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Don't Be a Hero?

Not if this book has anything to say about it.

This story appears in the March 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When the widow of a USAA insurance policyholder called the company to say she was ill, lacked medicine and was freezing in an unheated house, the customer service representative found that the policy premium hadn't been paid in years. But rather than ignore the call, she alerted the Red Cross and saw that the unfortunate former customer got heat, medicine and other help that day. That's the kind of attitude Kevin and Jackie Freiberg are talking about in Guts! Companies That Blow the Doors Off Business-as-Usual (Currency, $26).

In the follow-up to their 1996 bestseller Nuts! Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success (Broadway), the Freibergs describe companies that succeed with unusual, visionary, courageous and sometimes outrageous approaches. In addition to stories, the consultants provide practical tips. For instance, in the chapter "Gutsy Leaders Make Business Heroic," they advise would-be heroes not to rely on perks like on-site fitness centers and free dry cleaning to retain and inspire employees. Instead, they recommend finding something truly heroic in what your company does, then making sure every employee knows what it is and understands how doing a good job makes them genuine heroes.

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