Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Trail Blazers and Time Keepers by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.

What do Horseback, Railroads, Steam Boats, Telegraphs and Wagon Trains have in common?

How it all began.

The new technological revolution of trains, steamboats, telegraphs, canals, and stagecoaches created more interconnected communities and economies. The demand grew for a safer and secure way to send payments, and a need for reliable places to obtain money, especially while traveling. 

In the early 1940s, Henry Wells and William Fargo were both involved in the shipping business.

Henry Wells:

 Henry Wells grew up working on the family farm. He was the third of four children. At 16, he was apprenticed to a tanner and shoemaker. He began working as a freight agent in 1836 on the Erie Canal. Then he worked for Harnden Express Company, a messenger service that traveled by railway from Boston to New York. They safely and responsibly transported money and other valuable items by railway. First the messengers carried the valuable items by carpetbags and then trunks. Henry Wells suggested to William F. Hamden “that service could be expanded west of Buffalo, New York.” Hamden encouraged Wells to begin a business of his own.  Henry Wells in 1841, formed Wells & Company, with partner Crawford Livingston. They competed in the express business with the United States Post Office by “carrying mail at less than the government rate.

Side note:

 Henry Wells growing up, faced his biggest challenge “coping with a severe stutter.” He worked with a speech therapist in Rochester, New York in 1824. “Taking what he learned from the therapist and integrating his own methods, Wells traveled to several cities to help others with speech impediments. Despite his best efforts, his stutter remained pronounced. Wells later joked, “I cured everybody but myself.” 

“His difficulty speaking never kept him from making friends, though, and his energy, outgoingness, and friendships formed the foundation of many of his business endeavors.” (Article: “The men who founded Wells Fargo”.)

William Fargo: 

William Fargo, the oldest of 12 children, went to work at 13 years of age delivering mail by horseback for “over a 30-mile area”. Later working “in the grocery business, as a baker, and in a village inn.”  Fargo in 1841 “became the first freight agent at Auburn for the Auburn & Syracuse Railroad, and his excellent performance led Henry Wells to employ him as an express messenger the next year.” (Wikipedia William Fargo)

American Express Company: 

By 1850, Henry Wells (Wells & Co.), William G. Fargo (Livingston, Fargo & Co.), and John Warren Butterfield (Wells, Butterfield & Co.) successor of Butterfield, Wasson, & Company began American Express Company with $150,000. Today, May 17, 2022, that $150,000 in 1850 would be equal to $5,559,788.46.

They initially began their company in New York City by the Hudson River and Long Island Sound. They shipped their goods by larger ships and barges and “made agreements to use” the railway in New York and in the Midwest.  (Wikipedia American Express)

Henry Wells was American Expresses first president and William Fargo its vice present. When Henry Wells and William Fargo saw a need they filled it!

How American Express Travelers Cheques (originally spelled) were invented in 1891:

When J.C. Fargo, President of American Express, the brother of deceased William Fargo founder of American Express, was visiting Europe between 1880 and 1890 with “letters of credit”. He “found it difficult to obtain cash anywhere except in major cities.” He returned frustrated and infuriated.

“Fargo went to  Marcellus Flemming Berry and asked him to create a better solution than the “letter of credit”. In 1891, Berry launched the American Express Traveler’s Cheque “in denominations of $10, $20, $50, and $100.” American Express established itself as an international company by inventing the “Traveler’s Cheques”.  (Wikipedia American Express)

Wells Fargo:

 In 1852, Henry Wells and William Fargo began a new venture during the gold rush. They opened Wells Fargo in “their first West Coast office in San Francisco” making it “into a national company” shortly after founding it. Overnight they followed their “customers into the mining camps and settlements” providing “banking services, transporting gold, mail and other goods, and passengers securely.”


 Today, June 8, 2022, we use the internet to immediately send a message and encrypt the message if it is sensitive information. The person receiving this message will have to get the code to get in.

