the passion gap

The Passion Gap

At a recent performance, I sat in the audience trying to figure out what was missing. The performance was technically strong, but I wasn’t moved. As each act ended, the audience clapped politely. But there wasn’t a point through the evening where the audience stood and clapped with enthusiasm. It took me a while to put my finger on it. While the performance was technically strong, it lacked passion. And passion is that thing that is the difference between something being fine and being a wow moment.

Having passion in your organization will make the difference between doing just ok and being high-performing. Is passion showing up in your organization? What would it look like if it did?

are your competitors more clever than you?

Are your competitors more clever than you?

It has been an epic battle. The birds vs. me, vying for the strawberries in my in the backyard. And for a while, the birds were winning. Literally eating every single nearly ripe berry before I could pick them. Round one involved placing chicken wire over the patch, secured by stakes. The birds still got under the chicken wire, even if they were slightly too big to fit. So far, I’m winning round two which involves bird netting secured by short stakes. I think they might still be getting a few around the edges.

At every turn, the birds have found a path to what they want. They are clever. And they are singular in their mission to get the strawberries. They are the competition.

And they are very much like competitors in the business world. When competitors are clever and focused, they will push you to up your game to stay competitive. They will force you to work for it. And they will constantly keep you on your toes. That’s why it is important to have good competitors. You’ll have better products and service your customers better.

turn there's nothing I can do into here's how we can

There’s nothing we can do

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into a string of major service issues where you’d least expect it. Things like being in a high end hotel and being told the hotel didn’t have enough staff to service the rooms every day. In each case, when discussing resolutions, the individual said there was nothing they could do about it.

The thing is, there is always something that can be done. The company chooses not to do anything about it. The people aren’t given the tools they need, resources aren’t redeployed appropriately, and front line people aren’t given the authority to make things happen. If you are hearing your people say there is nothing they can do, it is time to figure out how you can. What can you do today to make sure your customers are getting the product or service they expect?

are you taking more time than you need?

Are you taking longer than you need to?

For some time, I’ve been confused about how long it takes to get my hair done. Until recently. She explained that the salon blocks 30 minutes for something that takes 10. And it can’t be adjusted. As a result, she stalls for 20 minutes and begins working in the last 10 minutes of the time block. This approach allows her to end in line with the time blocks.

This type of approach can be found in many organizations. Meetings are scheduled for an hour, so they take an hour. People fill up the time given, rather than taking what is required. Imagine how much time you would free up in your organization if you focused on what is needed rather than the time scheduled.

How are you welcoming your customers?

How are you welcoming your customers?


Over the weekend, I stopped by Ace Hardware to pick up one item. Many times, that is how my shopping at the hardware store goes. I’m working on something need one item, grab it and go. That’s why they caught my attention with something a little different. When the doors opened, I was greeted by the smell of freshly popped popcorn. What a clever way of slowing people down and getting them to spend more time in their store! I was pressed for time and didn’t ask if their sales went up after they started serving popcorn, but I’d guess they did.

What are you doing in your business to create a friendly environment that drives customers to want to spend their time and money with you?

don't make assumptions. you'll be wrong

Don’t make assumptions about your customers. You’ll be wrong

There is a store in town that has succeeded in driving away many of its customers. Rather than getting to know its customers, it would make assumptions about their ability to purchase. The thing is, these customers made significant purchases from other stores. And at times when customers made significant purchases from this store, a portion of their purchase would be stripped away to give to another customer. Over time, customers shared their stories and stopped shopping there.

It’s a pretty extreme case. But there are lessons for everyone:

  • Don’t assume to know what your customers want or what they can afford. Ask them
  • Let your customers know your offerings that are in line with what they want or need
  • If you need to allocate/ration, make sure your customers know that before they purchase. Don’t transact if you aren’t willing to fulfill your sale
  • Customers talk to each other. Make sure what they share is good

Have you taken time recently to assess how well you know what your customers want and their experience? If not, it is time to take a look!

are you stopping things that no longer make sense?

Are you ending things when you should?

Every two years, I head over to the emissions testing center to get tested before I can register my car. It has never failed the test. Last time, I asked the person doing my test if people ever failed. The answer was not a surprise. She said rarely. With the advances in emissions equipment and gasoline formulating, emissions are way down. And the State of Washington recognized this. A very environmentally focused state, Washington decided that the test was no longer needed. So, starting next year, they will no longer require emissions tests.

It was a good lesson in revisiting what is being done and whether it still makes sense in the current environment. Do you look at what you do in your business and stop doing things that are no longer needed? If not, it is time to take a look!

how to piss your customers off for $40 per day

How to piss off your customers for $40 per day

A business took away something highly valued by its customers in attempting to balance the budget. Customers were pissed off and barraged the business with comments about the change. The front line employees got an earful all day for weeks. All to save $40 per day.

When you lose sight of your customers over small dollar amounts to balance a budget, you have bigger problems. Don’t get me wrong, running a business requires balancing customer preferences and the cost of doing business. But taking away something your customers value will get you in trouble every time.

Does yes mean yes?

When Yes Doesn’t Mean Yes

Have you ever walked away from a meeting and thought everyone was in agreement? They said yes. Or so you thought. At some point you realize that yes didn’t mean yes. Sometimes it means: I heard you. Sometimes it means: I’m interested, but I’m not committing right now. Sometimes it means: I’ll wait to see if it gets traction before I jump in. Sometimes it means: I’m just saying yes to move the conversation forward, but I really mean no.

The only way to make sure yes really means yes is to agree to what actions will happen by when, and who is responsible for each action.  People may still reverse their decision, but the probability is lower.

What else are you doing to make sure yes means yes?

hearing vs understanding

Hearing vs. Understanding—A Major Point of Frustration and Conflict in Business

It is a common point of contention in business. One party shares their expectations about how business is conducted. Could be an owner, a lender, a partner, or a customer. The conversation seems like it went well. But then, things don’t go well and frustration increases because it seems the person didn’t hear what was being said.

The problem isn’t that the person didn’t hear. It is usually that they don’t understand what the other meant. They don’t have the same point of reference, so they think things are going well and don’t understand why there is an issue.

The trick is to create a picture that both parties clearly understand to discuss expectations.  Don’t assume the point of reference is the same.

Are you actively working to ensure understanding in your agreements? What else can you do to make sure you are on the same page?

Check out my new book, Leading the High-Performing Company. You’ll find more tips about how to lead your organization to new heights.