This series of “Lessons from Al” is dedicated to the life and legacy of one of the most influential mentors in my life, career, and management, Al Berg.
There is a common thread in each of these. Can you determine what it is?
- Water…or a delicious root beer float
- White…or warm, decadent mocha cream
- Vegetables…or homemade pumpkin pie
- Spreadsheets…or flashy marketing materials
- Legal agreements…or live events
If you said they are comparisons of basics versus things that are more colorful, flavorful, and exciting, you are correct.
In business, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of growth, launches, new product development, innovation, new ideas, and the countless avenues of marketing that exist today. The possibilities are endless.
Therein lies the problem.
If they are not careful and mindful, business leaders of today can get so caught up in these parts of business that they neglect the equally important…basics.
This is where this lesson from Al serves as a powerful reminder to regularly address the basics in business. There are times when it is all about “new,” where the team is collectively focused on a new product launch, for example. It is an all-out effort.
But after a launch, Al always made sure we quickly returned to the basics to get back on track and to ensure that the essentials were solidly addressed.
There are examples everywhere of companies who have a great idea and a stellar product. Their marketing is first class. From an outside perspective, they have their proverbial ducks in a row. Until…you order the product or service, and they don’t deliver. Or you try to get answers from customer service, and no one responds.
The company may have had a very successful launch, with thousands, tens of thousands, or millions of dollars in sales. But if the financials are not managed well, it could be going right out the door in the form of unnecessary expenses, penalties, or emergencies that could have been prevented. The company could be on high production, but if they don’t address the basics of maintenance and compliance, production will be adversely impacted. The company could have great working partnerships, but without the basic legal agreements in place, lawsuits are inevitable…and costly.
Companies also “forget where they came from.” As they grow, they begin to lose touch with their roots – the values that made them who they are. Consider, for example, a web hosting company, known for rock-solid uptime and excellent customer service. But one that did not address the inevitability of growth. Because of that, they face downtime, security breaches, and major customer service issues. Customers are complaining publicly and dropping the service in droves.
Al always made sure his company grew, but he was equally careful to strengthen its roots.
In life and business, you can neglect the basics, but only for so long. A steady diet of root beer floats and pumpkin pie will inevitably take its toll. Focusing on growth, marketing, and sales to the exclusion of foundations like legal, accounting, systems, and customer service is as deadly to a business as a junk food diet is to the body.
As a business leader, be like Al. Stop where you are right now, and consider the basics.
Have you deviated from, or are you neglecting, any of these critical elements?
- Core Values
- Customer Service
- Policies and Procedures
- Maintenance and Compliance
- Risk Management
It is all about balance – building and growing a business while also maintaining a strong foundation.
- Focus only on growth, and the health of your business will break.
- Focus only on the basics, and you lose your competitive and innovative edge.
Enjoy the new, exciting, innovative parts of business; but never lose site of the basics that will keep it strong and support the growth.
This is the lesson from Al.
Enjoy the pie; but don’t forget to eat your vegetables.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.