Infographic “How To” Post 8: On A Mission

This is part 8 of a 10 part “how to” series covering the points in the infographic below.

Employees Stay8Of all the topics on this infographic, being “on a mission” could be one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.  Of course, it’s also one of the toughest ones to cultivate.

Or is it? Let’s explore.

Back in February of 2015, I wrote a post called, Is It Time To Rethink The Mission Statement?” My basic question was this: is YOUR mission statement doing what it was intended to do – unify your workforce toward a common goal?

Of course, a mission statement on a wall can’t do that.  In fact, it really can’t do anything. To me, mission and culture are very tightly aligned because both require action… consistent action… to be taken seriously.

For some reason, when I picture an employee “on a mission”, I conjure up a vision of someone with a steely stare, a fire in their gut and constantly on the move.  If they were a cartoon, they would have the little wispy lines behind them showing that they were swiftly moving about.

motion-lines-03But this post isn’t about what they look like, it’s about how you get them there.

Here are some questions to ask to get the ball rolling:

  • Does your company have a mission statement?
  • If so, is it concise and targeted, or a stew of buzz-wordy mumbo jumbo?
  • Is your mission supported throughout the organization with real-world behaviors?
  • Is your mission something that employees can believe in and get behind?

Let’s start at the beginning:

Does your company have a mission statement?

I looked up two definitions to dive into this topic:

  • Mission: an important goal or purpose that is accompanied by strong conviction
  • Mission Statement: an official document that sets out the goals, purpose, and work of an organization.

If you have a mission statement, great.  You have organized your thoughts about the direction of the company and what you hope to accomplish/achieve.  Unfortunately, most people stop there thinking that just having this written down or on a fancy poster will make it come to life.  If that’s you, and you haven’t seen the results you are looking for, don’t despair… you are not alone.  Pay special heed to the 3rd and 4th bullet points below.

The reason just putting up the poster doesn’t work is because we are talking a mission. An important goal! A purpose! Strong conviction! When was the last time a poster, and a poster alone, inspired you to do something?  It’s usually the combination of interactions with others, an internal conviction of your own, a little research, the example set by others THEN seeing the poster may illicit some action.  But usually not by itself.

So does your mission statement convey and reflect of the true goals and purpose of the company?  As we’ll explore later, are YOU demonstrating a strong conviction or belief in that mission?

If you don’t have a mission statement for your organization, I am not going to tell you that you have to have one. Create one if you’d like, they can be helpful.  But be careful.  If you create a fancy mission statement and don’t uphold it through your actions, you will have wasted a lot of time.  On the other side of the coin, if everyone is already committed to a common goal, and that oozes from every pore of every being on the payroll, a statement on a wallet card probably won’t deliver a lot of traction.

If you do have a mission statement, is it concise and targeted, or a stew of buzz-wordy mumbo jumbo?

A stated goal or purpose that is easily remembered and defined for the individual is the first step in creating a mission statement that will actually help you get people on the same page.  Again, in-and-of-itself, the statement can’t do that.  But if it’s clear what the goal is and what employees need to do in whatever position they are in to help achieve it, then you’re closer to having a mission statement that will actually inspire people to join you on your mission.

For example, I’ve always liked the simplicity of Herchend Family Entertainment’s mission: Creating Memories Worth Repeating®.  We all know this business is about encouraging repeat visits to our locations, so charging employees at all levels with creating a memory that your guests will want to relive or re-experience is not only a great mission, but also a pretty great business model.

And, it transcends departments, making it easy to identify the types of actions someone in foods, merchandise, attractions, custodial, finance, marketing, sales, security, maintenance, admissions, etc. need to display on a daily basis to have a positive impact on the mission.  Granted, their audiences may be different, but the process of creating positive memories for an external guest or internal partner are largely the same; follow through on commitments, be respectful, deliver more than you promise.

Contrast that mission statement with the one I used (and made up) for my post from 2015: To deliver unparalleled care to our clients with employees who exceed all expectations of quality and cooperation and provide amazingly unbelievable returns to our shareholders.

That probably looks nice on a poster in the break room, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that most employees (including the leadership team) couldn’t decipher what that means in terms of daily behaviors, nor would they know when they achieved it.

So if you are going to have a mission, and a statement that embodies it for all employees to embrace and uphold, I implore you to keep it simple.

