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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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Your Signature Story

by Adam Zack — February 10, 2016

Easy peazy

Easy peazy

At every store I visit I ask, “What is your signature item?” In other words, what are you selling that your customers can’t get anywhere else? They talk about, crave it and will make a special trip to your store just to get it. Very seldom is the answer “We don’t have any.” Some answers have been: Our chicken salad. Our marinated tri tip. Our sausage. Our bakery. Our carne asada. Our guacamole. Our pico de gallo sauce. Our cookies. Our soups. Our brownies. Our BBQ. You get the idea, there have been lots, and they are really good products.So yay! Wooo! We have signature items. And even better, they invariably have a great story about how the item was originally created and how it became so popular. Like “My grandma was carrying a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough and she tripped over the cat. The dough flew out of her hands, landed on the counter into a big pile of coconut and macadamia nuts. Having been raised in the depression, she was super frugal and instead of throwing the batch out she made the cookies anyway. They were so good we started baking them at the store and now we can barely keep them in stock.” You go grandma.So then I ask, “How are you identifying these cookies? Do they have...
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You Have A Story To Tell

by Adam Zack — January 28, 2016

Do applicants think like an owner?

Every business has a story to tell.

I just spent the past several hours with the owner of a couple stores in Northern California. They stores focus on super fresh foods, community, locally sourced produce, employees and family. They are very well run and would be my neighborhood store if I lived in the area. One of those places where the owner greets me “Hey Big A, how’s it hanging? Too bad your Chargers sucked it again this week. Maybe they will have better luck in L.A.!” Whereby I could say “F-you pal! You’re Niners aren’t much better.” We could have a laugh and talk about what local farmer had brought in to the produce department today. So why does this particular grocer even need any help from us at DW Green? Because he has stories, LOTS of stories to tell that will differentiate him from the competition. Stories of how he invested in a farm that grows for his store and how he helped plant the crop and brought it to his stores. How a chicken farmer brought him his first air chilled, organic chicken and after he roasted it took all the other chicken out of his store. How he infuses his signature tri-tip roast with a blackened seasoning that is made in such small batches by a little company that ...
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Sharing Is Caring

by Adam Zack — January 21, 2016

Wiskey with ice

Raise a Texas whiskey on the rocks to the independent spirit.

The last three days were spent visiting a great client-partner in San Antonio and attending Harold Lloyd’s (*note, Harold is one of the most ardent supermarket supporters, teachers and consultants in America) M4 marketing share group of some of the very best retailers in the U.S. and Canada. The independent spirit to smack down the dirge of the big chains was proudly obvious. While chain stores nervously try and protect their market share against the independents by forbidding photos in their stores and firmly refusing to share ideas and information, our group of 25 independents went into kind of an obvious 007 not-quite-stealth mode. We were kind of like an amnesiatic 007, with Harold clearly disavowing us as he instructed us on how to take photos discreetly. And as much as the big chains are the Goliath to our David, their large bank accounts and competitive desire to annhilate each other results in some pretty darn good ideas that us independents can use for inspiration and improve on.So we unite as independent bastards. (well, maybe not bastards, but who can’t appreciate the Inglorious Bastards effort against the Nazis? Haven’t seen the m...
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The Greatest Interview Question Ever

by Adam Zack — January 14, 2016

Do applicants think like an owner?

Do applicants think like an owner?

I’ve talked and talked (and written and written) on the importance of treating employees like they really are family, being involved and aware of their lives outside of the store and how doing so will pay huge dividends in terms of employee loyalty, retention and the service they provide your customers. While finding these great people to spread your message of food love and happiness to your customers is not an easy task, it is done by the best grocers consistently and with thought. So how can I help you pick the best applicant among the dozens who may be applying for anything from a courtesy clerk to a store manager? Bob LaBonne Jr, President and CEO of the employee focused LaBonne’s Markets in Connecticut shared a question that is asked during every applicant interview at LaBonne’s. It puts the future (or maybe rejected, depending on the answer…) employee in a position to really consider what great customer service is and gives Bob and his team insight on what this applicant considers to be outstanding service. The question asks what would you do if a customer had a particularly bad experience at your store and how would you make it right. Bob couldn’t have ...
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