The World's Unsexiest Business
adding a little sizzle to the convenience store industry
Is it any surprise that the most captivating company leader-orators have the ability to command attention of an audience by means few other than mere spell binding? Adeptly leveraging what Mihály Csíkszentmihályi calls 'flow', these gifted speakers are able to induce the room into a state of trance where every last word of the wisdom and insight being imparted is soaked up to nearly the highest degree.
But what happens when these masterful audience power wielders address a room of listeners whose lives they've actually become invested in?
For the most invested leaders, emotional detachment can become nearly an impossible task. The emotional EQ or even raw skill necessary can neither be entirely learned nor inherited for the greatest spoken word influencers attribute such mastery to a function of grueling practice upon more practice--that to the point of Malcolm Gladwell's dubbed '10,000 hour mastery'. Especially in the corporate realm, guidance on how to be most effective in addressing multiple groups of employees is more rooted in engineering the art of mastery long before mastering the art of speaking even comes into play.
Let's talk for a moment about the 'all hands on deck' meeting.
Its roots can be traced much further back in history to a time that predates any semblance of recorded storytelling. During this period of human development, even the most primitive version of ourselves had deemed a need to communicate abstract and loosely defined higher belief philosophy in an orderly and structured fashion. Whether or not such budding leaders realized it, such a practice spawned the beginnings of a hierarchical based society and the science of influence.
But now fast forward today to the economy 2.0. As we venture head first towards a world that seems to be embracing decentralization with open arms most notably evidenced by the popularization of cryptocurrency, do we not see power being shared instead of hoarded? In this brave new world, we find ourselves caught in a tug of war between dismantling the stodgy preaching of the 'old guard' and the bombardment of the latest, greatest, and perhaps most importantly, disruption worthy. Shiny not even necessary.
From the will-nilly social media peddling so-called snake oil salesmen all the way up to the greatest thought leaders and salesmen of our day--both who've managed to evangelize the philosophy behind such innovation--they're both really interested in a shared end game. And that's amassing a huge following or what was formerly known as simply building a cult. I mean isn't growth hacking just a techie reincarnation of this very tactic minus the doomsday story ending?
Lest we never forget, "History always repeats itself." Lest we always remember those who can shape the future with great success are the greatest students of history itself. Whether it's a deep dive within a particular period's teachings or the distilling of human evolution on a long linear timeline basis, the ability to borrow, synthesize, and then repackage, such lessons unlocks the key for both exerting influence and ushering in impactful change.
Last night we held one of the largest company meetings ('all hands on deck') in our corporate history led none other than by the founder and CEO of the company, Mr Mac (otherwise known as my dad). Those in the audience ranged from temporary help all the way up to our executive management team. Unsurprisingly, the attention span also ran the gamut: from complete and utter disengagement all the way to the budding empire building entrepreneur that wanted to soak up as much knowledge from the man whose path to ascendancy he/she could only dream of emulating. Though the meeting started off without any need for pomp and circumstance it soon became clear to me that as a company we had reached that point of critical mass--one where our people were listening not because their ability to pay that month's rent was at stake but for reasons of being mind, body, and soul inspired.
Being a leader who has an uncanny ability to read people along with always having a finger on the lifeline pulse of his audience (and business), Mr Mac subconsciously foresaw declining levels of energy in the room fifteen minutes into this meeting. This caused him to naturally and rather quickly segue from addressing company issues in a no-nonsense bulletin board style fashion to becoming a historian and storyteller. Of course, it was all in the effort to reengage his audience.
One audience buzz generating story he decided to share was about employee theft that occurred many years ago during a time in his professional career he was starting out and hence still trying to figure out his cadence and style of leadership. Though I've heard him share many stories over the years about the business never once had I been privy to this one about a young lady who had been a cashier at his Winnetka Boulevard location while concurrently attending a nearby high school. Avoiding any detection and completely unbeknownst to anyone, during her employment she had manage to steal $800 worth of cigarettes. It was some years later that she would ask to speak with Mr. Mac privately. The thought of even entertaining a closed door type of meeting sent off alarm bells ringing in his head which almost viscerally prompted him to put his guard up to the point of avoiding the meeting at all costs. However, reassessing the situation he reluctantly agreed to meet her at which point she immediately came clean. She openly revealed to having committed such a transgression for which she open-heartedly sought forgiveness along with handing him an envelope containing the $800 in cash.
Incredulously, the formerly mixed attention audience had gone from restless to an all ears mesmerized state of trance.
Though storytelling might normally seem out of place here, our minds and hearts almost never respond negatively especially when presented in an environment where it may least be expected.