balance in relationships

Balance in Relationships

Recently, I was speaking with a woman who shared an experience with a landlord. He was frustrated that she wasn’t contributing more and she was frustrated that he raised her rent. When we talked further, it became clear she had a significantly below market rent. It was clear the landlord was frustrated she didn’t appreciate what he was doing for her. She does a lot of upkeep and provides services that are not normal in a rental relationship. She thinks he may not be aware or appreciate all she does.

These sorts of situations happen all the time in business. Each party feels like they are making significant contributions to the relationship that aren’t appreciated by the other side. Many times, the other party may not even be aware of those contributions. And other times, the contributions aren’t valued because they aren’t needed or wanted. The key to a balanced relationship is understanding the contributions of each party and how those contributions are valued.



For those of us who were alive and old enough to remember, September 11 was a shocking and tragic day. It was one of those moments that 22 years later you remember where you were and what you were doing when the news broke.  Co-workers who were in the towers that day were lucky to make it out. And a close call for a relative of a co-worker who didn’t get on the plane.

More than 5,000 people have died that day and in the years since from health related complications. More have died and been injured in the wars since. Many, many events and changes to life ensued to protect the homeland. Some changes were small, while others have had a permanent impact on life.

Consequential moments in time are worth remembering.

details matter

Getting the details right

The people who designed my house really paid attention to the details. Arches appear throughout the house to divide spaces. They also appear on the doors and above the tv/fireplace. Elements repeat through sinks, faucets, trim and molding, and kitchen cabinets. Same with color schemes and tiles. The attention to detail makes the house feel cohesive.

While people don’t always know why, they notice when details are in place or when they are missing. They feel something is off or that they are getting a complete package. Details matter. They elevate the experience and create an environment where people want to be or create products people want to have.

quality vs customer service

Quality vs. Customer Service

After years and years of buying avocados, I’ve recently had a run of quality issues. Somehow they manage to be spoiled and hard at the same time. So I explained what was going on to the produce manager at the store. She shared that I wasn’t the only one who was having problems and that they would continue to replace them until it was right. Great!

There’s a balance between customer service and quality control in business. If quality is poor, continuing to replace a product can get very expensive.  And frustrating for customers who continue to experience defects. Over the long run, businesses that have quality controls on the front end and customer feedback loops on the backend will eliminate defects and become more profitable.

they don't make them like they used to

They don’t make them like they used to

You know that one box that hangs out long after a move? For me, it was in the garage and had a bunch of old work swag. This weekend, I finally got around to dealing with it. Tucked inside, was a box with a bunch of old pens, pencils and highlighters. They had been there a really, really long time. So, they must be dead, right? But to my surprise, most of them worked like new. They were designed to last.

So many things these days have a short life span. And for some things, that approach makes sense. But other times, customers expect the quality and longevity they think they are paying for. Those that deliver on it will be successful over the long term.

measuring progress

Measuring Progress

My neighbor got a new car. It’s great! And while new, it is designed to resemble the classic model. We were talking about it and she mentioned that her daughter asked what “that” is. Turns out “that” is the hand crank to roll the windows up and down. In the era of push button window openers, she had never seen the hand crank version before.

It’s a reminder whether in business or life, progress happens quickly. But the perspective of how much progress is being made is dependent upon how long the people have been around to see it.

do you have the infrastructure in place for growth?

A lesson from tomatoes on where to invest

I’ve been growing tomatoes for years and am always looking for ways to improve. There are a couple of schools of thought on how to make the vines more productive. One school advocates for cutting off suckers, the energy consuming growth that does not produce fruit. And what I’ve noticed over the years is that if I don’t, the plant does it itself. When the fruit starts growing and ripening, the plant needs to direct the energy there and the suckers die off on their own. It naturally eliminates non-productive parts.

Nature has a way of demonstrating what should happen. In business, we should look every year for non-productive activities, business lines, services, etc. and eliminate them. Things that don’t produce or support growth should not continue to consume energy or investment that is better used elsewhere.

stuck in the middle

Stuck in the Middle

Socks shouldn’t be so hard. But for some reason they are. I guess it is because the sock company decided to have four sizes to fit every size for men and women. And I fall right smack in the middle of two different sizes. One is too small, the other is too big. It didn’t used to be that way. They used to fit perfectly. But now, I’m stuck in the middle with something that doesn’t really work anymore.

And that sort of situation happens all the time in business. The product maybe used to work, but doesn’t anymore. Or, it never really did and people are making due. But there’s some aspect that even with the current issues keeps them there. Until they leave. And that’s the challenge for companies. To find out what isn’t working to get any gaps or deficiencies closed.

understand the product

Understanding the Product

At a recent event, lunch was sandwiches. After an untimely burst appendix while in Turkey, gluten no longer likes me. So, I asked if there was a salad or a gluten free sandwich option. A few minutes later, a gluten free sandwich appeared. And unfortunately, there was a heavy layer of mayo on the bread. Not a big deal with regular bread. But if you’ve ever had gluten free bread, you know it falls apart easily, and especially quickly with sauces and spreads. Which creates a big mess. People who work with the product regularly usually put the condiments on the side for this reason.

A lot of products look alike. And many people believe that the function is the same. But little differences in design can make a huge difference in functionality. The trick in business is understanding the needs of the customer and making sure the product is fit for use.

how current is it?

How current is it?

ChatGPT has been in the news for months now. And it has been incredibly helpful for many people. Writing letters, getting an overview of an industry or a product, summarizing a complex topic. It can do a lot. But it does have a limitation. It’s free database is current through September 2021. As with anything, knowing limitations is important to making decisions with the best information possible.