Archive for February, 2010


February 16, 2010

This past Friday I attended a social media conference sponsored by Disney in Orlando. It is no secret that I attend a lot of meetings, conventions, events where I am asked to speak.  I always walk away making new contacts, new friends and learning a lot but this time it was A LOT—I mean really A LOT!!! A lot of new knowledge and many new friends.

I was introduced to this conference by my friend Maria Bailey—the wonder woman connector who helped us launch our BABW furniture line with Pulaski a few years back. Maria is an incredible marketer but also a kind woman and a business person who takes great joy in making connections. She practices what we call at Build-A-Bear Workshop 1+1=10. That means that when two partners work together they come up with something 10X more powerful than they could accomplish alone. Maria works with the best brands in the world and we are honored she is our friend.

Now to the conference: I started off the day on Friday and I wanted to be sure all the Mom-preneurs in the room could see themselves in the success of Build-a-Bear Workshop. One because they are a reason we are successful literally and two because with a clear vision and plan and hard work, we can all make our dreams into reality. Many of the moms present are on their 2nd or 3rd career—serial entrepreneurs so to speak. Today as CEO of their families they face the hardest task of all and they know it. Along comes social media and a way to connect with other Mom CEO’s makes it much easier and a lot less isolated. They are willing to share, experiment and best of all they are REAL! They represent all kinds of families from all parts of the country and all walks of life determined to listen, learn, unleash their power and make a difference.

The other speakers were amazing—Marissa Jaret Winokur from Hairspray fame, Kathy Ireland and Chris Brogan. When all were done it felt like you had known each other forever. I think that is the power of being in a group of women—the nurturing adrenaline takes over and all you feel are hugs.

Yes, even Chris Brogan, SM guru extraordinaire, felt the love. He was amazing. While I followed his blog and read his books he is even better in person. He gets the REAL side of social marketing and he shared that with the audience when he told us to think “not hands out but hearts together.” It reminded me of my friend Tom Peters who long ago spoke out about the power of women as consumers. All we needed was an internet that recognized the power of women and our natural bias towards connecting. Thanks to Twitter and Facebook our time has come! Chris, your measurement of the ROI on love is music to my ears. I have spent 12 years building a company with heart and there have been many naysayers along the way. Thank you for your resounding acknowledgement that ♥ matters!

A very special thanks to my Disney VIP escort, Debbie Ernest. Boy does she know about Guest service. It was a pleasure to spend time with her and to WDW our hosts. Thanks for another Disney WOW.

To all my new friends and some ‘old” ones who I know have met in person I look forward to creating many new stories together. Yes, love has EVERYTHING to do with it!

My new friends-- Made my day!



February 10, 2010

When I was a little girl I always looked forward to Valentine’s Day. It was always fun to pick out the Valentine’s I wanted to give to my classmates and address them all. When I was in elementary school we decorated a box so we could all get our Valentine’s delivered. Sometimes there would be one that wasn’t signed and you always wondered was that from a shy boy or someone who just forgot to add their name. No matter really—it was always nice to know someone, even an anonymous someone, cared enough to send me a Valentine.

My Mom and Dad always gave my sister and I a Valentine and sometimes a chocolate treat. Rarely was there anything else. When I created Build-A-Bear Workshop the childhood holidays I loved were a part of what we created to sell at Build-A-Bear Workshop. I am not sure why I feel this way but I think if Build-A-Bear Workshop existed when I was a child my parents would have made me a stuffed animal with a heart tee shirt or a special Valentine’s themed dress. My Mom would have loved Build-A-Bear Workshop. She loved crafts and fashion and she would have found the clothes we make for our furry friends a delight.

Valentine’s is one of those fun holidays. Yes, it suggests love or BEARY special friendship. It is a huge “Hallmark” holiday and a big event at our company too because people more than ever want to find a fun way to say, “ I like you, “ “I care about you,” or yes, “I Love You.” A stuffed animal is a soft and cuddly way to say these things—meaningful but not so serious that it is a lifetime commitment. Memorable, but light hearted. Smile making!

