Joe Smiley is a respected design leader, team-builder, and innovative technologist with over 20 years of experience designing and developing experiences for many Fortune 500 brands – including E*TRADE, PwC, Marriott, AOL, Disney, FedEx, Strayer University, and Sysco Food – as well as numerous government agencies and non-profits.
Bob Johnston is the CEO and chairman of the board of directors for Front Burner, a franchise management company headquartered in Tampa, Florida, which is affiliated with several niche brands. In this interview, Johnston discusses his long career with The Melting Pot—how he began as a dishwasher to owning the restaurant with his brothers. He also talks about what it takes to run a successful restaurant franchise and how to reinvent it in a competitive market.
Growing up in the 80s was an incredible experience. Like many children from that decade, my parents were divorced and both worked. As result, I spent countless hours watching movies on HBO and the VCR. These movies became the foundation for who I am and the choices I made throughout my life. I recently had the chance to reflect on these movies how fundamental they were in preparing me for my business career.
Dwayne Edwards is a Product Manager at Volvo Cars of North America where he develops products that support Volvo’s subscription model and the customer experience. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Yale School of Management and is passionate about building new products and business models that create value and reach customers in new and exciting ways.
Robin Beers, Ph.D., is a senior vice president with Digital Solutions for Business (DS4B) and leads Customer Insights and Experience Design for Wells Fargo. Dr. Beers is responsible for bringing diverse customer listening practices, design capabilities, and experience strategy expertise together to drive user experiences that increase business value. She holds a doctorate in organizational psychology and views customer-centered practices as catalysts for keeping corporations in step with the market.
If there’s one way to explain human behavior, look at mice. In the book ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’, Spencer Johnson describes the world of mice who vie for a block of cheese. Each day they go to the same spot to find their food. That is until one day the ‘hand of God’ moves the cheese and the mice panic. Facing starvation, they go day after day to the original spot looking for the cheese rather than searching for it elsewhere. The moral of the story: change is hard to implement because we’re creatures of habit.
Design thinking is a problem-solving framework that has been steadily gaining popularity in the last decade as organizations strive to become more human centric. The hallmarks of design thinking–empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping and testing—influence major companies like PepsiCo, Charles Schwab, and Walgreens to solve problems for a better customer experience.