Having kids has indeed been the roller coaster ride everyone told me it would be when my first child was born 11 years ago. Now, with three daughters, we’re all pretty much on track despite an occasional hiccup.
The biggest surprise parenthood has had for me continues to be just how much I learn from them everyday. For example, when my oldest was approaching three years old, she refused to leave the crib for her own bed. My wife and I wanted her to spread her wings and start flying, but she was steadfast and stood her ground—it simply wasn’t happening.
Compounding our frustration was that she wouldn’t even climb out of the crib so every morning she would call for someone to come get her. We figured the best way to help her transition to the bed was by not going to get her, sometimes for a few hours, each time explaining that if she was ready to try something new and different, she would enjoy the newfound freedom of getting up anytime she wanted. The choice was hers.
It took just a few days, but the light bulb came on and she said she was ready to leave the crib, as long as we checked under the bed for monsters.
In the annals of great analogies, this might not crack the top 10, but it was still a fascinating revelation for my daughter, and her dad.
DON’T CUT CORNERS
We are all often ready to try new things, but sometimes we need a little push to take that first step.
Within a week, we were hearing footsteps throughout the night as she deftly moved from room to room looking at her sisters, sneaking potato chips and stirring up a fresh batch of chocolate milk.
Sometimes retail can be this straightforward. Many chains that are not afraid to try new things often tend to reap the biggest rewards. Still, growth and risk need to be organic, and that means you must first lay the foundation to support growth and build out from there. Quite literally, there are no shortcuts to success in an industry as competitive as ours.
Gus Olympidis, president and CEO of Family Express in Valparaiso. Ind., hosted a roundtable
for the National Advisory Group’s (NAG) Young Executive Organization (YEO) in March. As part of the roundtable, nearly two dozen of the industry’s next-generation executives were treated to a tour of the chain’s impressive warehouse and bakery.
Among the key takeaways was that even a 60-store chain can think big and see hope in opportunities others may miss. But it’s a lot of hard work that starts by putting the building blocks in place and cultivating a corporate culture that perpetuates success.
As a daily reminder of this, Family Express has become known in Indiana for its square doughnuts that slide off the bakery line fresh every morning. “They are square to remind everyone that we don’t cut corners at Family Express,” Olympidis said. Brilliant in its simplicity, it’s a subtle reminder to employees and a clever marketing distinction all neatly packaged together into one tasty treat.
In his allegorical book, “Who Moved My Cheese?,” Dr. Spencer Johnson expertly details the options we face every day. Sniff and Scurry are the go-getters who are not content with standing still and seek out new solutions.
On the other hand, Hem and Haw, sit back and lament how unfairly life is treating them. Their path is clouded with anger and lethargy.
By the end, the path to success is clear. But it all begins with taking that first step. It can be costly and will invariably lead to many sleepless nights. It can also lead to a host of new opportunities that can move your business down a prosperous path.
So whether it’s designing a retail prototype, expanding into fresh foodservice or even making a couple of new hires to explore what opportunities are out there, don’t be afraid of the unknown. Just remember to check for monsters.