Two things before I get started…#1 if you have not already registered to attend the Seena Magowitz Charity Golf Tournament to support Roger in finding a cure for pancreatic cancer, then stop reading this and click HERE to sign up. I promise you will not regret it. #2 on the Dos Marcos Podcast I talk to Derick Miller, Cheif Sales Officer, and Melanie Huet, Chief Marketing Officer at Serta/Simmons Bedding. We cover everything from their new product launch in Vegas, consumer research, brand building, Tuft & Needle and more so CHECK IT OUT.
I was on a walk with my dogs feeling sorry for myself about something not going my way, and then a little ray of light somehow broke through that thinking and I was able to remind myself that faith is a verb. My approach to life is to trust in something bigger than myself and not stress out about outcomes…He’s got me regardless of where it lands. But why do I have to constantly remind myself of this? Why do I have to continue to go through that slide into negative thinking and ultimately push myself into the better place…because I’m human and sometimes being human just sucks.
I hate the negative thinking that beats me down sometimes. I hate doing things that are bad for me knowing that they are bad for me. I hate seeing bad things happen to good people. I hate social injustice, war, death, pain, children in distress, long lines, taxes, when my wife and kids are sad, and I especially hate when the Cubs don’t make it into the playoffs.
I asked the Dos Marcos Facebook audience what they hated about being human and Dale Read said he hates the health issues he continues to have as a result of being exposed to agent orange in Vietnam. (Thank you for your service Dale.) TJ Whelan hates his constant battle with depression. And Dan White hates his insatiable desire of always wanting more. Me too.
Getting depressed? Hang on, this is where it turns. 🙂
But how about the good parts of being human. Feeling the love from my wife and kids. The excitement and anticipation of looking forward to Christmas, birthdays, or a trip to Silver Dollar City with my family. Driving anywhere with the top-down blasting my favorite playlist. Watching my kids play sports. How about the learning that comes from all of the crappy things that happen? Would we feel joy the way we do, if those things weren’t also going on in our life?
There are a lot of reasons to hate the hard things that happen to us. I guess it’s up to us not to really hate anything. It’s all perspective and how we choose to think about the things that happen in our life. There is a lot of darkness out there, that’s for sure, but there is also a cure for that. Strike a match…see what happens.
FIRST OFF TODAY….save the date for the best event in the industry, the Seena Magowitz Charity Golf Classic on November 1-3, 2019. If you haven’t been you really should go, we promise a great experience and you can help us fight a really horrible disease!
Kinsley and I had a great conversation in this episode of the Dos Marcos Podcast about my recent trip to see the good people of Badcock Furniture. These guys are awesome and so was the keynote speaker from Chic-Fil-A, David Salyers who shared some stories about how they turned fast-food restaurants into leadership academies. Tired of giving away adjustable beds? Maybe you don’t have to anymore.
In the past, I have written about creating a Kick-Ass Culture, but after listening to THIS podcast from Andy Stanley I was inspired to share a few additional thoughts. If you don’t know about Andy, he is the lead pastor for the North Point community church which is now responsible for over 90 churches worldwide and his life and leadership podcast/television broadcast are heard over 7 million times a month. In this particular episode, Andy talks to Horst Schulze, former President and COO of the Ritz-Carlton about customer experience.
Horse covers a lot of great stuff here but what I want to key on is the idea that you really need to understand what your people are thinking and feeling about you. If you’re running a company or if you are the manager of a group of people, it is critical that you are in touch with how your team looks at their work experience under your leadership. Are you doing surveys with your team on their job satisfaction? Here are some things you should understand about your people because if you do and they are happy; they will give YOUR customers a first-class experience:
Do they tolerate coming to work, or is their career something they feel great about?
Are they coming in every day just working for a paycheck, or do they understand and feel connected to the purpose behind what you do?
Do you really understand what is important to the people on your team and can you rank them in priority?
Are you intentional about using that information to drive a better experience at your company?
If you think that your top/bottom line is really the only metric you need to be paying attention to, then you have some rough waters ahead unless you’re only concerned with short term success.
Are you buying all of this? If not just look around this industry because it is really easy to see which companies get it and which ones don’t. Show me a consistently bad customer experience and I will show you a company that does not value their own people the way they should. Think that’s harsh? Then you are probably one of the companies I’m talking about.
If you understand what’s important to the people on your team, create a culture that delivers on those things and connect them all to your purpose and mission, then you are going to be incredibly hard to beat. The best leaders in any organization understand that they are there to serve their people, not the other way around. What kind of leader are you?
Before I get started on this week’s blog I want to direct you to this podcast featuring Rick Anderson, the President of Tempur Sealy International. We talk about the reunion with Mattress Firm, MAP pricing, the value of the Tempur-Pedic brand, and Ricks’ very cool Caddy Shack golf bag so check it out.
