Build-A-Bear Workshop Ranked No. 48

Fortune Magazine just released its list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, ahead of the February 7 issue which focuses on the list.  Not surprisingly, Build-A-Bear Workshop is on the list.  It also had huge growth on the list, moving from No. 80 in 2010 to No. 48 in 2011.  That is a huge jump!

Here is what Fortune said about BABW.  And be sure to check out the entire list.

Rank: 48 (Previous rank: 80)

What makes it so great?
Warm-and-fuzzy culture may overuse puns (“Reach Fur the Stars” and “CollaBEARate”), but it gives part-time store workers health, dental, and vision benefits, while HQ staff enjoy on-site yoga and Zumba workout classes.

Headquarters:
World Bearquarters

1954 Innerbelt Business Center Drive
St. Louis, MO 63114

2009 revenue ($ millions): 394
Website: www.buildabear.com

 

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Delivering Happiness

This summer, I have finally had some time to read for fun!  I love reading, but not enough of it happens while I am at school.  With so much to do for class and everything else, there does not seem to be time to sit down and enjoy a good book.  Now, it may seem that this post’s article is because I finally have had time to read – and in a way it is.  Really though, it is the name of a book I recently read.

Delivering Happiness is by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com.  Delivering Happiness is Tony’s story – in business and in life, the story of Zappos, and generally a guide to success in business and life.  It is exciting, informal, intuitive, and instructional.  At times I felt like I was reading a novel, not a book about business.

Tony talks about succeeding in business through profits, passion, and purpose.  He describes Zappos.com’s focus on customer service (that is actually the business he claims to be in) and how it could make every business successful.  His focus on company culture makes sense and influenced my understanding of my experience this summer during my internship.  Build-A-Bear Workshop seems to be very similar to Zappos in many of the topics described in this book.

I would recommend reading Delivering Happiness whether you are involved in business, want a good read, or just want to be happier.  For added incentive, here are Tony Hsieh’s reasons for reading his book:

10 You want to learn about the path that we took at Zappos to go from nothing to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales in less than ten years.
9 You want to learn about the path that I took that eventually led me to Zappos, and the lessons I learned along the way.
8 You want to learn from all the mistakes we made at Zappos over the years so that your business can avoid making some of the same ones.
7 You want to figure out the right balance of profits, passion, and purpose in business and in life.
6 You want to build a long-term enduring business and brand.
5 You want to create a stronger company culture, which will make your employees or colleagues happier and create more employee engagement, leading to higher productivity.
4 You want to deliver a better customer experience, which will make your customers happier and create more customer loyalty, leading to increased profits.
3 You want to build something special.
2 You want to find inspiration and happiness in work and in life.
1 You ran out of firewood for your fireplace. This book makes for an excellent fire starter.

Today and Tomorrow

A few thoughts that may not necessarily be in any logical order:

Today I met with John Haugh, President Marketing and Merchandising Bear at Build-A-Bear Workshop. From our meeting, it is clear that John is an intelligent, interesting, capable (and funny) leader.  Sophia, another intern, and I met with him for a little over half an hour.  He was interested in our stories and our experiences with the company as well as how we think they can improve the business.  I asked him questions related to future growth (including international specific) and how he got to such a high position so quickly (he is only 45!).  John had very interesting ideas and plans.  I tried to observe how he progressed from idea to idea and how his thoughts progressed.  He is definitely taking the company in a good direction.

I went to Oberweis tonight with my friend Emily where we caught up and played chess (I got progressively better, which shouldn’t have been hard from where I started).  I got Brownie Fudge Twirl ice cream.  I usually get Chocolate Peanut Butter there.  Both are quite good.

I had expected this week to be a bit slower at work with Tim, my primary supervisor, being out of the office for most of the week.  Instead, it has been quite busy and I have not gotten everything done that I thought I would.  I have helped determine if merchandise is available in the US and UK warehouses for a potential store opening and assist in a merchandise review for another country, among other projects.

Tomorrow is the Huggable Hereos luncheon at Build-A-Bear where kids who do pretty amazing things are being recognized by the company.  Check out their stories.  I’ve heard great things and am pretty excited.

Tomorrow I am heading down to S-F to visit camp.  This should be my last visit this summer.  I’m actually rather sad about this and hoping that the weekend goes well.  Who knows what the future holds for my time at camp.  Regardless, it is likely that this could be the last time I will be at the S-F Scout Ranch with so many of my good friends.

