don’t wish it were easier

It seems like every time we start to get caught up, something happens. If only we could get a good year or two, then we could get ahead.” I’ve heard statements like this from several leaders recently. Although I understand and empathize with the uncertainty and pain and fear they are wrestling with, I am left thinking, “so what?”

Worrying about all the outside factors causing me to lose will ultimately cause me to lose for several reasons:

1. “If onlys…” are a distraction. It’s a drain to put time, emotion, and energy into worrying about things I can’t control, or even influence. The economy, conflicts around the world, the government, the weather, changing social norms, shifting demographics, etc. are what they are. If I can change it, change it. If I can influence it, influence it. Otherwise, I can only accept it and move on OR focus on what I need to change about myself to better deal with the circumstances.

2. Regardless of where I am today, this is the only starting point I have. Things are not going to suddenly be different and the world doesn’t owe me anything. That said, I have easy access to clean water, food, shelter, medical care, and transportation. I can call up an aeon’s worth of information instantly and communicate globally on my computer. There is due process of law, minimal corruption, free education, guaranteed human rights and individual freedoms, and a democratic system that seems to work ok. People tell me how miserable the economy is, but someone is buying all those smart phones and tablet computers. Perfect? Not a bit. But I don’t have to look back too far in time or too far across a map to realize just how good I (and anyone reading this) have it. Life may get scary, uncertain, and overwhelming, but if I had to choose a place and time to be at today, I could do much, much worse.

3. If the world were easier for me it would also be easier for my competition so I wouldn’t be any further ahead. Sure, it’s easier to run downhill, but if we’re all running downhill, so what?. If you’ve ever been an endurance athlete, there is a state of mind where you take solace in knowing that if it’s difficult for you and you’re hurting, it’s at least as bad for your competition. Some even see the difficulty as a source of competitive advantage and look forward to the brutal courses and bad weather. They know that many of their competition will have mentally given up even before the start. So, as I look at my life, career, and business today, I can join in all the worry and complaining or I can accept that it’s difficult, appreciate the challenge, and smile every time I hear leaders from other companies complain because I know they are believing their own excuses and mentally handing the race to me. The worse they think they have it, the easier they make it for me.

4. I can complain about the challenges, situations, and general state of life OR I can figure out who I need to be and the skills I need to develop to get where I want to go GIVEN the challenges, situations, and general state of life.

I’m going to wrap up today with my favorite quote from Jim Rohn:

Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges; wish for more wisdom. 

Your thoughts?

the future-now of work: a review of “Culture Shock: A Handbook for 21st Century Business”

This book is Will McInnes’ (@willmcinnes) invitation to make a difference in your organization and change the world. He extends a hand and asks you to join him in considering what business could be, should be, and – in several cases – already is. This is the future-now of business and work.

I am fascinated with the humanness of business. I like business and I believe that business is people and people are business. Humans – and humans alone – create business results. It seems so obvious, but gets overlooked, ignored, and dismissed in the forever pursuit of the short-term shortcut. We remove humanness thinking it will create greater results. Instead it creates disconnects between people and their contributions; it chokes off engagement. What if work had purpose and meaning? What if it were different? That’s this book.


Imagine if your business was driven by a “purpose of significance”. What would work look like if your business wanted to do great things beyond cut its own throat to make a quick dollar for shareholders? It works for Patagonia, Noma, Grameen, and of course Apple and Google. Purpose sounds all gooey new agey soft but it is simply the “why” your business exists.

What if your organization was more democratic and got more input from more of the right people? What if we could (finally!) ditch or at least minimize the hierarchy and move decisions from a narrow few to a broader many? Interestingly, this is a no brainer method for running a country, yet freakishly terrifying to many as a way to run a business. So much of this “new” way of doing business that Will describes underscores the idea that we have to give up control to get influence because, ultimately, influence has far greater reach and power than control. If we move past the idea that we have to control and create every good idea, we are able to tap into a much broader and deeper pool of ideas, insight, and perspective.

Progressive Business

If it’s true that “the customer experience will never exceed the employee experience” (and I believe it is) then the most competitively rational actions a business could take would be to radically bolster the employee experience. Yet, what tends to happen? Businesses strive to gain an advantage by cutting, narrowing, dehumanizing. It’s as though they are saying, “We’ll gain new business and create customer loyalty by doing everything in our power to ensure that they are served by the most unsupported, undertrained, worried, demotivated, disconnected, disengaged, and uncaring workforce we can possibly create.” Lunacy.