Is your mission supported throughout the organization with real-world behaviors?

This is why your mission needs to be simple, easy to remember, easy to embrace (see next section) and the behaviors that support it need to be easily identifiable for employees at all levels. Why? Because if people don’t get it, they ain’t gonna do it!

This is where mission and culture either make beautiful music together or repel one another like two North pole magnets.

Every company (or team) has a culture.  It may not be what you want to be, but there it is. And this culture, or the way stuff gets done in your organization, has everything to do with whether or not your mission will be supported.

Picture this: a brand new employee has just completed their orientation.  They heard all about the company, the mission, and the do’s and don’ts.  They get to their work location the next day, and either by implication or by direct example, are shown that things in the “field” are vastly different than what was discussed at orientation. The current culture doesn’t understand, buy in, support, or embrace the mission that the company is going for, and has decided to run things their own way.

And chances are, the leadership teams across property also don’t understand, buy in, support or embrace the mission either.  Thus, the trickle down to the front line and now the new hire.

No matter what your mission statement is, there are some critical steps to be taken to translate the words on a poster into real actions and behaviors that will drive your culture:

  • Define the mission – in terms of behaviors, and what it “looks like” to each and every role at all levels.  On a daily basis, what would an accountant, supervisor, F&B attendant, or ride operator do that supports your goals?
  • Live the mission – your culture is a reflection of what you do everyday.  Are you living by the mission that you set for everyone else?  Is the mission part of your daily meetings, goals, recruiting efforts, training practices, and termination process?  In other words, is the mission reinforced in every aspect of the employee lifecycle?  If someone, anyone, is acting in a way that is inconsistent with the mission, why are they still on payroll?  (This is ESPECIALLY true of leaders and executives.) You cannot expect your new employees to embrace a mission that isn’t being supported by the people they are working with everyday.
  • Measure the mission – is the mission part of how you evaluate your employees?  If not, it should be.  If you are going to expect people to do something, you better measure their progress.  Once you have defined what the mission looks like, you now have the criteria for measurement, and even for seasonal employees, it’s critical they know how they are measuring up. “People will respect what you inspect.”  I can’t remember who said that, but it has stuck with me for years. If you want people to provide great service, you better inspect how they are providing service.  You want people to treat others with respect, you better inspect how they are treating others.

Even if you have a simple, easy to understand mission statement, if your culture isn’t supporting it, it’s just a statement.

Is your mission something that employees can believe in and get behind?

This is why you have a mission in the first place, right?  It’s a beacon on a foggy night helping to lead your employees through murky waters.  But, do they care?  Is it something that means something to them?  Is it a direction they want to go?  Is the outcome important to them?

Lots of mission statements mention providing some sort of service to the guests. Why is that important to your employees (again, at all levels).  I think it’s easier to understand this dynamic as a leader, someone who has invested the time to understand the inner workings of the organization.  But to the 17 year-old who got a summer job, they may not have that perspective, not because they are stupid or lazy, but just because they lack the years of experience. So how do you frame your mission to provide great guest service so it not only makes sense to the 17 year-old, but also makes them want to get behind it and support it?

Part of this is the example we set, as we discussed in the section about the mission being supported by real world behaviors. If we value it, they will be more likely to value it, too.

The other part of this is looking at it from their perspective.  We often think of our mission in terms of “what’s in it for the company?”.  Since the success of the company is a result of the efforts of the employees, why not look at it as, “what’s in it for the employees?”, too?

Many of our younger employees want to work for an employer who is doing good (or the right) things. You know you already do good things (and hopefully you are doing the right things).  Does your mission reflect that?  Or, is the mission all about guests, business results and shareholder confidence?  Does it address the kind of environment you are creating for your employees or the service they get to provide?  And I don’t mean the tasks they do… that’s their job.  I’m referring to bigger picture kind of service of escapism, safety, fantasy, memories, family togetherness, etc.  That is a mission that people can get behind.

When all you talk about is ringing up a sale and throughput, you aren’t allowing your employees to embrace the bigger service picture.  You are keeping them rooted in their tasks, not challenging them to be a part of something ultimately more rewarding.

And working to achieve a mission should be rewarding, because if it’s not, why would you want to do it?

Next up: Empowered

Thanks for reading!


