3 Keys To A Kickass Culture

Posted 8 CommentsPosted in culture, furniture, Leadership, Management, mattress industry, mattresses, Retail

Is “Kickass” taking it too far? Maybe but we want our culture to be dynamic right? Does anyone even say kickass anymore? Well, I do so it stays. Let’s get to it.

The most important part of creating an amazing culture is to make sure that we all understand how incredibly important culture is. Some of the top business leaders today will tell you that their companies culture is at the core of their success and I happen to agree. If you truly value your culture and make sure that it is authentic to what you believe, great things will happen.  So what are some key components to getting it right? Here are three things for you to consider:

  1. Get your priorities straight. As I see it, culture is about your purpose; the emotion driving what you do. Strategy is about tactics and planning your business. Both are very important to success but sometimes get confused. It’s easy for leaders to get caught up on business strategy, and push culture to the backseat. Make no mistake, culture IS THE PRIORITY so if you get that right and make sure your strategy lines up, you will be on your path.
  2. Be grateful for stuff. So how do you work that into your culture? Most self-help experts today will tell you that embracing an attitude of gratitude actually makes you a happier person so would you like to have a company filled with happier employees? When you accomplish a project celebrate the people that got you to the finish line. Don’t just thank them, do something about it; actions speak louder than words.  If you make your numbers for the quarter buy everyone lunch or ice cream. How about sending a handwritten note? Don’t stop there, you also need to be grateful for the adversity. Pause on a failure or two, call out the learning from it, and make sure that everybody understands that failing is part of it and it can be good as long as it’s cheap and not something that is being repeated! If you are DOING things to show your team that you appreciate them, what will the impact of that be? If you somehow encourage and expect them to show that same kindness to each other, will your customers benefit from it?
  3. Deflect and accept. When I worked at Leggett and Platt I got to experience this first hand, especially when it came to Karl Glassman and Perry Davis. These guys were really tough to compliment. When anyone would say something nice about the job they did the very first thing out of their mouth was something like, “I appreciate that but it was Johnny that really made it happen.” They weren’t just saying it either, they meant it. This kind of humility, especially at the top of most companies where massive egos are running wild, is a big deal. If this isn’t really how you feel then spare everyone the “gesture” because people will know you are faking your way through it, but if you practice shining a light on others you will enjoy the results in a very significant way. Here is the other side of that, you have to deflect praise but ACCEPT responsibility for all things under your direction. I can think of managers in companies that I have worked for that duck and hide when something goes wrong, throwing their own team under the bus. If you are one of those people you need to seriously re-think your approach to business and just know that everyone around you thinks you’re an idiot. What? IT’S TRUE.

Does your company really value culture and DO THINGS that represent that this is true, show their gratitude towards people that deliver results, and encourage their leaders to deflect praise and accept responsibility? What if it did?

“Customers will never LOVE a company until the employees LOVE it first.” Simon Sinek

 

Do your employees LOVE YOUR COMPANY? You’d be a lot cooler if they did. Be the first to name that movie reference in the comments section and you will receive your very own Dos Marco Podcast t-shirt. Their collector’s items you know. 🙂

Mattress Firm Is On The Move

Posted 8 CommentsPosted in furniture, Leadership, Management, marketing, mattress industry, mattresses, product development, Retail, Sleep

I don’t think anyone would argue that Mattress Firm has its hands full at the moment. Some of their problems are self-inflicted and some came about due to no fault of their own, but either way, you have to own where you are and battle out of a bad situation.

Mattress Firm is putting new products in place, they have downsized their management team, and are trying to figure out how to keep the business funded while reconciling bad real estate. They recently brought in a new Chief Marketing Officer Scott Thaler with a strong and successful background, and now they have just hired one of the top merchants/ strategists in the industry. Lorie Silva, formerly of Jordan’s Furniture, will start work at the Mattress Firm on May 15th.

Lorie and the team at Jordan’s created mattress stores inside of the six Jordan’s stores they call Sleep Labs, that are some of the best performing and best-looking mattress departments in the United States. Their sales process is totally unique and their sales associates are some of the best in the country. How many mattress departments do you know of where the customers get a pager on a busy Saturday that will buzz when it’s their turn to buy a mattress? NOT your average store.

Spink and Edgar started doing business with Lorie about three years ago and when we landed on their floor I was very excited about it. Not just because Jordan’s is one of THE MOST prestigious furniture stores in the country, but because if Lorie Silva says you are good enough to be on that floor, it means you have really accomplished something. Lorie is a no-nonsense person that can sniff out the BS a mile away so if you are showing her product, you better have your “A” game.

