Business and leadership lessons from Alaska – part 3


In part one of this journey, it was all about telling a story.  Part 2 continued with a tale about adding great value. Now in part 3, I finally get to tell you about being honest.  Here we go.

Be Honest

Our first stop in Alaska was in Ketchikan, the self-proclaimed salmon capital of the world.  I have no reason to dispute this, so I won’t.

It didn’t take long for this lesson to hit me, as it happened just as we got off the ship.  We weren’t even off the dock when an enterprising tour operator asked us what we wanted to do for the day.  We were already planning a self-guided walking tour (with me as the tour guide!), so none of us really stopped at his booth.  Trying to be funny, I posed the same question back to him as we walked by.  “What do YOU want to do today?”

I was surprised, pleasantly, by his answer.  He simply said, “I want to sell you something”.

His unabashed honesty was refreshing.  No marketing hype, no slick sales moves.  Just a guy trying to make a buck, and not ashamed of it.  The more I thought about his response, the more I felt it needed to be praised.  So, I stepped back to his booth and let him know how much I appreciated his up-front approach.  In our conversation, I found out his name was Forrest, and he was an Alaskan native.  (I regret that I did not get a picture of him, so the other Forrest will have to do.)

Ultimately, I didn’t buy anything from him.  However, if I am ever in Ketchikan again, I will certainly look him up.  If you are ever there, you can, too!

Forrest in Alaska

Are you this honest with your employees or guests?  One term that gets a lot of play right now is the word ‘transparency’.  In other words, being open and honest in a way that shows your flaws as much as your strengths.  That can be tough for some people to do, but it shows you are human, and that helps people relate to you.

One specific area this has surfaced is in social media… a dissatisfied customer posts to your Facebook page and you want to take it down.  Resist that urge. No one is perfect, so don’t try to pretend that you are. Often, other loyal followers will come to your defense without you having to get involved. If you do need to step in, do so in a professional manner and let your other customers see just how seriously you take their concerns.

Thanks for reading!!

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