Kim Chambers Amazing Marathon Swim

August 10, 2015


The accomplishment of Kim Chambers is extraordinary. Here are some excerpts from a story in

But in the world of extreme marathon swimming, the 30 miles of shark-infested waters between the Farallon Islands and San Francisco is the most difficult stretch to cross. Until today, only four people, all of them men, have accomplished this swim.

Kim Chambers made history this afternoon as the first woman to swim from the Farallones to San Francisco, reaching the Golden Gate Bridge in 17 hours and 12 minutes.

The 38-year-old San Francisco resident took a boat to the Farallones on Friday night and dove into the Pacific Ocean at 11:30 p.m., wearing only a swimsuit.

The sharks mentioned are Great White sharks. I don’t know how she was able to stave off hypothermia or overcome the concern about these great ocean predators. This is an incredible accomplishment.

Kim’s accomplishment is certainly a testament to the power of intention and training. And for that reason, I enter Kim in my Business Execution Hall of Fame.

Thought for the week:

“I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.” – Brian Tracy

What do you think? I welcome your comments!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

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AT&T U-Verse Enters Business Execution Hall of Shame

August 10, 2013

I wrote my original blog post way too early in the process about upgrading my father’s Internet capability. There were more maddening surprises–detailed below. Here are all the surprises that I know about now after several people at AT&T U-Verse failed to disclose appropriately as we went through the process:

  • To offer the low price, AT&T changes his phone from a direct wired connection to voice-over-Internet-protocol (VOIP). His home alarm system doesn’t speak VOIP so now he either needs to either schedule and pay for AT&T to come out and restore what was there for over 50 years as a direct wired phone line or upgrade his alarm system at a cost of about $550.
  • His new VOIP phone has a limit of 250 minutes per month. He’s never had a limit on his local calls.

New issues learned after installation:

  • This new service came with a $180 early termination fee if my father terminates before 12 months are up. This was only mentioned after the issue was escalated by the California Public Utilities Commission. No one ever mentioned this.
  • The monthly price of $40 was incorrectly quoted. The price is actually about $52 a month. They had quoted prices for a new customer and my dad was an upgrade customer. Everyone we talked to knew this was an upgrade order. Also, instead of paying a one-time equipment fee of $100 for the Internet modem, he is only entitled to a monthly, recurring fee of $6. My father wanted the one-time fee.
  • The bill they sent did not reflect the bundling/pricing we had discussed. It was off by about $30 a month. So much for the quote matching the order.
  • The adjusted monthly price of about $52 a month is a special promotional rate–it actually goes up to about $77 a month after 12 months. No one ever mentioned this.

I filed a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission on the first bulleted issues. And, AT&T U-Verse followed up with us. Even though several agents omitted material details, the company will not honor the agent commitments. They have promised possible disciplinary action and/or re-training, but, the fact that there are so many discrepancies is, frankly, baffling.

As they won’t honor the pricing, At&T U-Verse agreed to rip everything out and waive the early termination fee. I told them I would get back to them if that is what my father wanted to do. Oh, and they did refund the installation fee of slightly over $100. This is the best they can offer. I was told we could call in after 12 months and see if they’ll give another promotional rate to keep the price about where it is now. Yippee!

It’s hard to believe that there could be so many problems/issues in a single, residential transaction. And, for such a colossal screw-up (I’m trying to be kind, here) and delivering a performance worthy of the Keystone Cops, I install AT&T U-Verse in my Business Execution Hall of Shame.

Dave Gardner, Gardner& Associates Consulting

© 2013 Dave Gardner


Eva Cassidy enters Business Execution Hall of Fame

September 27, 2011

While many of my readers may not realize this, my roots include being a professional trumpet and flugelhorn player.  I have great appreciation for music and artists.

Eva Cassidy’s incredible story is told in the following ABC Nightline video.  Until my wife shared this with me a few minutes ago, I had never known of her.  The simplicity, elegance, style, phrasing of her music says it all.  What an phenomenal musical artist!

And, for her enormous talent, I enter Eva Cassidy in my Business Execution Hall of Fame.  Watch the following video and you’ll understand why.

Dave Gardner


Jimmie Johnson Enters Business Execution Hall of Fame

November 22, 2009

Today, Jimmie Johnson won his fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.  As an aficionado of this NASCAR, I can tell you this is an incredible achievement and warrants entering Jimmie Johnson in the Business Execution Hall of Fame.

While Jimmie’s name goes on the championship trophy, it is critical to recognize that NASCAR is a team sport.  So, this Business Execution Hall of Fame recognition has to be shared with Hendrick Motor Sports, Jimmie’s brilliant crew chief, Chad Knaus, and approximately 600 other folks involved in driving such superb execution.

