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by Adam Zack — May 9, 2018

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Look at it like a first date.

“I’m looking at the man in the mirror….”            – Michael JacksonI got such a good response to last week’s blog that I feel the topic of really looking closely at what we see everyday needs to be probed a little further. I was listening to some comedy from the very funny and sardonic Dan Cummins recently. He talked about seeing himself straight on in the mirror: Looked good, aging well, seem fit. Some time later he saw a side view of himself, and thought “Holy crap! Am I a pregnant woman?” when he saw his gut. He didn’t see it when he was looking straight on. I think it’s something we can all relate to in some way. We look at ourselves in the mirror every day – looking good, aging well, hair mostly there, weight up a little but can’t really tell. Then, through some unexpected view of yourself, like in a hotel with a lot of mirrors or on a security camera or on someone else’s photos, you see yourself not through your own eyes of familiarity, but through the eyes of the rest of the world. Damn, I am going bald! Damn, am I that fat!? Damn, I don’t need to pack my bags because they’re already packed right under my eyes! It’s like last week’s familiarity story: You see ...
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Familiarity Breeds

by Adam Zack — May 2, 2018

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See your familiarity through new eyes.

Most everyone has heard the phrase “Familiarity breeds contempt.”I have to admit, I never really thought about what it meant. I used it, but not correctly. Defined, it means: “The more acquainted one becomes with a person, the more one knows about his or her shortcomings and, hence, the easier it is to dislike that person.” Personally, I have found that not to be true. For me, familiarity breeds comfort, trust and mutual caring. But I can see where with some relationships, personal and business, familiarity leads to jealousy, resentment and lack of appreciation – all such negative emotions. So I didn’t even start planning this blog with that in mind. Not at all. I was thinking how familiarity – seeing the same thing every day, like the entrance to your store, the display cases, the restrooms – breeds blindness. See the same thing every day and you actually stop seeing it. It takes real effort to see your familiarity with new eyes each time. And it’s not easy. I get to see lots of stores, and when I see things like dirty restroom vents, old and faded signs taped up crookedly in storefronts or hand baskets that have a year’s worth of grime on them I first wond...
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The Best Student

by Adam Zack — April 25, 2018

It’s great to do well in school. Your parents are proud.
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It’s more about doing.

You feel good about being on the Dean’s List. You get a big say in what college you attend or what employer you want to work for. You’re well read, and know a lot about a lot of topics. How tall is Mount Everest? 29,029 feet. How deep is the Grand Canyon? 6,000 feet at it’s deepest. Who was the 13th President of the United States? Millard Fillmore, who succeeded Zachary Taylor, who died after getting sick from eating too many cherries. So you hang out with the other smarties, getting good at video games and not so good at going on dates. You’ve learned so much, right? You’re brain is practically bursting with knowledge. Only thing is you haven’t really learned anything. You read the book on how to ride a bike, but you never actually rode one. You read all the self-help books, but haven’t put it into action. Reading all of the grocery trade magazines, going to seminars, participating in share groups and taking trips to see what exciting things other grocers are doing are great – if they are accompanied by action. The smartest people in the business read about and see, but they are more about actually doing. And they are not afraid to fail. ...
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I’d Like To Shake His Hand

by Adam Zack — April 18, 2018

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“Is good enough for you.”

Who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop?
Who put the dip in the dip da dip da dip?
Who was that man?
I’d like to shake his hand.
Every single day you are doing amazing things. You help customers, you take care of your family, you make your boss money, you make your co-workers laugh and most of the time you do a pretty good job of keeping yourself happy. Along the way you have made some huge accomplishments. New grab and go meals were your idea. You built spreadsheets that streamlined ordering. You designed marketing materials that are the best in the industry. You came up with the idea to have store events that draw hundreds of new customers every year. You are teaching a new generation how to be a smart buyer who builds and nourishes relationships. You work 12-hour days, 6 days a week when you need to and your reward is knowing that you do a damn good job. You’re not about ego, so knowing that you deliver results, like always, is good enough for you. Now multiply yourself by thousands. Millions even. All those little procedures, innovations, systems, delicious foods and interesting products come from someone just like you who cared enough and believed in thems...
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by Adam Zack — April 10, 2018

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Yoda-ish zen-like answer.

A 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 thi...
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Important to me. Important to you (not so much)

by Adam Zack — April 3, 2018

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Not a one-size-fits all hat.

