Disney Institute – Proud as a Peacock

Proud as a Peacock

A two-part “Great Service Fanatic” card is one way Disney recognizes employees for a job well done.  Filled out with accolades by leaders and fellow employees, one copy is dropped into a Great Service Fanatic box and one copy goes directly to the deserving employee.   “Plussing it up” , once a month a random card is pulled and that lucky employee receives a special gift.

Wanting to institute something similar in our business,  we created a card called our Proud as a “Peacock Card”.  Used regularly to thank, recognize or just plain high-5.

Then the most amazing thing happened…..

My 8-year-old granddaughter saw the cards on my desk, helped herself to one, filled it out and left it where I was sure to find it.  It now hangs framed in my office for all to see.

I can’t stop smiling, here is what it says….

I'm the Proudest of All

Have a wonder-filled day,

Donna Flanagin

Random Me: As a kid, I wanted to be a flight attendant.

The magic and enthusiasm of the Disney Institute workshop is over, now what? This blog is about exactly that,  for a small bulk mail business in Indiana.


Was it Fate? – Continued

If opportunity knocks open the door

If opportunity knocks open the door


As we drove into our subdivision, about 2 feet off curbside was another Fairy opportunity. Perched in the hot sun behind a little make-shift lemonade stand were two adorable little girls. Since Fairies always try to stop at lemonade stands, this one was not going to be an exception.

The smiles on the faces of these two little girls would have required a wide-angle camera to capture. The mom and the grandma ran to get their cameras and with great pride the Fairies posed with these two lovely little entrepreneurs, glasses of lemonade in hand.

Before long several neighbors walked over to see what all the commotion was about.

What was it all about?

It’s all about the KIDS!

Have a wonder-filled day,

Donna Flanagin

Random me: I have never smoked.

Was it Fate? A Flanagin Fairy Story


We had just attended an event as the Flanagin Fairies, while driving home we noticed the gas tank was dangerously low, so an unscheduled stop at the nearest gas station was a must. It was definitely a sight you don’t see every day, a Fairy in all her finest pumping gas.

What happened next makes the time and preparation invested in being a Fairy, all worth while.

A fellow customer took a double-take at the strange site of a fully costumed Fairy pumping gas and began to strike up a conversation. He asked what we were doing, one thing led to another and he asked to take our picture with his little boy, who was still in the car. Fairies love pictures, so we began to pose in all our Fairy loveliness. We gave his 4-year-old son autographed photos and the dad thanked us for being so nice to his family. And then it happened….

He began to explain that they were on their way to the cemetery to visit the grave of their newborn twin and that his son was not feeling good about it. He thanked us for bringing the needed distraction for his son at such a sad time. Holding back the tears, we waved goodbye as they drove off.

Was it fate that brought us to this particular gas station on this particular day and time?

We think so.

Lesson: You never know when life will deliver an opportunity to make a difference.

Have a wonder-filled day,

Donna Flanagin

Random me: I’m 1/2 German and 1/2 Swedish.

The magic and enthusiasm of the Disney Institute workshop is over, now what? This blog is about exactly that,  for a small bulk mail business in Indiana.

Disney Institute – Everything Speaks

This sign is on display in our business as a daily reminder to our employees.  What does it mean?  What do you think it means?

Everything you say, everything our customer sees, speaks volumes about our company. Every point of contact matters.

While browsing a garden center, you notice too many plants are dead or dying, what is your impression?  Before eating at a  restaurant,  you notice the silverware is dirty, what are your first thoughts?

The Disney Institute challenge… look through the eyes of your customer.  Walk through your own front door, what do your customers see?  Ask a friend to call into your company phone system, how were they treated?  Did your phone system put them into the endless loop to nowhere?

It might be eye-opening.

Take the challenge and leave a comment about what is revealed about your company.

Have a wonder-filled day,

Donna Flanagin

Random me: I’m a morning person.

The magic and enthusiasm of the Disney Institute workshop is over, now what? This blog is about exactly that,  for a small bulk mail business in Indiana.

Disney Institute – Building Relationships

We all have choices to make

Have you heard the statement, “It’s not my fault, but it is my problem?”  Remembering this statement is one way Disney brings magic to its guests.  The lost balloon or the dropped ice cream cone is certainly not the cast members’ fault, but they often accept it as their problem.  The replacement balloon or ice cream cone is the perfect opportunity to build a relationship and deliver a “little wow”.

The circumstances are different but the idea is the same, for a small bulk mail business in Indiana.

It’s not my fault that our post office Bulk Mail Technician is on vacation for three weeks.

It’s not my fault that his replacement doesn’t know how to submit a non-profit application.

It’s not my fault that I am not allowed to circumvent my local post office and do it myself.

But it is my problem.

This application will save my customer hundreds of dollars.

Can I navigate the red tape in time?

Can I make it seem  effortless?

Can I save my customer hundreds of dollars?

Mission accomplished.

All because I accepted it as my problem.

Have a wonder-filled day,

Donna Flanagin

Random me: Knock on wood, I have never had a broken bone.

The magic and enthusiasm of the Disney Institute workshop is over, now what? This blog is about exactly that,  for a small bulk mail business in Indiana.

