Business in Focus – Follow-up Article

Back in February of 2013 I posted about an article that Business in Focus Magazine wrote about myself and Kodiak Mountain Stone.  In November of this year they wrote a follow-up article which can be found at the following link:

http://www.businessinfocusmagazine.com/2014/09/solid-as-a-rock/

Once again, thank you to the staff at Business In Focus Magazine.  They were great to work with.

Personal Accountability

Back in August of 2012 I wrote about our Education Plan at my company, Kodiak Mountain Stone.  If you have never read about it, click on the link and find out more because it has been a pretty good thing we came up with.  From each Education Meeting that we have, everyone on our team learns something. But I think the most value comes to the person who is hosting the meeting.  As the saying goes, “the teacher is the one who learns the most.”

 

In the past I’ve shared thoughts and ideas from some of our Education Meetings, but it has been a while since I have passed any of this on.  Yesterday we had one of these meetings and I think that the subject that was addressed is awesome and I want to share a little bit about it.

 

Before I get into the details of the meeting I want to take a step back.  A few months ago I was on a conference call with my store manager at my store in Calgary AB.  He was frustrated and told me that one of the team members had come in late for the second time that week and used the same excuse as the first time.  “Sorry that I’m late, traffic was terrible.”

 

As soon as he told me about this I had a memory flash into my mind.  I remembered back to January 9, 2002.  That day I was working as a bank manager for ATB Financial, which is a bank located in Alberta, Canada.  I had the opportunity that day to attend a managers training meeting where David Irvine spoke to us.  The topic that he spoke about that day was one that he had written a book about, “Accountability – Getting a Grip on Results.”  The new, updated version of the book is, “Bridges of Trust – Making accountability Authentic.”  The reason I remember the exact day of this meeting is because I have that book in my library signed and dated by David.  I know it was a good meeting because almost 13 years later there are a number of things that I specifically remember him saying.  But there are two things that really stood out to me that day.

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He told us to imagine ourselves leaving our house with just the right amount of time to get to an important meeting.  You are well prepared for the meeting and things are looking good.  But then when you are about half way to the meeting you hit some crazy traffic that just about brings you to a halt. You are anxiously putting along and starting to stress more and more about being late for your meeting.  Pretty soon the starting time of the meeting comes and goes and you are still blocks away from your meeting place.  You finally arrive, park your vehicle and dash to the meeting room.  As you enter the room, all eyes are focused directly on you.  Sweat is dripping down your forehead and you say…

 

At that point what words leave your mouth?  Most people respond exactly how my employee responded. “Sorry that I’m late, traffic was terrible.”  At that time, that is probably exactly how I would respond.  But that is not being accountable for your actions.  I vividly remember him explaining that the proper response should be something such as, “sorry that I am late, I didn’t leave my home in time to account for the traffic.”

 

That was an ah-ha moment for me.  It completely changed my perspective on personal accountability.  As an employer, how would I receive someone coming in late to a meeting who said, “sorry I’m late, traffic was terrible” versus someone who said, “sorry I’m late, I never left home early enough to account for the traffic.”  I want to work with the person who is showing me that they can take personal accountability.  It doesn’t excuse the fact that they are late, but they are not trying to blame something or someone else for them being late.  Thirteen years ago and that story still comes to mind whenever I hear someone not taking personal responsibility.

 

Another thing that has always stood out to me since that meeting was when David talked about consequences.  That negative word, consequences.  All my life, whenever I’ve done something wrong or bad, I’ve had to deal with those darn consequences.  But what about the times you have done something good.  What follows?  Those are consequences too, but positive ones!  I had always looked at the word, consequence, with negativity.  But in reality, there are consequences for everything we do.  It’s our own actions that determine if those are positive or negative consequences.  Today this is not just an important thing to talk about in our work environment, but as I’m raising four kids from ages 3 to 15 it has been a huge thing we have tried to teach them about too.

 

So after my conference call with my store manager I immediately emailed David Irvine and asked him to send a copy of his book to my store in Calgary.  When it arrived I explained to this particular employee that I wanted him using it for an Education Meeting.  I know that he got a lot of good out of the book because my manager told me that there were a number of occasions that he came to him to tell him something he had read about in the book.  Yesterday he did a great job with the Education Meeting.  I hope that all of my staff learned something from this great book.

 

The number one lesson that this employee thought our staff needed to learn from the book was that you always have a choice to start with yourself!

