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Familiarity Breeds

by Adam Zack — May 5, 2021

The real challenge is to see your familiarity through new eyes.

Most everyone has heard the phrase “Familiarity breeds contempt.” I have to admit, I never really thought about what it meant. I used it, but not correctly. Defined, it means: The more acquainted one becomes with a person, the more one knows about his or her shortcomings and, hence, the easier it is to dislike that person.” Personally, I have found that not to be true. For me, familiarity breeds comfort, trust and mutual caring. But I can see where with some relationships, personal and business, familiarity leads to jealousy, resentment and lack of appreciation – all such negative emotions. So I didn’t even start planning this blog with that in mi...
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Too Nice?

by Adam Zack — April 28, 2021

So gosh darn nice.

Have you ever met someone who is so sincerely nice that it makes you want to be a better person? I was on the train last week and I passed the conductor on the way in. I’ve seen her occasionally, and each time I’m struck with how genuinely kind she is. Every time. In the midst of a pandemic, checking tickets of stressed out commuters and general whackos who ride public transportation, her eyes and her words convey that she is just, well, so gosh darn nice. Even through a mask, her eyes sparkle with a kindness and caring about her passengers. I don’t know her name or any details about her. She doesn’t know my name or anything about me. I say “It’s nice to see you” and I mean it, because the positivity she imparts on me makes me want to be nicer not only to people I care about, but to everyone who crosses my path. It’s like the world is a little bit better because there is one more person who unselfishly appreciates what she has and is thankful for her blessings. So here’s to you train conductor lady. Thank you for inspiring me.

Read More – The Obstacle Is The Way

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Who Cares?

by Adam Zack — April 22, 2021

The level of caring has to be mutual.

Do a lot of people care about you? How do you know? Can you prove it? Of course your spouse cares about you. And your kids do, even if they don’t show it. Your parents do if they are still around. Caring for and about someone is about repeated kindness and unselfishness. There are many people – and I might even put it out there that it’s a majority – who care about you because there’s something in it for them. It’s not a negative as it sounds. Most work relationships and the level of caring present are quid pro quo connections. You work hard for me, I pay you well and give you a place to work that is safe, friendly and consistent. When that work bond changes – whether is employer/employee or co-worker to co-worker, the relationship usually falls off and eventually ends. Family and friend relationships, however, don’t end when employment changes. To grow and flourish, the level of caring has to be mutual. If one thinks that the other doesn’t sincerely care, then we move on to someone who will nourish our basic need to be cared about and loved. So who do you care about? Do they know? Can they prove it?

Read More – Try the Opposite

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Taste is Subjective. Service is not.

by Adam Zack — April 14, 2021

Great service is largely controllable, and largely universally appreciated.

I have a friend who is a bourbon tasting ninja. He’s like the Tom Brady of tasting. A chess grandmaster. Tiger Woods in his prime. Not in terms of the quantity of bourbon that he tastes, it’s his ability to translate all the flavors, scents and sensations into words that once you read them and taste it, make you say “Oh yeah! I get that now. Scents of apples… caramel on the finish!’ Here’s an example of his description of an Elijah Craig 9-year-old Single Barrel Bourbon:Nose: The nose opens with soft baking spices, warm caramel sauce, fudge brownies and fragrant cedar woodPalate: Chunky peanut butter, cinnamon, chocolate chunk cookies and vanilla sweet cream.Finish: A rich finish of Snickers candy bar chased with a shot of cinnamon-spice latte. There is also a small amount of menthol and oak present to give it some depth.Now I know this sounds super geeky. Most of us would say “Tastes like bourbon”. But the point is that tasting is subjective to what the taster perceives and translates. You could steam me some broccoli a...
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Monopoly

by Adam Zack — April 7, 2021

No repercussions

As we emerge from the Pandemic this year, it’s going to be more important than ever to try new ideas and promotions to differentiate your store from all the food options customers have. My favorite part of the game Monopoly is the Get Out of Jail Free card. I could take risks with borderline crazy chances and hunches, and if they didn’t work out and I ended up in the clink I could produce that special card, and voila! No more jail. Not even probation or community service to do! I emerged a free man with a clean record, able to learn from my mistakes and forge ahead exonerated, my record expunged, a twinkle in my eye and an extra bounce in my step. Ah, if only there were such a thing in real life. There isn’t, is there? But wait, I have the power to make things happen and I want my employees to stretch for new ideas, to try different things, to use their creativity and ingenuity to make magic happen for our customers. But you know what? In a lot of companies employees are scared to death to try new creativity. Why? Because the threat of failure looms large and failure is seen by many employees as a jail sentence and they don’t have a get out of jail free card. We even set up the jail analogy by using terms like “probation period...
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The Grudgeholder Revisited

by Adam Zack — March 31, 2021

To grudge or not to grudge, that is the question.

