Thanks for the support and wonderful feedback from last week’s blog about my buddy Scott who has liver disease. The feedback and, well just the process of putting his difficult journey in writing helped shake him and all (well most, some are still mysteriously silent) of his friends and family into action. A fundraiser was started to help defray his medical costs and the support has brought this gentle giant to tears and humility. While he has lost over 130 lbs, this is not the way you want to lose weight. No one’s thinking “Hey, liver disease is a great way to shed 40% of my body weight! Look at my before and after photos!” We were talking about the importance of thanking everyone who has been so supportive, and the sincerity of the thank you came up. It’s easy to craft a well written thank you to respond to people – some of them total strangers – who willingly give you their hard earned money (especially in these times) and send the same message to everyone. Scott’s words to me: “I started doing thank you notes and I’m trying to make each word personal and not a generic thank you.” That hit me. Not make each note personal, but each word. It really was a reminder from a past b...read more
Sometimes it seems to me like all I can think to write about is leadership and taking care of your people. I forget that before you can make others happy and fulfilled, you have to take care of “yours truly”. This past weekend, my best friend from kindergarten was down visiting. We’ve been friends for 51 years. Yes, I know – old! He has always put everyone around him first. His kids, his parents, his wife, his friends. Selfishness (and self-care) are not in his vocabulary. And now he’s sick with stage 4 non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis. And he’s still trying to take care of everyone else first. It’s maddening and heartbreaking at the same time. It was a real reminder for me to share that you have to take care of yourself. You deserve to be number one sometimes. Whether it’s an extra day off, personal care or just having some alone time with your spouse where you can turn off your phone and do the things that make you happy. It’s what you want your employees to do, so why don’t you? It’s time to remind yourself that if you don’t self-care, who’s going to be around to take care of them?
I read the bi-weekly blog of a young man (wait, that makes him sound like a kid – he’s almost 29 I think) named Stephen Nelson. He’s a Certified Financial Planner and is always looking for insight and ways to learn, improve and share. He’s one of those millennials that’s responsible, kind, inquisitive and a great listener. He’s pretty funny too. Where a lot of millennials have been stereotyped as selfish, entitled and out of touch with reality (some have earned that stereotype, a lot haven’t), Stephen is the opposite.So today as I was pondering just what topic to write about during what seems like week 4,000 of Covid, I got Stephen’s blog and it totally inspired me. You can read his here http://perdiem.blog/theology-of-availability/. Most of you great leaders are not aware of how much weight your attention and the responses you give to employees and customers mean. You’re the president, or the CEO, Upper Management or the owner of a business that employs hundreds of people. You’re a rock star and a VIP. And although you may not see yourself as a celebrity or intimidating figure, to your employees you are the top...read more
Have you been to the beach lately. Dumb question, most people haven’t been anywhere lately. Let me rephrase, have you been to the beach in the last few years? If you have, you would have noticed that about 70% of the beach chairs that beachgoers use are the Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler chairs. And of those millions of Tommy Bahama chairs, 75%+ are purchased from Costco. So how and why did this happen? First let’s start with the product.First, if you’ve ever lugged all your beach crap from the parking lot to your spot on the beach (especially if you have kids!) you will know how convenient it is to have a chair that you can carry on your back. Leaves the other hands free for the cooler and beach bag. Second, it’s a quality made, versatile product. With the cooler pocket, another pocket and arm pockets for your drink or keys or phone, it’s like the Swiss Army knife of beach chairs. Third, it’s a well-known, quality brand and it’s extremely affordable. At the current price of $27.99 at Costco (although some people, not to name names like my brother John Zack bought some online and paid something like $75) it’s a best buy. And then there’s the Tommy Bahama umbrellas. Someone very smart and savvy at Costc...read more
Faith in business dealings is incredibly important
It’s never wrong to do the right thing. Never. You treat people right, with respect, with a caring spirit and good things come your way. My simple definition of karma: What goes around, comes around. I’m not talking that you’ll win the lottery. Or that you’ll always be happy. Or that your life will be problem free. No, faith in doing the right thing means that you don’t have to worry about lies being uncovered. It means that your regrets will be fewer. It means you’ll have a clean conscience. It means that the gossipers have nothing on you. It means that you smile more. Really.Faith in business dealings is incredibly important. It’s not just about maximizing profits, reducing costs and beating the competition. Faith in business is trusting that your clients, vendors and customers share a common belief that when you all do the right thing, success will follow. It results in long term relationships that evolve into mutually caring bonds. And when you care, work becomes less of a job and more of a passion.Especially in times of social uncertainty, your business faith will be tested. Pessimism can yank you by the hair and try to snap your head back. You will question a...read more
There is an art to apologizing. No, I shouldn’t say art, because that implies that with a lot of practice and natural talent, you have got really good at something. Being sorry so often that you have become a professional apologizer is not something you brag about. As essentially good people, we are trying to behave in thoughtful ways that don’t require frequent apologies. But we all screw up. Whether intentional or not, we all do and say things that hurt or offend others. And when we do that, as good people, we need to atone for our transgressions in a meaningful way. Love grows from forgiveness, and true repentance heals both the transgressor and the victim. Where things get sticky, and can result in prolonged grief and bad feelings, is an apology that sounds insincere or is not specific. “Sorry I made you mad” doesn’t quite cut it. I read a lot, and a recent “Ask Amy” column in the newspaper (yes, some people still read the newspaper, but we are a dying breed) addressed making amends:“There are three parts to a good amends: (1) tell them what you did (in other words, take responsibility for the harm); (2) ask them if you left anything out, or if there is anyth...read more
The price for not properly nurturing ideas? No Ideas.
