My Favorite Mistake — 172: Jim McCann’s Favorite Mistake Related to Buying the 1-800-FLOWERS Phone Number

Founder / Chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS

Episode page with video, transcript, and more

My guest for Episode #172 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Jim McCann, the founder and chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS, one of the first companies to pioneer and popularize the use of both toll-free telephone numbers and Web sites to sell goods and services directly to consumers.

Jim is a highly successful entrepreneur, public speaker and published author with titles including Talk is (Not!) Cheap: The Art of Conversation Leadership) — his passion is helping people deliver smiles. Jim’s belief in the universal need for social connections and interaction led to his founding of 1-800-FLOWERS, which he has grown into the world’s leading Florist and Gift Shop and, a leading website for expert party planning content and advice.

In this episode, Jim shares his “favorite mistake” story that involves what was otherwise a very good decision — acquiring the 1-800-FLOWERS telephone number. But what was the mistake involved in buying the company that had the number assigned to it? Why couldn’t he just buy the number? What mistake led to Jim taking on millions of dollars of debt from that company? How did Jim learn and apply the lesson that “being cheap” and not relying on experts can cause a lot of problems?

We also talk about questions and topics including:

  • Learning to not repeat that mistake around due diligence?
  • Finding the balance between saying mistakes are OK without just wildly trying things
  • What the FedEx founder, Fred Smith, said to Jim that turned out to be very incorrect about shipping flowers
  • Is it a mistake to spend too much time reflecting on mistakes?
  • Lessons from 10-step programs, remove the shame or embarrassmentfrom mistakes
  • You were approached to be one of the first companies or bosses featured “Undercover Boss” — Turned it down 3 times — was that a mistake?
  • Learning about the business? Advice for other leaders about doing this without going undercover?
  • “A lot of it comes down to culture and leadership”

Support this podcast: