by Adam Zack — January 20, 2021A couple weeks ago I was really struggling for a blog topic. Nothing interesting was coming to mind at all. I looked over my topic list and realized all it was saying to me was “Been there, done that.” So I reached out to DW and explained that I was having writer’s block and asked if he had any if he had any words of wisdom to inspire me. He responded with a one-word email: Inspiration. Not exactly what I was looking for. In fact I thought he was just trying to be funny. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was a Yoda-ish zen-like answer, kind of like “Look within yourself, grasshopper and the answer shall you find.” I thought about what really does inspire me on a daily basis. What am I getting from others around me that motivates me to write a good blog? Or in the bigger picture what inspires me to be a good man, a good dad, a good friend, a good husband, a good leader? I don’t think most of us think about inspiration through most of our daily activities. Once in a while some event will come up – usually someone overcoming some kind of adversity – and we will do something extra or make a change in our life. Like when the one legged man runs a marathon and we think “If he ca...read more
by Adam Zack — January 13, 2021Help! I need somebodyHelp! Not just anybodyHelp! You know I need someone -John Lennon“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said? asked the boy.‘Help,’ said the horse.‘Asking for help isn’t giving up,’ said the horse. ‘It’s refusing to give up.”― Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the HorseWe have become stronger as a team over the past 10 months. All our stores have had to brave a threat that seems to change nearly every day. The challenges we have all faced head on have at times seemed overwhelming. Surrendering has never been an option. Screaming in retreat is not an option. People have to eat, and we have to feed them. Employees need to work, and we are there to pay them. They need to be protected, and we take every step we can think of to be their protectors. As we have stabilized and adjusted to our new normal, we have to realize that there are still many on our teams that may need help, either in what they do for us at their jobs or in their personal lives. As leaders, we need to activel...read more
by Adam Zack — January 6, 2021The struggle to effectively and constantly communicate to your employees is very real. It’s ongoing, never ending and increasingly more challenging. As your team matures and new generations are hired, what’s important to them and what you think is important to them move further apart. You haven’t changed, but they sure have, right? The thing that doesn’t change is that employees (from upper management down to courtesy clerks) just want to know what’s going on. What are the goals, programs, changes, initiatives, results and plans? How is the company doing? Are the owners happy with our work? Why are we doing what we’re doing? Very few leaders get an A in communication. I’d say the average is maybe a C-. And it’s not just in the grocery business – it’s everywhere. Recently I came across a list of what employees actually want versus what their bosses think that they want.What Employees Want (Starting with the most important)
- Full appreciation for work done
- Feeling “in” on things
- Sympathetic help on personal problems
- Job security
- Good wages
- Interesting work
- Promotion/growth opportunities
- Personal loya
by webmaster — December 30, 20202020 will certainly be remembered in history as an epic year. Dominated by Covid-19, it also bore riots, radical financial market swings, the most divisive presidential election ever and devastating wildfires. As hard as it’s been and how much we are all ready for it to be over, it has brought out the best in our country’s grocers. Employees smiling through masks while being on the front lines, scrambling to keep shelves stocked and stores safe and innovating to feed America. One of the best things I read this year came in the form of a family update included in the Christmas card from the Stephen Nelson family. Normally those family updates are so boring. “Cousin Earl got new snow shoes. Daughter Bessie got honorable mention in the spelling bee. Brother Mark dislocated his shoulder showing someone where the camel bit him. Blah, blah, blah.” Not the Nelson family update. Stephen is a young financial professional who is not only raising twin one year-olds with his lovely wife during Covid, but also bought a house and moved and started his own wealth management firm [https://birchwoodcapital.com/] during the year. Three major achievements during any normal year, amplified by a pandemic. Here’...read more
by Adam Zack — December 22, 2020This is a true story. Every word of it. Since my friend Scott received his new liver at Stanford, we talk nearly every day. We talk about the normal stuff – what we are making for dinner, how the family is doing, what we are watching on TV. You know, boring old friend chit chat. Nothing that is blog worthy, to be certain. He talked about how he has been watching the Hallmark channel a lot and has been super emotional. We joked that maybe he had received his new liver from a female. Hahaha.One of the guys who works for me, Jomel, is most probably the best employee I’ve ever had in my life. Conscientious, grateful, happy, thorough, fast, reliable, friendly, funny, caring and a great family man. And that says a lot, because I have had hundreds of truly great employees over the past 30+ years. We fist bump each other daily, clicking our wedding rings as we do so and saying “solid.” So last week we did our usual routine, and he told me a story that sent chills down my spine. Jomel has a son, Josiah, who recently turned six years old. Josiah was born with a heart defect, and for the first four years of his life had a breathing tube in his throat and had to be transported in a wheelchair. He desperately need...read more
