Role Models, Mentors & YOU

A long time ago I realized I didn’t have all of the answers. Its not that I didn’t try to have them all or at least give the impression that I had them all.

My Unique Voice

Image courtesy of

This realization led me to looking to others who knew more than me. I found  role models and mentors through books, in the organizations I was a part of and in my own family.

Early on I wanted to be just like those I looked up too. And I do mean “just like them” – I practiced talking like them, wearing the same clothes, listening to the same music, doing my hair like them, watching the same movies and multiple other things. My aspirations became what I saw them succeed at.

None of this was wrong, by seeing how other people “do it” we learn how to “do it”.

Where I missed out though was in developing my own voice. Because I wanted, so much, to be like those I looked up too I spent a lot of time and energy on imitating and becoming a copy. I should have spent that time and energy on discovering my unique gifts, talents and voice.

If we are to grow and mature we must have role models and mentors. Its essential for us to have those in our life that help us push forward, stretch and go beyond what we thought we could. A good role model and mentor helps you discover your uniqueness and equips you to speak with your voice.

Have you discovered your own unique voice? How did you do it?



Authentic In Mission Is a Magnet

People are attracted to others who are authentic – who are the real deal. That same attraction also carries over to brands and organizations that are authentic. When an organization is authentic to their mission others will be attracted to it.

Authentic: Mission

Why do you do what you do? Are you trying to be all things to all people or are you focused on delivering a specific product or service and experience to a specific group? There is an energy that is generated, when we stay true to our mission, that attracts others. When people see us and our organization passionately focused on a specific mission they want to be a part of it.

Staying true to mission drives every part of our organization from product development to hiring people to establishing processes. If you have ever been to a Whole Foods Market you know that everything they do and everyone who works there is committed to their mission. The culture of Whole Foods is soaked with their mission.

If an organization isn’t authentic and true to their mission and purpose their employees, customers and supporters will see it. When this happens trust begins to erode and eventually that shows up through lack of sales and financial engagement leading to the mission and purpose not being fulfilled.

What examples of brand and organizational authenticity have you seen?


Its Never Not Our Department


not my job

Image Credit:

  • Our desk may not be located in the lobby but its our job to make sure the first impression is amazing.
  • Our desk may not reside in the finance department but its our job to be good stewards of our organizations resources.
  • Our desk may not sit in the HR department but its our job to build teams through strong relationships.
  • Our desk may not be located in the customer service department but every customer or potential customer is our responsibility.
  • Our desk may not be located in the bathroom or the break room but its our job to pick up the paper towel off of the floor and empty our lunch container, aka science experiment gone bad, out of the refrigerator.

Our department and our responsibility is wherever and whenever we find ourselves.

Disconnect The Autopilot Switch and Engage

Do you remember the famous 80’s song Mr. Roboto?Mr. Roboto

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,
(Thank you very much oh Mr. Roboto
For doing the jobs that nobody wants to)

The video for the song was a classic on MTV (when MTV played music videos) and featured the lead singer battling and resisting becoming a robot. The premise of the song was that technology was taking over and de-humanizing people. That tune and message of the song hasn’t changed much over the past 30 years as technology has developed at the speed of light. Today, more than ever, it’s easy to let “technology” become the face and sometimes, the heart, of our business.

Have you ever caught yourself in robot mode? Have you found yourself on autopilot when it comes to engaging with and serving your customers? It’s so easy to let the “tasks at hand” consume our thoughts and actions that we forget the most important thing we can and should be doing —providing a wow experience to our customers.

Action Items:

Build an emotional connection by talking about the shared values and mission you have with your customers. Use social media, email and direct mail to tell your story and make the connection.

  1. Social media isn’t just another fad, it’s not fading away and if you haven’t embraced it yet there’s no better time than the present.  Your most satisfied and loyal customers are following you on Facebook and Twitter so make sure the conversation is happening every day. Keep your social media channels loaded with fresh, relevant and fun content. Add pictures, videos and check-in rewards that keep your customers “looking” for “what’s next” from you. Give your customers a reason to like, follow, connect and share.
  2. Email marketing is still a workhorse that produces results. Don’t stop collecting email addresses and building your email list. And don’t just make your emails about promotions. Include testimonies from your customers about how your stores products and service has helped them. Telling the story of changes lives and wow experiences build a stronger and ongoing emotional connection with your customers.
  3. Direct mail is by no means dead. Connected customers respond to direct mail twice as much as customers who are just familiar and satisfied with a retailer.

Don’t succumb to the temptation of putting things on autopilot. Resist Mr. Roboto and let your humanness rise by establishing and maintaining emotional connections with your customer.

The time has come at last, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)
To throw away this mask, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)
Now everyone can see, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)
My true identity

Customer Experience & Root Canals

I recently had the “pleasure” of having my second root canal. Based on the experience of my first root canal I was not looking forward to this one.

