block Grant (Title V of the Social Security Act). My focus is to fully understand what resources are available to CYSHCN and advocate for those families. Hopefully, whatever your politics, you can see this kind of work as within the role of government. Many of you know I have a son with Down syndrome. As a disclaimer, he is not a recipient of Title V funds. Tennessee’s CYSHCN Program is called Children’s Special Services and falls under the Department of Health. In short, “a child/youth is eligible for the program if s/he is under the age of 21, and has been diagnosed with a physical disability which requires medical, surgical, dental or rehabilitation treatment.” Clearly identifying diagnostic and financial eligibility requires research and the department is aware that not every family in need of the resources has access to this information. There lies the need for advocacy. Children’s Special Services of Nashville also offers a clear and concise summary of services. A quick Google search for MCH in your state should put you on your way toward resources. While at the conference, I plan to tweet about what I learn, so feel free to follow me on Twitter @jeff_myrick from Sunday, January 25th – Tuesday, January 27th and learn with...

Customer Service Highlight – Discount Tire

Customer Service Highlight – Discount Tire

Customer service is a huge deal to me. When I experience great service, I shout it from the mountaintops; although, for what I’m referring to, the term “customer service” doesn’t suffice. I’m talking about the way a patron should be treated by a merchant. I’m talking about the reason I buy glasses from Warby Parker, tires from Discount Tire and computers from Apple (every ten years or so if I can afford it). There are several things that factor into buying decisions, but the way I am treated sits right at the top. Discount Tire is a vivid example for two reasons. First, the way they treat customers is extraordinarily consistent across employees. Second, while they claim to have “discount tires,” I wouldn’t know because I’ve never had an interest in comparing price after my first experience with them. At Discount Tire, unless every employee is working with another customer, someone will come out and greet you by the time you exit your vehicle. Every time. They will introduce themselves and ask something like “how can we help you today?” Every time. After I explained what brought me in, the guy who helped me today engaged me in some light-hearted conversation about my car, with a smile, while he checked the tires. This has happened every time. On the way inside, they will hold the door open for you. Every time. The wrap-up is similarly consistent, but not at all robotic. “Mr. Myrick, you’re ready to go! Make sure to come see us again in 3 months or 3,000 miles for a rotation (included with the tires). Do you have any questions for us?” As I got my stuff together, he waited patiently with some friendly small talk so he could shake my hand and escort me to the door. He opened it for me as he thanked me for my business. My car was waiting a few feet away. This all happens every time. I’m wired to be loyal. If I am treated well, I will stick around. I’ll also go out of my way to honor loyalty and likely even pay more, within reason. I doubt that I am the only person who feels this way so why have so few companies placed the priority on service that Discount Tire has? In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about “getting the right people on the bus.” I agree with him completely; however, there’s something really interesting about Discount Tire. Their employees are typically 18 to 25-year-old males who are not the type to own a suit and maybe not even a pair of khakis. In most industries, these guys would not be banners for stellar customer service. But they are at Discount Tire. That tells me that while Discount Tire may prioritize getting the right people, they definitely have a killer training program. I would go as far as to say that we could use some of their magic in education, both for our own students and in teacher preparation programs as well. I’ll close with a comment about vision. I love talking about vision because these kinds of highlights in an organization often stem from a clear vision. Check out this excerpt from Discount Tire’s Vision and Values (no mention of tires): One common thread running through the hearts of everyone within the organization remains the same – treat customers and fellow employees with respect and fairness. Care for those in need, always do what is right, work hard, be responsible and have fun. This kind of service is not limited to their loyal customers by the way. The next time you have a problem with a tire they didn’t sell you, drop by a Discount Tire and see what...

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