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Thank you

by Adam Zack — May 22, 2024

I feel thankful every day for the blessed life that I get the privilege to live.

I have been thinking about gratitude and how we express it in today’s world. When I was a kid my mom would make sure that we wrote thank you notes for gifts we received for birthdays and Christmas. She’d provide the cards and stamps, and usually it was something simple like “Dear Grandma and Grandpa, thank you for the [insert gift name here]. I love it. Love, Adam” I didn’t think of it as a chore (well, maybe sometimes), but more like an essential part of the gift process. Today, handwritten, mailed thank you cards have mostly been replaced by text and emails, or at least a verbal thank you, and sometimes not at all. I really got thinking about the levels of gratitude in January, when my favorite people in the world all gathered together to spend a milestone birthday with me. Eleven people came together to celebrate, some of them coming from very far away. It meant so much to me, that I still get a little bleary eyed at such a humbling experience. I hadn’t written a thank you card in years, but I was so moved by their presence and kind words that I felt it was especially important to tell each of them just how much it meant to me, and to put it in writing. It was necessary for me...
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Taking Proximity for Granted

by Adam Zack — May 15, 2024

Adam

“… show them that you still care after all these years.”

The people we see most often are the ones we take most for granted. The little things that happen every day – from that customer who buys a coffee and a muffin every single morning to your spouse who makes sure your work shirts are clean and looks you over to make sure you have no boogers showing before you head to the store. Proximity and familiarity are the easiest thing to take for granted because they’re, well, they’re just there everyday. Routine becomes part of the landscape and you don’t miss that routine until it’s not there anymore. Just like real listening takes effort and thought, your appreciation level needs a kick in the ass every now and then too. It’s the spouse who one day thinks “I’ve been making his coffee every single day for 20 years and he hasn’t even said thanks for at least five. In fact, when’s the last time he even made me a cup of tea?” And the next thing you know the routine is interrupted because the need for appreciation is not met and you’re left scratching your head saying, “What the hell got into her? What did I do?” It’s very similar with our closest customers – the ones who live across the street and arou...
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The Arrogant Bastard

by Adam Zack — May 7, 2024

Adam

“…enjoy what we work so hard for: Our family, our friends, our personal indulgences.”

“This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth.” – Arrogant Bastard Ale labelIs arrogance ever OK? Is it even ever acceptable? Or understandable? Or relatable? I have always despised arrogance. Remember back in school when the pretty cheerleaders and the football jocks were so “stuck up.” The good looking rich kids who thought their “s*#t didn’t stink.” I’ve met business owners who look away as they shake your hand. People along the way who just think they’re better than you and don’t give two craps about anyone that may be beneath their lofty standards. Then a couple weeks ago we were watching Sportscenter, and I can’t remember exactly who came on – maybe Christian Yelich or James Harden – showing highlights of their amazing ability in their sport. My wife and I got talking about it and how some players (and people in general) are just so smug and how arrogance really is so ugly to her. “Wipe that smug look off your face” is a phrase I am familiar with. As we went back and forth on the...
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Non Verbal Communication/Eye Contact

by Adam Zack — May 1, 2024

Non-verbal communication often says way more about you, or someone else, than what is actually said.

Many years ago I was introduced to the owner of a very prolific wine store. I had always heard that this guy was a full-on a-hole, but I was skeptical that it could be 100% true, as I had great respect for his store and his fantastic employees. As I was introduced I extended my hand to shake his and he barely grasped mine while at the same time looking away, effectively dismissing me as 100% unimportant and forgettable. Turns out he really was an a-hole, but it made an impression on me that I continue to remember to this day: Non-verbal communication often says way more about you, or someone else, than what is actually said.I was reminded of it again several years later when I had a meeting with DW and some new potential customers. “Did you notice that that guy never made eye contact?’ said DW. Eye contact demonstrates interest and sincerity. It shows that you are listening. It relates to honesty. It communicates in ways words can’t. There are many other non-verbal ways that communicate disinterest in a conversation – holding up your hand as if to say “Stop, you have bored me to the limit” or a nice, big yawn or even the circling of your ...
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Customer Service

by Adam Zack — April 24, 2024

Adam

Many people’s definition of great customer service is NOT having bad customer service.