Q1 of 2017 my brother Jeff and I launched a new D2C mattress brand called Herobed. The goal was to participate in the growth of the online channel and do some good along the way but it didn’t work out how we had hoped. As with any start-up we did our due diligence looking at other brands, their pricing, product construction, advertising approach, did a lot of analysis on acquisition cost etc. and felt strongly that our approach would fit a niche with consumers and capture the hearts and minds of people wanting better sleep, therefore, a better life. The problem was, even during development, the financial models that we created were constantly changing and it was impossible to keep up with new players in the category. When you enter such a dynamic segment the risk factor grows exponentially and we failed. Or did we?
Our concept was to come out with a hybrid, (pocketed coil/gel memory foam construction) which was different than pretty much anything being promoted on-line, price it slightly above the market, and create a marketing message that consumers could get behind. The idea there was that we are all somebody’s hero and in order to make an impact on those around us, we have to be the best version of ourselves, and sleep is a critical piece to that. We celebrated teachers, moms and dads, neighbors, and local charities. ANYONE that was doing something to add value to the lives of others. We donated beds and talked about sleep as a component of a happy life, turned the box into something kids could color, (what kid doesn’t like to play with a big box?), and we even delivered the bed with its very own superhero cape. But it wasn’t enough. Low conversion rates and higher than projected marketing cost kept us from the desired result.
I haven’t really talked about this until now because, in all honesty, I was a little embarrassed. I hate losing which at the time is how I was looking at the year we spent developing the brand; a big fat loss. It’s true that Herobed was not a financial success but we did get a lot from our time working on the project so was it really a net loss? We now have a very deep understanding and appreciation as to what it takes to succeed in that space and we learned a lot about digital commerce, which in today’s world is pretty valuable. Not to mention the fact that I spent a year working on this with one of my best friends who also happens to be my brother. Somebody said that you aren’t failing if you get a solid education from the experience which I guess is true and something you should always remember if you fall short. Right? It sounds a little like the BS that you tell yourself when something doesn’t work out but there is a lot of truth in that sentiment.
I hope that there are more failures in my future because it means that I am going after my dreams and not sitting on my butt TALKING about the stuff I could do. When you hear about successful entrepreneurs, the story is typically about how they succeeded with their idea, but most of them have a long history of working on projects that didn’t turn out well. Did they fail? I guess they did/ we did in a way but all of those experiences pave the way for what will ultimately be the big win. This is true for me in business as I reflect on other “failures” but also in my personal life. I get it wrong. Try not to repeat mistakes, and always end up better as a result so I’m good with that. Bring it on! Funny thing is that the people who criticize others for failing with a business venture are usually the ones that never try something on their own because the people I know taking risk have a profound appreciation for others doing the same, and I love that about people in the startup space.
My new friend Pablo Frixione recently purchased the Herobed brand from us and has done some really good stuff. Like our version they are launching slightly above market, with a hybrid, and a solid focus on giving back, donating a free mattress to someone in need for every two Herobeds sold. Go check out their site and take a look at their Herobed Pregnancy Test, it will make you smile I promise. Great job Pablo and best of luck to you and your team!
Check out the podcast How I Built This with Guy Raz. He interviews the founders of companies like Tempur-Pedic, Compaq Computer, and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and takes them through the early years, how they almost failed, and what ultimately lead to their success. It’s one of my favorites so give it a listen.
Last week on September 4th Kadin Lee Roberts-Day (KRD), a sophomore at Joplin High School collapsed in the gym during football practice and died from cardiac arrest. When someone dies unexpectedly, especially that young, it’s difficult to process. Both of my kids attend this school and didn’t know Kadin very well but that didn’t matter because the impact of his passing in this small community was felt in a profound way by all, no matter who you are or how well you knew KRD. That’s the bad part of what happened last week, but it’s not the entire story.
High School football is alive and well in Joplin and we have a really solid team this year; maybe one of the best ever. On Friday we were supposed to face off against our arch-rival, the Webb City Cardinals. The Cardinals have a 274-25 win/loss record under coach John Roderique who has been named Coach Of The Year 11 of his 23 seasons and has lead his team to 11 Missouri Class 4 State Championships. Not bad right? These guys live and breathe football and our Joplin Eagles have not won a game against them since 1990, and this year, we had to play them at home and we haven’t beaten them in their stadium since 1941. Since KRD died on Wednesday the administrators thought they should give our kids as much time to grieve as possible so they pushed the game from Friday to Saturday, so now we were the only high school football game in the area being played that night. It was going to be a packed house.
To add even more meaning to this story, Kadin’s mother LaShanda, joined her son’s football team in a moment of silence at the school. After the prayers and lots of tears, she told the team that her son was always talking about how much he wanted to beat Webb City. The Eagles were torn apart after the loss of their teammate and the coaches were suffering just as bad. So it really wasn’t a question of beating Webb, it was more about holding it together long enough to get through the game. But now they had a purpose.
