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Yeah, I know

by Adam Zack — April 27, 2016

Does anyone ever like a know-it-all?

Does anyone ever like a know-it-all?

Listening is one of the greatest attributes that anyone can have. Check out this video: Listen to me! But we are notoriously bad listeners. Pretty much all of us. It takes considerable effort to just shut your trap, be present in the conversation and let the other person finish talking without thinking in advance what you are going to say in response. But that’s a topic for another blog. Besides “ya know”, “ummmm” and “anyway…”, the response that is both dismissive and a put-down at the same time is “Yeah, I know.” And it’s such an automatic response that it’s an excruciatingly hard habit to break. Think of it in context: “I built an end display cross merchandising the new organic oatmeal with these cool new bowls we got in and I think they will really sell well.” “Yeah, I know.” Translated: “You told me something I previously knew, so therefore you wasted my time by telling me something I had, (or pretended to have) prior knowledge of.” Now I know that is not what most people mean when they answer someone’s statement with “I know.”, but when you think about it, isn’t th...
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Their Favorite Team

by Adam Zack — April 20, 2016

Their fans chant Raaiiiddddders!

Their fans chant Raaiiiddddders!

The challenge facing grocers (and pretty much every retailer) today is developing, maintaining and nurturing the emotional connection and relationship with our customers. It’s the combination of everything you stand for and how deeply your customer commits to you. In the book “Firms of Endearment” (Rajendra Sisodia, David Wolfe, Jngdish Sheth) the authors make what I think is the perfect analogy, comparing companies that have a strong emotional connection to your favorite sports team.“What we call a humanistic company is run in such a way that its stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, business partners, society, and many investors – develop an emotional connection with it, an affectionate regard not unlike the way many people feel about their favorite sports teams.”As much as I can’t stand the Raiders or the Yankees, their fans are some of the most loyal around, not just when they win. Think about the Raiders, who haven’t had a season better than 8-8 since 2004! Their fans chant Raaiiiddddders! They wear the hats and shirts and have the stickers on their cars. Yeah, they’re nut jobs, but you have to appreciate their dedication. The Pit...
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Pssst, did you hear….?

by Adam Zack — April 13, 2016

Gossip is everywhere in our culture

Gossip is everywhere in our culture

Come here, you’re not going to believe this! Last night Tim was supposed to take Yolanda out. I know managers aren’t supposed to date employees, but he really likes her. I heard that just before he was going to pick her up – oh, and he was taking her to this super fancy restaurant – she called him and said she couldn’t go because she had to stay in and wash her cat! I hear Tim is super pissed, but Becky in floral told me that he sent – get this – two dozen roses to her house with a fancy card and a box of Godiva chocolates. I heard that she thinks he’s sweet, but she thinks he walks funny and doesn’t like that mole with the hair sticking out of it on his elbow…. I’ll let you know when I hear more!Could be pretty much any store, or any business for that matter. Gossip gone wild is one of the most unproductive, divisive and harmful activities any company can have. But it’s human nature! Everyone does it! I wasn’t hurting anyone! I didn’t tell anyone! I was only listening! So what can you do about it in your store? It is NOT easy, and it takes a commitment from leadership to take a stand against gossip. ...
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Looks Homemade to Me

by Adam Zack — April 6, 2016

Killer Meat Sauce

Killer Meat Sauce

We’ve had several “learning about myself” blogs in a row, and this week it’s time to give you an idea on how you can differentiate your company in the marketplace and profit in the process. One great ways to do this is to create your own unique, “homemade items”. But it’s not just creating something awesome, it’s how you market and sell it. I was in the San Francisco Bay Area a couple months ago visiting the family owned, locally driven Bianchini’s Markets. What really caught my eye were glass jars of Chris’ Homemade Meat Sauce.I asked the store owner Kevin Bianchini about it and he said that Chris is his brother and partner. He makes a killer meat sauce, so they decided to put it in a jar and sell it. What was so great about the idea was how they chose to put it in a glass jar (pint and quart). It communicates quality, history, family and uniqueness. If they were conventional thinking, they would have put it in a plastic container like everyone uses in the deli. Much cheaper, the empty containers take up much less space and it’s easier. I’m so glad they didn’t. It’s a winner of an idea that I saw repeated again in Los Angeles at natural foods grocer Erewhon. Only they did it with soups. They had a lar...
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When Right Is Wrong

by Adam Zack — March 30, 2016

The Zack Curse

The Zack Curse

All humans have the desire to be right. After all, the opposite of right is wrong, and who wants to be wrong? In some the need to be right is strong. Make that overwhelming. Obsessive. Mandatory. Worth fighting over. My genetics put me into that camp. We have to be right and absolutely loathe being wrong. We will go any lengths to prove that we are right, and make damn sure the other person knew we were right. It’s caused arguments and I’m sure has resulted in hard feelings, even grudges. We even gave it a name: The Zack Curse. We liken it to winning, and the opposite of winning is losing, and there’s no gratification in losing. Until very recently (like two weeks ago), I just went with it. I was right, and that was the way that God made me. Right? Nope.Through The Heart of Leadership I learned: You can shift your perception of the world by giving up your addiction to being right. Separate the facts from interpretation and wipe the smug look of self-satisfaction off your face. I learned that there is a cost to being right, and that cost is the negative feelings and emotional toll it inflicts on others. I may still have the drive to be accurate. To be correct. To want to achieve the truth. But it’s not...
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Multitasking Failure

by Adam Zack — March 23, 2016

Multitasking is not a positive trait for a great leader

Multitasking is not a positive trait for a great leader

I always thought multitasking was a positive thing. I’m so good I can read emails, talk on the phone and clip my nails at the same time. I can feed the dog, watch TV and bake cookies all at once. I can drive and text and listen to music while also scratching that itch on my foot. It’s a great thing to be able to do multiple things at once, right? It’s efficiency. It saves time. And it’s never boring, right? About six months ago I was going through emails and talking to DW at the same time. Somehow it came up in the conversation that I was multitasking. Wasn’t I a good employee, being able to do several things at once! He stated that he wasn’t a fan of multitasking. I didn’t understand why, nor was I present enough in the conversation to ask, but it did stick with me.It wasn’t until last week at the Heart of Leadership conference that I finally learned why multitasking is not a positive trait for a great leader. The instructor pointed out that when you are doing multiple things at once, nothing gets 100%. In fact, it’s impossible. I can’t be a good listener if I am doing something else. I can’t effectivel...
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Stand Taking

by DW Green — March 16, 2016

What is the commitment I am?

What is the commitment I am?

Two of our associates are attending Amba Gale’s Heart of Leadership workshop in Seattle this week. One of the exercises they will be participating in is called stand taking. What do I stand for? What is the commitment I am? (for myself, my organization, my company, my co-workers, my customers, my family, or any area of concern in my life) The power of stand taking happens when you announce out loud to others, what you stand for. I suspect blogging about one’s stands can be as powerful. Here are a few of my stands:
  • I stand for love and personal growth in my shared spaces.
  • I stand for creating a powerful, empowering, collaborative workplace based on love, mutual respect and accountability where team members are encouraged to be themselves and make a difference in their world.
  • I stand for creating innovative products and services that genuinely differentiate our clients in their market space…products and services that benefit their financial bottom line.
      
  • I stand for business relationships that are based on trust, mutual respect, collaboration and meaningful dialogue.
Stand taking is an ongoing process. ...
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You Got Schooled

by Adam Zack — March 9, 2016

Reap the rewards

Reap the rewards

Sometimes I wish I was back in school. From nap time during kindergarten (and who wouldn’t pay now to have to take a nap every day?!) to creative writing and your first crush in middle school to lifelong friends that you made in high school and keggers in college. School was the best. Oh, and the learning part, that was a pretty great benefit. And while a lot of people claim to have hated school, it literally laid the groundwork for everything we know. And then one day it stops. Stops cold. And you’re pretty damn happy to not have to write term papers and cram for calculus finals and you actually do work that pays you money instead of costing you.In our beloved grocery industry the formal education and training for the vast majority of employees stops after orientation. The reasons (or excuses) that retailers use for not educating their employees further are: 1. Too expensive. 2. Can’t spare them out of the department. 3. The school of hard knocks is all the further education they need. 4. What education? 5. Too expensive. But the really great companies – those with the lowest turnover and highest employee satisfaction treat continued education of employees as an investment. An i...
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Do They Like You? Does It Matter?

by Adam Zack — March 2, 2016

Like and respect go hand in hand

Like and respect go hand in hand

At one time or another we have all had bosses that we think are total a-holes. The type that manages through intimidation and fear and consider employees as servants who are lucky to be getting paid to do their menial job. This was much more prevalent in past decades, but unfortunately it’s still around today. Now, you are much more likely to have one that because of stress and business pressures just seems to be in a bad mood all the time. They don’t smile, seem too busy to care about employees’ personal situations and are just not pleasant to be around. Their job title may get respect, but do they as a person?Does an effective leader have to be liked by the majority of his or her employees to get the efficiency, honesty and customer service that is necessary to keep sales and profits humming? Certainly there are examples of prodigious leaders that were ball busters but wildly successful, such as Jack Welch and Steve Jobs. But they were also geniuses. And just what does it take to make employees like you? Is it because you give them all they want and more? Because you stand around and joke and tell stories with them all day? Of course not. It’s ridiculous that I eve...
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A Lesson From The Pope

by Adam Zack — February 17, 2016

A very shrewd negotiator

A very shrewd negotiator

One of my mentors during my “I don’t know crap but I need to learn a lot quick” years was the owner and publisher of Palm Springs Life magazine (as well lots of other magazines and an advertising agency). His name was Milt Jones and we affectionately called him The Pope because he seemed to know everyone and everything about Palm Springs. He was a very shrewd negotiator, held strong beliefs on what was right and wrong and gave back to his beloved Palm Springs continually. He was immensely successful, drove a light blue 1957 Thunderbird that he bought new off the lot and taught me that it was OK to bring a bottle of wine to lunch, as long as it was something really good. He gave great advice on business and like DW, considered himself successful if you succeeded.But no, this is not just a sentimental memorial. He died almost two years ago. He did give me a piece of advice that has always stuck with me, and I think it will give you pause, too. He told me: “When you are negotiating, always leave something on the table. When you take everything, no one wants to do business with you.” Every day we see ourselves, or people we do business with, constantly grinding to get the “...
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