 First Telegraph: 

In the 1850s, “Americans used another network of electrical wires to communicate — the telegraph. It operated by transmitting electrical signals along a wire using Morse code, a messaging method created by Samuel F. B. Morse of using recognizable patterns to represent alphabetical letters. Instead of sending a physical letter to another town by horse or train, a message sent by telegraph could travel instantaneously.”

In 1853 the first telegraph wires were connected between several cities in California.  “Wells Fargo reportedly sent one of the first messages along the newly strung wires. The company’s agent in Marysville reported to the Sacramento office: Marysville, Oct. 18, 8 o’clock, A.M. I sent a messenger down to-day with treasure. Look out for him. W. B. Roberts.”

The next day managers at Wells Fargo saw their telegraph message published in the local Sacramento newspaper. They learned the hard way that the telegraph was a “quick but unsecured communication.” Wells Fargo then developed an “encryption using secret codes” to send gibberish scrambled messages. They decoded the messages with a “cipher book” which was changed frequently and kept under “lock and key.”

Wells Fargo by telegraph was now able to “instantaneous communication between cities.” The telegraph could send secure messages, encrypted, to report fires, robberies shipments of money, and deliveries. It was a new tool for its customers to send money and valuables faster and safer.

In the United States Henry Wells “built the earliest commercial telegraph lines.” He was working for a cheaper mail delivery service. As an advocate for the education of women “he founded Wells College for Women in Aurora, New York in 1868.”  

By1858, their Stage Coaches were bright red with gold lettering and gold wheels. When they rolled into town they brought excitement to the day, arriving with visitorsmail, news, money, and other goods. “Wells Fargo Wagon song” from the movie, “The Music Man” (1962). According to the Wells Fargo Wagon song they brought food, bath tubs, chairs, dishes, double boiler, and other items. 

From 1870 to 1872, William G. Fargo, “a skilled manager”, served as President of Wells, Fargo & Company and from 1868 to 1881 as President of American Express Company. 

21st Century Wells Fargo innovations: 

 Henry Wells and William G. Fargo over 166 years ago joined “together to provide banking and express services to western pioneers.”  Their red Wells Fargo stagecoach has endured “as a symbol of the opportunity, innovation, and perseverance”.   Wells Fargo in the 21st century was “the first bank to offer secure account access to internet banking customers in 1995”, and allowed “mobile and online customers to manage their financial lives from a single location on their phones, tablets, or computers.”  (Wells Fargo Wagon History)

When Henry Wells and William Fargo saw a need they filled it!

Richard Sears:

 In 1886, Richard Sears, a railroad station agent in Minneapolis, Minnesota, began selling gold watches at $14 apiece. A year later he opened up a shop with Alvah Roebuck, a watchmaker in Chicago. In 1895, Julius Rosenwald, investor, joined the company.

They began a modest mail order business, selling watches and then started selling clothing, toys, household goods, and appliances. The rise of Sears embodied the rise of American consumerism in the 20th century.  They recognized, early on, the growing opportunities that came with mass mail and electricity moving Westward. Their mail order catalogs became a staple in the mailbox of every farm and home across the country. 

Sears also capitalized on the opportunity from the US Government with the Rural Free Delivery Act of 1896; essentially having the government underwrite the cost of mail and shipping delivery to their customers.  They were incredibly lean and flexible. When the Great Depression arrived following the crash of 1929, Sears acknowledged the benefits of being thrifty. By the end of the Depression, the number of retail stores doubled. 

Sears’ early catalogs advertised themselves as the “Cheapest Supply House on Earth” or “the Book of Bargains.” They sold medical and veterinary supplies, musical instruments, firearms, bicycles, sewing machines, baby buggies, clothing, household goods and other products.

Richard Sears’ motto was “We Can’t Afford to Lose a Customer.” He made sure that Sears stayed competitive in terms of price and value.

What was the key to Sears early growth?

 “It’s remarkable customer service. Sears’ simple, warm and customer-service-centered approach helped it stand out among mail-order competitors.”


