Andrew McCoy

Freelance Writer

Andrew McCoy is an associate professor in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech. Contact him at

Articles by Andrew McCoy

February 2013
Try not to think of pink elephants. That silly proposition makes us chuckle when we hear it because we know that, as soon as someone says, “pink elephants,” we will unavoidably visualize pink elephants. We think in pictures. Hearing or reading words triggers mental images of what they mean.
December 2012
There’s an old joke about Michelangelo in which he explains how he was able to create his enormous 6-ton, 17-foot-high sculpture of the young, biblical hero David: Michelangelo shrugs his shoulders and confesses, “I just chipped away everything that did not look like David.” READ MORE
October 2012
John Spellman never dreamed the day would come when he would be thought of as a “hot-dog marketeer,” whose down-to-earth business techniques would be touted to the country’s best electrical contractors as ways to improve their service-related efforts and results. READ MORE
August 2012
In 1911, Leon Leonwood Bean (better known to his friends by his initials “L.L.”) stomped in from the chilly Maine weather with cold, aching feet after a long hunting trip. He had a fierce, personal obsession to design and manufacture a more comfortable boot for hunters and outdoorsmen. He dreamed of marketing it across the United States through a mail-order catalog. READ MORE
June 2012
It never fails. Five minutes before the end of the workday on Friday, the phone rings. Just as the last remaining people in the office are ready to rush out the door and head home, a customer calls with an urgent problem requiring immediate assistance from one or more of the electricians who all left work to begin their weekends at least an hour ago. READ MORE
April 2012
“Companies must put their people—not their customers—first,” writes Hal Rosenbluth, CEO of an international travel management company, in his 1992 classic book, “The Customer Comes Second.” At first glance, these words read like heresy against the great body of advertising that, for decades, has ostensibly made a religion out of the primacy of customers and their every concern. READ MORE
February 2012
Mike, an anonymous electrical contractor, is almost to the point where he can laugh about an incident that occurred last summer. However, right after it happened, it felt as though he relived his initial frustration each time the subject came up. READ MORE
December 2011
A good-looking set of year-end financial statements can be a source of pride for an electrical contracting firm. It’s too bad that even the best of those neatly bound booklets blessed by CPAs fail to contain critical indications of where the business may really be headed. READ MORE
October 2011
Two technology entrepreneurs in 1940s Palo Alto, Calif., pioneered a wide-open approach to running their rapidly rising business that became a de facto trademark of its operating style and a darling concept among management gurus. READ MORE