Company Blog

How do you handle an emergency?

by Adam Zack — September 14, 2022


“I gotta piss!”

Last week I was in Alaska. We were in a smallish raft with a group of other tourists, navigating our way down the Mendenhall River. The beauty of surrounding forest – millions and millions of trees, snow covered mountains, bald eagles nesting – put me in awe of just how beautiful nature is. We were sitting in the very front of the raft, past through some very tepid rapids, when suddenly from behind us this older man exclaims “I gotta piss!”. The guide, who was paddling and steering the raft, looked a little perplexed and told them man that we would be in our destination in about 20 minutes, and could he possibly “hold it”. After all, there are no rest stops or porta-pottys along the river, and besides that, there was no clear beach where we could just row in, let the man disembark and go into the forest to soil some unlucky tree. We continued on, and about 10 minutes later, the man says again “I gotta piss!”. I was thankful that we were in the front of the raft, in case he couldn’t hold it and piss started flowing down the bottom of the raft onto people’s shoes. Luckily, (I think – I didn’t look close) he held on until we landed on shore. It got me thinking about how great leaders ha...

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King Richard

by Adam Zack — September 7, 2022


“A Killer Brownie can only come from Dorothy Lane Market.”

So what’s your nickname? I’ve know Reds over the years that obviously get their name from being a ginger. We’ve talked about Lazy Susan. My dad gave himself the nickname Ace because he was good at most things (but tennis wasn’t one of them). There’s been endless supplies of Shortys, Shiftys, Leftys, Stinkys and Smokys. They got their nicknames from a physical trait or behavior. There’s the obvious ones – Fred is Fredrick, Sam is Samuel, Matt is Matthew. Junior was anyone named after his father. It’s like saying the whole name became just too much work. And there are some that are a real stretch. How did Henry become Hank, John become Jack or Richard become Dick? And seriously, how did Dick become either a part of the male anatomy or a really mean and unpleasant person? No wonder there are no little kids nicknamed Dick anymore and the ones named Richard strictly stick to Rich or Rick. No one wants their kid to be a Dick. Foods you sell and love can differentiate themselves from their generic name by cementing a nickname that no competitor can copy. Seaside Market in Cardiff, CA has sold a million pounds of their marinated tri tip called Cardiff C...

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The Therapist

by Adam Zack — August 31, 2022

“Nothing erases the past. There is repentance, there is atonement and there is forgiveness. That is all, but that is enough.”

A guy walks in to see a therapist. “Let’s talk about your childhood.” says the therapist. “Do I have to relive that again???” thinks the patient. Sound like the start to a promising joke, right? I have a best friend who is a psychologist. A great one. I also have friends that regularly seek therapy as a way to help navigate life and attain a happy, peaceful stability. One thing that seems to be a norm in psychology is the need for the psychologist to dig deep into the patient’s past, reliving and trying to ascertain just what prompted them to seek therapy in the first place. It always seemed to make sense to me. But yesterday, my friend who has sought therapy regularly for several years was explaining how much he loved his new therapist. She’s easy to talk to, has the ability to relate and laugh with him, and most importantly is working with him to focus on the future, helping lead him to a happier, more confident and comfortable life. You can revisit the past – mistakes, happiness, regrets and more, but you can never change it. You can only change the direction of your life trajec...

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by Adam Zack — August 24, 2022


Little decisions – right or wrong, good or bad – have consequences.

Do you believe in Karma? I know I’ve touched on this subject before, but especially “during these unprecedented times”, it seems like everything we do has a consequence. As a young man, I didn’t really care or think about Karma. I did what I wanted, tried to be a good person and lived life like most 20-somethings. So, one day, not long after I got my first job out of college, I went down to the car stereo store (there were lots of those back then) and was shopping for a new stereo with a CD player for my 1986 Volkswagen Jetta. It was a sweet ride, and the first almost-new car I ever had purchased. As I’m shopping for the stereo, a guy comes up and asks me if I want to buy a stereo and speakers for something like 80 bucks. All I had to do was follow him out to his car to check it out. So, I did. And the stereo was cool, and a heck of a deal. In the back of my mind I knew it was too good to be true and probably stolen, but what the hell. I bought it, installed it and loved the sound. Didn’t give it much of a thought after that. I probably bragged about the “great deal” I had got. Such a dope. About a month later, I went out to my car in...
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How can I be of service?

by Adam Zack — August 17, 2022

Fixing immediately implies that something’s broken.

It’s good to help, right? People need our help and it makes us feel good to help them. They say, “Thank you, how can I repay your kindness?” We of course defer and say, “No, no, it was my pleasure to help you.” But deep in the blackboard of our mind a mark is tallied, and they now owe us a debt because of our help. When I first heard this analogy last week, I had to step back and really think about it. I have always wanted to help. It feels really good. But does it make the “helped” feel good? Do they now feel the obligation of owing me one? Something really to ponder. In fact, think of help in terms of The Help. To be referred to as “The Help” immediately conjures up images of a maid, a butler, a driver – some kind of subservient role. No one wants to be referred to as The Help. Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen really nails the subject Helping, Fixing or Serving? I have long had the need to be a fixer. Need advice? I’ll give a solution. Don’t need advice, but just want to talk? I’ll give a solution. Something is not working right? I’ll give a solution. I take great pride in being an answer man. The guy who can fix it all – material or not. But in my newfound understanding, fixing im...
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Not Your Fans

by Adam Zack — August 10, 2022

I look at our customers as ardent fans.