About the author – After 20+ years in hospitality leadership and human resources, Matt Heller founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one simple goal: Help Leaders Lead. Matt now works with attractions large and small and leaders at all levels to help them improve leadership competencies, customer service, employee motivation and teamwork. His book, “The Myth of Employee Burnout” was released in 2013 has become a go-to resource among industry leaders.

What can we learn from this?

One of my first paintball experiences was in college, when a few buddies and I decided to see what the game was all about.  We had fun, but it was clear we were not as “into it” as some of the other players.

Because there were only three or four of us, we were grouped with other players to make a full game – probably 6 or 7 per team.  At the end of the first game (in which we really didn’t know what we were doing but had fun anyway), one of the other guys on our team gathers us around for a strategy session.Paintball_Player“What can we learn from this?”, he asked the group.

If he wasn’t as serious as a heat attack, I probably wouldn’t remember it so vividly, but this guy was not about to lose again.  I remember thinking, um… “shoot the other people before they shoot you?”  That was my takeaway. I thought that answer was too simplistic, so I kept my mouth shut and let the real strategists work their magic.

Until recently, I sort of got a chuckle when I recalled this incident. I couldn’t believe (at the time) that this guy was SO into this friendly game of paintball. Of course now, as a training professional, I ask myself that same question all the time.

I go to a restaurant and get lousy service… “what can we learn from this?”

I rent a car and get great service… “what can we learn from this?”

I recall my first paintball experience about a guy asking “what can we learn from this?”… “what can we learn from this?”

The vast majority of these experiences become blog posts or stories I tell in my training classes.  Why?  Because there IS a lesson there, if you are willing to look for it.

And that was the light bulb moment that happened for me when I was on a plane recently, inexplicably recalling the paintball drill sergeant.  He was so into it that he wanted to up his game, improve his standing, and wipe out the competition.

I think it’s when we are “into” things that we have a genuine desire to improve and to learn more.  We’ve probably reached a certain maturity in that skill and now can see that there are ways to get better and we are willing to figure out how to get there.

As a paintball novice, I didn’t know or care about how to get better.  I was going to shoot a few people with paint and call it a day. Game over.

But this leadership thing… this customer service thing… this employee engagement thing… I am whole-heartedly INTO those things.  So I ask the questions.

Do you find yourself asking those questions?  If so, what about?  Is it about your role as a leader or the engagement of your team?  Is it about building model railroads, mountain biking or exotic food?  When we examine the topics that command our curiosity, we start to uncover our passions.

If you are trying to find your passion, or tap into the passions of your team, that’s the question you need to ask.  “What am I constantly (and naturally – with no prodding from anyone else) trying to get better at?”  “What do my employees (individually) care so much about that they are willing to take the time, effort and energy to learn more about it and improve their performance?”

I mentioned maturity earlier in relation to a skill, but I also think there is a maturity in knowing that you don’t know everything. When you know what you are passionate about, you know there is so much more to learn… then it seems that everything becomes a learning opportunity.

So I will ask you, what did you learn from this?

Thanks for reading!


It’s more than a book – it’s a training system! 

The Myth of Employee Burnout has been used by several companies as a text book for training their new supervisors. One company said it lead to double-digit growth in productivity and employee satisfaction.  Wouldn’t you like to see how it could do that for you, too?

Book cover with amazon

The only Black Friday deal that will improve guest service

This BLACK FRIDAY special benefits YOU, your EMPLOYEES and your GUESTS!

BF2015 2

Amusement Advantage provides:
  • Guest Experience SOP review
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  • Onsite Supervisor Training
  • Strategies to engage leaders and drive guest loyalty

For more details, visit

To secure your spot NOW, contact:

Josh Liebman
Director of Business Development
Amusement Advantage


Performance Optimist Consulting and Amusement Advantage are strategic
business partners who combine forces to help attractions around the world
engage their employees, amaze their guests and improve business processes.

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3 Questions with Josh Liebman

Here it is… episode #2 of 3 Questions! My guest for this episode is Josh Liebman, Director of Business Development for Amusement Advantage.

In this episode we talked about careers (both chosen and not), fried cheese on a stick, and the importance of networking (and how to do it right)!

If you have more questions for Josh, he can be reached at or 407-442-3110.

Thanks for watching!


If you would like to be a guest on 3 Questions, or if you know of someone you would like to see on the show, email me here!