 

Life

Last week I was visiting with the daughter of an elderly lady in the hospital next to her mothers bed.  This lady was going to be 93 years old in only a few more hours.  That next day she passed away.  I am a bishop in our church and had the opportunity to conduct her funeral.  The funeral was packed full of family from all over North America showing up.  There were obviously some sad tears because she was gone, but the day was really a celebration of her life.  She had lived a long, good life with many family and friends who loved her.

In the next few days there is going to be another funeral where the life of another incredible person will be celebrated, but this one is much different.  Yesterday I found out that the brother of one of my friends was in an accident and was killed.  He’s a young man that had just celebrated is first wedding anniversary.  You can read more about this tragic accident at the following link and I encourage anyone who can to make a large or small donation to help his young wife out with the growing expenses she is facing right now.
http://www.goatalliance.org/jeff-ripley-fund/Jeff-Ripley-Fund

Tonight I was reading something online that his wife had posted.  At such a difficult time in her life she offers some important advice.

“PLEASE hold those dear to you close tonight.  Mend relationships that have tarnished, take advantage of every time you talk to them.”

Those are words we should all take to heart.  We never know how long we have.  We never know when good-bye is our last good-bye.  We don’t have time to make things better later, to forgive later.  Mend relationships!

20 years, 50 years or 93 years.  It doesn’t matter how long you are here on this earth, it’s too short of a time to waste being angry or holding a grudge.

With your loved ones, make sure they know how much you love them.  Give them your time.  Give them your attention.  Give them your love.  Hold them close to you.

For yourself, live life with passion.  Live each day to it’s fullest.  Enjoy each moment that God has given you.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Dakota, the Ripley family and Passey family.

A Lesson Zuck Taught Me

I recently read The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick. I thought it was a fascinating book. Although I’m not in Silicon Valley and I’m not running a tech company, I think there was a lot to learn from this book.  I’m not talking about the start in your dorm room or follow your love type of stuff. I’m talking about something much more valuable. I’m talking about focus and confidence.

Mark Zuckerberg had multiple opportunities to make himself a very rich man very early on in the life of Facebook. Opportunities that would have saved him from headaches and a lot of work down the road. Opportunities that would have let him work on new projects without worrying about money.

But Zuck had a vision of the future for Facebook. He had a vision for what it was meant to bring to the world. So regardless of the exit options he was offered with, regardless of the dollars flashed in front if him, he stayed on plan with a focus and confidence to take it where he knew it could go. His focus and determination continue to move the company forward.

The wording in the Amazon.com review say it well. “Kirkpatrick shows how Zuckerberg steadfastly refused to compromise his vision, insistently focusing on growth over profits and preaching that Facebook must dominate (his word) communication on the Internet.”

Facebook’s IPO.  How many expected, how many wanted to see the Facebook IPO flop?  This was all still a part of Zuck’s focused march toward his goal.  Today he sits at #11 on the Forbes 400 list as the biggest dollar gainer of the year after his Facebook stock has soared, adding $15 billion to his net worth in the past year.  I think he’s done something right.

Have there been failures along the way for Zuck.  Yes, of course there have been.  That’s part of the whole story.  But in the end he knew what he wanted, he knew what he needed to do to get there and he kept his focus.  I’m anxious to watch how the rest of the story unfolds for this man, this company and this industry.

So what can you and I learn from this?  Is it that when we have come up with another “best idea ever” we give it all of our focus and march forward no matter what?  Hoping that it all works out and ignoring any advice or guidance that might tell us we are on the wrong track? Of course not.  One of the most valuable things a business owner can do is surround herself with others that are smarter than she is.  Others that have experience, that can give advice and guidance.  Zuck hasn’t done everything on his own without help, input and guidance from mentors.  What he has done is known where his company could go and kept his focus on getting it there.

We have squirrels everywhere that distract us from focusing on the most important things that will make ourselves and our companies successful.  On our journey to success, we need to have our goals, to have the end in mind.  But most importantly, we need to be able to keep our eye on the target, to keep our focus and to know what needs to be done to get there.  Distractions and opportunities will try to pull you away.  For Zuck, some of those distractions were opportunities to put millions of dollars in his pocket.  But his goal meant more to him than those dollars and he knew that when he achieved his goals there would be extra zeros added to the dollars in his pocket.

Focus.  Work hard.  Work smart.  Commit yourself to your goal.  It won’t be the amount of time you spend at the office that matters, it will be the amount of time that you spend in focused concentration working towards your goal.  Good luck!

Father / Daughter / Basketball

My greatest love is my family.  Along with that, something else I love is basketball.  Fortunately, I have the opportunity that I can enjoy both of them together quite often.  My son, Daxon, just started organized basketball and I am able to spend some quality time with him in that setting.  My oldest daughter, Tia, caught the basketball bug a while ago.  She’s only in the eighth grade right now, but I have had the opportunity to be involved with coaching her for four years now, whether it has been in the club ball setting or the school setting.  

