(Time to read this Blog is about 3 minutes)
Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking or smiling:
- My Biz Quote of the week:
“There’s lots of talk in business about creativity, but very little talk about courage. There’s no point being creative of you’re not also courageous, because you’ll never have the guts to implement all the cool creative stuff that you come up with. ”
- 84% of Christmas Trees sold in the USA last year were ‘fake’. Venturing out as a family to find the ‘perfect’ tree to bring home and decorate was a wonderful and exciting traditional event. Now, your ‘Christmas’ tree lives with you all year round, in a box, in the basement.
The new fake trees look so real and come with LED lights permanently installed. The needles don’t dry out and fall off. I get it…but it makes me a bit sad.
- Quick Biz Tip: Will you make this important Communications Commitment for 2023?
Every business should be updating and reminding their team 3 times a year on the following:
- Our commitments for the year to sales, profitability, customer value and experiences, the Team, to the community and the planet. This includes our values, ethics and commitment to sustainability.
- How we’re doing in delivering on those commitments so far this year. Specifically, what we’ve done well, where we need to improve, and what we’re all doing to fix what needs fixing…and by when.
- Specifically how they’re doing as an individual team member, what might be ‘next’ for them and how to prepare for that.
- Who and what we commit to become in 3 to 5 years and the challenges and opportunities that this growth will provide.
Your good people want to know this stuff and they want to know that you know this stuff. As a business owner, leader or manager a big part of your job is to know this stuff and to be able to communicate it clearly and honestly. That’s why you get the big bucks!
And your good people don’t just want to be communicated with. They want to be involved, listened to, respected and appreciated. They know stuff and they hate it when you don’t ask…and listen.
- The world’s easiest and best Shortbread Cookies. Holiday time is cookie time! To download my recipe for the best ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ shortbread cookies you’ll ever make or buy, click here.
Now, to this week’s important topic:
The Christmas Tree Man:
Note: When I first wrote this article a few years ago, we had such a wonderful response that it has become a December Blog tradition. Enjoy it for the first time…or enjoy it again. It’s a wonderful and important message for this, or any, time of year.
I often caution clients about the danger of ‘judging’ customers by how they’re dressed, or by who they appear to be. Back in my days as an ‘almost famous’ retailer of ladies’ fashions and gifts, I learned this powerful and moving lesson from ’The Christmas Tree Man’.
Our staff came to me one December day to express concern about an unshaven, disheveled and generally unwashed gentleman who kept coming into our store. As he shuffled through our ladies clothing and gift departments, he would glance out the window every few minutes and then, sometimes, he would rush out the door and disappear…empty-handed. This process was repeated several times each day; sometimes resulting in a purchase and sometimes in yet another mysterious disappearance.
When he did buy, he always paid cash from a huge roll of bills with an old, knotted elastic band wound twice around it. But mostly he would look out the window, then rush out the door and disappear.
This strange behavior was spooking our staff and when they started making some unflattering assumptions about this unusual gentleman, I assured them that there was probably a logical explanation and I promised to chat with him on his next visit.
Sure enough, a few hours later, he reappeared. I approached him, explaining that our staff were quite intrigued by his mysterious comings and goings. “Oh”, he said, “I’m the Christmas tree man. That’s my Christmas tree lot just down the road with the little house trailer. I grow the trees on my farm up north, you know, and then I come down here for three weeks each year to sell them to you city folks.”
“I work all alone so I have no time off to buy gifts and I don’t get back home until well after midnight on Christmas Eve. So, whenever I have a few minutes, I rush up here to shop. I really love your store. You have wonderful things, and every day I choose a few gifts for the ladies on my list.”
“But you keep looking out the window.” I said. “Oh,” he replied, “I’m just checking to see if anyone has pulled into my lot to buy a tree. And if they have, I have to rush back before they leave, or I won’t get the business. You can’t take those trees back to the forest and replant them, you know. Once they’re cut, they’re cut.”
“By the way” he added, “I know I don’t look like your usual customer. In fact, I probably look a bit scary to some folks and I guess I don’t smell too good either. I don’t have much more than a bed and a stove in my little trailer. No place to wash up. There’s not a lot of money in real Christmas trees anymore, you know. It’s kind of sad, really. But your staff, they’re so wonderful. They treat me with respect and I really appreciate that!”
The Christmas tree man spent almost $3,000 in our store over a three-week period. He came and he went, he came and he went, day after day, always looking out the window, sometimes rushing to serve a customer. And at the end, on Christmas Eve, before he left for home, he stopped by one more time and gave each of us a real Christmas tree! But the real gift that he gave us was the reminder that we should treat everyone with dignity, understanding and joy. That was his most beautiful and lasting gift.
That’s it for this week…
Stay safe…live brilliantly!
Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org in Toronto, Canada.
I enjoy this story every year. Thank you for sharing!