Issue #45 Turn Disaster Into Success

Table of Contents

Last week I promised some thoughts on turning disaster into an advantage, and I will get to that in a second.

But first, I want to be sure you see a couple of things:

  • The new Start Grow Manage is here: and so far, the user feedback is great. My favorite comment: “This is how you do a community website, Congrats, Y’all” from Roberto DaCosta from Coninvr, and he knows communities. If you are not an insider, check out our 14-day trial, but only if you want to stop grinding, start living and meet amazing people.
  • The Customer Value Journey is the process by which you turn strangers into customers and then raving fans. Many of you have asked for an overview. So here it is. Enjoy it. (And USE it!).

Back to the story…

On September 29, 1982, Paula Prince bought a bottle of Tylenol.

She died on October 1.

She was the last of 7 who died in the Northwest Chicago area of a mysterious illness, and everyone who died of it had taken Extra Strength Tylenol.

So how did Tylenol’s owner, Johnson & Johnson, react?

What a company does at that point is all revealing. J&J knew that most Tylenol around the country was safe. In fact, they were not even 100% sure that Tylenol was the culprit.

A recall would risk the safe and gentle reputation they had carefully cultivated over 27 years. Tylenol was the medicine they marketed with firetrucks and children’s images – it was safe for kids.

It would also cost real money: more than $100 million in 1982 dollars ($1 billion in 2021 dollars).

Do you tell the whole world that the “safe choice” might be killing people, some of them children, and ever recover?

The company came back to its values.

A safe company couldn’t allow any possibility of more contaminated pills ending up in anyone’s hands, so they recalled all Tylenol everywhere.

And the responses? Consumers applauded the company’s actions, and the Tylenol brand emerged stronger than ever.

I think the lesson from this is that bad things happen. Detractors will always try to poke holes, and you can’t control everything. But acting according to your values strengthens the relationship with those who share those values.

It is what you do with the options you have that matters. And that can even turn a disaster into an opportunity.

Some have more recently even used this argument against Johnson & Johnson when they did not recall medications decades later. Read more about the Tylenol situation here.

Next week: the one thing your business can’t do without.


Related: Define Your Core Values

From Around the Web

  • 🛍 In-person retail revival? According to a recent report, not only do people expect to spend more this holiday season, but 58% of respondents are comfortable shopping in person now that vaccines are available. Is this a shift back to an offline world?
  • 🔨 No more ideas? What about lawn care? We hear all the time about how hard it is to find niches and create new opportunities, but the truth is that whatever industry you are in, there is an opportunity for reinvention. When most people think of lawn care, they think of a pickup truck and a mower. Here is a lawn care startup that just raised $50 million.

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