 In 1908 Sears catalog offered 447 different house design kits which included all the materials. The houses included “the grand “Magnolia” ($5,140 to $5,972) to the popular “Winona” ($744 to $1,998).”  Sears house kits were advertised with the promise that “We will furnish all the material to build this [house design]. All the parts arrived (usually by train) precut and ready to assemble. From 1908 to 1940, Sears sold between 70,000 to 75,000 homes.” (History When the Sears Catalog Sold Everything from Houses to Hubcaps)

Sears continued its expansion by opening stores. As more people began to own automobiles, “the mail-order boom in the United States slowed down.” Sears stayed successful by “expanding consumer credit with its “No Money Down” policy.”

Sears in the 1920s launched Kenmore appliances brand and Craftsman tools. In 1931 they launched Allstate auto insurance.   Through the Great Depression “Sears’ catalog, retail and factory profits totaled more than $12 million”, (in 2018 over $201 million). That year, 1931, was “the first-year retail sales outstripped catalog sales”.

Sears built its business on staples like socks, underwear, towels and bedding, which helped keep sales going even during the Depression.


Sears retail stores had almost doubled by the late 1930s. By 1945 Sears “topped the $1 billion mark in sales for the first time.” At shopping malls Sears stores were the anchor. Before the holidays began, families circled items in the “Wish Book”. Sears remained strong with their Craftsman, Kenmore brands, and Allstate Insurance through the Great Depression.

Sears began to decline in the 1990s challenged by stores such as, Target, Walmart, and Kmart. Also increased “dominance of e-commerce” took a toll on Sears. In 2018, retail giant Sears filed for bankruptcy after 132 years in business. 

What happened to Sears?

Sears had become too big with too many stores and employees and its competition was thriftier and leaner in selling less products with less overhead for less money. They announced they “would close 142 unprofitable stores in the face of mounting competition from big-box stores and, of course,” (History When the Sears Catalog Sold Everything from Houses to Hubcaps)

Jeff Bezos:

 In 1986, Bezos graduated from Princeton University with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. His first job was working for Fitel, “a finch telecommunications start up , where he … built  a network for international trade.” Then he “was promoted to head of development and director of customer service.”  From 1988 to 1990 Bezos “transitioned into the banking industry when he became a product manager at Bankers Trust.” In 1990, “he joined D. E. Shaw & Company, a newly founded hedge fund with a strong emphasis on mathematical modeling.”   He continued working at D. E. Shaw through 1994 when he became “D. E. Shaw’s fourth senior vice-president at age 30.”  In 1995, Jeff Bezos’s began Amazon as a business on line as a bookseller shipping “books to all U.S. 50 states and 45 countries.” 

The day Amazon went live online “billed itself as Earth’s Biggest Book Store”. His motto “get big fast.” At the beginning his advertising was “Word of Mouth”. As orders came in he would drive orders to the post office. (Wikipedia Jeff Bezos)  


Amazon’s milestones: 

Amazon by the end of 1996 was worth $15.7 million. Jeff Bezos in 1997 “took the company public with an initial public offering that raised $54 million.” 

Amazon’s continued innovation: 

In 1998, Amazon began selling music CDs, and by 1999 it added products including “toys, electronics and tools.”  The company began in 2000, to introduce “a service allowing individual” sellers “and other outside merchants to sell their products alongside Amazon’s own items.”  2010 Amazon Studios began making movies and TV series. In 2015, they earned the Golden Globe. (Transparent). Later for “Manchester by the Sea”, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Comedy Series).  By 2011, they were “selling more e-books than print books.” Amazon acquired several companies to its business Zappos and Whole Foods. By 2015, Amazon became “the world’s most valuable retailer” exceeding Walmart. Bezos on July 5, 2021 “stepped down as CEO of Amazon to focus on his aerospace company Blue Origin.” Bezos transitioned “to executive chairman of Amazon’s board.” (History Amazon opened for Business)

Today, May 17, 2022, Amazon sells books, food, vitamins, clothes, house hold items, furniture, computers, musical instruments, music, CDs, videos, DVDs, toys, and more. When Jeff Bezos saw a need he filled it! 

In a few minutes on the internet you can look up what you need and have it delivered to your door by the dark blue Amazon van with the Amazon Prime log on the sides. It is always an exciting moment when a package arrives at our house from Amazon. 

