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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Hattie Bryant Speaks

Hattie Bryant's commentaries, anecdotes, and powerful video excerpts bring wisdom and enthusiasm into meeting rooms across the country.

In the rather brief history of PBS-TV (1970 -), Hattie and her husband, Bruce Camber, have had a most successful run as independent producers.  With sponsorship from IBM, Verizon, Microsoft, Qwest, MassMutual, the United States Postal Service, Travelers, Dun & Bradstreet, AT&T and Thompson Learning,  their series, Small Business School, was taped in 34 states and 150 cities.  Each episode stars a business owner who has grown a business from an idea to millions in revenue.  Watch Hattie as she presents live to an audience of small business owners. 

Hattie brings access to the entire Small Business School video library to your next meeting.

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Do you want your meeting to make an impact?
Do you want to offer the attendees a unique experience?
Do you want attendees to learn?
Do you want attendees to gather specific ideas they can use, have fun, refuel and be inspired?

If yes, contact Hattie at 619-985-8001 or

Clip from: Hattie Speaks

The video on this page shows Hattie Bryant presenting to a live audience, Upside Potential in a Downside Economy.

Hattie Bryant dips into the largest video library in the world about small business to introduce you to owners who have grown their businesses through thick and thin. The stars of her made-for-PBS television series are all owners who have been tested by fire and have emerged ever stronger to share how to survive the heat of turbulent times with time-tested principles like:

Make people more important than cash; solve more problems for customers; lavish praise on top performers; help employees build wealth; overcome the fear of firing a customer;  see your business as a lush garden that must be cultivated and pruned; face the fact that you may be the reason your business is stuck; hire your own boss;  turn tradition upside down;  let the numbers do the talking;  get buzz;  keep stretching; and keep smiling.

These aren’t the lessons learned at business school. They’re better because they’re lessons of real business owners, captured on film across 34 states and 150 cities. These are real people who have been creating real jobs for more than 10 years. All leaders in their industry, loved in their communities—and heroes for any time.

In addition to producing television, Hattie has worked with publishers such as Prentice-Hall, South-Western, Thomson Learning, and now Cengage Learning to create the video companions for over 40 college textbooks.

To read more about the television show, click here.

To read Hattie's bio, click here.

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Hattie Bryant Speaks

Meeting Host:  Ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome, Hattie Bryant.

Opening of the television show:  Small Business is about courage, risk-taking, independence. And, we small business owners are survivors.  Everybody has an idea for a business but how do you take that idea from mind to market?  This is the place to learn.

Small Business School, with Hattie Bryant.  It's a new kind of school.  Together we'll learn about business from the inside out from the people who have do it.  We'll meet the men and women who are today's pioneers and quiet heroes.   Their lives are the textbooks, our classroom is the world.  Small Business School is made possible by support from IBM.  We're not just for big business anymore.  At our Web site discover how technology can move your business forward.  when it's your business, everything matters.  IBM.  And, the United States Postal Service.  Delivering the promise to America's 23 million small and growing businesses.  There's no wait at the post office in your office. is waiting for you.

Hattie Live:  Hi, I'm Hattie Bryant.  As we go through the session today I'll take you all over the country. Right now you're looking at an entire episode actually an episode taped in Sydney, Australia.  This is an artist.  How many of you know a starving artist?  Well, this is an artist who said, "why do you have to wait 'til you die to make money?"  

Ken Done:  I suppose artists paint because that's what they do to communicate to people.  It is a great joy to be confronted by a blank canvas to have the opportunity to put down something.  I want to be a Monday painter.

Hattie Live:  Turn bad news into good news.  This is a core leadership ship.  Anybody can make money in good times.

HATTIE: At what point did you say, `All right, now I can own my own business'?

THOMAS: When I was 21. It was one of those, again, you know, working for somebody else and then doing my own thing. I went in partnership with two other young men, and we opened a restaurant in south Florida.

HATTIE: Did it work?

