Alex Labbett writes: “I just placed my 5th order over 4 months at and decided to read through their ‘Shipping Notification’ email. Attached you will find what they had to say, and I believe it follows some of the principles shown on SvN.

I placed my order close to 2:30PM and it has already shipped (the day I ordered it) for me to receive by tomorrow. Also, the overnight shipping is free.

Specifically, this paraphraph is what sets them apart:

While most companies spend a lot of money on marketing in order to grow their business, our philosophy at is a little different. Instead of spending a lot of money on marketing, we would rather work on improving the customer experience (running our warehouse around the clock, super-fast free shipping, free return shipping, 24/7 customer support, etc.), and rely on repeat customers and word of mouth to grow our business instead.

I’ve recommended Zappos to all my friends before, but this follow-up email just further solidifies my opinion that they’re the best online shoe store. Period.”

Kathy Sierra used to rave about Chocolove for their smart packaging (which includes poetry inside the wrapper). History of Chocolove is from the company’s site and tells a story that sets the company apart from the Snickers of the world.

Chocolove started as the classic entrepreneur story – a dream, a garage, extended credit card debt and loans from friends and family. With its visionary chocolatier, and a solid concept, Chocolove became, and continues to be, a pioneer in the chocolate industry.

Timothy Moley is the founder, owner and chocolatier at Chocolove. A tall and slightly eccentric man, he reminds you a little of Willy Wonka. His laid-back attitude, wry grin, and lanky physique would never lead you to believe he is a man who lives and breathes chocolate, and has been consuming two chocolate bars, every day, for the past ten years. Seriously.

It all began in a cocoa field in Indonesia… Timothy was chewing on some cocoa beans doing volunteer work for USAID, a government program that promotes agricultural and technical education in developing countries. He had been living abroad on and off for two years, visiting over 28 countries, developing his palate with spices, teas and wines. And, like most of us, he had always dreamed of being his own boss, dedicated to something he loved. The idea of a career in chocolate inspired him and an idea began to form -  to create a premium chocolate bar, paired with the romance of love.

Bill Bryson
The Houdini Solution page at Squidoo offers a bunch of interesting examples of “putting creativity and innovation to work by thinking inside the box.” This one, titled “Houdini And The Sportswriter,” compares two different accounts of the end of the 1960 World Series.

In his memoir, “The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid”, author Bill Bryson tells a great story about his father, a sportswriter for the Des Moines Register.

October 13, 1960. Bill Mazeroski hits a home run in the ninth inning to win the World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the New York Yankees. With the clock ticking down, every sportswriter in the stadium is furiously pecking out their story, their deadlines rapidly approaching.

Here’s the opening paragraph of the story that ran in The New York Times:

“The Pirates today brought Pittsburgh its first World Series baseball championship in thirty-five years when Bill Mazeroski slammed a ninth-inning home run over the left field wall of historic Forbes Field.”

Here’s what people in Iowa read:

“The most hallowed piece of property in Pittsburgh baseball history left Forbes Field late Thursday afternoon under a dirty gray sports jacket and with a police escort. That, of course, was home plate, where Bill Mazeroski completed his electrifying home run while umpire Bill Jackowski, broad back braced and arms spread, held off the mob long enough for Bill to make it legal.

“Pittsburgh’s steel mills couldn’t have made more noise than the crowd in this ancient park did when Mazeroski smashed Yankee Ralph Terry’s second pitch of the ninth inning. By the time the ball sailed over the ivy-covered brick wall, the rush from the stands had begun and these sudden madmen threatened to keep Maz from touching the plate with the run that beat the lordly Yankees, 10-9, for the title.”

Two sportswriters. Two stories. Same deadline. Ticking clock a barrier to creativity? You tell me.

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