What if – play along with me here – we did the opposite and created a workforce that was supported, well trained, secure, fired up, passionate, and cared about creating great results for their customers, co-workers, and company? Nah, that’s too crazy. Or is it?

Having Fun With Humanness

Zappos is a tremendously celebrated and studied company. They are at the heart of a huge number of articles and case studies of how they do business differently and get different (better!) results. Yet for all their fame, glory, notoriety, and profits, how many businesses have really tried to emulate them? It’s like we all cheer them and then say, “But, it’ll never work at my company.”

But what if it could? The point isn’t to be just like Zappos, Apple, etc., etc.; the point is to find ways to celebrate and inspire humanness, personality, meaning, fun, authenticity, and transparency. How much time and energy get wasted keeping up corporate appearances?

Will shares some stories and principles from Zappos, W. L. Gore, and his own company, NixonMcInnes. Some of my favorites are:

  • Zappos’ Culture Book, which is “a ‘collage of unedited submissions from employees’, that gives every employee the opportunity to say what they feel and think about the company.” That level of transparency takes massive courage, but what a great tool for building and celebrating people and culture.
  • Zappos’ Reply-All Hat. This is basically a dunce hat for those who accidently hit “reply all” when responding to an email. We’ve all done it. It’s embarrassing. Why not have some fun with it?
  • W. L. Gore’s small facilities. They discovered early on that when a facility gets above 200 – 250 people, the communication, relationships, innovation, engagement, etc. suffers. To counter this, they keep their plant size small and will build a new facility whenever their current facilities are getting too many people. What? Does this mean that relationships and people are important to business success? Is that business blasphemy or just a pretty basic understanding of the intersection of people and work?
  • NixonMcInnes’ Church of Fail. This is a ritual designed to acknowledge mistakes, bring them out in the open, and learn from them. It also helps people get comfortable with the idea of failure (a tip: there is no innovation without failure) and serves as a reminder that everyone in the company has setbacks. Rather than covering them up, drag them out and let everyone benefit from them.
  • NixonMcInnes’ Happy Buckets! I love this idea for its simplicity. They measure employee happiness every day using three buckets and tennis balls (even your budget can afford this). At the start of the day there is a full bucket of balls and empty Happy and Unhappy buckets. On the way out of the office at the end of the day, employees grab a ball and put in in the bucket that best sums up their day. The results are tracked and used as reference point for discussions. Again, a simple act that creates greater transparency and provides information for leading and managing.

So What’s it Going to Take?

Better leadership, yo. That’s what it’s going to take. Your people won’t be able to change business if you aren’t making it ok by setting the example and leading the charge.

How authentic and transparent are you willing to be as a leader? How open are you to the feedback that will help you develop yourself and others?

Are you willing to do a 360-degree survey to get feedback from those around you?(Will shows you how he does it for almost no cost. Use the money you save to buy some buckets and tennis balls).

Are you willing to share your setbacks and failures? Will you be first in line at the Church of Fail?

Are you willing to be emotionally congruent and share how you are feeling? (Gasp! A leader with emotions!)

Are you willing to use new/social technology to improve your results by gaining information and acting and deciding closer to real time, without the lags and delays that happen when leadership is isolated from the front line?

Organizational Openness

This is a big subject in the future-now of work and it is simply continuing the trend of authenticity and transparency; of giving up control to gain greater influence (and results). Some quick examples:

Culture: do people have access to almost all information (e.g., financial data), is there honest and direct communication and collaboration, are silos and info hoarding unheard of?

Work Environment: are workspaces set up to allow easy collaboration, are people allowed to choose the technology best for their job (or are they stuck with one option that works marginally well for everyone), is IT a gate keeper or a work enabler?

Innovation: do all great ideas come from just a few people or are ideas crowdsourced from employees, customers, and maybe even competitors?

Marketing & Communication: Can your organization come to grips with the idea that marketing is now two-way and they can no longer control – only influence – the message? Would your company be willing to post an unedited Twitter/Facebook feed of ALL comments made about the company on the front page of the website?

Change Velocity

How fast is change happening? [answer: very, very, exponentially very fast].

How fast can your company change? A better question: how fast can you change? Does it matter if there is an ever-widening gap between you, the company, and your customers/the world. [answer: uh, yeah, it does. A lot.]

At a time when continued success is dependent on your ability to effectively change, I’m reminded of the old quip: some people make things happen, some people watch things happen, and some people ask, “What happened?”

