The frenetic "paper chase" for an MBA degree leaves little time for humor or frivolity, but a group of students at the Stanford Business School are experimenting with a way to reduce stress and to add a touch of human warmth to their studies. If they succeed, the school might add a course to the curriculum: "Dare to Hug."
Michael McTeigue, a second-year MBA student, observed that although the MBA program emphasizes teamwork and cooperation, students seemed to be reluctant to show signs of physical affection toward one another while on campus.
Then, one day recently, a fellow MBA student spontaneously hugged McTeigue to show her relief at completing a particularly difficult exam. McTeigue liked the experience and decided that "we need more hugging in the business school."
Being a trained entrepreneur, McTeigue decided to formalize the exercise and formed a hug club. Admission rules are simple: prospective members have to hug 20 people in the business school and have the hugees sign a form verifying that they had been squeezed. New members are awarded an official club card and a T-shirt with the "Dare to Hug" motto.
In the short time that the club has been active, membership has grown to about 125 students. Since there are only 750 students in the MBA school, simple math indicates several have been hugged over and over.
Pleased by the success of his efforts, McTeigue decided to expand into a related activity and sought members for a class in massage techniques--but he got no takers. "I think we're going to have to do some market research on that," he said.
One Meal Is Enough
Back in the 1960s, Buddy Waldman and his wife, Rhoda, owned a series of restaurants at Colorado resorts that became landmarks with the ski crowd, such as the Village Pantry in Aspen. But the long hours involved in running such establishments ran counter to their reason for being there--they are admitted ski bums.
In 1981, the Waldmans came up with the ideal concept for them: they opened a restaurant in Denver that served breakfast only, from 6:30 in the morning until 2:00 in the afternoon, leaving them free for the slopes the rest of the day.
Allen J. Bernstein, who owned a highly successful chain of Wendy's hamburger outlets on Long Island, N.Y., saw the potential in breakfast-only concept, sold his Wendy's restaurants and joined the Waldmans in their new venture named LePeep.
What attracted Bernstein was phenomenal growth in the breakfast business. Trade figures show that while restaurant industry sales overall grew 3.8% between 1977 and 1983, breakfast sales soared 42.5%. Bernstein attributes that growth to the rising number of working women, singles and the trend of executives scheduling business breakfasts in order to get more out of a working day.
LePeep was designed to meet those upscale tastes--tablecloths, flowers at each table and water served with a slice of lemon in individual carafes. Besides deluxe versions of the usual breakfast fare, the menu features "signature" items made with Italian or Mexican sausages, cheeses, fresh mushrooms and vegetables. The highest price on the menu is $5.95.
There are now seven "very profitable" company-owned or franchised LePeep outlets around the country, with about 30 franchised restaurants scheduled to open this year. Bernstein describes his role in the company this way: "I've put all my eggs in one basket--and now I'm franchising the basket."