by Adam Zack — December 16, 2020Yesterday I was walking across the parking lot of my grocery store in San Diego and there was an Amazon delivery van parked in the lot. We have an Amazon locker in the store, so there are Amazon drivers dropping off and picking up packages to the locker every day of the week. The driver was standing outside her van, leaning against the open door having a smoke. She saw me and in between puffs of her cigarette said “I love your store.” It was totally unexpected, unsolicited and it made my day. Random words of kindness, appreciation, admiration and caring have that power. It drove me back to my consistent rantings and ravings about the little things that matter most and make the most impact are completely within your control. This smoker had no idea she was making my day (until I told her “You just made my day. Thank you so much.”) People’s days are made unpredictably, without warning and when they least expect it. (And if that’s not saying the same thing three times in a row, I don’t know what is.) They seem to come when they are needed most and carry the ability to relieve stress, distract from worry and provide a sense of peace. We all have the power to be the anti-Clint Eastwood, and go ahead, make someone’s day.
by Adam Zack — December 9, 2020In the documentary movie Three Identical Strangers, identical triplets were separated at birth and adopted by three separate families in New York. None of the adopting families knew that their new baby was one of three triplets, and it was only through a fluke chance that they discovered each other when they were 19 years old. Although they looked exactly the same, they were very different people, and as it turns out, part of an experiment to determine if it is nature or nurture that determines the type of person you ultimately become. It was a very cruel experiment with sad results for the triplets. So despite the cruel experiment, the question remains: Are our basic values of kindness, empathy, generosity, work ethic, honesty and caring learned from our family or were we born with them and they developed as we matured? Most parents strive to instill good traits in their children. No one wants to raise a kid that turns out to be a royal a-hole. Yet there are families with multiple kids, same parenting techniques, where one kid definitely turns out to be that a-hole. As leaders, we are tasked with the responsibility of nurturing our employees to have the basic value...read more
by Adam Zack — December 2, 2020Man, investing is a commitment. It’s sometimes scary and many times risky. It’s expensive and often takes years to recoup. And sometimes you hit the jackpot, and sometimes you lose your shirt. When we were young, my dad always encouraged us to stretch our financial limits to gain assets. He told us that if we wanted to get ahead, we had to take the risk – albeit a reasonable risk with due diligence done. And it’s mostly worked – except for the times we didn’t do our homework and got caught up in things like the tech bubble or things that just seemed too good to be true. Live and learn. Remember and don’t make the same mistakes again. But don’t stop investing. Saving is not investing. Investing in your store, or your future, or your house has a big upside in terms of payback. Saving keeps your money safe, but it does nothing to reward you besides being there when you want to look at it. Like being in miserable relationship but doing nothing about it, even when the cute single girl asks you for coffee, investing in your happiness involves risk and change. Some people have no appetite for investing, and that’s OK. Some of the best people in the world are safe and stable and have a wonderful quality of life. But when it comes to the gro...read more
by Adam Zack — November 24, 2020While “Bigger” is better with a lot of things (pay raise, glass of great wine, piece of pie, parade honoring you, discount on your cable bill, muscles from working out, and family), “Bigger” can really be the opposite of better with a lot of things (pay cut, hairy mole on your nose, headache from too many big glasses of wine, pant size needed due to the big piece of pie, and family). At Thanksgiving, especially during this 2020 year of BIG events, it’s important to remember and recognize that it’s not the big things that deserve all the attention. There are some big things that bring happiness and fulfillment to our lives, but it’s the dozens of little things that contribute (some imperceptibly) to our happiness, that if taken away would leave us with a big hole in our lives. It takes some reflection to realize what the little things are because they are the most easily taken for granted.10 Little Things That I Appreciate Most 2020
- The way my wife Linda does so many mundane but necessary chores in our household without complaining, ever.
- How DW always seems to know the right time to say something that makes others feel good, loved and appreciated.