I sat in on a leadership learning course yesterday with a group of six employees and our leadership coach, John Wood. One of the first questions he asked the group was “What’s your definition of outstanding customer service?” The answers varied from very vague, to slightly more specific, however no one gave a detailed response with an example of a great customer service experience. As we discussed the topic further, it dawned on me that many people’s definition of great customer service is NOT having bad customer service. Simple things like opening another checkout lane when the lines get long, smiling and greeting the customer and escorting them to a product when they inquire about where it’s located are now examples of excellent customer service instead of being expected, even required 10 to 20 years ago. In the old school days of retail, you would be remanded, even terminated, if you didn’t perform the basic customer service guidelines your employer set out. Perhaps the past 4+ years have changed our expectations of just what excellent customer service is and we are happy to just not receive indifferent service, but I really believe excellent cus...
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I am calm!

by Adam Zack — April 17, 2024

Winners remain calm under pressure, even when the pressure is intense.

I think I can speak for most of us when I say that we all love being in a state of calmness. There’s no emergencies going on. We’re relaxed, focused and content. Calm is organized, aware and productive. It’s not distracted or interrupted. Calm is not frustrated or impatient. Calm comes after a good night’s sleep and isn’t easily distracted. Winners remain calm under pressure, even when the pressure is intense. We all want to remain calm, and want others around us to do the same.I have learned, however, that staying calm is not a piece of advice that can be easily given. Telling someone to “Just stay calm” or “Calm down”, no matter how calmly you say it, usually has the opposite effect. Responses are usually something along the lines of “Don’t you tell me to calm down! I am calm! YOU calm down!!!!” Calm doesn’t have exclamation points. Ever. So next time you find someone on your team or your family in an obvious non-calm state, the way to get them to calm the F down is how you behave in the situation. Leaders stay chill under pressure, and the team follows.

Read More – B. S.

 ...
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They, them

by Adam Zack — April 10, 2024

They is Me!

What were they thinking? Why are they doing this? Who talks to them? We don’t. It’s like it’s them against us. Those types of comments happen every single day when there’s a communication gap in an organization. Even though I am a store owner, plenty of times I’ve been in a conversation with employees and they say something like “What are they going to do?” And by they, they mean leadership, and that means that They is Me. I’ll often ask the employee “Who are they?” and they’ll respond with something like “You know, you guys.” Especially in times of difficulty and uncertainty, the ‘They-We’ gap widens. It’s great leaders (and great communicators) who in good times and bad have teams that ask questions and make statements in terms of ‘we’ and ‘us’. ‘They’ is the impersonal entity that makes all the decisions for the business, and when things don’t go right, well, they get what they deserve, don’t they?Back in the 50’s there was a horror movie called Them! about giant ants that ate people. Some of you old timers may even have seen it in the theater hoping for a make-out session in the back row of the theater. You definitely didn’t want to mess with T...
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Seth Godin’s Blog

by Adam Zack — April 3, 2024

Adam

Generosity is about others. “How can I help?”

A couple months ago DW sent me a blog from a guy named Seth Godin. I had never heard of him, but I really liked it, so I subscribed to his daily blogs. I can’t imagine writing one every single day, but they are mostly very short, insightful and most of the time really make me think.  Seth has written 39 books, been an entrepreneur, and most importantly is a teacher of common sense, thought provoking business ideas and marketing tips. If your inbox isn’t already too full, you can subscribe to his blog here sethgodin.com  I thought today’s was so relevant that I wanted to share it word for word.Generosity and Fear“Fear is self-focused. Day to day, our fear is about us. What will happen if we give that speech, launch that project, get stuck in traffic, are eaten by an alligator…And generosity is about others. “How can I help?”Jumping in the water to save a struggling swimmer stops us from worrying about how we look in our suit or whether the water is cold. And if you’re worried about the customer instead of your quota, making a sales call is easier too.The key scene at the climax of the Wizard...
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I’m Sorry

by Adam Zack — March 27, 2024

There are three parts to a good amends

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 become 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’m sorry you’re so sensitive” is an insult. I read a lot, and a recent “Ask Amy” advice 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 r...

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Money

by Adam Zack — March 20, 2024

“That all takes money.”

As much as we like to tell ourselves that we work because of our passion for what we do, the real reason we all work is money. It sounds crass, but it’s true. Bills have to be paid. We need to eat. We like to do fun things, drive a car we like, go on vacation occasionally, and provide for our families. That all takes money. Businesses have to be profitable. It all boils down to earning money to pay for everything. There’s a fine line between earning money and recognizing why we do it and letting it overtake everything else. I know a man who prioritizes his money more than anything. More than his family, more than his friends, more than everything else in his life. It struck me as so odd, that this man who is worth at least ten million dollars, lets nearly every conversation lead to the discussion of how much things cost and how he only goes places when he can get a deal. He’s retired, with no commitments and still will only go places when the hotel rates are low or it’s happy hour at the restaurant. He’s not selfish at all, yet it’s evident that money is his first love. I see it and tell myself that if I ever am rich, I won’t be like that. Don’t get me wrong, everyone who works hard for their money should watch ove...
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