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Moving Forward, and Going Back to the Beginning

Updated: Apr 7


Sometimes we all have to look backward in order to move forward. As I work on my new book, I find myself returning to where I started.

As I make my way through writing my new book, I look at this photo and am reminded of how much can change (and stay the same) over an almost 4 decade career in one industry.

This was the first store I managed, and my first team.

I didn’t even know about diversity, inclusion or racial/gender bias then … all I knew was that I loved serving and helping others - it was where my self worth came from. Together, we took that store from losing money (50% below target) to almost quadrupling the turnover within 3 months.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but between the 4 of us, what we lacked in experience we made up for with passion, and a deep love of people. It saddens me to say it but even after 40 years, we still have “babies leading babies” with little to no development.
I can still remember each of them with great fondness!
I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but between the 4 of us, what we lacked in experience we made up for with passion, and a deep love of people.
Let me introduce my team:

The beautiful Angela - a new University graduate who became my 2IC. With her endless wit and laughter she was destined for stardom, and went on to become a National TV Host for a children’s show for many years. A lot of her confidence came from working the “floor”.

Kenji … an international Japanese student who worked part time with us while attending University. He had the best sense of humor, and the customers loved him. I can’t recall what he was studying but I know he made cashing up on Thursday nights so much fun.

And Graham … gorgeous Graham, who was “sent” to me from another more senior Store Manager with the instructions, “He can’t really sell so give him a week and if you’re not happy, just fire him.” My heart hurt. Even back then I had a deep intuitive sense that people wanted to be their best - it’s just sometimes they didn’t know how to access that. Gosh, we were all only in our late teens, early twenties.

So, I told him the truth about what I had been told.

For those that know me well, you will know that “feedback” and “calling a spade a shovel” is what I am well known for. I really liked him, and I didn’t want that outcome for him. I also recall the look of fear on his face so we devised a plan as a team (which I now realize was “anchoring”), and in no time at all he was connecting with everyone. The result … he soon became one of the best sales people in our state!
Even back then I had a deep intuitive sense that people wanted to be their best - it’s just sometimes they didn’t know how to access that.
That 4 decades has also given me the privilege to work with every layer within the service industry, with 100’s of 1000’s of amazing humans. From CEO’s and boards to the 3-hour Thursday nite/Saturday casual - I’ve had the best seat in the house!

I’ve also seen the power of alignment and community, and I have seen the destruction of “profit” obsession and shareholder distraction. As my fingers tap away at the keyboard and this new book is birthed, the occasional fear rises in me. Who am I to have an opinion on this? What if I’m condemned for my view? What if …?

Well, I’ve decided that fear can take a back seat in my life from now one. I intuitively knew what was right all those years ago, and after 40 years of experience, research and empirical and anecdotal evidence, I have a very strong hunch that this industry needs a complete overhaul.

There will be no naming or shaming, or “my way is best”. I will simply be offering a different possibility where we could all collaboratively and compassionately build powerful businesses, and powerful humans inside of those businesses. Absolutely by no means will it have all the answers, but it might just shift the paradigm slightly on what “success” could be like.
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