On Sunday it was three weeks since I last washed my car, which for me is way too long. Most of the year we wash our cars every week. On Sunday mornings my wife and I drive the cars to the self-wash. We vacuum. I spray, she scrubs, we both dry. I Armor all the tires. Her late father Bob Jones used to say “A clean car just drives better.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s important to me that my car is clean. I just feel better driving it when it is. So on Sunday as I was happily drying it, I thought of how a clean car is just not important to some people. Actually, to a lot of people. A lot of people I know! Even some I’m related to. While I may cringe at trash and crap stuffed in side pockets and glove boxes and empty water bottles and candy wrappers strewn about a dirty car interior with 2 months of street dirt on the floor mats and the place where the dog licked the inside of the window last year, other people couldn’t care less. And when I step off my high horse, I have to be OK with that. In fact, I need to be great with it. It’s not my car. I passed judgment and I am not even a judge! I started thinking in broader terms, especially work terms, how the very best managers and business owners know what is important...
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by Adam Zack — March 28, 2018

He’s been carrying the weight.

We’ve all done some incredibly stupid things. We say things we regret. We do things we wish we could take back. We even think things and catch ourselves trying to wipe that thought from our memory.Golf lets you take a mulligan. Kids games get do-overs. In tennis you get a second serve. Even track and field gives a re-start for jumping the gun. But real life makes you live with your mistakes and if you’re halfway smart you learn from them and not be like hair conditioner – rinse and repeat. But sometimes the gravity of your mistakes weighs very heavily. Guilt, remorse and even grudges seem to become heavier by the day, which turns into weeks and years. You can’t let go. You can’t put it down. You can’t forgive yourself. I was watching the sometimes funny “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” with Jerry Seinfeld yesterday on the train ride home and Jerry’s guest was Michael Richards, the actor who played the iconic Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld. If you don’t know Kramer, Google him now. About 7 years ago Michael was performing stand up comedy in L.A. and was heckled about not being funny. Instead of ignoring it or going with it like good comedians do, he got pissed and called the heckler prob...
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When you absolutely, positively need it ASAP

by Adam Zack — March 21, 2018

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Pick the best ‘great idea’ of the week and make a plan to make it happen next month.

Everyone is just so busy. It seems that especially in the grocery business that constantly something comes up that gets in the way of your To-Do list and what you planned for today gets pushed back to tomorrow.The dominoes fall and your monthly and weekly plan gets screwed. Procrastination, distraction and disorganization don’t help, but it’s the consistency of the unexpected that really mess with our planning. How many times has someone asked you to do something for them and when you ask when they need it by, the answer is “Well, umm, yesterday. But ASAP will have to do.” It’s impossible to put out your best work when you’re rushing to meet a deadline that has passed. The pressure to produce something that is “just fine” and that doesn’t allow for contemplation, review, revision and polishing often produces ho-hum results. And when the CEO wants to know why the promotion was not the success he (or she) envisioned, what do you tell him. “Well, ummm, you know, the deadlines were tight, and, ummm, Tammy didn’t get us the copy until Tuesday, and, ummm, the server went down so we couldn’t check our email, a...
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Do You Hear What I Hear?

by Adam Zack — March 14, 2018

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What’s the response of a good listener?

Listening is my aspiration in life. Not just listening, but good listening. The kind where who I am talking to says “Wow, you’re a really good listener.” That happened to me once, and it was from the lifetime grocery consultant Harold Lloyd. It was a compliment that still makes me feel great a year later. So, as I aspire and listen daily, I started categorizing (not judging) the types of first responders I have been and that we all have been or interact with daily.RESPONDER CATEGORIES1. I KNOW! – The common response to most every statement or comment is countered with “I know!…”, which makes you wonder why you say anything at all since they already know everything.2. I KNOW, BUT… – A close cousin to “I know”, “I know, but …” not only already knows everything, they also need to throw in a big “but” which lets you know that you really don’t know what you’re talking about.3. THE REPEATER – Repeats everything you just said. “The Super Bowl was a really great game!” Response – “The Super Bowl really was a great game!” Kind of like a human echo chamber.4. THE SILENT TYPE – The listener says nothing, or pauses long enough...
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Move it, man

by Adam Zack — March 7, 2018

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Show them the target, and get out of the way.

Has anyone ever told you to just get out of the way? To move it or lose it? It’s almost never well received. It implies that you are impeding progress and are an obstacle to progress. It’s an uncomfortable feeling when you’re in the way. You feel useless and stupid. Strong (and not necessarily in a good way) and powerful bosses often do a great job of making their employees feel like they are in the way. General impatience, arrogance and the fact that they are indeed the boss often make employees feel like they ARE in the way. They become timid and withdraw, resulting in action that only happens with direction from the boss. In reality, it’s the opposite that’s true. The bosses are the ones that need to get out of the way. We need to let our employees exercise their judgment, training and experience to achieve the goals we give them. Show them the target, and get out of the way so that they can shoot. Think of it this way: You have 100 employees that you have goals for. Goals that will help your business, help your customers and help your bottom line. Only problem is, you are standing right in front of the target. They are gun shy – who wants to kill the boss (Ok,...
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