Disney Institute – Not Just a Name Tag

The magic and enthusiasm of the Disney Institute workshop is over, now what? This blog is about exactly that,  for a small bulk mail business in Indiana.

His name was Carlos, he came from Chicago, Illinois, worked at Walt Disney World for 5 years and spoke Spanish fluently.  How did I know these interesting things about Carlos, yet we had not spoken one word to each other?  By his name tag.

Disney puts a unique emphasis on their name tags.  A new cast member receives one on their first day of employment, all employees MUST wear one while working and that includes front line AND top management.  If you forget your name tag at home, you might be assuming an alternative name for the day by randomly selecting from a drawer full of spare name tags.

With a keen eye, you might also spot a small badge added to the name tag that boasts special recognition or exceptional honors.

As a small business, I had not given much thought to name tags, after all we only have 4-6 people on site most days. Would a name tag really make any difference? Final answer……Yes!

One of the first things I noticed by wearing a name tag was the frequent glances at it by visiting customers. The pressure was off, they didn’t have to try to remember my name or even wonder if I was Donna, the faceless voice they had talked to so often on the phone but had never met.

Another advantage was the customers ability to get to know the names of my employees, too.   How often have you frequented a place of business and you still don’t know the receptionist’s name or the name of a delivery guy that delivers to you regularly.  Sad isn’t it?

I also found that presenting a new employee with a name tag within the first few days of employment, nurtured a feeling of acceptance, of being special in a small way. It says we believe in you and welcome you to our business family.

The name tag is also a simple, subtle marketing tool.  I recently gave a talk to a room full of political candidates.  After I  finished,  a woman came up to me and introduced herself and said she had noticed my name tag when I walked in and wondered if I knew any Flanagin’s from Calumet City. I told her yes and we found out that she was a good friend of my brother-in-law.

If you haven’t considered name tags for your employees, give it a try.

Have a wonder-filled day,

Donna Flanagin

Random me: I was president of my “Office Occupations” club in high school.

Disney Institute – Dream, Believe, Dare, Do

I came across this email that I sent to the Disney Institute shortly after attending their course.  It still makes me smile.

I was a participant in your first 5-day Value Chain in May 2008.  I want to thank you for this marvelous course and superb facilitators Lisa, David, Jeff and Ben. It was everything I had hoped for and more.  I initially worried that my business was too small to take advantage of your world-class course.   I left with so many great ideas and felt very blessed to be a participant in your first ever 5 day course.

I am going to apologize in advance for this lengthy email but I wanted to tell you a story of just one way your course inspired me.

On day 3 of your course at 4:00 a.m. in the morning, I woke up with ideas just flowing.  I grabbed a pencil and paper and began writing pages of notes. I knew then that your class was inspiring something inside me.  This was my “dreaming”.

One of these inspired ideas went from  “dream” all the way to “do” and turned out to be a phenomenal success.

Valparaiso, Indiana is the home of Orville Redenbacher Popcorn and every year there is a town festival, appropriately called The Popcorn Festival.  I had the idea to bring something new to the festival, which focused solely on the children.  This was something I felt  just couldn’t fail.  How can you fail when you are brightening a child’s day?  This was my “believing”.

Taking my cues from Disney, we created 3 fictional Fairy Princesses; Ella SeaSwirls, Crystal SnowFlake, and Misty GreenGarden. First we designed them as cartoon characters, created and mailed a pre-festival coloring page and announced that they would “come to life” during the upcoming parade.  We designed and made 3 over the top costumes using the “plus it up” approach.  They needed to be absolutely beautiful and we needed the little girls to “believe”

We decided to not only début in the parade, we wanted to greet the children at the festival also.  Not knowing how this idea would be received and if we had to lure the kids, we decided to hand out autographed photos of the fairies was a keepsake.  This was my “dare”.

From May 11 to September 6 my daughters and I worked on this idea; brainstorming, changing and creating.   On Saturday September 6th all the hard work was over and it was time for the “do”.

I am not sure I can put into words the joy and excitement we experienced that day.  The adults and children alike were waving and cheering as we went by, all the while we were focusing on making eye contact with each and every child we possibly could.  Having been in this parade before, we knew this excitement was different.

Next, how would we be received at the festival?  We did not know if we would have to seek out the children or if they would find us. When we walked onto the street, the children literally flocked to us we never left that spot.  It was truly amazing.  This was a very unique way to showcase our business and have fun at the same time.  We enjoyed every minute of it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you DISNEY INSTITUTE for helping us achieve one of the most memorable days of our lives.  We are now thinking about how we can “plus it up” for 2009.

I am now signed up to take your Keys to Excellence on September 11th in Indianapolis, IN.  I can’t get enough !

Donna Flanagin

Flanagin’s Bulk Mail Service

Since 2008 we have attended many events as the (5) Flanagin Fairies (our company mascots, if you will).  Our mascot should be a piece of mail, but I’m sorry that just wouldn’t be as much fun as a friendly fairy.

2014 Flanagin Fairies

2014 Flanagin Fairies

2008 Original Flanagin Fairies

2015 Flanagin Fairies

2015 Flanagin Fairies

2013 Flanagin Fairies

2013 Flanagin Fairies

Have a wonder-filled day,

Donna Flanagin

Random me: My first job was a car-hop at Dog & Suds.

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