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The Intangibles

by Adam Zack — February 3, 2021

Adam Zack

Here’s to Lori! Thank you for your service!. 

Every company has key employees that are if not irreplaceable, would at least be sorely missed if they were to leave. You have those who may be the heart of the company. The soul. The backbone. The brain. They perform their duties extremely well and the company is more successful because of their dedication, talents and leadership. They may perform duties that no one else wants to do, and do them so well that no one could come close to duplicating them. Some of my favorite employees have been the ones that just take care of business. They don’t ask for help, or even need help. They make *&^$ happen. Their departments run like clockwork and management has one less thing to worry about. Drama free departments are a leader’s dream. But back to the topic: Intangibles and what they bring to the team. Heart, soul, humor, humility. Just yesterday, after 47 years on the job, the payroll administrator for my family’s stores retired. She not only brought humor, friendliness, teamwork and dedication to her job – she was what I consider the kindness of the company. Someone who never once – not even one time – missed processing payroll. She’d plan her vacations around when payroll had t...
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Help Wanted. Requirements: Zero Talent

by Adam Zack — January 27, 2021

Keep the job and succeed.

A lot of employers and a lot of potential employees put too much emphasis on skills they think are necessary to do the job. Experience and skills are, of course, necessary in many jobs. You don’t put a guy who has only ridden a bicycle behind the wheel of a big rig. The balloon guy at the circus doesn’t qualify as an anesthesiologist because he knows how to turn on the helium tank. Cousin Larry, who does wonders with his set of crayons is not automatically qualified to be a graphic designer. In our food business, emphasis on experience for jobs like prep cook, cashier, stock clerk, meat cutter, and customer service supervisor often are given the criteria by store management of experience needed to get the interview for the job. With the labor market still tight and looking to get tighter (and more expensive) – even with Covid layoffs – hiring criteria and the interview process needs to evolve. I recently came across a list that I think gets to the core of what to look for in a great new employee. And none of them require talent, skill or experience. Potential employees who realize these things, and present themselves accordingly, are far more likely to land the job, and more importantly, keep the job and succeed.10 THINGS THAT REQUIRE ZE...
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Inspired

by Adam Zack — January 20, 2021

Adam Zack

Time to get on your side, man.

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 think “If he ca...
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Help

by Adam Zack — January 13, 2021

As leaders, we need to actively ask our teams if they need any help.

Help! I need somebodyHelp! Not just anybodyHelp! You know I need someone                        -John Lennon“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said? asked the boy.‘Help,’ said the horse.‘Asking for help isn’t giving up,’ said the horse. ‘It’s refusing to give up.”Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the HorseWe have become stronger as a team over the past 10 months. All our stores have had to brave a threat that seems to change nearly every day. The challenges we have all faced head on have at times seemed overwhelming. Surrendering has never been an option. Screaming in retreat is not an option. People have to eat, and we have to feed them. Employees need to work, and we are there to pay them. They need to be protected, and we take every step we can think of to be their protectors. As we have stabilized and adjusted to our new normal, we have to realize that there are still many on our teams that may need help, either in what they do for us at their jobs or in their personal lives. As leaders, we need to activel...
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What do you want?

by Adam Zack — January 6, 2021

Adam Zack

Very few leaders get an A in communication

The struggle to effectively and constantly communicate to your employees is very real. It’s ongoing, never ending and increasingly more challenging. As your team matures and new generations are hired, what’s important to them and what you think is important to them move further apart. You haven’t changed, but they sure have, right? The thing that doesn’t change is that employees (from upper management down to courtesy clerks) just want to know what’s going on. What are the goals, programs, changes, initiatives, results and plans? How is the company doing? Are the owners happy with our work? Why are we doing what we’re doing? Very few leaders get an A in communication. I’d say the average is maybe a C-. And it’s not just in the grocery business – it’s everywhere. Recently I came across a list of what employees actually want versus what their bosses think that they want.What Employees Want (Starting with the most important)
  1. Full appreciation for work done
  2. Feeling “in” on things
  3. Sympathetic help on personal problems
  4. Job security
  5. Good wages
  6. Interesting work
  7. Promotion/growth opportunities
  8. Personal loya
    ...
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It was the worst of times, it was the best of times…

by webmaster — December 30, 2020

Every pro was a rookie once.