Imagine you are in your store – say your name is Bob and your store is Bob’s Fine Foods. No, wait, that’s too common of a name. Say your name is Elmer and you own Elmer’s Fine Foods. You, Elmer J. Littlebottom III come into your store one day and half of your customers (and even a few of your employees) are wearing Leonard’s Finest Foods t-shirts. What are they even doing in your store, wearing the shirt of your biggest competition? Sure, Leonard is a fine guy, but what the?? Would you find it strange, or would you just be happy your store is full and busy? I look at our grocery customers as our fans. They cheer when we do well, they boo when we fumble, and they treat our store like their home stadium. Of course, most customers who are in Elmer’s (or your store – or any store) aren’t wearing the jersey of the competitor. Most of the time you can’t tell if they are ardent fans or just there because someone gave them free tickets (and vouchers for two free beers and nachos). Just like our most supportive family members, our customers are our biggest fans. They come back season after season rooting for us to do well, happy for the times when we win the World Series and make the playoffs consistently. They appreciate ...
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More on Non-Verbal Communication

by Adam Zack — August 3, 2022


Your tone may not exactly convey what you are trying to say, but it says everything to who you are talking to.

I got some very kind comments on last week’s blog about eye contact and non-verbal communication, and it reminded me of a blog on the same topic from about 5 years ago that I still find relevant. I’ve made some updates.Non-verbal communication trumps the actual words every time. Every single time. Your tone may not exactly convey what you are trying to say, but it says everything to who you are talking to. Someone asks for your help, and you say “Sure, what can I help you with?” Sounds great on paper, right? Roll your eyes and sigh when you say it sounds like you are definitely not in for helping. “Your hair looks great today” sounds like a lovely compliment but say it with an emphasis on Your and a slight smirk on your face and you are just being sarcastic and untruthful. Do it the opposite way: “You’ve put on a couple pounds, haven’t you?” when said with a smile and a sincere handshake is sure to make the other person think “Wait…is he being serious?” You learn tone the hard way as a kid, when your mom said, “Don’t use that tone with me, mister!” and you tried to play semantics and replied “What?? I...
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Physical Communication

by Adam Zack — July 27, 2022


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

“Eye contact during a conversation is vital. It shows attentiveness and interest in what is being said. Eye contact is similar to a conversation; it goes back and forth between those individuals who are engaged in a discussion, dialogue, or chat.”Jody Schulz, University of Michigan studyMany 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 ass, 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 ass, 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 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 ...
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Do Your People Think You’re a Leader?

by Adam Zack — July 20, 2022

“Give them the opportunity to speak what’s on their mind.”

  • John Quincy Adams
My mom sent me this quote last week and of course, when your mom sends you something, you read it closely and think about it. I’ve written ad nauseum about leadership and how important the captain of the boat is to the success of the mission. Your people are your propellers, your rudders, your sails and without them the boat goes nowhere even with the best of captains. It made me think that if any of us leaders asked our crew what they thought of our leadership skills, what would they say? And would they be honest with us? Leadership roles and titles automatically come with some intimidation. Who wants to piss off the boss? Who thinks the boss really doesn’t give a flying frick what they say? John Quincy Adams was president of the United States from 1825-1829. It’s hard to believe that words that are 200 years old can be as relevant today (if not more relevant) than they were then. So take a look around you. Are your actions inspiring your team to become more, or is the boat just floating and drifting aimlessly with the currents?

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Life Advice From Unexpected Sources

by Adam Zack — July 13, 2022

“Give them the opportunity to speak what’s on their mind.”

I was at the Oceanside train station last Friday waiting for my friend Mark to bring me my car keys. I had accidentally given them to him earlier in the day, so had no way to get into my car until he brought them to me. I was sitting on the bench, waiting and observing the characters that always seem to gather around transit centers. As I sat there a homeless woman, pulling her cart of belongings and drinking a 24 ounce Budweiser can came up to me and said matter-of-factly: “FYI, you can drink all that you want as long as you don’t act stupid. In public.” That’s all she said, and she moved on to wherever her journey was taking her next. I thought about her advice, and realized that she had shared a practical wisdom with me that she had probably learned the hard way. The key to her message was “In public.” You can act stupid around friends, who probably expect it from you anyway while you’re drinking all that you want, but once you cross that line in public, you invite a whole heap of trouble. It made me think that every day, or at least every week, we receive some nugget of advice or wisdom from people we would never expect it from. It was a reminder to be a li...
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