American Express, Wells Fargo Bank, and Amazon are getting stronger every day and continue to innovate, evolve, and change to help others! It’s all about excellent customer service that keeps on giving, shedding any excess that is not needed, and staying lean and flexible!

How is the innovation and customer service at your business?

Madeline Frank, Ph.D., is an Best Selling Author, speaker, business owner, teacher, concert artist, and parent. She helps businesses and organizations “Tune Up their Business”. Her observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your business successful. Her latest book “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” is available everywhere books are sold. If you need a speaker or virtual speaker contact Madeline at:


Thursday, May 12, 2022

What Do A Horse and An Apple Have In Common? by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.

How to keep your customers happy.

How is the customer service at your business? Are your associates well- trained and do they work as a team?  Are they knowledgeable and eager to share the information on their products?

For the past several decades, I’ve been a musician playing the violin and viola throughout the world. If you are not familiar with the anatomy of the bow, there are a series of horse hairs that are strung on either end of the bow, and when they glide across the strings, a beautiful sound (hopefully!) is produced.

The hair on the bow is horse hair from the long mane of a horse. It does not hurt the horse. It’s like having a haircut.

After playing many rehearsals and concerts the bow needs to be rehaired so it will continue to pull out beautiful sounds on the violin or viola.

The other day, I tried a new music shop to have my viola bow rehaired.

I told a young woman behind the counter what a fantastic shop it was and how impressed I was. She grabbed a laminated sheet of paper with 3 price levels on it for rehairing bows.

Before I could ask a question, a man approached, picked up my bow, looked it over, then held it up to the wall to see if the bow was warped or straight. He whispered to the young woman standard rehair violin bow.

He never said hello, introduced himself, and never smiled. He just walked away.

The young woman said it would be several days.

“Will you pay for it now?” she asked.

“No, I’ll pay when I pick it up”.

My expectations were deflated, as I thought I had found a place to entrust my extensive instrument collection to.

If the gentleman in there was the owner or manager, it’s apparent why the level of service was lackluster. Great people do not work for pretty good people.

If you are a leader, manager, or a person of influence; you understand that more is caught than taught. If I was treated right, I would have trusted them with my best bows and paid the extra money. But they blew it.

What are you doing at your business to ensure that you are creating a customer experience that you can’t wait to tell your friends, neighbors, and relatives all about?

A few years ago, I went with my husband to the Apple Store to pick up my Mac computer that we had ordered online from Apple. The computer was very heavy and it was a long walk from the Apple Store to where we parked.

The Apple Associate, Joe, with a smile, brought out a cart, and put our heavy new Mac on the cart.  He enthusiastically walked with us several blocks to the parking lot

and congratulated us on our new Mac. We thanked him for helping us on our walk to our car.

He gently laid the new Mac in our trunk with the care that a new mother shows when securing her baby in the car seat. He said it was his responsibility to get it safely in our car! This associate went above and beyond what we expected of him. Most people who have had the pleasure of visiting an Apple Store understand that the exceptional is expected.

How is the customer service at your business? Are your associates knowledgeable, and eager to help their customers? Do your associates work together as a team?

Great service isn’t exclusive to the retail or hospitality industry.

It’s all about having a good experience!

Be just like the Apple Store and make sure your employees are knowledgeable, well trained, and show they care and want to help their customers so your business will flourish during good and bad times.

Madeline Frank, Ph.D., is an Best Selling Author, speaker, business owner, teacher, concert artist, and parent. She helps businesses and organizations “Tune Up their Business”. Her observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your business successful. Her latest book “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” is available everywhere books are sold. If you need a speaker or virtual speaker contact Madeline at:  

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

10,000 Steps For Soup by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.

Many of you, on a cold winter day, have enjoyed a hot bowl of soup. Maybe the soup you were having was from Campbell’s Soup.



In 2001, Campbell’s Soup Company stock prices had fallen and performance had hit rock bottom. In order to survive, they hired Douglas Conant as the new President and CEO. Within a few days, he realized that the company had an extremely toxic culture. Great people were leaving the company in droves. 


