Okay, if I can’t be her, then I want her to keynote ACE 2019 – and guess what, SHE IS! I’ll admit that I have been a long-time fan of Jeanne and her podcast series The Human Duct Tape Show, but throughout our keynote evaluation process, it’s safe to say that I now self-identify as a Jeanne Bliss groupie! That’s right, the woman who for years has been helping companies develop strategies to become “beloved companies” got me to fall in love. She’s just that good.
When we started to zero in on Jeanne, I grabbed a copy of her book, I Love You More Than My Dog to dig deeper into her methodology. On a side note, my 11-year-old told me that I couldn’t read the book because we do not have a dog, so I wouldn’t understand the meaning. I believe she thought perhaps this would be the argument that may just get me to drive to the pound and pick up a puppy. Unfortunately for her, it did not work. So on a Friday night I picked up Jeanne’s book. I found myself folding corners and marking up the pages. To buy into the book’s thesis, you must agree that “we naturally gravitate to companies and people with whom we connect in a human and sincere manner.” She backs this up with several defenses some based in business outcomes, some based in brain science, all leading me to believe there is truth to Jeanne’s assertion.
Jeanne outlines five decisions beloved companies make as the common differentiator for beloved companies:
“They decide to believe. They decide with clarity of purpose. They decide to be real. They decide to be there. They decide to say sorry.”
The bulk of the book is set up as a series of questions and case studies of how beloved companies have actively embodied these five decisions in how they engage with customers and employees. Questions like “What’s your power source for bonding with customers?” with an example of how Trader Joe’s developed the “taste bud rule” to ensure that the customers had a voice in the products that lines the shelves. And one I think is particularly poignant for our customers, “are you hiring partners, or filing positions?” The example given here describes how Chick-fil-A focuses on the applicant’s ability to cultivate relationships as a core capability for hire. The exercises are fun and easy to do. At the end of the book you should have the building blocks to begin to further define “what you want your story to say about who you are and what you value.”
My favorite story Jeanne tells is one that argues, “the moment of greatness is NOT the action. It’s the decision that allows the action to occur.” She describes the decision made by Gary Comer, the founder of Lands’ End, to personally thank the people who made his business grow and prosper – his entire workforce. I won’t spoil all the details, but suffice to say, his decision led to actions that touched each and every employee in a very unique way, and to quote Jeanne, “sent shivers down my spine. I was a part of this.”
I encourage you to check out Jeanne’s podcast, grab one of her best sellers, and reserve your seat at ACE 2019 to see her live and in-person. Join me and the rest of her groupies in the front row on July 30! Oh, and no surprise here, Jeanne has also graciously agreed to join our Women In Technology Panel that will take place in the lunch session following her keynote. See you there!
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