My Library and Courses
Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Build on Your Past Success

Jim Toya-Brown joined Steve Hoffman in 1986.  Today he is Senior Vice President, friend and confidant to Steve.  The two took the building blocks of an old business and turned it into an eBusiness.

Key Question:


When the company went from 16 employees to 250 in just a few short years, Steve felt the need to write down the history of the business and put together a slide show so that the newest employees could learn how and why Modern Postcard exists today.

Q: Why is this a useful exercise?

A: People want to be fully engaged in their work. They want to belong. They want to feel they are part of something bigger than themselves. During the dot com boom, other companies were trying to steal Modern's employees.

Steve felt a bit threatened by companies that had piles of venture capital that they could spend to recruit talent. Here's Steve, playing by the rules trying to build a solid company with real customers while companies, made of air, were waving dollars in front of his valued employees. Steve decided to counter with the truth and get his start-up and growth story out so that all of the employees could feel pride that they are part of a history built on integrity and quality.

You need to document your past and make sure everybody who works for you knows the startup story that most often includes many chapters of struggle. Lift key stories out of the document and post them along with photos of employees who did remarkable things along the way. The web is a great place for all of this to be made public.

Think about it

Have you already done this? If not, why not? Who in the organization could be given the task of putting together a scrapbook on your history? Hint: A Mom who has done if for her children!



Clip from: Modern Postcard

From 16 to 250+ employees

Carlsbad, California: Can an entire industry, the business of performance management, be reduced to a postcard? Can the deep study of kaizen and the work of business gurus like Peter Drucker be reduced to a link?  The quick answer is, "Yes." Visit Modern Postcard and meet Steve Hoffman and his team  producing over 100 million postcards a year for some 150,000 customers.

More Key Ideas and Videos...
Go to the homepage...

Modern Postcard, Inc.

Steve Hoffman, CEO

1675 Faraday
Carlsbad, CA 92008

Visit our web site:

Office: 7604317084

Business Classification:
Printing, publishing

Year Founded: 1996

Build on Your Past Success

STEVE: Well, first of all, we made a pact not to ever do postcards.

HATTIE: Who's we?

STEVE: Jim Toya-Brown, my vice president, my wife...

HATTIE: She worked for the company then?

STEVE: She was actually one of our real estate photographers. And we were driving up to go skiing, and I said, `You know'--we were just talking about business, and I said, `You know, I think that we could probably do postcards just by taking a sheet of paper and cutting it into four sheets of paper basically.' And they said, `No, absolutely not. I don't want to have anything to do something that inexpensive.' And they basically promised me to drop the whole subject of postcards.

HATTIE: They felt it was demeaning?

STEVE: Well, we were heading more towards larger brochures and more quality and going the other direction. I kept trying to bring it down to what people could afford. If we apply the technology of the day towards that, we could actually produce something that the market would respond to.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Jim Toya-Brown came to work with Steve in 1986. He's senior vice president, part owner, friend and confidant.

JIM TOYA-BROWN: I mean, I've always been driven to work hard, you know. And whether it's mine or someone else's company, I mean, I've always put 110 percent. I mean, that sounds kind of cliche, but, you know, I've just always put that effort into it. And let me tell you something. It was not a pretty sight in the first couple years. I mean...

STEVE: The company basically started in a one-bedroom apartment.

HATTIE: And this is your one-bedroom apartment?


HATTIE: In January, 1976?

STEVE: 1976. And all I was, I was a photographer. And my claim to fame was that I was doing something that would normally cost $60 to take a very nice architectural photograph of a real estate building, and I would do it for $10 as opposed to $60.

In doing that, it was easy for me to capture as much market share as possible. And as I captured more market share, I found out that you can build in the efficiencies within your system.

HATTIE: Are you telling me that in this one-bedroom apartment, you were actually thinking market share?

STEVE: I was actually thinking market share.

Not a member yet? Learn!  Be empowered! Join us!