He observed, “You can’t expect a company to perform at high levels unless people are personally engaged. And they won’t be personally engaged unless they believe their leader is personally engaged in trying to make their lives better.”


How did Doug Conant turn around Campbell’s Soup Company? 


He vowed to flip the culture from a “top down” leadership style to an inverted pyramid where the people inside of the company were the most important asset. 


When he walked through the door for the first time, he observed the rusty barbed wire surrounding the corporate headquarters and a large level of distrust. 


As a part of “The Campbell Promise”, Conant promised to treat everyone with respect and dignity. At the heart of the pledge was a guarantee that he would conduct himself with integrity and honor.


He realized that at the root of a toxic company culture is toxic leadership. During his first 3 years as CEO, he replaced 300 out of the 350 leaders within the company. This was unheard of in the retail industry. 150 were promoted from within and 150 were hired from outside. 


What does “Leading with civility mean?” 


It means acknowledging people’s contributions, listening better, respecting others’ time, and making people feel valued.


Conant wore a pedometer on his belt, put on a pair of walking shoes, and in headquarters buildings in New Jersey, at a production plant in Europe and in Asia. He interacted with as many employees as possible. His goal was to log 10,000 steps every day.  


He engaged his team and asked questions.


These encounters helped him stay informed with the goings on through the company, enabling him to personally connect with people at every level.


Each day, he also hand wrote 20 notes to his employees celebrating their successes and contributions.


Doug Conant said, “I was trained to find the busted number in a spreadsheet and identify things that are going wrong.”


He continued, “Most cultures don’t do a good job celebrating contributions. So, I developed the practice of writing notes to our employees. Over 10 years, it amounted to more than 30,000 notes, and we had only 20,000 employees. Wherever, I’d go in the world, in employee cubicles you’d find my handwritten notes posted in their bulletin boards.”


His hand-written notes were “treasured more than an email message.”


Once the culture started turning around, Campbell’s Soup became a breeding ground for innovation. Whether it was the “rolling can gravity feeding shelving …clearly labeled soup…..retail display racks found in stores worldwide; or the concept of making a soup that would work in a microwave oven…The magic was on the inside.” 


By 2009, Doug Conant’s “Change-friendly leadership”, at Campbell’s Soup Company had outperformed “the S&P Food Group and the S&P 500. Sales and earnings were on the upswing, employee engagement was at world class levels.”


Conant called his “daily interactions he had with employees, “touchpoints.”  


“Listen, Frame, Advance.” His “3 Step Touchpoints”


How did he start?


Ask the question, “How can I help?”


1)    “Listening intently helps you figure out what is really going on and what others need from you.” It demonstrates that you really care.


2)    “Framing the issue ensures that everyone in the touchpoint has the same understanding of the issue.


3)    “Advancing the agenda means deciding what next step to take and who will take  them.”


 “Listen- Frame-Advance triad changes the communication dynamic from “It’s all about me” to “It’s all about us because we are in this together.” 


As you practice Doug Conant’s 3 Step Touchpoints you will be better at “helping your employees feel listened to, respected and valued.”


Remember it all began with changing the toxic culture to one of “Civility and Respect”.  Every year at Campbell’s, Doug Conant and his colleagues surveyed the organization to make sure leaders in the company were using the Campbell’s leadership model, with Inspire Trust at the center to increase engagement.”


If leaders fell short and “could not, or would not demonstrate their willingness to adapt their approach they were let go…..replacing those ;leaders with people committed to a more civil approach.”


How do you treat people?


You treat them with curtesy and respect, and ask them questions.







Madeline Frank, Ph.D. is an Best Selling Author, speaker, business owner, teacher, conductor, and concert artist. She helps businesses and organizations “Tune Up their Business”. Her observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your business successful. Her latest book “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” is available everywhere books are sold. If you need a  video speaker contact Madeline at:










Tuesday, March 1, 2022

A Teachers Teacher: An Interview with A Remarkable Teacher by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.

I met Carmela Malkin-Kuhn over 25 years ago when our youngest son Eddie was in her Kindergarten class at the JCC. She greeted her students at the door with a smile on her face looking calm and serene.