Will describes eight areas that affect your company’s change velocity and what you can do to pick up the pace in each area. This section will only be important to you if you ever do any planning, hiring/firing, rewards, need to deal with structures/processes/systems, or want to create attitudes that support change…

Anything Else?

Just sections on digital strategies and fair finances. I won’t go into detail here because I’m sure your org already practices open book accounting, fair (and open) rewards,  collective budgeting, employee ownership, etc. etc. Yawn, right? All old hat stuff that everyone does…

Oh wait, you mean salaries aren’t known in your company? Financials aren’t published (and your employees couldn’t read them even if they were)? Hmmm…


My conclusion: I loved it and you should read it. But then, I’m biased. I was already sold on some of the concepts Will presents. He does a great job fleshing them out and expanding them and introducing me to companies where the ideas are actually in use. It’s a well written book with plenty of case studies and examples from current organizations, including his own.

This book inspires me, makes me a little relieved to find others thinking this way, and also torques me off to no end that this is the future-now of business and the world hasn’t arrived yet. The promise is there; the reality is slower in coming. But that’s actually good news – the businesses that make the shift to being human, authentic, and transparent will (in my less than humble opinion) gain significant advantages. BUT, in some ways these advantages can’t/won’t be measured directly with our current measures (where does “humanness” show up on the balance sheet?) This isn’t bad, but it is important to be aware of: if we’re shifting how we think about work and business we also need to shift how we are measuring and evaluating it.

All of this involves a big leap of faith. Consider the knights in shining armor: they were very well protected from swords and arrows. The weight of the armor slowed them down, but they were heavily defended from enemies. Then gunpowder came along and suddenly all that armor was a hindrance. The competitive advantage that had existed on the battlefield for years and years and years was suddenly a sitting-duck-route-to-failure. The rules for success changed completely and it was actually safer to be significantly less protected but much, much more nimble by wearing no armor. It’s obvious in retrospect, but I suspect that was still a tough decision to take the leap, give up the known safety, and shed the protection, despite the “knowledge” that it might be better to not have it.

How many businesses are at that decision chasm today? Being big, armored, controlled, and locked down – protected by layers of armor – was crucial to success not that long ago. The world has now changed and that protection now looks dangerous, counterproductive, and useless against the future-now of business.

punk rock HR worksluts

I’ve got punk rock and HR on the brain this week, so let’s build on it. A little while back, Laurie Ruettimann over at The Cynical Girl ran a great post on 5 Lessons from Henry Rollins. Tons of great stuff in there (go read it!), but the lesson that really stuck with me was “Don’t be a workaholic, be a workslut.”

As Laurie says:

Henry Rollins works hard, but he doesn’t have one job that defines him. He speaks, he writes and he plays music. He works in media, he travels and he volunteers. He doesn’t say no to opportunities that can lead to more opportunities. What’s the alternative? Sit at home and let your muscles (and your brain) atrophy?

I love this. As a jack of all trades with too many interests and too short of attention span, I’ve struggled with being defined by one job, one category, one field. How freeing to open things up and embrace it all!

We tend to over-define ourselves through our jobs and under-define ourselves through our interests and passions. Remember, there is no such thing as work/life balance. There is only Life and work is but one (significant) component of it. Every aspect of our life is a potential outlet for our passions and interests.

Some (including me) will point out there are opportunity costs to everything you say “yes” to so you need to be selective. Absolutely. But how much fun is it to be engaged it things that really jazz you. Being too focused on any one thing creates burnout – you tire of it. Slipping back and forth between interests builds stimulation and ideas and recharges. Exercise provides a great example: if you only do one exercise you set yourself up for injury, boredom, lack of interest, and diminishing returns. But if you keep changing it up, the routine stays fresh, challenging, invigorating, and your results don’t plateau.

My 11 year old daughter recently demonstrated all this beautifully (and made me feel like a no talent slacker). The world will need to step it up in a big way if we’re going to keep up with her. I recently mentioned that she wrote a short book for National Novel Writing Month last year and she’s back at it for this year. Saturday morning, I got up at 6:30 and she was already typing away before she had to get ready to compete in a horse show where she won High Point for the day and the season before leaving to go do a final evening performance in a school play (where she also sold several copies of her book to other kids) before coming home and getting in trouble for staying up too late working on the new book. Start to finish, it was a 16+ hour day of focused effort. An unusually long day for her, but a great demonstration of how to be successful in several arenas without becoming overly defined by any one.