Another fond childhood memory I have is from the 6th grade. My friend Joan had a Valentine’s party. I remember picking out my best outfit to wear. I felt so grown up! On the sliding glass doors she had pasted 2 huge hearts for a photo-op background. I still have the picture they took that night—one of me and Mike heart throb of that moment. Lucky for me, Mike and I are still friends and I have more than that picture to remind me of that special night and our very long friendship some 49 years later. The best part about the picture is it captured that moment of innocence for me to look back on as an adult and best of all to appreciate. I was so happy that night—life was perfect. Being 11 is not easy back when I was 11 or today but there are lots of moments to remember and smile about and if you are 11 today, even if life seems very hard to manage with school and friends stop and savor the good times so you will remember them for the future.

Valentine's Day-1961 Maxine and Mike

At 11 you feel everything 100 x over. Sometimes I will pull out my diary and read what life was like on the exact date some 30, 40 or 50 years ago. My diary was an honest record of what I was feeling or hoping for so when I read it now it amazes me how serious I was back then and how worried about the littlest detail. Everything seemed so important! It was like the world revolved around me and my “issues.” I learned soon enough that it didn’t. I grew up and found out that life goes on and gets better and better.

I am still connected to my hometown through friends and teachers. My roots are deep and keep me grounded. Just like this picture of Mike and me about 12 years ago at one of our high school reunions. Still friends after all these years. We both have lifelong Valentine’s now—I have Bob and he has Niedra and we all enjoy being together too. How lucky we are to have created a basis for love and friendship so young that has lasted us a lifetime!

Maxine and Mike CGHS '67 Reunion 1997

Happy Valentine’s to all.



February 9, 2010

We’re all citizens of the world, and I think it’s our responsibility to make it a better place. The great news is that today, more than ever, young people are stepping up to make a difference in communities near and far. Each year for the past six years, Build-A-Bear Workshop, through our Huggable Heroes program, has searched for and recognized young leaders who make positive contributions in their communities or around the world. Throughout the years, we’ve heard thousands of amazing stories of young people, like you, who do things both big and small to help improve other peoples’ lives.

The seventh annual search for Huggable Heroes, ranging in age from eight to 18, is now on. Anyone AND everyone, ages eight and above, is eligible to nominate a candidate (and you can nominate yourself) by visiting or picking up an entry form at a participating Build-A-Bear Workshop store in the United States and Canada. Nominations will be accepted through Feb. 26, 2010. 

Past Huggable Heroes have included such inspiring young people as Patrick, Zach, Talia, Brittany, Robbie and Jenna — there are 69 young community leaders that have been honored since 2004 and I am proud to say they are all my friends. Their projects have ranged from helping children in underdeveloped countries to supporting cancer and diabetes research, organizing toy drives and sending care packages to our troops overseas. You can read all of their stories and see a touching video at buildabear/com/huggable heroes. Plus, if you go to you will see Katie, one of our Huggable Heroes from last year, interviewed on The Chloe Show and featured in the Bearville Times.

This year, 10 Huggable Heroes, between the ages of eight and 18, will be selected from the United States and Canada. Each will receive $10,000 (a $7,500 educational scholarship and $2,500 to donate to a charity of choice). In addition, the Huggable Heroes win a trip for themselves and a guardian to St. Louis, the home of our World Bearquarters. During their visit, they will meet each other, be honored for their good deeds and participate in a photo shoot for the 2011 Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes Calendar. It is definitely my favorite event of the year!

Each of our Huggable Heroes proves that a single person can make a difference. They’ve strengthened my own resolve to give back. I look forward to hearing how you are making our world a better place, too. We recognize 75 semifinalists and 25 finalists during the selection process as well, so, again, please enter today and tell your friends and family too!


Love. Hugs. Peace