Challenge – the breakfast of champions for Millennials

I’m so excited! The IAAPA Attractions Expo will be upon us in a few short weeks and it’s shaping up to (again) be the most wonderful time of the year!

This year, one of the educational programs I am working on is called “HR NOW – The Frontline Speaks: Insights From The People Who Are Truly Running Your Business.”  In this session, we’ll hear what frontline employees from around the world think about technology, leadership, motivation and more. This is your chance to hear directly from the people who are serving your guests!

We’ll have 3 frontline employees from various attractions as our panelists in the room, and we have also gathered video footage of frontline employees from parks around the world answering the same questions we’ll be asking our in-room panelists.  During the session we will play some of those clips in addition to hearing directly from the panel.  You won’t want to miss this!

Now back to our title… in reviewing the video submissions that came in, an interesting trend emerged.  When talking about what motivated people, or what would even cause people to leave, many answers were different sides of the same coin.

And that coin is… CHALLENGE.

One employee said it was very motivating when their supervisor assigned them more complex tasks, and another said he would leave if there were no more challenge to the job.

Yet another spoke at length about how he had left his park for another job… a 9 to 5, weekends off, low-stress kind of job, but it didn’t last.  He craved the excitement, variety, and yes, challenge of his old job.  He found it by going BACK to the park.

I first heard T. Scott Gross say this during an education session at IAAPA back in 1997… “The only people who want to do idiot-proof jobs are idiots.”  I think it was true then, and it’s even more true today.  We can’t expect our employees (especially young employees) to be satisfied with same-old, same-old, hum-drum jobs where all of the challenge and decision making were removed to make sure no one made a mistake.  People don’t work that way… at least not the good ones, and those are the ones you want!

I can’t wait to gather this panel and see what other great insights they will provide! Below are the session details if you are going to be at the IAAPA Expo in Orlando.

Date: Monday, November 16, 2015

Time: 9:00 AM

Location: Room S330CD, Orange County Convention Center, Orlando

Hope to see you all there!!



Impromptu gathering of current and former Universal Orlando Team Members at the annual Florida Attractions Association networking lunch at #IAE14.



How to blow away your customers – do something unexpected

This past Sunday was my first visit to a place in Hendersonville, NC called The Dugout.  My friend Brad and I went there to have some lunch and catch the Patriots game. Little did I know that I would be blown away by the actions of one of the employees.

As you might have guessed from the name, the Dugout is a sports bar.  Lots of TV’s, sports memorabilia on the walls and plenty of “pub grub” on the menu.  When our server, Josh, told us that everything they make is fresh and homemade, I was excited to try to the food.

And it was good. I had the fried green tomato and shrimp BLT.  Yum.

But that’s not the “blown away” part.

At about half time in the game, I asked Josh what they had for dessert.  The only thing they had that day, he said, was a sugar (or gluten – I can’t remember now) free pumpkin pie cheesecake.  I am a sucker for pumpkin pie AND cheesecake, so you put them together…

Pumpkin Pie CheesecakeYeah.  I’ll take a slice.

When I ordered, Josh asked if I would like whipped cream.  Um, of course!

He brought the slice over a few minutes later and informed me that they were out of whipped cream, so….

(Get ready to be blown away…)

He said he would make some!  And he did.

A few minutes later he came back with a small bowl of fresh (and REAL) whipped cream.  He had literally put some cream in a bowl and whipped it.

I’ve made whipped cream before – it’s not that hard.  BUT, for a server at a sports bar to whip up some whipped cream was totally unexpected.  Yes, I was blown away.

My friend Scott Brown is always asking his clients, “what can you do to ‘plus’ your service?”  In other words, Josh could have delivered the cheesecake and apologized for not having the whipped cream. Okay, they are out, oh well. The “plus” was taking the initiative and putting his know-how to work in the absence of a product or promise that had been made.

Because we were at the Dugout for so long (it was a long game!), I was able to glean a little intel into the perfect storm that allowed this to happen.

My friend Brad said that the owner is usually out and about, very visible in the restaurant, which is fantastic.  Today was a little different and toward the end of the game we found out why.

The owner came out (in a Patriots shirt, I might add!) and was conversing with some of the regulars.  He said that one employee called out today and another didn’t show up, so he had been helping out in the kitchen to make sure everything ran smoothly.

