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If I Owned

If I Owned: Michael Lee Stallard



Author of Fired Up or Burned Out explains what a little bit of heart and soul can do energize your store.



Productivity expert and author of Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team’s Passion, Creativity or Productivity

I would distinguish my store from competitors by developing its heart and soul. Stores that have heart and soul enrich their owners, customers and communities in both economic and non-economic ways.


What do I mean by heart and soul? Let me explain.

While out running errands one day when we were relatively new to town, my wife stopped in at one of several jewelry stores on the main shopping street. The cases were filled with beautiful pieces, new and heirloom. The salespeople, however, were more than aloof. They ignored her. No eye contact. No smile. No “Hello, my name is X, may I help you?” This lack of connection made her feel as if they thought she was unworthy of their attention. Not surprisingly, she has never gone back. These salespeople lacked the qualities I describe as heart and soul.

The absence of heart and soul in the workplace is not unusual. This is the age of mind and strength. So often we focus on the tasks of our work and neglect the relational aspects. As human beings, we have emotions, hopes and dreams, a conscience, and deeply felt human needs. Research has shown that when we recognize these realities and treat others in ways consistent with them, we thrive. When we don’t, it is damaging to our mental and physical health and to the health of those around us.

If I owned a jewelry store, I would encourage everyone on the staff to be intentional about developing heart, soul, mind and strength. Mind and strength are important because we compete based on the excellence of our work. Heart and soul are important because developing relationship excellence is necessary to sustain task excellence.

When relationships fail among colleagues, communication breaks down and rivalries develop that reduce cooperation and team spirit. Many customers can sense this. When relationships with customers are not established or nurtured, such as in my wife’s case, an opportunity to develop customer loyalty is missed.

In my store, I would encourage colleagues to take the time to treat everyone as human beings. This applies to those we work with, suppliers and customers. Start by getting to know the first and last names, stories and interests of these people, and to find something you have in common with everyone you meet.


I would hire employees like my teenage daughter Elizabeth, an aspiring actress who works part-time at a clothing boutique in our town. Just the other day while driving by her store, I spotted Elizabeth standing outside smiling, greeting passersby and handing out flyers about the sale going on inside. People smiled back at her. Her enthusiasm is contagious (an effect sociologists call “emotional contagion”).

Human nature is such that there will always be people who purchase jewelry as a badge of success. More and more today, however, people are defining success in non-material ways. Many are seeking significance by deepening their relationships with family and friends. To promote these connections, I would help customers commemorate significant events or people in their lives with the purchase of jewelry that has a personalized symbol or message. Furthermore, should they desire it, I would offer the service of a writer to help them compose a special note to go along with the gift of jewelry for that important event.

To nurture the courage to connect is to nurture a big heart and a beautiful soul. You will see that connection enriches the lives of your staff, your customers and the people in your community, creating not only economic wealth, but a wealth of even greater value.



[smalltext]MICHAEL LEE STALLARD, helps leaders at organizations such as General Electric, Google, Johnson & Johnson, NASA and Yale-New Haven Hospital boost productivity, innovation and overall performance. He is the primary author of the book Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team’s Passion, Creativity or Productivity.[/smalltext]


[span class=note]This story is from the July-August 2010 edition of INDESIGN[/span]

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