My first root canal went something like this. I arrived at the oral surgeons office (a specialist at performing a root canal). Upon my arrival I was greeted by a cold and unfriendly receptionist who pushed the clip board towards me and told me to fill out each box. After waiting 30-40 minutes the doctor arrived at the door to let me know he was ready to see me. He led me to the chair, put the dental bib around me and then told me, “the nerves in your tooth are dead so you won’t need any anesthetic.” I was a lot younger with my first root canal and more naive and didn’t question the professional – I believed him when he said it wouldn’t hurt. Needless to say, as he began to drill there was pain – enough pain for me to grab his hand, pushing it away from my mouth and yelling, “give me a shot!” As you can imagine he wasn’t thrilled with my reaction – he grabbed his needle, jammed it into my mouth and said, “I’ll be back in 15 minutes”. The root canal was a success but the journey was less than pleasurable.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I had my first appointment to determine the need for my second root canal. I arrive to a warm welcome at Dr. Alex Holland’s dentist’s office (a general practitioner, not a specialist). Within 5 minutes of my arrival I’m taken back to the dental chair. The hygienist was very nice, asks why I’ve come in and I explain. From there she takes a couple of x-rays, develops them and gets them to the dentist. 10 minutes later Dr. Holland arrives to discuss my x-rays and what I’ve been experiencing. After a few minutes of talking and Dr. Holland answering several questions (older and wiser I am now) we determine I need a root canal.

Last week I arrived for my root canal and experienced the same warm welcome and prompt escort to the dental chair that I was going to occupy for the next three hours.

Dr. Holland arrived shortly and proceeded to give me a few shots to ensure I would not be feeling anything this time around.

The anesthetic worked just fine and while I had some mild discomfort from keeping my mouth open for a few hours there was no pain around the tooth being worked on. Throughout the procedure Dr. Holland asked how I was doing, if I was experiencing any pain or discomfort and if I needed anything. The root canal was a success and I walked away feeling much better.

So, what does my root canal have to do with customer experience. Here are some of my takeaways.

  1. First impressions matter – we never have the opportunity to make a second first impression. Warm welcomes, happy attitudes and friendly faces set the tone for the rest of the experience.
  2. Respecting others’ time – if you set an appointment with someone be on time, preferably early. Don’t make your customers wait – you are there to serve them so take care of them as quickly as possible.
  3. Communication is key to any relationship and the relationship with your customer is no exception. Listening and responding appropriately secures the relationship. Asking and answering questions will build a strong foundation with your customers.
  4. Take the necessary time to get to know and understand your customers. If you are only about making the quick sale without having the view of a long term relationship don’t expect to be in business too long.
  5. Use the tools and technology that are going to provide a great experience for your customer. In the case of my root canal those tools were a good anesthetic and the most current technological dentistry/root canal instruments.

One last takeaway is in comparing the two doctor’s who performed the procedures. The first one was a specialist who should have had the techniques, tools and technology to offer a superior experience. Whereas my second root canal was performed by someone who is a doctor of general dentistry. There’s a difference in having the tools and knowing how to use them – make sure you connect with people who know how to use the tools and make sure you know how to use the tools and technology.

What’s most important to you when it comes to customer experience?

Leave your comments and experiences below.


Communicating in Crisis

It was reported today that Zappos was hacked and that millions (24 million to be exact) of customers information was stolen. I’ve been a fan and customer of Zappos and CEO Tony Hsieh for several years and will continue to be. Their commitment to their culture and customers is outstanding as documented in multiple blogs, articles and books. So, I’ve been anxious to see how Zappos shipping Zappo’s handles such a significant breach of trust with their customers. Yesterday Tony sent an email to employees and also posted the information on the Zappos’s blog keeping everyone posted on what had and hadn’t happened. One thing I haven’t seen and am wondering about is the absence of communication on the homepage. It will be interesting to see how their communication in the coming days and weeks unfolds.

I heard a speaker make the following quote several years ago – he said, “In the absence of clear communication people will assume the worst.” It doesn’t matter if it’s a hacker, customer service problem, personnel issue or a family matter – if people don’t understand what is happening they will default to assuming the worst that can happen IS happening. The word has been overused the past few years but it does apply in any kind of situation where a crisis or potential crisis is unfolding and that is “transparency”.

As leaders we have to be wise in our communication on any issue. Obviously there are things that can and cannot be shared regarding certain issues but to the degree that we can be, we need to keep people informed and be transparent. This one act alone can maintain trust and protect our businesses, team member and customers.

Have you ever been part of a crisis within in your company? How did you and or your company respond?

Setting Goals Are Really Cool (quote from my 8 year old)

I’m sure you have heard this quote multiple times throughout your life – “from the mouths of babes”. Earlier tonight I was talking with my 8 year old, Judah. He was discussing with me his goals that he filled out in Seth Godin’s Pick Four book (I purchased a copy for each of my kids). As we were talking he said, “I bet a lot of people’s lives have been changed because of this book – because they set goals.” He said, “It’s very cool to set goals and then if you achieve your goals your life will be a lot better.”

I couldn’t have said it better!