2020 will certainly be remembered in history as an epic year. Dominated by Covid-19, it also bore riots, radical financial market swings, the most divisive presidential election ever and devastating wildfires. As hard as it’s been and how much we are all ready for it to be over, it has brought out the best in our country’s grocers. Employees smiling through masks while being on the front lines, scrambling to keep shelves stocked and stores safe and innovating to feed America. One of the best things I read this year came in the form of a family update included in the Christmas card from the Stephen Nelson family. Normally those family updates are so boring. “Cousin Earl got new snow shoes. Daughter Bessie got honorable mention in the spelling bee. Brother Mark dislocated his shoulder showing someone where the camel bit him. Blah, blah, blah.” Not the Nelson family update.  Stephen is a young financial professional who is not only raising twin one year-olds with his lovely wife during Covid, but also bought a house and moved and started his own wealth management firm [https://birchwoodcapital.com/] during the year. Three major achievements during any normal year, amplified by a pandemic. Here’...
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Beyond Belief

by Adam Zack — December 22, 2020

Adam Zack

Winning can be inspirational

This is a true story. Every word of it. Since my friend Scott received his new liver at Stanford, we talk nearly every day. We talk about the normal stuff – what we are making for dinner, how the family is doing, what we are watching on TV. You know, boring old friend chit chat. Nothing that is blog worthy, to be certain. He talked about how he has been watching the Hallmark channel a lot and has been super emotional. We joked that maybe he had received his new liver from a female. Hahaha.One of the guys who works for me, Jomel, is most probably the best employee I’ve ever had in my life. Conscientious, grateful, happy, thorough, fast, reliable, friendly, funny, caring and a great family man. And that says a lot, because I have had hundreds of truly great employees over the past 30+ years. We fist bump each other daily, clicking our wedding rings as we do so and saying “solid.” So last week we did our usual routine, and he told me a story that sent chills down my spine. Jomel has a son, Josiah, who recently turned six years old. Josiah was born with a heart defect, and for the first four years of his life had a breathing tube in his throat and had to be transported in a wheelchair. He desperately need...
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Go ahead, make my day

by Adam Zack — December 16, 2020

“I love your store!”

Yesterday I was walking across the parking lot of my grocery store in San Diego and there was an Amazon delivery van parked in the lot. We have an Amazon locker in the store, so there are Amazon drivers dropping off and picking up packages to the locker every day of the week. The driver was standing outside her van, leaning against the open door having a smoke. She saw me and in between puffs of her cigarette said “I love your store.” It was totally unexpected, unsolicited and it made my day. Random words of kindness, appreciation, admiration and caring have that power. It drove me back to my consistent rantings and ravings about the little things that matter most and make the most impact are completely within your control. This smoker had no idea she was making my day (until I told her “You just made my day. Thank you so much.”) People’s days are made unpredictably, without warning and when they least expect it. (And if that’s not saying the same thing three times in a row, I don’t know what is.) They seem to come when they are needed most and carry the ability to relieve stress, distract from worry and provide a sense of peace. We all have the power to be the anti-Clint Eastwood, and go ahead, make someone’s day.

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Nurture vs Nature

by Adam Zack — December 9, 2020

Adam Zack

As leaders, we are tasked with the responsibility of nurturing our employees.

In the documentary movie Three Identical Strangers, identical triplets were separated at birth and adopted by three separate families in New York. None of the adopting families knew that their new baby was one of three triplets, and it was only through a fluke chance that they discovered each other when they were 19 years old. Although they looked exactly the same, they were very different people, and as it turns out, part of an experiment to determine if it is nature or nurture that determines the type of person you ultimately become. It was a very cruel experiment with sad results for the triplets. So despite the cruel experiment, the question remains: Are our basic values of kindness, empathy, generosity, work ethic, honesty and caring learned from our family or were we born with them and they developed as we matured? Most parents strive to instill good traits in their children. No one wants to raise a kid that turns out to be a royal a-hole. Yet there are families with multiple kids, same parenting techniques, where one kid definitely turns out to be that a-hole. As leaders, we are tasked with the responsibility of nurturing our employees to have the basic value...
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To invest, or not to invest, that is the question

by Adam Zack — December 2, 2020

Don’t Stop Investing.

Man, investing is a commitment. It’s sometimes scary and many times risky. It’s expensive and often takes years to recoup. And sometimes you hit the jackpot, and sometimes you lose your shirt. When we were young, my dad always encouraged us to stretch our financial limits to gain assets. He told us that if we wanted to get ahead, we had to take the risk – albeit a reasonable risk with due diligence done. And it’s mostly worked – except for the times we didn’t do our homework and got caught up in things like the tech bubble or things that just seemed too good to be true. Live and learn. Remember and don’t make the same mistakes again. But don’t stop investing. Saving is not investing. Investing in your store, or your future, or your house has a big upside in terms of payback. Saving keeps your money safe, but it does nothing to reward you besides being there when you want to look at it. Like being in miserable relationship but doing nothing about it, even when the cute single girl asks you for coffee, investing in your happiness involves risk and change. Some people have no appetite for investing, and that’s OK. Some of the best people in the world are safe and stable and have a wonderful quality of life. But when it comes to the gro...
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