What do I take from my daughter, Henry Rollins, and Laurie’s insights?

1. Passion is the heart to motivation. I could never-in-a-million-years get anyone to put forth the effort my daughter does willingly and without a paycheck.

2. Having several interests is good. Over-commitment is a real risk, but mixing it up keeps the spark alive. When we’re tiring of one thing we can fluidly shift to another. Also, creativity, innovation, and inspiration are ignited when we pull disparate concepts together (some refer to this as being at the intersections of ideas). From my experience, the most innovative people have wide ranging interests and experiences to pull from.

3. There is a huge difference between saying yes to all things asked of you and saying yes to the things that excite you. The first prevents you from doing the things you’re passionate about; the second keeps you focused on them.

4. You never know where the opportunity is going to come from. Pour enough passionate effort into the world and it will come back – even if it’s not from where you expect it. Name one other punk with Henry Rollins’ longevity, credibility, and vibrancy.

5. Define yourself before the world does it for you. Authenticity is a doubled edged sword, but a key advantage when used well. When we allow others to define us by their narrow perspective of who they think we are, we get typecast and stuck. Look at all the musicians, writers, and actors unable to move beyond their past success. They are damned to recreate the past over and over and over.

6. All work and no play is no good at all. But when we can hit the sweet spot of working really stinkin’ hard on “play” – our areas of passion – really amazing things can happen. I use the phrase “play bigger” to describe this. Changing the world, denting the universe, being the difference we want to see in the world is hard work and big fun.

The title of this post is Punk Rock HR Worksluts, so how can we apply these lessons to HR?

1. How broadly have you let HR in your company be defined? Are you the “payroll people” or the “policy police” or are you the place employees and leaders go to make better decisions about careers and leadership? Do people only see you when they have been called to HR (ugh!) or is HR a strong and continual presence throughout the company? Is HR involved in non-HR committees and task forces (you know, beyond the Christmas party) or is HR isolated, barricaded, siloed, and remote?

2. Do you like HR; are you passionate about it? Were you drawn to it or did you just sort of end up here? Are you passionate about people and business or did you just need a job and HR seemed as good as any?

3. Can you understand and talk all aspects of the business? You don’t need to be a CFO, but can you understand the income statement? Does the marketing strategy make sense? Can you explain your company’s core business and competitive advantage? Do you know the most important company goals for next year (and how your job supports them)?

4. What projects are coming up that you are really excited about? What new skills are you fired up about learning? What are you actively doing to make next year 2X better than this one?

5. Who shows up at work – you or the plastic worker drone persona so many of us have perfected? Are you playing safe or playing to win?

6. As an HR professional, do you like you? Are you proud of who you are, what you do, and how you do it?

Your thoughts?

flashback friday: playing it safe is too risky

[Flashback Friday: this was originally posted on June 29, 2012. Enjoy!]

Beige sells. Average sells. Vanilla sells. The comfort of conformity sells. Meeting most of the needs of most people builds big businesses.

All the marketing books tell us we need to differentiate our products and stand out. Build that brand image. And then 95% of businesses try to stand out by fitting in. The word “innovation” is thrown around these days as the holy grail of business success, yet from the customers’ point of view it often just means:we’re as leading edge as all our competitors.

Similarly, there’s a lot of talk of authenticity lately. We’re told we need to be authentic leaders keepin’ it real while we bring out the authentic best in our teams so we can sell authentic products to our authentic customers. A nice thought, but a hard sell. There are very real social and business costs to being authentic. The biggest is that some people will not like you, some people will reject you. So we try to be “authentic” in a way that everyone likes. (hint: that doesn’t work)

Being all things to all people is the fastest, most direct route to mediocrity. Vanilla products sell because they fit the needs of the most people, but no one is passionate about vanilla. It becomes a commodity. They buy your vanilla product today, but there’s nothing to keep them from replacing it with a competitor’s vanilla product. When you have a commodity you are only competing on price.

Being all things to all people creates a bigger customer pool. But we forget that it also attracts more competitors. I recall an interview with an actress years ago. She had some acting success as a teenager, but her appearance was non-Hollywood so she was only considered for a few parts. Wanting more parts, she had plastic surgery done, bleached her hair, and voilà  she now looked just like every other wannabe actress. She blended in and faded away.

Here’s my test for authenticity: Are you willing to turn down business because what’s being asked is not what you’re best at? Are you willing to turn down 1,000 potential customers who are kind of interested in your product or service so that you can focus on the 100 customers that are deeply interested?

