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The Underappreciated

by Adam Zack — January 5, 2022

Adam

The easiest job in the world is the Amateur Critic.

The easiest job in the world is the Amateur Critic. You know the guy who goes into a restaurant and complains that his water is too cold or that the music’s too loud. He bitches about not enough (or too much) dressing on the salad and that the grill marks on the steak should be perpendicular to the grain of the meat and not parallel. They are frequent Yelpers and feel superior sharing their “experiences”. These types of people next lead into “If this were my restaurant, things would be different around here.” And sometimes the rich ones actually DO buy the restaurant or start their own with the intentions to offer just the right temperature water and perfect amount of dressing with 90 degree parallel grill marks on the steak. They soon find out that there are about 1000 other things that are more important that they didn’t consider and before you know it, there’s an available restaurant space on the market and they have a big tax write off. It’s very similar with food stores. The deli salads have spilled over, the bread section is wiped and for God’s sake why are there only 3 rotisserie chickens in the warmer? The wastebasket in the men’s room is...
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Resolve To Reflect

by Adam Zack — December 29, 2021

Adam

2021 was a very strange year.

It’s the time of year for those New Year’s resolutions. Lose weight, exercise more, drink less, call mom more often, etcetera, etcetera. I was thinking about it because someone asked me what my New Year’s resolutions are going to be. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that instead of resolving to do something, I should instead reflect on what I did right, what I did wrong, and what I learned in 2021. I think about personal relationships, work associations, personal health and happiness and family ties. What did I accomplish that made others (and me in turn) happy and fulfilled? Resolve to keep doing them. What did I do that I regret? Resolve not to do them again. What should I have done differently? Do it differently. 2021 was a very strange year, with new challenges and old responsibilities presenting themselves daily. I’m going to take a long look in my 2021 rearview mirror and focus on the good images I see reflected.

Read More – I Moved To Nowsville

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year?

by Adam Zack — December 22, 2021

The focus in our house is going to be one of gratitude and appreciation.

Just before Thanksgiving a friend was telling me how Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday. More than Christmas, I asked? Yeah, he said, because it didn’t involve the stress and craziness of buying gifts, decorating, making sure everyone is happy and the pressure that came with it. To him Thanksgiving was about family and friends sharing a big meal and, well, just being thankful. As we close in on Christmas, I really have given his opinions some thought. The hosts of Christmas gatherings have the pressure to make sure everyone is happy. Guests have to decide where to go, when to go, who to go with. Lists of gifts and recipients to be fulfilled, who to see, what to cook. Combine that with the hectic and extremely busy season that befalls grocers, and it gets almost overwhelming for some people. I love Christmas, and this year I am going to try and take my friend’s view of Thanksgiving and apply it to Christmas. I’ll be thankful for the friends and family that I do get to see. I’ll take their desire for us to be together on the holiday as a compliment and not an obligation. The focus in our house is going to be one of gratitude and appreciation. I...
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Acquired Taste

by Adam Zack — December 14, 2021

America’s taste continues to evolve.

I have two daughters who will eat (and thoroughly enjoy) foods that go from off-putting to just gross to me. The key phrase is to me. Lamb heart tartare (raw), they love it. Anything made from glands or organs, yum. Anything from the ocean, especially something raw, slimy or weird, delicious! If it’s made from neck bones or pigs feet, it’s consumed. Rocky mountain oysters? Heck ya!! I’m often the butt of jokes for my conservative, non-adventurous tastes, but these girls (actually young women ages 28 and 31 but we always just refer to them as “the girls”) we raised young with McDonald’s as a special treat (DeDonalds!! DeDonalds!!! I can hear the past glee still) and Domino’s pizza a completely acceptable version of Pizza Napolitana. So what happened? I take some of the blame for always cooking and encouraging them to try everything. I give Los Angeles some blame for having such an array of foods from all over the world so easily accessible. But most of the reason is that, especially in today’s world of Instagram food shots and cooking competition shows everywhere, America’s taste has and continues to ...
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Gimme Gimme some credit??

by Adam Zack — December 8, 2021

Wanting credit can go to extremes.

We meet some of the very nicest people in the world in the grocery business.  For every one of the a-holes that complain about every little thing and make us question why we are even in this business, there are at least 10 that would qualify for instant sainthood.  I have a customer at my store in San Diego who would go to the front of the line of potential saints, right in front of my wife’s sister Lorraine and my good friend Mary Cass.  This customer, who wishes to remain anonymous (her name rhymes with ennifer) is not only our #1 customer in terms of dollars spent with us, she’s our #1 in terms of customer satisfaction, expressing appreciation to employees and smiles. You literally say “Can a person really be that nice??”  So yesterday, she was in shopping and she gave my store manager an envelope with $500 cash in it to do “something nice for the employees” on the condition that we not tell any of them who gave the gift, only that it was from a happy customer.  She wanted no credit at all for her kindness and generosity.  When I got home last night and was telling my wife the story during our daily debriefing (which may or may not include some bourbon), we talked about ...
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I Want To Play, Coach

by Adam Zack — December 1, 2021

The key to winning is doing the prep work, which is work.

