The 2011 Birthday Edition


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Hard for me to believe, but Monday was my fifty-third birthday. I bet it’s even harder for my parents to believe.

In keeping with my annual birthday tradition, here are 53 things I’ve learned so far.

1. There are hidden sales opportunities within almost every store. Most people look outside for them but the best retailers know it’s an inside job.

2. As many times as I’ve tried to escape retail, I’m grateful I didn’t. That’s one time failure has served me well!

3. Then again, almost all my failures have served me well. I just didn’t know it at the time.

4. Confidence is healthy. Being egocentric is not. The difference lies in remaining teachable.

5. Grow yourself first, and then your staff. Sales growth will follow.

6. Owning what holds us back is the first step to changing.

7. Never hire someone unless you’re incredibly excited about hiring him/her. Most of us need to put a lot more effort into finding the right person. Worry less about their past, and try to learn a lot more about what they bring within them.

8. The fastest way to failure and misery is to not enjoy what you do for a living. Life’s too short.

9. A beautiful well-merchandised specialty store staffed with mediocre people misses the opportunity to be memorable.

10. If you’re a good parent you can be a good manager and vice versa.

11. We achieve what we believe. Know what you believe.

12. Simplicity is a competitive advantage. Most people overcomplicate things.

13. Think, and then speak. People are very forgiving, but few forget hurtful comments.

14. Always put “learn something” at the top of your to-do list.

15. The more improvements you make the closer to your customer, the more successful you will be.

16. Don’t be a slave to email. I have yet to regret turning off the email alert on my smartphone and computer.

17. It’s nice to share moments with friends and family on Facebook, but don’t get so involved in sharing the event that you miss it yourself.

18. Any owner, executive, or manager who feels or acts more superior than his/her staff is sadly mistaken and only hurting himself/herself.

19. Never speak ill of a customer or an employee. It undermines you and doesn’t do a thing to change the situation. Mom was right.

20. Strive for progress, not perfection.

21. Focus on high-impact, high-priority activities. Delegate the rest.

22. After all these years in retail, I still don’t like nametags. Not saying you should or shouldn’t wear them…I just don’t like them.

23. Leadership is an action, not a position.

24. The best retailers I know balance being extremely sales-focused with delivering a great customer experience.

25. Almost all employees want to do a good job. Thinking otherwise reduces their ability to grow and develop.

26. One of my favorite things we focused on at Bose was, “Try a lot of things and keep what works.” Easier said than done.

27. Thinking well of someone and not sharing it with them is of no value.

28. Remove energy-suckers and negative people from your life.

29. Keeping work and life in balance is about making the right choices.

30. If you don’t believe you have the power to make that choice you should make a change in your life.

31. Don’t envy more successful people. Learn what they do and then do it your way.

32. Then again, success is personal. Don’t let someone else’s definition of success define yours.

33. Here’s my formula for success. Add your experiences of the past with actions based on what you’ve learned today to make a better tomorrow. Day at a time.

34. Keep changing. Keep your store fresh. Keep your staff inspired. If you don’t, be prepared to fail.

35. I probably tell myself “Let it go” five times a day. I probably need to tell myself ten times a day.

36. I’m extremely grateful for the people in my life. I really miss those who aren’t still.

37. Time management is not the challenge. Priority management is.

38. Never miss a chance to praise an employee and say thank you.

39. Never miss a chance to teach someone how he/she can be even better. Position both as a positive, because they are.

40. Saint Francis got it right when he said it is better to understand than to be understood. The first leads to the second.

41. We should celebrate when an employee leaves for what they see is a better opportunity. Change is good for the employee and the staff. It’s okay to celebrate even more when some other people leave.

42. You just can’t beat a summer night at the ballpark. Don’t work so much that you don’t have time for those things.

43. You don’t have to believe or agree with everything you read, but you can always use it as a basis to form your own ideas and opinions. That’s the entire philosophy behind this blog. I’m not sure I always agree with me.

44. To teach is to learn twice. Teach more. You’ve only scratched the surface of what there is to learn.

45. This list was a lot easier when I started it eight years ago.

46. Having a coach and mentor is one of the best financial and/or time investments you can make. He/she will undoubtedly teach you something, but the real payoff is in how he/she holds you accountable.

47. Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of the customers. Take care of the customers and they’ll take care of the business.

48. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t like you or your store. Focus your efforts on those who do.

49. The only person or thing that can hold you back is you. Unfortunately, some people are too good at this.

50. Customers are too valuable to just let them walk. Unhappy customers have a much bigger soapbox than they used to. Do what it takes within reason to keep a customer.

51. Manners matter. Always say, “thank you,” “please,” and “you’re welcome.” Expect the same from your staff and your children.

52. Be grateful. Demonstrate it with both words and actions.

53. Knowledge is useless without application. Seems like everything comes back to that one simple word: action. Okay, maybe it’s not so simple.

54. Always go above and beyond in everything you do, especially when it is for others.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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