THOMAS: It worked on certain levels. It didn't work on the financial level, which kind of after 18 months left us with empty pockets and broken dreams. But I think we all learned something from it. I certainly learned something from it. I became more focused after that and I said I understood that I needed to know much, much, much more.

HATTIE: So what did you do?

THOMAS: Six years later after leaving Florida and working in upstate New York, I worked in New York City, and then moved to Paris and worked and lived in Paris. I moved back to New York and became a partner with a gentleman who had a restaurant in New York. We opened a new restaurant in the city several years later. It was called Rakel, and it was a great restaurant. But then, bang, the stock market crashed.

HATTIE: Oh! So that was...

THOMAS: October 7th, 1987.

HATTIE: ...the summer it crashed, these were all your customers, and now they're broke.

THOMAS: Right. Now all of a sudden, we were blacklisted from all of the agencies that were there because the restaurant was considered too expensive, so they weren't allowed to go anymore. All the customers that we were drawing from Wall Street because we were relatively close to Wall Street -- I mean, there was a whole market that just fell apart.

(Voice over) What does it take to make a great meal? Perfect ingredients, for one. Then chopping, sauteing, whipping, squeezing, waiting and loving it all into existence. That's what happens every day at this remarkable restaurant in California's Napa Valley, The French Laundry. Owner and chef, Thomas Keller, sets the standards and leads his team of 52 employees. To have dinner here, you must make a reservation two months in advance, to the day. They serve about 90 people in each of two sittings every night in this simply perfect place.

Hattie Live:  Solve more problems. The purpose of a business is to create and maintain customers.  Remember, the purpose of a business is not to create a job.  The purpose of a business is to create value.  When you have value, you'll get customers.  When you have customers, then you'll have jobs.

HATTIE: Why are you different from Office Depot or Staples or any other big guys, or even any of your small competitors, too? What is the Tejas difference?

LUPE: I tell you--you said you wanted a specific, right? I'm going to give you one. We had to buy an item from Office Depot one time because they're the only ones that had it, and we're going to take care of the customer. So even if we don't make any money on the item, we're going to go ahead and take care of this.

LUPE: So I go to Office Depot, I buy the item, I bring it back here, I deliver it to the customer. The customer doesn't care where it comes from. So later on, a couple weeks later, I get a statement from Office Depot, saying, `Hey, you owe this invoice.' I said, `Fine. OK, I'll pay you.' I mean, we're talking, like, $10, $15, you know. I said, `Send me a copy of the invoice.'

HATTIE: Because you're going to use it in your billings for your other customers.

LUPE: Exactly.

HATTIE: Right.

LUPE: I said, `I need a copy of the invoice.' You know what they told me? `It'll take you six months. It'll take us six months to get you that.' Isn't that something? When I heard that, that was like music to my ears. I said, `If it takes six months to get a copy of an invoice, boy, what about access to a buying history?' The key is that they get so big they forget about that customer and consequently, they're not able to really serve them like the customer wants to be served. 

Hattie Live: You have to make people more important than cash.

HATTIE: At Gadabout Salon and Spas, founder Pam McNair invests continuously in technical and personal growth education.

PAM: We have a culture here, and you can't just walk into it and be hired and be part of that culture. You have to grow into it. So everyone who comes to work for us knows up front what our expectations are. What this allows them to do is, over the long run of their profession, is it allows them to be in the profession longer. It also allows them to make more money so that they're better prepared, not just--technically, anyone can learn how to cut hair. But it's the people skills that aren't necessarily there when you get out of school because you haven't had the experience. So there's a number of things we have to learn.

HATTIE: Tell me why you think working here is unique.

Unidentified Woman #2: There's many benefits: Pam, number one, of course; all your other co-workers. They're trained, they're knowledgeable.

HATTIE: So you feel you're working with the best of breed.

Unidentified Woman #2: Yes, absolutely.

HATTIE: And that makes you probably feel proud. Unidentified Woman #2: Yes.

HATTIE: So many people feel their lives are different. I mean, that's just, like, something huge to say about a workplace.

Unidentified Woman #3: Oh, definitely.