Mike Krzyzewski (pronounced Shuh-shef-ski, if you can believe that), also known as Coach K, is one of the top college basketball coaches of all time. He has won 5 national championships and has the most wins all-time in NCAA tournament play. He’s in the conversation for greatest coach in history, not too far behind John Wooden, the best ever.  I was listening to him on a radio interview this week, and he made a statement that doesn’t just apply to basketball, or sports, but to our everyday work and even our lives in general. He was talking about his players, and he said that everyone wants to play, but everyone doesn’t want to prepare to play. Preparation is the hard part. Preparation is doing the homework, hitting the gym, eating right, not partying, practicing. The fun, the glory and the adrenaline is all in playing the game, but the key to winning is doing the prep work, which is
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Thankful 2021

by Adam Zack — November 24, 2021

Learning that expectations are judgments and are based in the past and render me blind to the present.

20 months into a pandemic and I’m still thankful every single day. For the blessings, the challenges, the successes and the failures. The stresses, the a-holes, the worry and the uncertainty. There’s a gift in every interaction, and something learned from everything that I screw up and the ones I do right. Thanksgiving Day is one to especially reflect on how truly great we have it in America (and Canada, for you Canucks reading along, you had your day in October). How lucky we are that we can sit down at our computer or look at our emails on our phone and our biggest worry is that our battery might run out of charge soon or your operating system needs an update. We have it good. So as I look forward to Thanksgiving Day with family, friends, food, wine and football, here are 10 things I am especially Thankful for this year.
  1. I continually strive to be a better listener, and have got past the point of being pissed when the person I am talking to doesn’t.
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I Owe, I Owe…

by Adam Zack — November 17, 2021

Adam

They have literally made us a better person.

Pretty much everyone I know hates to be in debt. There are debts like your home mortgage that may take 30 years to pay off. Or credit card debt that you just can’t quite get paid off every month, sometimes because of an unexpected expense and other times because you just weren’t responsible enough to live within your means. I tell young people regularly that one of the best pieces of advice ever given me was from my dad, and that was to get a credit card when I turned 18, use it regularly to build my credit, but to always pay it off EVERY month. It was advice I listened to and has proven to be very valuable. Sometimes we owe a debt to a friend for doing us a favor like helping us move or going out of their way to help us. Those are fuzzy debts that, at least in a reciprocal relationship, are not kept on a tally sheet. We do have debts that we will NEVER be able to repay. All of us, in some way, are indebted to someone who, through their words or actions have made an indelible mark on our lives. They have contributed greatly to our character and who we are as a person. They have given us happiness, a sense of accomplishment, pride, or wisdom. They have literally made us...
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A.W.E.

by Adam Zack — November 10, 2021

And what else?

I got a call last week from the extremely employee focused Bob LaBonne Jr. Bob is the leader of LaBonne’s Markets, a four store chain in Connecticut which specializes in fresh food and exceptional service. How does he consistently maintain that outstanding level of service? He treats his employees with a level of care and respect few can match. So after he read my blog last week, Bob called and wanted to share a tool he had learned and used for helping employees who may be losing their motivation or may be stumbling a little from the level of performance that they have delivered in the past. It’s called A.W.E and stands for And What Else? Say you have an employee that has been with you several years, but recently has been frequently tardy and doesn’t seem to care as much as he used to. The A.W.E technique requires that you call them aside for a meeting to find out what’s wrong. You tell them you noticed that they seem unhappy and that there are performance issues, and ask flat out what might be bothering them. They give you an answer, and you respond “And what else?” Usually another answer wil...
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Getting to Know You

by Adam Zack — November 3, 2021

A reciprocal relationship is satisfying and rewarding for everyone involved.

It’s a very ancient saying,
But a true and honest thought
That if you become a teacher
By your pupils you’ll be taught
As a teacher I’ve been learning
You’ll forgive me if I boast
And I’ve now become an expert
On the subject I like most
Getting to know youGetting to know you
Getting to know all about you
Getting to like you
Getting to hope you like me
– Rogers & Hammerstein from the movie The King and I. Sung by Julie AndrewsI don’t think enough can be said about the most su...
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