Over the past few days I’ve been able to see where Tia’s love and dedication to the game have brought her.  She made the final cut that qualified her to tryout for Team Alberta this weekend and I am very proud that she made the team.  The coaching staff and the team are great.  This is another opportunity for her to push herself and take her skills to another level.

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U15 & U17 Boys and Girls Team Alberta 2014

 

 

 

 

Having Fun

I’ve had some great opportunities to have some fun and stretch myself in the past year.  I’ve decided that I no longer want to have those things on my bucket list that might happen sometime in the future.  I’ve decided to start knocking those things off the list.  It’s been great.  I’ve had to stretch myself a bit and I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone.  But, wow, have we had some fun.

 

It started when my wife and I took some of our team members and went skydiving!

 

Then most recently, my daughter and I went swimming with the sharks in Hawaii!

 

 

I don’t know what is next, but I’ve promised my team that we’ll do something fun in 2014! This is what it’s all about.  Don’t coast through life, step out of your comfort zone, have fun and make your mark on the world!

 

#HeggieLife

Communicate With Your Customers

For Fathers Day my wife surprised me with a weekend getaway to Whitefish, Montana. We stayed at a beautiful hotel on the mountain. It was a wonderful way to relax. I loved the subtle smell throughout the halls of firewood burning in the huge stone fireplace in the lobby. Our room had a large TV above the fireplace where we could sit back, relax and watch movies. The weather was great, so we were able to enjoy sitting poolside sipping on our drinks. 

 

I had a great time with the  woman I love, in a great hotel with great weather.   Everything was perfect. That is, until breakfast.  We decided to stay at the hotel for breakfast and went down to the restaurant. After a little confusion we finally asked someone if we were supposed to seat ourselves or if someone would be seating us. We were suppose to wait to be seated, and they finally showed us to our table. Neither of us were real hungry. I ordered a couple eggs and toast while my wife ordered an omelet. Everything seemed fine at that point. We waited for our food, and we waited. And we waited. And we waited. I couldn’t understand why two eggs, toast and an omelet were taking so long.  We waited more. Nobody came by our table to give us an explanation. Nobody even came close enough that I could call them over to ask what was going on. I was getting upset. Finally someone, other than our waitress, brought our food out. There was no explanation or apology. So I commented that I thought it was rediculous how long it took to get our food. The only explanation I received was that they were busy and the kitchen could only do so much. As I looked around at the restaurant, which was about 1/4 full, I wondered to myself what their service was like when it got really busy. 

 

Needless to say, even though I would highly recommend the hotel, I would not recommend their restaurant. This experience made me think about my own business.  In my business we have factories in the US where we produce our product.  But the majority of our sales are in Canada.  So every day we are working out logistics on shipping our product, and there can often times be delays. For example, last week we had brokered a shipment with a company and their truck just never showed up to pick up the load.  This obviously changes our ETA’s on some of our customers orders because we have to arrange a new truck to pick up for us.  (and no, we will not ever do business with that broker again)

 

How do we deal with our end customers at this point?  Do we just ignore the situation and deliver to our customers when the truck does arrive?  If that’s how we deal with it, I think it’s the same as how we were treated at the restaurant.  There are three things that I think we need to pay attention to in a situation like this.

 

  1. Communication
    • Clear communication with a customer can make all the difference in their overall satisfaction.  When I was waiting for my breakfast, if the waitress had just come to our table and addressed the problem, let us know our food would take some extra time to arrive, I would have been a lot happier customer than I was.  
  2. What does the customer expect
    • What do you need to do to keep the customer happy?  In our situation, the communication of letting us know our meal would take a while to arrive would have been enough.  With other customers a little more may be required to keep them happy.  But until you communicate with them you don’t know what they want or expect.
  3. Keep the experience positive 
    • Chances of me staying at that hotel again are good.  Chances of me eating at that restaurant again are not very good.  Look for opportunities to make the best of a situation and ensure the customers experience is still a positive one.  Repeat customers or customer referrals are what makes a business truly successful.  When problems arise, find ways to keep the customer happy so they will come back again.

With all three keys, it comes down to good communication.  Communicating with your customer can be tough at times.  We all hate to give someone bad news.  But more often that not, the customers disappointment when you give them bad news will not be as bad as it will be if you just ignore the bad news and let them find out on their own.  Communicate, be honest and do your best.  There’s not much more you can do.