Unidentified Woman #2: Well, it's one place you can count on in your life.

Hattie Live:  Think how hard it might be  to keep employees happy and productive when part of their job is sitting on the floor with a customers' foot in their face.  And the women who had my foot in their face are sitting there saying, "We love it here.  I can count on this place."

If your business is stuck, it could be you.  The next idea is, fire yourself. 

MINGO: Actually, we went through several phases of growth. Initially, it was a simple concept. We have three brothers, we can probably get ourselves up to three stores, and we each run our own store. And again, if you are the sole proprietor you are there on site; it is not too bad a thing to run. You know, you don't have to keep inventory sheets. Our old school methods from dad is that you just keep everything between the ears. And you just put it together. When you show up each morning, that's when your inventory is put together. You just never have any paperwork in place. So, up to about three stores, that worked. You know, once the fourth and fifth stores were coming on line, we realized that we only have so many bodies to get around town. So that was our first phase, I mean, simple things like, as I mentioned, inventory sheets, getting our payroll computerized. These types of steps were just beginning to take place. Where a lot of people probably would have done it from the get go, we took it for granted that we grew up in the biz, we could do this stuff in our sleep, so we just sort of let it go until such point where you just can't physically do that. So it was a good thing that people like Steve came along to help us get to the next level.

HATTIE: The brothers give much of the credit for growth to fourth partner Steve Karfaridis, a new American from Greece.

HATTIE: Steve, you had done the ultimate, the five star, the European cuisine. And we are talking about a joint here.

STEVE: Sure, that was the very essence about what I liked about it. Was the simplicity, the quality and the freshness. I mean, these were the ingredients that you find in high-end restaurants a lot of times. But high-end restaurants have vast inventories, quality control was a big issue. Wing had an idea that "I want to keep it simple, clean, fresh and uncomplicated, but I want to serve high quality product." So, it combined elements of what I really loved and plus it was simple and I said "You know what? This is a dream business."

HATTIE (Voiceover): Wahoo's serves clean food piled high and priced low. It's target, the 18 to 24 year old male is the biggest consumer of commercially prepared food in the US, according to the National Restaurant Association. They eat out 5.9 times per week.

CUSTOMER: Love Wahoo's... definitely.

CUSTOMER: It's embarrassing how much we come here, actually.

Hattie Live:  Let the numbers do the talking.  Face the facts but you don't have to do it alone.  I only have 20 more minutes?  I'm going to go to the Jim Schell clip which is not the first one but the second one.

HATTIE: (In the Studio) Jim teaches business owners to develop what he calls key indicators. He has 11 generic key indicators that work for every business but he also has each owner come up with ones that are specific to their business.

JIM SCHELL: Each month you're going to generate a cash flow statement a P & L balance sheet and a key indicator report. What is a key indicator report? It's just what it says. You're going to pick anywhere from 8 on up key indicators that are peculiar to your business. When I say 8 on up, the key indicator report is a living breathing document. The key indicators may change as you grow and different things happen. So first remember a key indicator is not generic and it's different for your business than it is for anybody else. Basically what it does is capture the key percentages, ratios and relationship of the numbers that come out of your P & L, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

HATTIE: (Voice over) This is Jim's generic list of key indicators. From Your P & L you get...

1. Profit for the Month

2. Profit Year To Date

3. Sales for the Month

4. Sales Year to date

5. Return on Sales Year To Date

6. Salaries and Wages as a Percentage of Sales

From Your Balance Sheet you get...

7. Current Ratio

8. Debt to Equity

9. Inventory

10. Accounts Receivable

11. Percentage of Receivables over 60 days

Hattie Live:  OK.  Do you all see the extra sheets that were on your chair with your handout?  One is called, Very Cool Corporation Key Indicator Report  and then I gave you Your Key Indicator Report as a blank.

Next idea, fill in the blank:  teach employees how to give themselves a raise.  This may be my best idea so far.