At this point, I consider Lorie to be a really good friend so the people that know this have come to me asking why Lorie made the move from Jordan’s to Mattress Firm or said differently, from stability to uncertainty. The funny thing is that’s exactly why she agreed to the new position. Mattress Firm is the largest bedding retailer in the U.S.A. so you’re talking about taking the biggest merchandising job in the country. On top of that, they have a lot of opportunity with their product strategy so they need help and Lorie knows that if anyone can give them a solid shot at success, she can. Don’t misunderstand that last comment, Lorie isn’t an arrogant person. But she knows that she has been very successful in the industry and fully believes in her ability to do a job. So do I. She’s got a lot of work to do and has to figure out how to navigate a totally new culture in a company significantly larger than what she is used to, but there is no doubt in my mind that if she is supported properly, she will get it done.

Lorie leaves Jordan’s in great hands. Josh Tatleman, the VP of Merchandising is awesome and will continue leading the bedding team made up of Keith Levine, Nicole Kendall, Cathy McNeal, Donna Shea and many others, plus a very solid staff of Sleep Lab Managers and sales associates they call sleep technicians. They will all be supported by SUPREME SLEEP GEEK and Chief Operating Office Peter Bolton so there is no doubt, Jordan’s will thrive long after Lorie is gone.

Mattress Firm is at a point where they have to make some big moves and this IS a big move. I firmly believe that you have to have the best people if you want the best result so get the best if you are in a position to do so. You have to start there and Mattress Firm just did.

“The man (or woman), on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” Vince Lombardi

Congratulations Lorie, you’ve earned it!

 

 

50 And Counting

Posted 8 CommentsPosted in faith, furniture, Leadership, marketing, mattresses

Normally I don’t make a big thing out of my birthday but this one is different as I turn 50 tomorrow on May 3rd. People keep saying things like, “You look great for 50!” So what in the hell is that supposed to mean? 50-year-old people don’t look all that good but you my friend, are the best of the bad?

I think that part of the problem people have with these benchmark birthdays is that they go through this major self-evaluation and start questioning their life. Am I where I’m supposed to be? Do I look good for my age? Have I accomplished enough so far? How am I doing compared to my friends and neighbors? I understand that and think that there is some real value in a check on reality but I’m not going to get carried away.

I may not look as good as I could, or compared to some maybe I should have accomplished more at this age, but I really could care less because I’m happy. A measuring stick can be a dangerous thing if you are measuring the wrong stuff against the wrong metric. This doesn’t mean live your life in wild disregard; never stopping to assess where you are. It just means that I’m not going to get caught up in what it should be vs. what it is.

Some days it’s very hard to believe that I am married to such an amazing person, have two kids that for the most part love and respect their father (they are teenagers after all), and that I get to work in an industry that I love with the most fun group of people I have ever been around in business. Stir that in with the fact that I have very real friendships with people that care about me and support me, and that my faith in God grows deeper every day. Does any of the rest really matter?

Is 50 old? I guess it is to some but for me I feel more passionate about my life and what I do for a living than ever before. When I was 21 I was ready to set the mattress industry on fire. I still am. The difference is I have made so many mistakes, I am capable of making better decisions and I have meaningful connections to people that can help me realize my goals. Truth is, I still believe that I can make a difference in the world with how people value their sleep and therefore the products we sell.

It doesn’t feel like I am on the backside of a career or life. It feels like I am just getting started and I LOVE IT!

Thanks to all of you for reading Q’s Views and for the value you bring to my life because it means more than you know. We have a long way to go together so buckle up people.

PS

A special thanks to my Mom and Dad. You guys are the best ever and I appreciate the butt-kicking early in life that gave me the skills to get this far. Love you both!

Ever Visit A Mattress Farm?

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in Leadership, Management, marketing, mattresses, Retail

Don’t worry, not many have but I was recently able to host several people from the United States over to England to get a look at what is likely the ONLY mattress farm in the world. (Read to the bottom as there is a very nice surprise ending with this post.)

Jeremy Bercier my friend and Spink and Edgar representative at Sit’N Sleep put on a big contest for their entire sales organization with the winners getting an all expenses paid trip to England. They got to tour the farm, visit the factories, check out local mattress retailers to see how they sell beds and then do some serious sightseeing in York and London. So congratulations to Russel Orozco, Nate Bercier, Mark Mitchell and David Wolfe for being the big winners. Stir into that group Sean Sutton and Cody Caplinger and their significant others Nyssa and Rachel from Sleep Nation in Colorado, along with my wife Bridget, and you have a group we later branded the Cockfosters. (That is actually a subway stop we discovered in London after touring Harrods but you can see why we borrowed it. Great name.)