As an individual are you willing to turn down or leave a job that doesn’t fit who you are and how you want to affect the world? Are you willing to be known for your uniqueness? Are you willing to be known for who you are? Are you willing to define yourself and bring every ounce of greatness, passion, and soul to your work?

You don’t have to, you know. And I don’t fault anyone who doesn’t. Authentic has risks. Different has risks. Standing out has risks.

But so does blending in. So does being average, beige, mediocre. No person or business will ever attain greatness by being one of a million. It’s only done by being one in a million.


the good news about disengagement

“Stereotype fools, playing the game. Nothing unique, they all look the same. In this Sea of Mediocrity, I can be anything – anything I want to be.” ~ Arch Enemy

The Bad News:

People everywhere are disengaged from work. The statistics, if accurate, are horrifying. Within just the past year or two, Gallup indicated that 72% of US workers were not engaged in their work. This disengagement ranges from just going through the motions and getting through the day to actively undermining the efforts of co-workers and the company. Gallup also reports that the lost productivity from actively disengaged employees puts a $370,000,000,000 drag on the economy each year. Other research and news outlets consistently report similar findings.

That’s bad news for the economy, bad news for the average company, and not much fun for the majority of workers.

The Good News:

There is actually so good news that comes with so many people setting such a low bar for themselves and the world.

At the leadership / company level, there is a very effective and nearly uncopyable competitive advantage for those who can attract, develop, and retain people who care. [Here’s a little secret: people who care want to be around other people who care. Use this information to your advantage.]

At the individual level, the more others are disengaged, the easier it is for you to stand out as a superstar. Show up, smile, do a good job, do right by the customer and the company, and you’ll be looking good. Have some enthusiasm, give a damn, strive to go the extra mile, and you’ll be a full on rock star.

yet another thing they didn’t tell you in business school

Conventional wisdom holds that: Profit = Income – Expense. Formulas don’t get much simpler than that. Increasing income or reducing expenses increases profits. Intuitively, that sounds right and LOTS of business decisions are made on this basis. Stock analysts and the companies that pander to them love this formula. Announce significant expense reductions (perhaps through massive layoffs) and stock prices jump up in anticipation of the profits to come.

The problem is, this formula is nice in textbooks but a gross oversimplification in the real world. It pretends there is no relationship between income and expense and makes the implicit assumption that the other variable is being held constant. But that’s not how it works. The real interpretation of this formula is this: Increasing income while holding expenses the same OR reducing expenses while holding income the same increases profits.

Income and expense are connected in a very real way and cannot be completely isolated. Why? Income is determined by your customers, not by you. Let’s play with some “what ifs”:

What if you cut your inventory on hand to zero? Your overhead costs would drop tremendously. You’d save a ton of money and your profits would go through the roof, right? Nope. Your customers would get torqued off that you had nothing in stock and they’d go shop elsewhere. Cutting expenses cut income.

What about maintenance expenses? You’ll save a bundle by “deferring maintenance” for a year or two. Bingo! Except you’re going to have a hard time convincing your best customers to shop in a dingy, dirty, broken down building. They go across the street to your competitor’s modern, bright, clean store. Cutting expenses cut income.

What if you laid off all your employees? No salaries or benefits to pay – there’s a major expense gone. Big time profits, yes? No. Without employees to help customers it won’t be long before there aren’t customers. Cutting expenses cut income.

What if you just forced all your employees to take a pay cut or cut benefits? You’ll save some money then, oh yeah! Um, well, no. Disgruntled employees don’t take care of the customers. Your best employees have other options and they leave. Your customers are now consistently receiving poor service. Wait, I mean your former customers. Cutting expenses cut income.

What if you invest heavily in technology and facilities that make shopping easier, convenient, pleasurable, and more fun for the customer? What if you spend more to find, hire, train, and reward outstanding customer service driven employees? Is it possible that increasing expenses could actually increase income? Only if the variables of income and expense are in some ways interconnected.

It’s worth saying again:

Expenses and income are often directly connected. They are not independent variables because your customers determine your income, not you. Customers have choices of who they give their money to so income can never be assumed to be constant. If you cut expenses in ways that negatively affect the customer, your income will go down. Likewise, if you increase expenses in ways that positively affect the customer, your income may go up.

Some expenses are worth reducing, but all expenses are not equal. Choose wisely.