You’ve heard the saying “I learned everything I need to know in my Kindergarten class”. In her class it was true! Through her motivation, encouragement, and inspiration she inspired our Eddie to have a true enjoyment of mathematics that all began in her class when he was 5 years old.

Dr. Madeline Frank: “Where were you born and where did you grow up? Were your parents’ teachers, did they motivate and inspire you, and do you have any siblings?”    

Mrs. Carmela Malkin -Kuhn: “I was born in Brooklyn, New York in the middle of a blizzard in 1956.   My parents were not educators; however, they were wonderful storytellers and enjoyed telling us about their childhood, their love story and yes about us.”

Mrs. Malkin-Kuhn: “I have one younger brother who from a very early age was my student.”  

“Yes, even in my youngest years I wanted to be a teacher, so my parents purchased a blackboard for me and there I would hold lessons for my brother and his friends, of course, they never listened but I enjoyed being the teacher nevertheless.”

“My mother and father encouraged us to get good educations but to always choose the career path that made us happy.” 


Dr. Frank: “What was your favorite subject in elementary, middle, school, and high school?”

Mrs. Malkin-Kuhn: “My favorite subject has always been English/Literature.  I was and still am an avid reader.”

Dr. Frank: “Did you have a favorite teacher in middle school, who inspired, encouraged, and motivated you?  What was their name and what subject did they teach? 

Mrs. Malkin-Kuhn: “In middle school I remember Mr. Mason who was an amazing English teacher, he brought all the books we read to life which nurtured my love of reading.  The fact that I still remember his name and lessons is a testament to his teaching style.”  

Dr. Frank: “I know you "played the accordion for two years and love music.” Did your parents play musical instruments?”

Mrs. Malkin-Kuhn: “In middle school we were encouraged to play an instrument, so I took up accordion, why? I have absolutely no clue except that my Dad had a friend who played the accordion and it looked easier than piano.  I laugh because it sure wasn’t but I remember practicing often and becoming let’s say ok, never really mastering it, but enjoying the fact that I could play a song.  Music was always a part of my life growing up.  My Dad would love to sing to my mom and play the classics on our record player as well as all the “pop” music of that time.  While no one really played musical instruments, music was always in the background growing up and that led to my lifelong enjoyment music.  There are times when a classical piece of music allows me to sometimes focus and sometimes be perfectly still.” 

Dr. Frank: “What are you passionate about?” 

Mrs. Malkin-Kuhn: “I am very passionate about carving out time for my family, my children and grandchildren mean the world to me.  After that, it is being a part of early childhood education.  Touching the lives of young children has enriched my life enormously.  In fact, my good fortune lies in the fact that these tiny humans that entered our school from the age of 2 still seek me out when they are nearby.” 


Dr. Frank: “How long have you been a teacher in JCC Preschool and what is your philosophy?”

Mrs. Malkin-Kuhn: “I have been a part of the preschool now for over 25 years and honestly it has been the best.  My philosophy has been to look at the whole child in every one of my students and find the key to unlock the mode in which they learn best.  There is nothing I can find fault with in any child that has walked through our doors.  Each one brings with them a plethora of interest in learning about the world around them.  Music certainly is a must in the early childhood classroom, whether it is in the background or actively dancing to music and movement it certainly brings out the best melodies.”

Mrs. Carmela Malkin -Kuhn thank you for being a remarkable teacher who has encouraged, inspired, guided, and mentored students and teachers for over 25 years.  


Madeline Frank, Ph.D., is an Best Selling Author, speaker, business owner, teacher, concert artist, and parent. She helps businesses and organizations "Tune Up their Business". Her observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your business successful. Her latest book "Leadership On A Shoestring Budget" is available everywhere books are sold. If you need a virtual speaker contact Madeline at:




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Madeline Frank, Ph.D. business owner, teacher, researcher, speaker and concert artist. She writes a monthly newsletter "Madeline's Monthly Article & Musical Tips" and a monthly radio show "Madeline's One Minute Musical Radio Show".