Last week Dennis, one of our vendors who is also a friend, was dropping off some wine. We chatted for a bit and he said he had just seen another one of our vendors, who he used to do business with, in the store. They had parted ways a few years ago because Dennis’ company wanted to go in a different direction. Since that happened, the guy Dennis saw developed deep hatred and animosity towards him. He won’t speak to him and offers nothing but angry gazes when they do see each other. We started talking about how some people can hold a grudge forever and how that grudge is such a burden to carry. The Grudgee, in this case Dennis, goes about his life happy and willing to let the past be the past, while the Grudger holds that big stone of bitterness and the only one he’s hurting with that hatred is himself. We talked about how we both knew people like that. In fact, the last time he and his wife had a big fight was a couple years ago when he told her that she was a grudge holder and she held a grudge against him for saying that. It was funny to me. Life’s too short to let negative emotions have any space next to the positive ones. Move on, cowboy.

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The Perfect Employee?

by Adam Zack — March 24, 2021

The culture of the company comes from the top.

Oh, boy. By my count this is Blog number 300. That’s a lot of rants, reflections, thoughts and stories. So here goes.A friend and employee yesterday asked me if I knew what this week’s blog topic was yet. As a charter member of the “Fly by the Seat of Your Pants Procrastination Club”, I told him I had not decided yet (maybe making it seem like I was deciding between multiple meaningful topics, when actually there were none in the hopper.) He said he thought it should be on The Perfect Employee and what my definition of that would be. Made me think. I started thinking the obvious. A perfect employee is an example to other employees. They are punctual, very friendly, caring, quality focused, follow the rules, don’t complain, are willing to do any task assigned to them, and are balanced in their work and personal life. They value family and know you care about theirs. They have your back and know you have theirs. They are content with their compensation and know you treat them fairly. They treat your products and money like it was their own and are as honest as your most trusted friend. They ask good questions, follow directions to the letter and take great pride in their work. They are happy to work for yo...
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Blah blah blah blah

by Adam Zack — March 17, 2021

Grand plans require bold action.

All you do to me is talk, talk
Talk, talk, talk, talk
 
– Talk Talk (80’s New Wave Band)
We were talking last week about companies that preach a certain positive, proactive culture but never actually implement what they purport to believe in. Action statements and plans that never materialize turn into just talk. Talk is cheap. Anyone can talk a good game. The best of plans and intentions unacted that are repeatedly unacted upon lose any meaningful impact, no matter how good the intentions are. Leadership that constantly talks of a culture and inclusion without actually implementing it into its culture will see its credibility with its employees and customers erode, and in the worst cases lose nearly all credibility. Grand plans require bold action and in the end it is far better to have tried and failed than to simply talk of the grand design and do nothing. 

Read More – Stop Caring What People Think

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Do Unto Others

by Adam Zack — March 10, 2021

We all have a basic human need to feel appreciated.

All healthy relationships must be reciprocal. Sometimes I feel really petty thinking that. Good people do nice things for their family and friends because they want to. Because they love them. And because it makes you feel good to do something you know the other person will appreciate. You’re not doing it because you have a need to be thanked or a motive that if you do something for someone you care about, they will reciprocate with something nice that you will in turn appreciate. You do nice things because you’re nice, and generous. But still, after always being the one to invite friends for dinner, or acknowledge birthdays with cards and gifts, or have a guest visit for a weekend and treat them to every meal and activity, the lack of some kind of reciprocity at some point can get under your skin a little. It doesn’t make you a bad person or less generous, but we all have a basic human need to feel appreciated. Our customer relationships are a good example of reciprocal relationships. They patronize our stores. We give them food and great service, and they give us money and sincere thanks. When that reciprocal relationship gets too one sided – bad food, lousy service, too high prices, the relations...
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Does The Boss Get A Pat On The Back?

by Adam Zack — March 3, 2021

A leader tells you how you’re doing.

My mom made a comment on a recent blog about how important it is to employees to be communicated with and shown appreciation for their work. She said:“The same is true for management that are taken for granted. Just because you are management doesn’t mean you don’t need or want an “atta boy or girl”……….”I thought it was an excellent point. The further up the management ladder you climb, the fewer people there are above you to give you the positive affirmation that you need. It’s more important and relevant than ever for the company president or owner to express appreciation and give those attaboys to upper management. It can’t just be assumed that because they make more money and have more prestigious and important positions in the company that they don’t need that positive interaction with the leader. A boss tells you what to do. A leader tells you how you’re doing.And what about “attaboys” for the owner of the company? Who tells DW he’s doing a great job? Ownership affirmation comes full circle and gratification comes from those employees who are happy at work and love working for the company. The ultimate thank you to ownership is that entry level ...
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