On a recent visit to a private club I belong to, I had some downtime between meetings and decided to sit at the bar with a latte to work on my pitch deck. Next to me were a couple who had just joined the club. They were discussing rules, the service, and the workings of the member benefit program with the head of membership.
The couple were asked if they had any food allergies or restrictions, and they said “Yes, we’re pescatarians.” I thought, “Oh, just like me,” and I almost walked over to introduce myself, but then a dish welcoming them emerged from the kitchen, so I stayed put and continued working.
After an odd silence, the new members asked, “Um… is this chicken?” The head of membership had left by then, and it was up to the bartender to tell them it was. Oh dear, this was painfully embarrassing for the club’s entire staff—as well as to me, as a member!

The Problem
The club has recently gone through a major staff restructuring, hiring kids with limited experience to run membership, operations, and the kitchen. Rumor has it that there weren’t any transitional training periods, where the “old” staff could train the new kids. It was clear to me from what I overheard that the head of membership had no clue what “pescatarian” meant!

The Fix
The club’s CEO made a fundamental mistake in letting the whole staff go and hiring a bunch of untrained youngsters to take over the entire operation of an elite private club. The obvious fix is to either train them yourself (@CEO) or make sure that you’re not pissing off your loyal staff and/or firing them on the spot. Make sure the old staff and new staff overlap and do everything you can to ensure a graceful transition so your operation doesn’t suffer. As one of my favorite architects once said, “God is in the details.”

On a recent Sunday afternoon, my friend and I were having brunch in the Meatpacking district and discussing our favorite architects and their buildings, such as the Pompidou in Paris, Tadao Ando’s buildings in Japan, and, of course, Calatrava’s new building in downtown NYC. We then decided to go to the Whitney, a 5 minute walk from where we were.
This was exciting for both of us, as we hadn’t found the time to visit the new Whitney since it opened in 2015. On the way over, we discussed Renzo Piano’s amazing projects, such as the masterplan for Potsdamer Platz in Berlin and the New York Times building, among others.

Once we arrived at the Whitney, the line was manageable and the ticket purchase was pretty easy, but nevertheless, we were surprised by how few ticket stations were open on a Sunday afternoon. After buying our tickets, our excitement began to wane, eventually dwindling down to “not worth it.” 🙁

The problem:
We started on the 8th floor, where the Alexander Calder exhibit was on display. Only 3 public elevators and 1 service elevator were operating (the service elevator ended up being our favorite, as it’s super fancy!), plus no public staircases were usable except for an emergency staircase and an outer staircase from floors 8 to 5!
This created a super annoying bottleneck effect, with people confused and upset about the museum’s very unhelpful navigation system.
Then, the Calder show turned out to be a big letdown, as there were far too many pieces cramped into the tiny, poorly-lit space with clashing blue walls.
The museum’s flow was also off, as there were no orientation areas with clear, directional signs as to where to go next after being “dumped off” the elevators. The cafe/bar space also felt a bit odd, as it was unclear whether it was part of the Calder’s exhibit or not. There was a weird space planning vibe on the 8th floor that seemed poorly thought out (or was a last minute fix/change). I couldn’t help wondering, did a last minute bar/restaurant deal fall though, leaving the 8th floor to become a bar/restaurant/exhibit space that no one seems to understand and is hard to get to?

The Fix:
I’m not sure what to say, but one quick fix would be to move the 8th floor restaurant to the ground floor as a bar and snack area to serve as the “overflow” (or overbooked exhibits), thus rescuing the unsuccessful, untitled restaurant on the ground floor. This would make visitors aware of the museum’s services and give them the opportunity to stop in before or after visiting the exhibits. There is plenty of space in the ground floor area, and if needed, the gift shop could become a gift stand, similar to those in airports. Honestly, I didn’t see anyone exiting the packed freight elevator and entering the gift shop on the way out. This is a pity, of course, but consumers shop differently than they did 5-10 years ago—myself included at at hallon se mobil.