Five/Six Weeks Out Of Ten

Well, I am now more than half way through my internship at Build-A-Bear Workshop.  I cannot believe how fast this summer is going.  It seems as though I just got home from Denver, yet so much has happened.  This internship has been a great experience so far and I am looking forward to the second half.

Below is a list of the projects I have been working on so far.  Some of these have been more involved on my part whereas others were more being a part of conference calls/meetings and offering my thoughts and suggestions.

  • Updated Merchandising Assortment Guide (MAG)
  • Updated and branded prospective franchisee materials
  • Prepared Board of Directors PowerPoint presentation
  • Compiled international store profit/loss analysis
  • Analyzed seasonal global sales by country and product
  • Created a “toolkit” to assist franchisees in driving sales during Quarter 4 / 2010 Holidays that involved compilation and creation of resources from across the company
  • Helped plan the 2010 International Operations Summit
  • Organized store information (pictures, blueprints)
  • Researched 2011 International Licensing Opportunities
  • Analyzed international supply chain/inventory flow and product loads by country as a tool for assessing the international franchise model
  • Assisted franchisees in developing inventory forecasts, turnover, and ordering projections
  • Reviewed new store proposal/design and real estate opportunities
  • Offered feedback on business plans submitted by prospective franchisees
  • Communicated regularly with franchisees worldwide

I have also met with, spoken on the phone, and/or emailed people in every continent except Antarctica.  I’m pretty excited about that.

As I have been developing the Holiday Toolkit, I looked for resources to use in writing introductions to each section.  One such resource is Maxine Clark’s book, “The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company With Heart“.  Here is one quote I would like to share:

Bosses are in charge and dictatorial.  Leaders listen to what their employees have to say and create a climate of reciprocal respect.

I have been lucky to work for leaders.  I hope that trend continues.  I am excited to see where the rest of this summer will lead…

How Do You Eat An Elephant? One Bite At A Time!

My internship at Build-A-Bear Workshop has been a phenomenal experience so far.  Today I was in on conference calls to Mexico, UAE, Denmark, and South Africa and emailed Australia and Thailand, in addition to other awesome experiences.  I am learning a lot, feeling included in the company and that my work is valued.

My two supervisors, Tim and Karen, have been phenomenal at offering me experiences to get involved, learn, participate, make suggestions, and take action.  Both have made a point to sit down with me and discuss my interests and my goals as well as how my internship is meeting them.  I really appreciate that personal touch and the care and concern they show.  Everyone here has a fantastic outlook and a great sense of humor.

I’ve decided that I really like franchising.  As Tim said, it is as though you are on the board for a lot of small companies.  What an interesting perspective!  As I was reflecting on this the other day, I had another revelation:  I really like the opportunity to learn from/about people and work with them to help develop their strengths.  I like to help other people.  I had thought about counseling/psychology/higher education as possible career paths at various points and while I obviously did not go that route, these are important characteristics to me.  Franchising, at least on the operations/training/development side seems to offer that teaching/coaching/guiding opportunity in the business world.  This could be an intriguing opportunity…

Yesterday we had an all day culture class with the interns.  It was a great way to learn more about the company as well as reflect on leadership qualities  in the realm of the business.  We also had a two hour lunch with Maxine Clark, Build-A-Bear’s CEO.  It was great really meeting her, learning about her and the company, and getting to share thoughts and questions about Build-A-Bear.  She said she would be happy to meet with us (the interns) at some point.  I took her up on the offer and have a meeting scheduled at the beginning of August.  I’m definitely looking forward to this opportunity.

Below are some thoughts/points/observations that I took back from my experience in the class and lunch yesterday:

  • Important company values: teamwork and guest satisfaction
  • “just because we have been doing it this way, does not mean it could not be better”
  • It is important to feel ownership in/of the organization
    • True leaders take ownership
  • Must change behavior to get a different result
  • Overestimate obstacles so that you are not so shaken when they arise
  • How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!
    • Plan, process, progress
  • Ernest Hemingway: Never mistake motion for action.
  • Impossible is impossible.
  • What you believe today is possible tomorrow.
  • Build-A-Bear gives a lot – i.e. philanthropy
  • Great ideas à execution
    • Go out and do it
  • Look forward, not backward
  • You will make mistakes
  • Look for opportunities to learn, don’t wait for someone to teach you
  • You have the opportunity to learn from people with different backgrounds than yourself
  • Decision making: alignment is about seeing opportunities not obstacles
  • “This is a bear company!  We need to have fun!”
  • Fun begets fun
  • Build a culture of celebration and recognition
  • There may be 2+ perceptions which means there may be 2+ realities.  How do you recognize them both?