I remember back to leaders I knew that jumped in and helped when the chips were down and what a positive impact it had on the team.  There was a can-do, we’re-all-in-it-together kind of spirit. And even though it may not be the best situation, good leaders can turn it around quickly.

Getting back to Josh, if he didn’t KNOW how to make whipped cream, I would have enjoyed the cheesecake anyway.  BUT, with the owner setting the “do-whatever-it-takes” example, Josh probably felt like he could take it upon himself to do what he needed to do to make things right.

The stars had aligned… the perfect conditions were present for just the right synapse to fire in Josh’s brain, connecting what he knows HOW to do with what he COULD do.


But here’s the thing… this is not intended to be a lesson in teaching your employees how to make whipped cream.  That may not be your business and it might not make sense.

Instead, we should always be focusing on developing the skills and can-do attitude in our employees so they can read a situation and administer a positive solution.  So much of “customer service” training has devolved into order taking and completing tasks.  Probably because we don’t think our employees can handle anything else.  But that’s wrong.

That is us taking a short cut.

You want to stand out in customer service?  You want to provide cool and unexpected experiences for your guests?  You can’t script that.  You can’t put people in a box and then expect them to perform out-of-the-box feats of super-ness.

By the way, when was the last time you did something unexpected (and positive!) for your employees?

If I was blown away with positivity and good vibes as a guest, imagine what kind of impact you could have on your staff.

Thanks for reading!


About the author: After 20+ years in hospitality leadership and human resources, Matt Heller founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one simple goal: Help Leaders Lead. Matt now works with organizations large and small to help them improve leadership competencies, customer service, employee motivation and teamwork. His book, “The Myth of Employee Burnout” addresses how leaders can overcome the all-too common phenomenon of employees burning out, or losing motivation over time.

Book cover with amazon






They screwed up, but I am still going back

So this just happened…. I took my VW Beetle in to get the door handle fixed.

The door handle was fixed, except… it was the wrong door handle.

As it happened, my car had two door handles needing repair.  On the drivers’ side, the handle that you use to pull the door shut was loose. Didn’t really care about that one.

The larger priority in my mind was the passenger door… the handle that you pull to OPEN the door was inoperable, meaning that the passenger (usually my wife) had to either roll the window down and open it from the outside or wait for me to come around and open it for her.  She was NOT doing a Dukes of Hazzard maneuver.

So, I made an appointment to get the door handle fixed. I went to the shop, gave them my keys and they went to work. It wasn’t until I got back into my car that I noticed something was amiss.

There was painters (blue) tape on the drivers side handle.  I thought… “oh, they noticed that and fixed that, too!  Sweet!”  (Not with painters tape, that was just holding it while the silicone cured).  Then I reached over and tried to open the passenger door.  Nothing doing.

I went back in to the shop and talked to the mechanic.  Apparently there was a miscommunication.  Hmmm… how did that happen?

Let’s look.  Re-read the parts where I talk about getting the door handle fixed.  I did it twice in this post.  Neither time did I mention that it was the passenger door.

It’s QUITE possible I didn’t mention it to the mechanic, either.  I honestly can’t remember. In my mind, the door handle that NEEDED to be fixed was the passenger side.  However, if they never got in or out of the passengers side, they wouldn’t have noticed it.  They noticed the drivers side and that was that.  That’s the one they were going to fix.

Part of the customer service “discovery” process is to MAKE SURE you know precisely what it is that the customer is looking for.  In this case, a clarifying question about which door handle needed attention would have saved us both some time.

But here’s the thing.  I’m not mad about this.  Not even a little angry.  So not angry or upset that I will still RECOMMEND this shop and will go back whenever my Beetle needs attention beyond my skill set (and not just to fix the other door handle!).  And why… because of the way they treated me and the way the mix up was handled.

Here is what I mean:

  • They remembered me – as soon as I walked in, they knew what I was there for (even if it WAS the wrong handle) and that I had been there before for something else. Being new in town, this was only my second trip there, yet they still remembered.
  • They were genuine – It was a small shop, so I imagine that the same people deal with each customer.  Still, I got the feeling that I mattered to them, that they were going to take care of me and that my car was in capable hands.  They made eye contact, smiled, and didn’t treat me like I was a car-idiot.
  • They owned up to the mistake – there was no, “well, you said it was that one” or “well, sucks to be you”.  When shown what was supposed to be fixed, it was “wow, I am so sorry. I should have clarified which one you meant. Most of the time we deal with the other side. We’ll make it right.”

