When I attended thinkAbout last September, I had the pleasure of meeting Robert Stephens, the CEO of the Geek Squad. I had seen him speak several years before, pre-Best Buy days. I’d found that presentation engaging and inspiring, and I hadn’t even heard of the Geek Squad before then.
We talked about how he started his company from the ground up… how he didn’t have money for vehicles so he bought an old police car as transportation, which played into the Geek Squad experience. At some point, when they got big enough to do tech support for larger companies, they bought a SWAT van. Apparently they drove up in the SWAT van, everyone jumped out, and company security was all over them.
I was reminded of Robert’s enthusiasm for being a self-starter through a link from Fallon’s blog. BAI’s website has the full article, “What Banks Can Learn from the Geek Squad.” You could remove the word “banks” and apply it to pretty much any business.
There’s a part of the article that talks about innovation that I particularly like (slightly edited for length)…
“The motto when thinking about customer service or innovation should be: every company is its own biggest competitor. It’s what you’re not doing today that holds you back, or holds your people back…
We tend to give up too easily and just throw our hands up, saying, “Well, we can’t innovate,” and then complain. But that’s a form of competition because that kind of attitude prevents you from beating your competitors.
Harvard did a thirty-year study of successful entrepreneurs looking for one trait that made people successful above all else, regardless of economic background, race, gender or whatever. Persistence was the only trait they could commonly find. Persistence, combined with restrictions, is what engenders creativity. Everybody would say they have restrictions in their company and that’s good news. If you’re not facing barriers, then you’re not trying hard enough to innovate.”
Thanks for the insights and conversation, Robert. Look forward to seeing what’s next for the Geek Squad, and what other businesses can learn from what you’re doing.