This summer has been great so far.  I am looking forward to the next 6.5 weeks.

Summer Thus Far

I should have written this post (or perhaps several posts) a while ago.  My idea of having free time this summer seems not to be working out.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not mean to complain – this summer has gone amazingly well so far.  It is just a change from the past.

I have recognized the need to move on to a “professional” summer job with an internship at Build-A-Bear Workshop that I like a lot.  I think the internship itself has been less of a fundamental change than everything that goes with it.  As opposed to walking to work at DU or living where I work at camp, I am driving through traffic to and from work.   I have to dress up, wake u pearly, look professional (at least to some extent) – all of those “grown up” things.  It’s actually kind of cool, but I do miss living with my friends and working with some of my favorite people.  I reflected during the first week on the way home one day that I felt like my dad! 🙂

The days are crazy busy.  I have been waking up between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning to shower, shave , and get to work early, before 8:30 a.m. (I seem to have been tired all summer so far.)  I work until 5:00 p.m. and have not been getting home until 5:45 p.m. or later.  By the time dinner happens and I catch up on life (email, phone calls from the day, etc.) , there is not much time for hanging out, going outside, or generally doing non-work summer things.  It’s probably a good – and important – experiential shift.

I have seen some friends and I have done some exciting things – like go the Cardinals game today where I sat in the Centene suite with my friend who is interning there.  I have learned a lot this summer and met some great people.  I hope that experience continues – along with the opportunity to spend time with friends and family and visit camp.

First Day At Build-A-Bear Workshop

Today was my first day at my summer internship at the World Bearquarters of Build A Bear Workshop in St. Louis.  I am working 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  I definitely enjoyed myself, but these full work days will take some getting used to.  I had to add extra time to drive in traffic and dress up.  I have a professional email address (@buildabear.com) and voice mail.  I felt like that should be someone else, not me.  I guess we all have to grow up sometime.  Luckily, I work at an exciting place so I can still be a kid sometimes.

When I got to work, we had orientation and a tour for all of the interns.  We met first in the boardroom where there was a folder with my name labeled “International Intern Bear”.  I was pretty excited.  I was pretty busy today.  I learned about the 4-5+ projects I will be working on, met a lot of the staff, sat in on conference calls and meetings, etc.  I learned about the international franchising process, about Build A Bear operations, expansion/franchising plans in Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa, and sat in on meetings with the team that runs the Build A Bear stores in Germany.  I will be joining them again for much of the day tomorrow.

So far, so good.  Build A Bear seems like a great place.  They people seem really nice.  I definitely have already learned a lot and I know this summer will be a great learning and growth experience.  I am sad not to be back at camp this summer (I am staying in touch with the people there and plan to visit several times), but Build A Bear seems to have been the right choice for my future so far.

Zoo Animals @ BABW

Build-A-Bear Workshop is known for their bears and other standard animals (rabbits, dogs, etc.).  Things are more exciting right now (through June 30) as Build-A-Bear is offering zoo animals!

According to MarketWatch, options include:

— Giraffe ($20)

— Tiger ($16)

— Flamingo ($18)

— Leopard ($20)

— Monkey ($18)

— Panda ($16)

— Parrot ($18)

For more information, check out the zoo page online.

They also have a Zooriffic Sweepstakes for a trip to Orlando and are donating some of the sale proceeds to help animals.

Build-A-Bear Internship

This summer, I will be working as the International Business Intern at Build-A-Bear Workshop.  Their World Bearquarters (clever, isn’t it?) is in St. Louis.  I will be working for the Director of International Franchising and Operations and the Director of International Marketing and Product Development.  I’m super excited for this great opportunity.

I have often heard good things about Build-A-Bear and learning from a growing, unique, exciting international company will be a great opportunity.  Throughout the 10 week program, I will likely post updates on the experience/opportunity and related information about the company.

Here are some links related to Build-A-Bear

The Company Website

The Interactive Online World

Stock Quote

Facebook

Twitter

My offer letter for my internship with Build-A-Bear came with "Messenger Bearemy". How awesome is that?!? I'm going to like working for this company.