Yesterday, I found my mecca.
It is a place of heavenly treats and pies that seemed to have come straight from heaven. I could continue on by talking about the perfect piece of Bourbon Chocolate Pecan pie, yes you read that correctly, but before I digress anymore… I came to my mecca and met one of the owners of, Lauren. Her and her husband Cody have made a quaint and deliciously southern pie joint that most would consider an overnight success.
In talking with Lauren you begin to understand that it was actually through long hours, tears and an unbelievable community that it has become the success that it is today. The biggest take away from the conversation was that in business, everything happens in steps. They didn’t just quit their jobs and open a pie shop, they ended up taking a small step when Lauren started making pies on the side for coworkers and friends. After they realized she couldn’t keep up with the demand of making and giving away pies for free, they started selling them. Each step lead to the next until she and her husband decided to go all in and open the shop.
Once they opened the shop, it was all rainbows, unicorns and pies. Actually… it wasn’t. It was 80+ hour weeks, tons of hard work, tears shed and many burritos consumed. But, that isn’t where the story ends. In fact, it is still continuing on and they have seen massive success and won a national competition put on by the Cooking Channel called “Sugar Showdown.” None of this happened overnight and none of this was one giant leap.
What got Lauren and Cody to the success they are experiencing today is small steps. It’s the small steps of creating amazing customer experiences, creating an unbelievable culture, and loving your employees well that turn out to create a huge “overnight” success.
A couple of weeks ago on June 6th, 2019 a dream was accomplished. Even though to the handful of folks who heard about the event or attended may have thought it appeared in happen within the matter of a month, it took over two years to come about. During this two year period I failed multiple times, frustrated a few people, made a handful of amazing relationships, and learned a ton along the way. Part of me hates that it took over two years to have this event come to fruition, and the other part of me wouldn’t have it any other way.
The real question is WHY on God’s green earth should you or anyone else stick with something for two years or more? I believe that can be best explained from what I learned over this time period.
The first thing I learned is that to accomplish anything of impact you have to surround yourself with an amazing community. This event all started with someone who has become one of my best friends. This man is a champion and crazily enough has been supportive of all my harebrained ideas. Bo Cordell is a huge reason why this event even happened. It was because of our monthly coffees that we started having over 3 years ago that an idea, to help the logistics and supply chain community, turned into this event . A little over a year and a half ago we tried to start this community, but our relationships, time and capacity we had to offer were not enough. Even though we had a little success in the beginning, the momentum, support and knowledge wasn’t there to keep it going full steam.
The second thing I learned is that you have to be mindful that you are not sprinting past your family and friends. There were a handful of times when I could have pulled this off earlier, but I would have had no one around me to celebrate with. I remember countless conversations and nights having tough and frustrating conversations with my wife. I was leaving hear and my kids in the wake of my dreams and ambitions and that only would have ended in frustration and pain. I am so thankful that if I listened to hear and took a moment of rest.
The third thing I learned was that to accomplish anything of impact or importance it is all about taking small steps. From the very beginning I wanted to be surrounded by a huge community that made the other good ol’ boy clubs look outdated and weak, make an impact in legislation around logistics and supply chain, and have a large and well attended event. All of these things are great, but to do them all at once and right away is ridiculous. The bigness of the idea was too much for us to handle, and over time it was whittled down to the carrier community event that happened on the 6th. It’s this last idea of small steps that actually saved this ambition from falling away for another two years.
Why stick with something for two years… because you have no idea of the amazing places it will take you, the lessons you will learn, and the adventures you will have along the way. Without this experience I wouldn’t have realized those three lessons:
To accomplish anything of impact it takes surrounding yourself with community.
Don’t sprint past your family and friends towards your goal. You don’t want to accomplish anything and realize you are at the end all alone.
Don’t go for broke. Instead, start walking and figure out the next small step that will be a great foundation for the next step and the one after that.
A quote that I love is this, “What got you here, won’t get you there.”
I recently went to a food show for the restaurant industry and got to talking to a handful of venders that offer different options and substitutes for products that contain allergens. I was shocked that they only had so much of the marketplace when this food evolution is in such a huge swing.
People are not just on these “diets” because they are the next fad, but because of the long term health benefits and because it could be life or death. Even with such pressure and desire from their customers, restaurants are slow to change. Some of the biggest reasons are space, which is money, and the fact they already have hundreds of items in their restaurant, and they can’t possibly carrier every little option.