I have a friend who when he has an idea or suggestion that I like and respond with “Great idea!” he will reply “Thank you. Only kind I have.” It’s funny (and mostly true) and I have adopted it on occasion. The look of slight confusion when someone’s “great idea” comment is met with “That’s the only kind I have” is pretty fun to observe. They think “What kind of arrogant answer is that? I was giving a compliment and the response was basically “I know.” Smug answers aside, your response as a leader to good ideas from your team is vitally important. The ability to truly listen, show appreciation, encouragement, and give constructive feedback to ideas that your employees share are what differentiates great leaders from just good managers. The price for not properly nurturing ideas? No ideas. It takes confidence and courage for an employee to present ideas to management and ownership that might change your business. Without the proper response, the response might as well be “There’s no such thing as a bad idea. Until now.”
There’s certain people that I correspond with by email regularly that always take the time to make their email, whether initiated or in response, warm and personal. It’s probably part of their email signature, but ending it with Thanks! Always makes me feel a little more positive. It’s like the verbally spoken “please” and “thank you” – words matter. With email correspondence so frequent, especially in this time of stay-at-home and isolation, the small touches like “Have a great day” or “I really appreciate your help” mean a lot in business relationships. I also correspond a lot with people whose emails convey coldness. One-word answers. Short sentence responses like “I know” or “OK” (or worse yet ; “K”). Maybe I’m the sensitive type and in the minority, but when I get what I call “cold emails”, it always makes me wonder if I did something to piss this person off? Or are they in a bad mood? Or are they just a dick? Your words, both written and verbal, have the ability to enhance your relationships. You cannot tell me you’re too busy to type “Thanks, I appreciate your time” or “Have a great weekend”. No one is that busy where 5 extra seconds is going to ruin your schedule. If you meet in person and at the end of ...read more
So I’m just like you – tired of the pandemic. It’s hard to get inspired to write something grocery applicable and mildly entertaining when all I see and hear is covid-19 and protest related. So I was talking to one of my employees, asking for blog ideas, and he said “Tell one of your stories. I love those.” So I started thinking about the other story that always makes me laugh (Besides the “Mine’s cute, your is kind of fat. She’s not that fat.” story) Growing up with two brothers, there were plenty of jokes played on each other. Matt was the baby, almost 5 years younger than me and Mike, who were just a year apart. He was the “parents’ favorite”. I have always detested brussels sprouts (that smell, how can anyone get past that?) but our parents didn’t, so they were made fairly regularly.At Christmas time, my mom made homemade cookies every year, and her pecan puffs (round, flaky cookie dough with chopped pecans, rolled in powdered sugar) are still the favorite. So Mike and I, bored one afternoon near Christmas, decided to play a joke on Matt and turn one of those leftover brussels sprouts into a faux pecan puff. We rolled it in the powdered sugar over and over u...read more
The last eleven weeks have been an unbelievable combination of stress, exhaustion and opportunity that I’ve ever seen in the grocery business. Let’s start with stress. As the Covid-19 crisis began to develop, the run on grocery shopping was, to put it mildly, out of F-ing control. Never had such huge amounts of staple center store items been depleted so quickly. Innovative minds found ways to find new sources, but some items were un-sourceable. How many times a day did you get asked when the Clorox wipes were coming in and where’s the Charmin? Bosses tried valiantly to keep employees and customers safe, find product, calm fears and still conduct regular operations such as maintenance and repairs. No wonder alcohol consumption went up so much. As the pandemic continued, exhaustion started to set in. Everyday deliveries were large, basket size tripled and physically everyone started to get really tired. On top of that, the mental exhaustion came close to pushing some people (myself definitely included) over the edge. Never have emotions been so close to the surface. Tears were shed by many I know in the grocery business, often. It chokes you up, thinking about this great responsibility. Finally, about week 9 or 10, the r...read more