Jim McCann’s Favorite Mistake in Buying the 1-800-FLOWERS Phone Number

Jim McCann’s Favorite Mistake in Buying the 1-800-FLOWERS Phone Number

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My guest for Episode #172 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Jim McCann, the founder and chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS, one of the first companies to pioneer and popularize the use of both toll-free telephone numbers and Web sites to sell goods and services directly to consumers.

Jim is a highly successful entrepreneur, public speaker and published author with titles including Talk is (Not!) Cheap: The Art of Conversation Leadership) — his passion is helping people deliver smiles. Jim’s belief in the universal need for social connections and interaction led to his founding of 1-800-FLOWERS, which he has grown into the world’s leading Florist and Gift Shop and Celebrations.com, a leading website for expert party planning content and advice.

In this episode, Jim shares his “favorite mistake” story that involves what was otherwise a very good decision — acquiring the 1-800-FLOWERS telephone number. But what was the mistake involved in buying the company that had the number assigned to it? Why couldn't he just buy the number? What mistake led to Jim taking on millions of dollars of debt from that company? How did Jim learn and apply the lesson that “being cheap” and not relying on experts can cause a lot of problems?

We also talk about questions and topics including:

  • Learning to not repeat that mistake around due diligence?
  • Finding the balance between saying mistakes are OK without just wildly trying things
  • What the FedEx founder, Fred Smith, said to Jim that turned out to be very incorrect about shipping flowers
  • Is it a mistake to spend too much time reflecting on mistakes?
  • Lessons from 10-step programs, remove the shame or embarrassment from mistakes
  • You were approached to be one of the first companies or bosses featured “Undercover Boss” — Turned it down 3 times — was that a mistake?
  • Learning about the business? Advice for other leaders about doing this without going undercover?
  • “A lot of it comes down to culture and leadership”

Scroll down to find:

  • Video of the episode
  • Quotes
  • How to subscribe
  • Full transcript

Find Jim on social media:


Watch the Full Episode:


2-Minute Clip on How the Best Ideas are Laughable at First:


Quotes:

"I did what we would now call 'due negligence' and wound up buying this failed company and naively signing for all of its liabilities that I didn't know existed." Jim McCann  1-800-flowers
"The biggest mistake I made was going it alone, trying to save money, and being unsophisticated, and not knowing the value of the accountants — to do due diligence and the lawyers to make a real clean deal." Jim McCann 1-800-flowers
"I don't want people in my shop to think that they can't make a mistake." Jim mccann 1-800-flowers
"[FedEx founder Fred Smith] said, look, Jim people like you and me, we make probably a lot more mistakes in other people that we know. But the difference between successful entrepreneurs and others is that we pick ourselves up." jim McCann 1-800-flowers fred smith fedex
"[FedEx founder Fred Smith] said, look, Jim people like you and me, we make probably a lot more mistakes in other people that we know. But the difference between successful entrepreneurs and others is that we pick ourselves up." Jim McCann


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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)


Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. He is also a Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Marketing with the healthcare advisory firm, Value Capture.