The BBC recently posted an article about John Taylor, the bass player from the ‘80s group Duran Duran, and how his perspective has changed from 1985 to now. He had one comment in particular that really hit home:

“I made a very definite decision a couple of years ago [when he was 50 – ed] that I was now middle aged. And it was actually a really good decision to make, because I’d been feeling like a very tired young man for quite a few years, and making that acknowledgement, suddenly I felt like a very sprightly and hip middle aged guy. [emphasis added]

Here’s what I really appreciate about this: he’s the same guy. Nothing has changed, except how he views himself and his corresponding expectations of himself. He’s not doing wishful thinking and clinging to the past and he hasn’t turned himself into an old man before his time. He got rid of his delusions of youth and was able to look at his reality and define it in a way that really works for him.

The great and incomparable Zig Ziglar also spoke of a similar transformation. He grew up poor in a small town in Mississippi and talked about thinking about himself as a little guy from a little town when he started out as a salesman. Then, after encouraging words from a hero/mentor, he saw himself differently. He shifted his perspective and began thinking of himself as a salesman with the potential to be one of the greats. Same guy, same skill set, different perspective, different attitude, different approach, and different results.

Our perspectives and beliefs can inspire us to grow or turn us into our own worst enemies by shrinking, confining, and crushing our potential. There’s a lot in this world we can’t control, but one of the things we have full power over is how we look at ourselves.

What perspectives are you choosing?

the not-so-secret secret to achieving more

I was recently chatting with another fellow at the gym and he was telling me about his daughter’s experience with cross-country track. “My daughter normally finishes 3rd or 4th from last in her cross-country practices. Yesterday, she finished 4th from the front. I asked her how she got so much better. She said she decided to run faster.”

Deep wisdom from a 12 year old.

That’s really the secret, isn’t it? Decide what we want, decide we’re going to get it, and then give more effort.

We generally operate far below our true, focused capacity. We tell ourselves we’re going all out, but often we’re going too fast on the wrong things and too far below our potential on the things that truly matter. We go hard but we often hold back from our absolute best, replacing too much scattered activity for too few focused results.

We can decide to better use the knowledge and skills we already have. Decide to fulfil that potential. And, once we reach the edge, our capacities will grow and expand. We can gain more knowledge, more skill, and make even better use of our abilities.

We can be better, but we have to decide to.

At least, that’s what I see in my own life. Your mileage may vary.

good profit // bad profit

“Do you want me to mount the spare for you?” the voice over the phone asked. He had just told me that my tire was unrepairable and the others were nearly worn out. He seemed hurt I didn’t take him up on the implied offer to buy a new set of tires. The flat tire actually just had a slow leak so it didn’t matter if we swapped out the spare or not so I said, “Sure, why not.”

I recently wrote about a used tire shop with a unique business model. Four days after buying a set of tires, I picked up a slow leak in one. Rather than driving all the way across town to the used tire place, I took it to a national chain tire store less than a block from my office. The contrast between the two businesses really highlights what some have termed “good profits” and “bad profits.”

Bad profits are profits made at the expense of the customer in a way that hurts good will, the overall customer experience, and prevents generating long-term profits from the customer. From my experience, the mobile phone industry follows a bad profits model. All the effort is made to acquire new customers with little effort being made to retain customers. Any business that focuses on fees or charging the customer more with little in return is a business focused on bad profits.

Good profits, in contrast, are profits made in a way that add value for the customer, creates good will, improves the customer experience, and increases the likelihood of long-term profits from the customer. Rather than seeking ways to charge the customer more fees, etc., a business focused on good profits is trying to find ways to serve the customer that makes them want to spend more. Apple and Zappos are regularly used as examples of businesses seeking good profits.

This national chain tire store told me my tire was unrepairable and the rest were getting thin and needed replacing. Then charged me $20 for installing the spare in place of the leaky tire – after they offered to; I did not ask. Lies, fees, and scare tactics to upsell the customer from a cheap repair to $800 worth of tires. They relented on the fee after I protested, but not ripping off the customer when they call you on it is not the same as treating the customer well.

I immediately drove over to the used tire shop where: they told me “no problem” on repairing the tire, hustled my tire through even though they were crazy busy, offered to install it on my truck for me, oh, and didn’t charge me anything for the repair because I bought the tires from them. No written agreements, no need to hassle them, no arguments, just a focus on doing right by their customers.

It’s cheaper and easier to retain customers than to find new ones. Why is this so hard to understand? Which business will I return to in the future? Which business do I refer to others? Which business do I want to support and see thrive? Which am I happy to give money to?