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What the boss can learn from the Boss, and Yes, virtue can be very rewarding

What the boss can learn from the Boss

Rick Newman

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When it comes to keeping the customer base happy and coming back for more, said Rick Newman in, CEOs can learn a lot from rock legend Bruce Springsteen. Just watch him in action. During his concerts, Springsteen is always “starting one song before the other one ends.” That keeps the crowd involved and even on their feet—the equivalent of introducing new products while the old ones are still being enjoyed and customer goodwill is high. Springsteen also knows how to innovate, “expanding his brand image” with unexpected musical flourishes, without ever shifting his “center of gravity.” But he is not shy about “giving the people what they want,” always mixing new material with old favorites such as “Badlands” and “Born to Run.” The biggest secret to his success, though, may simply be that Springsteen clearly loves what he does. “Enthusiasm is contagious. If you’re pumped about what you do, those around you are more likely to twist and shout right along with you. And keep on spending.”

Yes, virtue can be very rewarding

Ray Fisman

Doing well by doing good: It’s an attractive theory of business, but it hasn’t been scientifically tested, said Ray Fisman in Until now. Two Harvard researchers recently “set out to discover whether consumers prefer to buy from do-gooder companies.” For their experiment they chose ABC Carpet and Home, an upscale home-furnishings store in New York City. First, they set out two brands of towels and candles and stuck a “fair labor” label on one brand of each item. Sure enough, the labeled items sold much better than the unlabeled ones. Then the researchers marked up the prices on the “fair labor” towels and candles by 10 percent. “Quite remarkably, this increase made people buy even more towels and candles,” possibly because “the higher prices made the products’ fair labor claims more credible.” Granted, this experiment was carried out in liberal, affluent New York. Would shoppers at a Midwestern Wal-Mart behave the same way? There are two Harvard researchers who would be “happy to spend a few more nights in the stockroom with a label gun to find out.”

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