It was standing room only with over 7,500 people filling the seats. Some parents got together and made up t-shirts to honor KRD’s memory so it was a sea of red in the visitor and home sections of the stadium. The Webb City community was mourning the loss right alongside Joplin and blew us away with their support. Cheerleaders stayed up all night baking cookies to sell for $1 so they could raise money to pay for the funeral. The 50/50 pot was donated to KRD’s family. And when the Joplin Eagles took the field that night, there wasn’t a single person from Webb or Joplin sitting down. Everyone in the stadium was on their feet clapping for the Eagles team. (To anyone from Webb City that happens to read this post, I want you to know that your kindness that night made a HUGE impact on all of us from Joplin so THANK YOU for that.) Both teams met mid-field for a group prayer, after that there were many hugs and handshakes followed by the first play of the game which ended in a penalty. In a sign of solidarity, Joplin took the field short one player as a symbolic gesture for their missing man, and Webb City declined the penalty. More tears. Game on.
Joplin knew they were going to have to play the game of their life to beat the Cardinals and it started out just as we needed it to. The Eagles drove the ball 71 yards ending in a 6-yard touchdown pass, followed by a fumble recovery and another touchdown for Joplin. At half-time, the score was 28-7 Eagles, but we knew that it wouldn’t be enough to win because Webb is just that good. Sure enough, the Cardinals came back strong in the second half, getting within a touchdown. With 5:47 left in the game, Isaiah Davis broke a 47 yard run for a first down but we ended up that drive with a 4th and 14 with three minutes remaining; plenty of time for the Cardinals to score. In the end, Blake Tash passed the ball to Zach Westmoreland who brought it in for a 15-yard gain and the first down we needed to run the clock out. Joplin Eagles win 35-28. RIP #63…that one was for you.
I’m sharing this story today for a few reasons. The kindness showed to Joplin by Webb City, and so many surrounding towns was overwhelming and makes you feel good to live where you do; the people in this little corner of Missouri are pretty dang incredible. The other part of this story is to point out the impact of purpose in your life. Purpose can drive your business, give your life the north star it needs, bring your family together, and even help you win football games. We have some incredibly talented players on the Joplin Eagles football team, but there is no doubt in my mind that when those kids made it about something bigger than themselves, it gave them the edge that they needed to get that win for KRD.
There were a lot of prayers last week. Prayers for peace and understanding. Prayers for strength. Prayers to win that game. The final score was 35-28. 35+28= 63 which happens to be Kadin’s jersey number. The game was played on 9/7. 9×7= 63. Then there was this cloud in the sky that looked a lot like the head of an Eagle. Some people might write those things off as coincidence which I understand, but other people would say that God’s presence was in that stadium giving those boys a little push. I guess I’m one of those “other people.” Hope I always am.
Rest in peace Kadin Roberts-Day. October 1, 2003-September 4, 2019 #KRD #63
One of my favorite quotes comes from Amy Morin, who is a psychotherapist and coaches people on how to be mentally tough. (Several people actually claim this quote but I like how she speaks to it.) She says, “The only person you should compare yourself to, is the person you were yesterday.” I really like this on the personal level for a number of reasons. Everybody has different circumstances, different opportunities, different resources, different obstacles, different connections to people, so to look at your friends lives on social media or the people living on your street and define your success based on what they are experiencing, is somewhat unfair isn’t it?
What is the impact of this on us personally? When you see people doing better than you are it can cause you pain, regret, envy, jealousy, anger or maybe it just flat depresses you. Does that make us petty? I think it makes us human, but we can choose not to do that anymore, I know I have and it has made a big difference. Consider this through the lens of social media and some recent research that says using social media can actually cause depression.
I bring this up because every holiday I start getting calls from retailers wanting to know how everyone else did with business, and yesterday was no exception. My sources tell me that based on a poll of some top retailers out there, the average increase was about 5-7%. So if your business was up 10% should you feel good about that? Maybe not, if your last year’s numbers were horrible so what you were up against was easy to beat. Or if you only showed a 2-3% increase this year but did it with one less store, or in spite of losing a big account.
Comparisons aren’t so bad as a reference point but don’t give them too much weight unless you consider all of the variables. My approach is to look at other people or companies and how they are doing with some regard, but I rely more on things like…
Am I executing my strategy and playing my game?
Are the metrics I set for myself being met or exceeded and if not why not?
How am I handling the roadblocks put in front of me?
Do I have the resources I need to accomplish my goal and if not, how do I acquire them?
If your competitor is playing the short game, their results will look a lot different than yours if you are playing the long game of slow and steady growth. So be really careful in how you analyze external factors.
I want to finish with a strong statement about social media. At first, Facebook and other platforms were pretty cool to be able to connect/re-connect with people, share stories, keep up with how others were doing, and learn about new things. Now, so much of it has turned into a place for people to not only share their life but brag about how great their life is. From a place to have a healthy debate to a bitch session where you troll people and alienate them for believing something different than what you believe. If you have teenage kids as I do, you can take these trends and magnify them by a lot and now you know what they are dealing with. In many ways, it’s not healthy. If you haven’t done it already, take a vacation from your phone in that way and see what happens, you might be surprised. Don’t get me wrong, social media can be an awesome tool if used the right way, but don’t let it become a negative force!
Have you made the mistake of comparing yourself or your company to the wrong things? Has social media become a negative thing for you or your family? Share in the comments section so others can learn!