NASCAR racing is big business–a business of incredible detail where fractions of second can make the difference between winning and losing.  Few drivers out of the 43 that start a race each week are able to win over the course of a racing year .  To come out as the best driver for four consecutive years is, well, absolutely incredible.

The other 43 teams aren’t slouches in this sport.  One of the biggest stars in the sport, Mark Martin (also with Hendrick Motor Sports), has been racing 27 years and has yet to win a single championship.  He came in second in the Sprint Cup Championship this year.

My hat is off to Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motor Sports and this team for this achievement in business execution.  Congratulations!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

Plantronics Enters Business Execution Hall of Fame

October 6, 2009

In August of 2008, I purchased a Plantronics Discovery 925 mobile Bluetooth headset.  The unit comes with a 12-month warranty.

In September of 2009, this product became unusable.  As I’d invested $125 plus California sales tax in this unit, I really didn’t want to throw the unit away.  I contacted Plantronics customer support to see if I could get it repaired.

Plantronics customer support let me know that they honored their 12-month warranty for up to 13 months and asked if I could locate the original receipt.  I found it immediately and I was on my way to a no-charge warranty exchange for a replacement unit.

Much to my delight, I received the replacement last week and it works even better than the original.   They sent it with only my verbal promise to return the defective unit after I’d received the replacement.  They did not ask for a credit card number to guarantee that I’d return the defective unit, something many companies do in similar circumstances.

For outstanding customer support above and beyond their published standards, Plantronics is hereby granted entry in Gardner & Associates Consulting’s  “Business Execution Hall of Fame.”  Congratulations, Plantronics!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

Les Schwab Tires: Business Execution Hall of Fame

March 14, 2009

I’ve long been a fan of Les Schwab Tires since becoming a customer in Reno 4 years ago.  Perhaps it was the free tire rotations, the free fixing of flats, even though I had spent no money with them at that point.

Since then, Les Schwab Tires is my single source for anything related to tires, shocks, alignments, etc.

This morning, I decided that I needed the alignment checked on my SUV.  Where to go?  A few miles to the firm I grew up using in Santa Clara or drive about 15 miles to the Fremont Les Schwab?  The answer was easy.  I drove to Les Schwab.

I asked that they check the alignment,  rotate the tires and check the inflation and tell me if they thought my shocks were in proper working order.  I told them I had not been happy with the ride for several months.

  • To my surprise, I was told that I had arrived with 2 flat tires–both had foreign objects in them.  Price to fix?  $0.
  • The shocks needed to be replaced.  No big surprise.  California’s roads beat the heck of them.    You see, I replaced them 35,000 miles ago at a Les Schwab and, much to my surprise, they came with a lifetime, unconditional warranty.  They aren’t even charging me labor to replace them. Price to fix?  $0.  [By the way, Les Schwab told me about the warranty–I had no idea. They could have charged about $275 to replace the shocks and I would have never known the difference.]
  • The alignment was out.  Price to fix?  Less than $60.

Tires and shocks are a commodity business by any standard.  Many firms are in highly-commoditized businesses.  Les Schwab is a stand out in its industry.  What is your business doing to stand out in yours?

Les Schwab continues to exceed my expectations.  And, for that, I put them in my Business Execution Hall of Fame.   Congratulations!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

Business Execution Hall of Fame: VISA Inc.

December 15, 2008

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to research VISA Inc.  for a keynote speech I was giving to a credit card manufacturing user group.  I think it is fair to say that we all tend to take credit cards for granted.  When it comes time to use a credit card or a debit card, we assume that the process is going to work flawlessly time after time.  And, there are very rare exceptions when the system doesn’t work.

VISA Inc. does business on a scale that is hard to comprehend.   As of mid-2008, VISA:

  • Processes 81 billion transactions per year
  • They settle $3.8 trillion per year
  • They connect to over 16,000 financial institutions
  • They have a network of 29 million merchants

But, VISA is hardly in a steady state.  They currently process over 65,000 changes to their I.T. infrastructure annually.

The Chief Information Officer, Mike Dreyer, suggests that VISA is a technology company.  Interesting…I had always viewed VISA as a financial services company.  Mike is right.  Their super high-reliability network globally enables the VISA brand 24/7/365

What role would credit cards play in our global economy if there was a 1 in 10, 1 in 20 or even 1 in 100 chance that a merchant would be unable to process a charge?   We’d still be writing checks and have the burden they create for us as well as the financial institutions.

So, for absolutely superb business execution, VISA Inc. is our first inductee in Gardner & Associates Consulting’s Business Execution Hall of Fame.

What do you think?

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting