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At Least I’m Consistent

by Adam Zack — August 29, 2018

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Is it time for a closer look?

The word consistent usually brings to mind good thoughts. You naturally think being consistent is a positive trait. Our goal is to be consistent. A consistently good boss, partner, parent, friend. Consistency brings comfort and eliminates doubt. I think of Cal Ripken and his 2,632 consecutive Major League Baseball games played or Steve Nash with his over 90% NBA free throw accuracy. Consistency is a shoe-in. It’s associated with a winner. But what about consistently bad? This weekend my baby brother and his family were in town visiting and he did something – I’m not exactly sure what – maybe pouring me a shot of whiskey at 10:00 a.m. – something like that – and I told him “You’re a bad man!” (We consistently bust each others chops like that) and he said “Hey, at least I’m consistent!” Not that he’s a bad or evil person, not at all. It just made me think about how there are a lot of bad behaviors and performances that are consistently awful. The customer service experience at Walmart and Spirit Airlines comes to mind. Have you ever heard any good comment about either? Consistently you hear “I hate [insert consistently bad company name here]!” Take the time now to...
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Apostrophe

by Adam Zack — August 22, 2018

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It’s the details that matter.

I have been watching the incredible documentary Vietnam by Ken Burns (about 18 hours long, perfect to watch hour by hour on train commutes).I’m almost done, and episode 8 focuses largely on the protests in America over the war and the militant like organized protests of the Nixon administration and the war.  For those of you old enough to remember 1969, you’ll recall the marches of hundreds of thousands of people to show their opposition to the war and how they were largely organized at college campuses across America, especially in New York, Chicago, Berkeley and San Francisco.  For you youngsters who don’t remember Vietnam at all, it’s an enlightening and interesting history lesson.  As an American, I support everyone’s right to peaceful assembly and free speech.  I am a stickler for grammar and the one thing that really stood out to me on the footage of the protest marches shown was the pervasive misuse of the apostrophe on their protest signs.  “Bring home our GI’s!”  “We support our POW’s and MIA’s!”  “Bring our Troop’s home now!”  I mean these were college campus protests, largely supported by the liberal faculty, and they couldn’t get...
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Old’s Cool

by Adam Zack — August 15, 2018

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They have seen good times and bad.

Seems like the millennials get all the attention.Everyone cares what they think, what they eat, what they buy, how much money they make, if they’re happy. The surveys focus on them – “90% of millennials had avocado toast with organic sea salt on it for breakfast in the last 30 days…” Don’t get me wrong, I love the millennials. I work with them, joke with them, am friends with them – heck, I even have a couple of my own. With all that millennial focus what I think has got lost is how the old dudes and broads get overlooked and taken for granted. No one really cares if we get our feelings hurt or what we think of the latest fashion trend. They know we will take care of ourselves. Where I think the old folks – and yes I put myself in that category just by using the word folks – need some appreciation shown is the workplace. People who have been with one company for 20 years or more are often the soul of the business. They have seen good times and bad. They’ve grown up with the company and seen the customers grow up with them too. You see government workers with extreme longevity, but they don’t count in my book. The ones that count are the private sector. They’re the cashiers, buyers, human ...
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Who’s Your Hero?

by Adam Zack — August 7, 2018

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My heroes are my friends that I rely on.

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He’s ordinary
– Foo Fighters When I was a kid my first hero was Batman. I was Halloween batman a few times. I made models of the Batmobile and watched the show religiously. It was especially cool that the actor who played him was Adam West. Not too many other Adams were around in the 60’s and early 70’s. As I got a little older my heroes became sports icons. Franco Harris and Terry Bradshaw from the Steelers. Roman Gabriel of the Rams. Steve Garvey of the Dodgers. Those were guys I aspired to be. I didn’t know much about them personally, but I loved watching them play. When I got into my 20’s I got some more practical heroes. Michel Richard was a French chef with a restaurant in L.A. that was incredible. I went to one of his cooking classes at Bristol Farms and was awed by the simplicity of techniques he used to create deliciousness. Hero. Paul Westerberg was a wild rock and roll game changer for me. A mess most of the time with the excesses of rock and roll, he wrote songs that changed my whole musical outlook on life. Hero. Harold Lloyd had (and still h...
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No, no. Thank YOU

by Adam Zack — August 1, 2018

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Rejection is a tremendous learning opportunity.

We’ve all been rejected. Some more than others, but our journeys are dotted with failures, almosts, woulda-shoulda-couldas, next-times, nos and kiss-off-mans.I’ve touched before on how if you’re not failing at least some of the time you’re not trying hard enough. To get new customers you have to go out of your way to show them how you can meet their needs. You listen, learn and give them what they need to better their lives – through food, business growth, creativity, differentiation and more. You partner with your customers. It’s a long-term commitment to mutual success. And sometimes you’re going to think you know what they need. And they’re not going to agree. You can fervently show them how if they did it one way, they’d be better. If they used a different ingredient, they’d love it. But sometimes even though they ask you for your input, they really don’t want it. Maybe they are just humoring you. Maybe they didn’t like the way your breath smelled. Or maybe you had a stinky butt. Whatever the case, rejection is hard when you do your very best to contribute to their success. But as I have learned over and over again, rejection is a tremendou...
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Lucky, Blessed, a Miracle or It Doesn’t Matter?

by Adam Zack — July 25, 2018

Was I just lucky?

This. Is. A. True. Story.I take the train from near my house to my office 4 or 5 days a week. It’s about an hour train ride each way, but compared to fighting San Diego traffic it’s proven to be a savior. I keep an old 1995 Nissan pickup at the destination train station to drive the 3 miles from the station to the office. I make it a terrible practice to really push the timing to the point that I am often actually running from the car to the train. And I hate running. It’s a bad habit and it’s stressful. I don’t know why I can’t break it. So a couple weeks ago on a Friday afternoon I was running late and threw my briefcase in the back of the truck and sped off towards the station. I got there just as the train was pulling up, locked the truck, grabbed my briefcase and ran for it. I made it with about 15 seconds to spare and was happy to be heading home for the weekend, the truck staying behind in Old Town San Diego until Monday morning. Around Sunday morning I asked my wife if she’d seen my wallet. Nope. I looked in my briefcase in the pocket I usually keep it. Nope. All through the briefcase. Nada. In the drawers and in the other car. No sign of it. Tracing my steps I was convinced that I had left it sitting on the truck seat, and I...
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Who cares about what they think?

by Adam Zack — July 17, 2018

I love comedy. Whenever we need something to watch on TV our fallback is always some standup comedy. Demetri Martin. Tom Segura. Chad Daniels. Old Kevin Hart (not the new stuff – too over produced). Mike Birbiglia. Jim Gaffigan.

We are 100% dependent on the scrutiny of our customers and employees.

Dave Chappelle. The joy that hearty laughter brings is the best. Great comedians are smart. Really smart. I was watching the sometimes funny Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee and Dave Chappelle was Jerry Seinfeld’s guest. In the course of their conversation Dave said “Not caring about the scrutiny of others is the hardest thing to do.” Man, that hit home. And I thought the hardest thing to do was to be a good listener. But truly not caring about what other people are saying about you takes more than just thick skin. I think that you have to be some kind of ass to not care about what other people think. Maybe the truly arrogant couldn’t care less. Or the truly rich. Because especially in the food business we are 100% dependent on the scrutiny of our customers and employees. We are sensitive and competitive by nature and constantly seek feedback and approval. “What do you think?” “How was it?” “How are we doing?” “Did you find every...
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Family First

by Adam Zack — July 9, 2018

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Some view nepotism as taboo that can ruin a business.

I used to know some grocery stores that wouldn’t let two members of the same family work in the same store. I found it kind of odd, since it was a family owned business. The parents were involved with the operations and they had kids who help run the stores. They were successful and really instilled the “family first” philosophy into the business. They worked well together, often vacationed together and were very happy. It was a dynamic that really worked, and a lot had to do with the family bond of watching each other’s back and deep trust. Which is why I found it peculiar that they didn’t see that the same family ties that made them a great team could also be applied to their employees. A great meat department manager may have a relative that possesses the same work ethic. The apple never falls too far from the tree, right? But instead they assumed (incorrectly) that family members would get unfair treatment. Surely the family member would get more favorable schedules, lower standards and lax enforcement of company rules. They might even collude to steal! Instead of seeing how family involvement among the rank and file could make their company stronger, they saw it ...
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The Waiting

by Adam Zack — July 3, 2018

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So much of waiting is a choice.

I get a little sad now every time I hear a Tom Petty song. And it happens a lot, since one of the Pandora stations playing on our store music is Tom Petty radio. I’ve seen Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers more than a dozen times since 1983. We were supposed to see him a month before he died, but the concert was postponed a week due to laryngitis and we couldn’t fly back up. I am a serious fan, but my great friend Mark Lindsey is a Petty scholar. Each new album was “another book in the Bible” delivered live by “God.” We are still both in mourning. My favorite Tom Petty song of all time is The Waiting. The plaintive lyrics and the slow build up from whistful thoughts to rocking conclusion is rock and roll magic. The waiting IS the hardest part of almost everything. Waiting in line. Waiting during the time your lover is away. Waiting for summer to come and waiting for Christmas are all tough. But so much of waiting is a choice. We wait to start a new promotion while we spend weeks and months discussing it. We wait to fire mediocre help in our stores because maybe they’ll get better or maybe the time isn’t right. We wait to introduce new initiatives because we are not organized and efficient enough to get them ...
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Turnover Tells The Tale

by Adam Zack — June 27, 2018

Picture of Adam Zack.

It costs approximately $3,600 to replace one supermarket cashier.

Retail powers the U.S. economy. 29 million people work in the retail business, which represents roughly 20% of the 140 million jobs in America. Retail generates nearly $2.6 trillion in sales.With that much effect on the economy, why is the turnover rate in retail, especially grocery, so high? According to Daily Pay Retention Rates (Dailypay.com) the turnover rate in the grocery industry is 100%. That’s right here with fast-food. Ouch. In fact, according to USA Today, based on eployee reviews some of the worst places to work for in the country are grocery stores. (USA Today Worst Places to Work). Why is that? Poor communication, low wages, poor benefits, boredom and the idea that retail is not a job for educated workers contribute. It’s just not sexy. You work holidays and weekends, early mornings and late nights. Doesn’t sound like much fun on paper. But I think the number one reason that turnover is high is that some of those companies just don’t...
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