Space, and which option best meets their customers needs are two giant issues. You can’t be everything to everyone so you will have to upset a few folks. It’s not easy, but as a restaurant, or for any company in the service industry, you need to find out what your customer actually wants and desires and give it to them. You need to constantly be talking to your customer and making the appropriate changes, not for changes sake, but because that is the only way your business will thrive.
No matter what industry you are in, the only way you can make these tough choices is by knowing your companies brand. Once you know that, you can make those tough choices that lead to better serving your customer. There are a million options out there, but when you know your company and it’s number one customer, those choices become easy.
Remember, “What got you here, won’t get you there.”
Life is infinitely better together and I think that is something we can all agree on. As true as that is, it still seems that people are living their lives more and more in isolation and behind screens. Let me encourage you to do something a little cray cray… pick up the phone and make a call. I honestly don’t care to whom, just make the call.
Good, now that we have started to loosen up, I want you to do something really crazy. What I need you to do is think about the people you interact with on social media or those you work with, but have only talked with through email. Narrow it down to one person, and give them a call. Don’t have their number? Doesn’t matter. Reach out and ask for it. Don’t make this some weird awkward hopeful date thing. This is a you genuinely caring about another human being that you have done life with kind of a thing.
I have been able to do this a handful of times over the past couple of months and it has been such a great learning opportunity. Here are just a handful of things I have learned:
- Know your personal brand. This gives clarity for the big and small decisions we’ll make.
- Patience, mixed with realistic expectations, is what will help you as you navigate business and the need to not only provide for your family, but also close deals and provide for your customers.
- Vague beginnings lead to chaotic endings.
- Culture is everything. Make sure it is their from the beginning of your business and not something you halfheartedly add at the end.
These four brilliant nuggets of gold are what I have learned from others. Please, do us all a favor and grow your network and community by authentically caring about others and getting to know them. One last word of caution. Don’t go into these conversations trying to dig out some brilliant life lesson. Go into the conversation with some general questions and direction, but let it go where it goes.
Who do you need to call? What did you learn?
Impatience doesn’t care about gender, race, or age and it reeks havoc on individuals, companies, and relationships. My wife and I have had countless conversations and even arguments because one of us, usually me, is being impatient.
It wasn’t until recently that we came to a realization about the word patience and how it relates to our lives. A few months back we, along with so many others from Lindsay’s old neighborhood, were invited to a party to celebrate the marriage of the brother of one of Lindsay’s best friends from childhood. As the day arrived, we packed up the family and went on the five minute drive to the neighborhood where my wife grew up. The home where the party was held was perfection. It had gorgeous hardwood floors throughout and each room was perfectly furnished. There was beer, wine, snacks, and desserts set up throughout the house and a local BBQ company had catered the event. The backyard was beautifully landscaped and had a relaxing water feature and a stunning lake view to cap it all off.
As I mingled with the other guests, every single conversation would always turn towards fond memories from years gone by. The memories would usually include how my mother-in-law taught their kids piano and stories about Lindsay and her parents. This party, in every aspect, was perfection.
As we packed up the kids and started the five minute trek home, we talked about how beautiful the house was, how unbelievable it was to have refreshments all over, and how great the conversations were. That was the type of party I wanted to throw. I wanted to have the perfectly manicured landscape, food and refreshments flowing from all corners of the house, and conversations of moments long gone by. As our tires hit our driveway, a different thought popped into my head. That party, as perfect as it was, took over 30 years to execute. It may have been a day of actual planning and follow through, but it took over 30 years for the whole thing to come together.
When the house was first purchased it wasn’t fully furnished with updated features throughout. It took years to fully furnish, make updates and additions, to get the perfectly manicured landscape with that calming water feature. The conversations weren’t trivial because everyone had the base of 20 plus years of background. About the only thing that didn’t take 30 years was the food and refreshments, but even having the ability to purchase them without blinking an eye takes years of putting money away so that you can have celebrations like these and not have to focus on the cost.
In the weeks that have passed since attending this party, I have come to realize how I need to have the patience to see the small steps through. When we look at the small steps taken over time, we get to see a big improvement. But in the midst of the shuffle, they don’t seem to matter at all. We all need to learn to deploy patience because it’s what helps give us perspective to see the impact we are making, and the legacy we are leaving.