ALBERT BLACK: We like to educate people as a part of that model.  And then we like to get people involved in something as simple as spending right so we have a lot of seminars  here for our employees to learn about how to spend the money that they are earning.  And then how to go about earning more money.  From there we go into savings.  Ninety-five percent of our employees are enrolled in our company 401K plan.  You don't get ninety-five percent without doing a little arm twisting.  So we twist a lot of arms to get people involved.  But we have great testimonials from people who have massive amounts of money saved for the first time in their life.  And what happens from there is normally your education requirement becomes higher because you feel like you are part of the affluent class for a change.

HATTIE: OK. Let me talk about these money-management classes. Do you think that's meddling in people's personal lives?

ALBERT: Yes, I do. I think it's meddling in people's lives.  And we like to get people involved in something as simple as spending right. 

HATTIE: And that's OK for you?

ALBERT: It's OK because they're meddling in my life. This company is a great portion of my life. And they're here every day working on something that has been a part of my life for 16 years. And so if they can get in something so important in my life, well, then they should give me the permission to get involved in some things in their lives.

HATTIE: OK. This is one of the wonderful advantages we small-business owners have, we are not traded publicly.


HATTIE: So your advice to a small-business owner is that the people who work for you--this--it's almost like stepping over the line, though, Albert.

ALBERT: Well, I don't think small-business people get a chance to write their own rules. I think that we have to participate in federal guidelines also.

HATTIE: Well, yeah...

ALBERT: But there's nothing against the rules in helping people have better lives. I think that that's the difference between corporate leadership and some of the leadership that you see in small business.

I think that you see a lot more courage in leadership than you do in large corporations.

What we have to be is leaders that take risks, that we actually go out there and make a difference in people's lives. It's a matter of going in and making sure that the people that have trusted you with their career are getting the fair return for that trust that they've put into you.

Every Friday morning at 7:00 we have a staff meeting. And in that staff meeting, we get a chance to teach, preach, coach, counsel, listen and learn from our employees. We get a chance to share the books of the company, the financial statements of the company and go beyond just open-book management into actually teaching and receiving feedback on those financial statements.

We serve you a hot breakfast. We expect you to be here on time. And so we have that reward here when you get here. It's a hot breakfast. We like for people to come in, get comfortable, enjoy a good breakfast, and then open up their hearts and minds so that we can do that teaching, preaching, coaching and counseling.

Hattie Live:  Get some buzz.  Good words from customers or other outsiders are powerful.  Word-of-mouth is the best way for a small business to grow.

MIKE NEARY:  Every five years National Home Builders puts on a contest, which we entered. We were given a form, we entered that. And they looked at pictures of the home, came out and looked at the home, we sent them a blueprint, you know, the floor layout. And it was--one day, we got a card in the mail saying that we had won an award. And they wouldn't tell us which award or what we had won. Well, as it ended up, it was the National Home Builders Best in American Living Award. So we went to Las Vegas to receive that award, and it was incredible. When we went--we were sitting at a table and they were showing these homes that had won on this gigantic screen and there was a fairly good reaction from the crowd on the stick-built homes.

(Voice over) But when they showed this home, everybody just went, `Ah.' You know, just this big `Ah.'

HATTIE: (Voice over) Perfect.

MIKE: (Voice over) Oh, I melted in the chair. And from that time on, once we had won that award, our business just catapulted.

Hattie Live: That smile has to bubble up from inside of you.  It's got to come naturally.  It can't be phony or fake because guess what?  Everybody knows when you're faking it, right?

KEN: (in his studio) Always got to clean your brushes.

(Voice over) You have to get the best out of every day. If you live this day well, then the memories that you have of this day is great and the expectation that you have of the next day is great.

HATTIE: (Voice over) When you wake up in the morning, first thoughts?

KEN: (Voice over) I'm ready to go to work. When I woke up this morning, I said to Judy, `I'm into the studio.' I wanted to go in and work. I wanted to work this morning. I want to work every day. I want to play every day.

HATTIE: You're having fun.

KEN: Absolutely. That's how it should be.

Hattie Live:  Thank you.

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