My main takeaway from this trip was that I totally underestimated the impact it would have on me personally. I knew THEY would be blown away by our farm and Hornington Manor our family estate. I knew they would love bottle feeding a baby lamb. I knew that when they saw our factories and product development lab they would be very impressed. I knew that my partner Simon and his team of Darren and Graham would really help them fall in love with our products and brand. I knew that all of us drinking beer together in a pub called the House of Trembling Madness would connect us in a meaningful way. And I knew that sightseeing in London would be a total blast.

What I didn’t realize was how each of those people would leave a lasting impression on me. When you travel with a group like that and the people are totally awesome and everyone is having a great time, you bond in a unique way. Not only that but getting to do this with my wife Bridget was perfect. Three years ago when I came back from England for the first time, I told her I wanted to leave Leggett and Platt to bring Spink and Edgar to the United States. She never hesitated and has supported me from the very beginning; even at times when I had doubts. After seeing what makes this product and brand so special, she loves the adventure we are on so much more. Getting to spend that time with her and see it through her eyes was really incredible for me.

The Awesome Cockfosters in front of Buckingham Palace.

As I write this I have to admit being a little depressed. I miss the Cockfosters a lot and look forward to staying in touch with them, but I also look forward to the next group I get to take over there. Taking this trip reminded me that what I’m doing is big and important. The more people I can expose to this whole thing the more consumers are going to benefit from the passion that their retail sales associate is going to be selling with when it comes to Spink and Edgar mattresses. “Mrs. Jones you need to try this bed. I visited the farm in the countryside of Yorkshire, England where it was grown and there is nothing like it in the world.”

What stories are you telling? What experiences are you sharing? If you are just selling the same old stuff, I encourage you to reconsider your approach; there is something better. 🙂

SURPRISE ENDING: Towards the end of our trip we were standing in front of Buckingham Palace on the Queen’s birthday. Darren, Simon’s right-hand guy announced to us that Harrison Spinks (the main company that owns the farm), was just awarded TWO MORE QUEEN’S AWARDS.  That makes four total Queen’s Awards! To win just one is a HUGE deal in the United Kingdom so my hat is off to everyone at Harrison Spinks that made this happen. I am incredibly grateful because it gives us a lot to talk about over here in the U.S. Enjoy your time with the Queen and when you pick these awards up please give her a little smooch from me.

Power To The People

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in furniture, Leadership, Management, mattress industry, mattresses, Retail

So who is behind the success in your company? Is it the meatheads that occupy the executive office suite? Hell no it’s not! (Sorry meatheads but you know I’m right.) The real champions of business today are the people doing the work and executing the plan.

Whenever I started a new job it didn’t take me long to figure out who the real boss was. It was typically a woman that was the office leader or “office mom” which is a term I use in the most respectful way possible. She is the one that had been with the company for a few decades, served several different administrations, had worked and knew every job in the place and most importantly, she knew how to get stuff done! On the sales side, whenever we wanted to know how many pieces the other bedding producers were ACTUALLY making every day, we would ask our drivers who would have regular conversations with the other drivers from those companies while making deliveries. Go to the guys that know.

I bring all of this up because I was speaking to one of the Sherwood sales representatives David Larkin this past week in Orlando. David is a superstar and has been a multi-bag sales rep for a very long time; a true veteran. He has made his career calling on the buying office at Badcock Home Furniture and More, one of the best retailers in our industry that has been around over 100 years. These guys have well over 300 stores in the southeast and if you want to be REP OF THE YEAR, you have to become a true road warrior to service them. Years ago Badcock needed a new CEO so they went outside the company and hired Don Marks. This guy didn’t know much about Badcock when he took the job so when he met David he knew he had found someone that could help him. Realizing that David was in a lot of his stores every week he asked him to call his office every Friday at 3pm to download on what he had seen. As a result, Don knew which of the franchises were happy, which locations needed a visit from the top, and what the general mood of the company was. Don understood that David and those people running the stores were the real champions of the business. When David told Don he needed to get in a car and visit a market; Don listened.

If you’re in a company that has a CEO or senior management team that refuses to get their butt’s out of the “C” suite and into the field to see the business first hand, you have a problem. They can get updates from “their people” no doubt, but there is nothing like being in the stores or at the factory where you can ask good questions to really understand where your business is. Any leader that says any differently is full of crap and you can tell them I said so; unless their name is Conor McGregor.

So lift your glass, bang a gong, or throw a party for the real reason companies win; their people. If you truly understand that listening to them is the key to your success then good things will come and when they do, just remember who got you there. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!