And I am sure they will make it right.  So many of my experiences with this shop have been right, that it over powers this one that was not-so-right (especially when I probably contributed to this). And that is why I will be back.

What about you?  Is your service so good, and the way you treat your guests so genuine and exceptional that they will overlook little (or even medium-sized) missteps?   Do they give you the benefit-of-the-doubt if something isn’t quite up to expectations?

If you treat people like the fine folks at Eurotechnik in Hendersonville, NC treated me, (and be sure to ask clarifying questions!), they will.

Thanks for reading!


About the author:  After 20+ years in hospitality leadership and human resources, Matt Heller founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one simple goal: Help Leaders Lead. Matt is now in high demand with organizations large and small to help them improve leadership competencies, customer service, employee motivation and teamwork. His book, “The Myth of Employee Burnout” addresses how leaders can overcome the all-too common phenomenon of employees burning out, or losing motivation over time.

Would you like to dance?

I’ve already written about the GREAT service we received while dining one day on our recent trip to California, and my overall impressions of the guest service at all of the parks we visited.  Today though, I want to explore an experience we had while waiting in lines that had nothing to do with how the employees treated us.

CNC Superman

Over the course of a week, we stood in lots of lines and waited for lots of rides.  What happened over and over again was the “dance” of large parties trying to get onto a ride at the same time.

Picture the “corral” set-up of most roller coaster loading stations.  There are chutes that guests get into that align them with the seat they are about to take.  This is where the dance happens, when people count the other guests in front of them and realize they may not be on the same ride as their friends.

So then this conversation ensues, “Would you like to go ahead of us so we can go with our friends?”

Let’s look at that.  So a guest is letting, in fact suggesting, that another group GO AHEAD of them in line.  At any other point in the line this would be considered “cutting” and not tolerated by the masses.  Yet, here it is encouraged.

And we saw this from guests of all ages and cultural backgrounds. It seemed that just about everyone was willing to wait a little longer for the chance to experience the ride their friends.

There is a special dynamic at an amusement park about sharing the experiences you have.  Even if you go on the exact same ride one cycle later, it’s not the same as going on on the ride WITH your friends.

Does this give us any insight into how people behave in the workplace?  I think it actually does.

The question about why people stay in a job, or what keeps them coming back, or what makes all the ups and downs worth it generally comes back to one thing: the people.

Of course we can’t overlook things like pay, benefits and working conditions, but so often people are driven by being around others that care about them, that support them and that THEY can have a positive influence on.  The more I am around people and get to study them, the more I truly believe that at their core, people want to GIVE as much as they GET.  That may not always be easy to do or articulate, but I do see it as a genuine human need.

As funny as it sounds, I think we sometimes marginalize what we allow our employees to GIVE us while they are working.  Yes, we get their time and usually their attention, but are we allowing them to give us their talents?

When people are unsatisfied in a job, is it because they haven’t worked enough hours, or is it because they haven’t been able to show what they are really capable of?

I’ve been a fan of Zappos for years.  Not necessarily as a retailer (although I have had good experiences) but as a company who has been able to sustain an amazing culture.  Look at their core values and tell me what you see.

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

I see that the majority of items are centered around how people work together.  They tap into the deep need we have to connect with others on a meaningful level and use that to propel their business forward. It doesn’t say so explicitly in their values, but they are also very good at placing people where their talents are best utilized, which makes upholding their values a bit easier.

If experiencing the “dance” while waiting in line has taught me anything, it’s that the need to connect and be human is so powerful for some that it trumps some of our shorter-sighted goals, such as being first in line on a roller coaster.  It sometimes causes us to sacrifice what we’ve worked (or waited) for, but in the end we know it will be worth it because of the deepened connections we’ve made.

Is it a stretch then to say that being part of a strong, cohesive team is more important than making a lot of money?

To some, it just might be.

Thanks for reading!


About the author: This is always the toughest part of the post to write – trying to tell you a little about who I am and what I do, all while not sounding pompous.  How about this? If you liked what you read and would like to talk about working together to improve leadership, customer service or team dynamics at your company, please contact me in the manner you see fit. The end.