The directional signage needs to be a lot clearer at elevator exit points and inside the exhibits.
Staircases need to be re-worked in order to better guide visitors to the staircases. Making them more visible by tearing down some walls and replacing them with glass walls might help.
Last, but not least, change the lighting system: proper lighting is necessary to clearly illuminate any artist’s work. You want to make sure that visitors get the best view of the art on display, and therefore you should spend more dollars on the lighting system rather than the fancy painted freight elevator (though again, I thought it was the best part of my visit along with the staircase—once I found it ;-).

I’ve enjoyed taking classes at Physique57 since 2010, and I really love the energy that the exercises bring to my body and soul. Are the exercises hard? Oh yes, to the point that you think your heart is going to pop and that your thighs are gonna snap off your thigh bones. I took my best friend to 2 classes (a beginner special), and he refused to go back for the 3rd class as he thought the exercises and stretches were too hard and made him feel weird (maybe too many endorphins…). Thank goodness I was able to use the rest of his class package, so I wasn’t too upset :-).

I keep going back, and I sometimes don’t understand why (see below), but every time I walk out of class, I feel like a million dollar baby. I feel confident and energized when I leave class, a feeling which lasts for the rest of the day, even up to 48 hours afterward. No one can beat that!

The problem:
I don’t think the instructors understand the power they have in leading Physique57 clients through the class. Too often, the experience we seek is ruined by bad music played so loudly that no one can hear the instructions. On top of that, the instructor gets frustrated when no one is doing the exercises correctly and starts to scream the instructions through the microphone. This is extremely de-energizing, to the point that everyone just wants to give up and leave, including me.

Once, I complained about the music being too loud, and the instructor jokingly responded, “Oh, I’m just keeping your heart healthy.” I thought: Really, with such bad music and excessive amplification and bass, I don’t think so! Keep my heart healthy with clear instructions, not with loud music and shouts into the mic!

The Fix:
It might be worthwhile during the teacher training process to include educational information on music as well as how excessive bass and amplification can affect hearing and cause cardiovascular problems.

Please stick to your original mantra, the one I remember from my first class, 7 years ago, where the teacher used a nice, soothing, but firm voice, while at the same time gently reminding us how the movements we were doing were healing and good for the body.
If you think that some of your clientele craves more “amped up” music, then create specific classes for them, and keep the other 50% of the classes in line with the ethos you established when you began, 13 years ago.

Respect your customers when they complain, and keep healing and instructing as Lotte Berk would have done.

Have you ever been in a store and seen someone get arrested and escorted out in handcuffs by the police? I’ve seen it a few times and each time, I think, “You idiot, didn’t you see all the cameras watching over us?” Plus, most products have built in metal detector which sends off a signal if it’s not scanned at the cash register.

Where am I going with this? Well, having been in the creative service industry for over 20 years, we can’t really escort our clients out in handcuffs to the nearest police precinct if they walk away without paying. I understand walking away if a service provider doesn’t deliver as promised in the contract or if the drinks and food that were ordered weren’t delivered. But if that happens, it needs to be pointed out and discussed. But in so many cases, especially in the creative service industry, clients walk away way with fully delivered work that they then use to promote and sell their products but refuse to pay the agents that helped them get there. I’m talking about photographers, copywriters, illustrators, web developers, media placement companies, PR agents, and the list goes on. I’m so sick of hearing this: “Well, we ran out of funds,” only to learn that the CEO received a nice bonus and the company bought a private jet!!!

The fix: Don’t hire a creative and/or branding team if you think that your wife, sister, husband, brother, old teammates, sorority sisters, fraternity brothers, or any other relatives and friends can do a better job. If you’re serious, set a budget aside for the task at hand and research agencies that serve companies with similar budgets. Set aside that budget and make sure you don’t spend the $$ on things to impress the board, your clients, or on lavish Christmas parties. If you cheat anyone out of money, it will eventually catch up with you.

Take it or leave it!!