Record sales when short staffed – a story about bravery, vision, and true leadership

I apologize for my recent “blog silence”!  Some of you already know that my wife and I recently moved from Orlando to Hendersonville, NC, and packing, driving, and unpacking have taken up a bunch of my time (and provided some great customer service stories, but those will have to wait)!  We’re quasi settled now, and I hope that today’s post was worth the wait!

It’s a story about a leader who works in the theme park industry and what he did to make it (quite successfully) through a busy spring break season.  He sent me the following email, and graciously agreed to allow me to share it with you.


I’m just going to jump right into this: I just completed the most rewarding and fun week of work I’ve had in a long while, and it was during peak season! Sorry for the long book of an email, but I must tell all!

Going into this Spring Break season I knew first hand we were going to be short handed in the staffing department of the operation. Those who we did have on the roster would be pushed harder to make up for it, and it would be up to us as leaders in the venue to ensure they are given 200% support, encouragement, and engagement for their efforts.

In our unit we have our primary restaurant and a handful of smaller locations. As my expertise lies in food carts I’ve spent the past year improving that part of the operation, but Continue reading

Jackie made it all better

NOTE: This is Part 4 of a series of posts inspired by 40 very active hours of travel on March 13-14, 2015. This will complete the series. For Part 1 “I don’t care about $2, click here.  For Part 2 “Maybe I didn’t exist”, click here. For Part 3 “You sent my bag where?” click here.

After coming to grips with the fact that my suitcase would not be accompanying me during my 12 hour stay in Chicago, I still had to pick up my rental car and get to my destination.  So I boarded the shuttle to the rental car area.

That’s where I met Jackie.

Jackie had a “how ya doing, friend” kind of attitude.  Warm, engaging and genuine. At the risk of sounding redundant, she was real AND genuine!

After the morning I’d had, interacting with someone like Jackie (just on the above merits) was quite refreshing. But the story doesn’t end here.

Jackie pulled up my reservation and noticed that I had booked my car through a 3rd party “bundle” site (like Orbitz or Travelocity). It just seemed easier booking the number of flights, hotels and cars over such a short period.  As Jackie was about to point out, it’s not always cheaper that way.

She had a confused and bewildered look on her face when she said, “Do you know you are getting charged $68 for your car for one day?”

“No, it was in the bundle.” was my response.

“Well then,” she said with a wily smile, “you are going to love me. How does $11 sound?”

“How did you do that?” I asked.

“I changed your reservation… I re-booked it directly through our site.  Don’t go through the bundle sites, a lot of times they are much more expensive.”

“Wow” was about all I could muster.  I was amazed at her honesty and goodwill and I began to smile.  Of course I would need a GPS, but even with that added to the rental I was still getting a bargain.

As I returned the car later that day, a nice young man asked if everything was okay with the car.  I told him the car was fine, but that Jackie at the counter was a real rock star.  He agreed and said, “yes, she’s the best”.

So how did Jackie make it all better?  How did she make me forget all the other junk that happened in the last 28 hours. She cared. Plain and simple, she cared about me, my experience, and my wallet.  She cared enough to take action on my behalf.  She cared enough to right the wrongs (or overchargings) perpetrated by others.

Based on the young man’s comment when I returned the car, this was not an isolated incident. He has either seen Jackie in action or has heard other happy patrons say similar things about his colleague.

Thing is, you can’t teach people to care.  You can’t give them a handbook of the do’s and don’ts and expect them to care.  I would imagine Jackie cares because she is a role that allows her to do what she does best.  How many of us can say that?

How many of our employees would care a whole lot more if they were in roles that aligned with their natural talents and abilities?  How much happier would your customers be then?

That’s something that every leader should care about.

Thanks for reading!

PS – I debated whether or not to mention Jackie’s employer, because if what she did was against policy, I certainly wouldn’t want her getting in trouble for it.  In the end though, through her actions she created a sense of connection and loyalty that will guide my rental car decisions in the future.  So, Alamo, you have a great employee in Jackie, and I hope she gets the recognition she deserves for this and ALL of the great experiences she creates.  Oh, and I will always check your website first when in need of a rental car.





About the author: Some people don’t like to travel – Matt loves it! Not only does it provide for great stories like these, but it also allows him to do what he feels he does best – Helping Leaders Lead!  He does this through interactive keynotes and customized training workshops.  Click here for more details or to find out how to book Matt for your next event!