You Can't Make This Up!


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The idea to share my stories, came about with my continual reflection on how much the oil & hvac industry has taught me. AND for my obsession of giving back. In fact, without the oil & hvac industry, ZooNation would not have been possible.

The storytelling approach of "You Can't Make This Up!" is based on my oil & hvac tenure that afforded me the opportunities to learn, unlearn, and relearn timeless aspects of business that can be to applied to business large and small, and life!

This is a fun, quick easy to read manifesto style format

Published in: Education
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You Can't Make This Up!

  1. 1. Be different, make a difference, have fun. Darrell Zwicker
  2. 2. You can’t make this up! © 2010 Zoo Nation - Darrell Zwicker Writing and editing: Darrell Zwicker, Terry Small and Paul Collin Design and illustrations: Denis Hambucken Acknowledgements Without a doubt this collection of stories wouldn’t exist without the wonderful support from my family, colleagues, former employers, friends and neighbors. Kudos to writing partners Paul Collin, and Terry Small. With their creative flair they breathed enormous life into my small idea. Denis Hambucken for his branding discipline and world-class graphical touch for both this document and the website. Without Denis, Zoo Nation would not have gained the instant credibility and forward momentum. A big thumbs up goes to my neighbors Joe Malila and Tim Harrington for being my sounding board over a cold one on many occasions. To Amanda Bacon for being the first to provide feedback and for encouraging me to make things happen. And to my long-time childhood buddy, Dan Boyd. Thanks for the many evening conversations, recollections and laughs that kept me going. Of course there are lots of people who I’ve never met who inspired me and gave me the courage to follow my dream. People like Seth Godin, Michael Margolis, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jack Trout, Andy Sernovitz, Tom Peters and Howard Shultz. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t thank the entire Irving and Lamprey family for teaching me valuable life lessons on their dime. Most importantly, I’d like to thank my parents and grandparents for raising me in a wonderful supporting and fun family. Despite our individual challenges and shortcomings, we remained a loving family.Finally, my deepest appreciation and love goes out to my wife Sue, daughter; Bryanna, and son; Sam for allowing me to leave the security of a job, to get a life. That’s the best gift anyone can receive. I love you dearly for this life-changing gift. Now, if you’ll just let me buy an MGB! L xoxox
  3. 3. Table of Contents Introduction 4 1 Learning The captain went down! Now get up and learn! The early bird gets the worm 6 10 16 2 You have to ask for it! 18 Ever been to sugarloaf? 21Unlearning When was the last time you visited our washrooms? 24 3 You got to be kidding! 26 Be different, make a difference, have fun! 28Relearning Need a job! 29The next chapter - A few stories rolled into one. 32 3
  4. 4. Introduction My name is Darrell Zwicker. I have TWO passions in life. One is to raise awareness for mental illness and develop- mental disabilities AND the second is to help businesses and entrepreneurs succeed. I have TWENTY FIVE years experience in Marketing/Sales Development, Human Resources/Training, and General Everyone Management in Oil/HVAC industry & family branding.has a story— Here are a few stories I would like to share with you - the stories are in the spirit of what I learned, had to unlearn, and more recently, what I had to relearn. here’s mine. I am happily married, two kids and a rapidly approach- ing fiftieth birthday. Like most people, the story of my life up to this point has been a roller coaster ride of incred- ible highs and devastating lows. Which, when you think about it, is how life should be. Because of or maybe in spite of the normal aspects of my life (job, family, chores, bills, etc.), I had something of an epiphany several years ago. I think it began when I read Scott Peck’s The Road Less Travelled. The first three words of his book stopped me in my tracks - “life is difficult”. He went on to say something along th lines of; once you realize life is difficult, life be- comes not so difficult. This concept changed my life. By the time I was 35, I became skilled at controlling my thoughts and removing the negative chatter twirling around my brain. No, I wasn’t hearing voices but a real- ization was growing within me that life was passing me by pretty quickly. I was doing all the right things; working, Introduction 4
  5. 5. paying bills, being a good dad and husband but ZOO NATION CONSULTING helps companies andsomething was missing. I felt that my time on Earth is entrepreneurs breathe life into their business. My 21my time and what I did with it was really up to me. years in the heating oil & HVAC industry gave me anAs my forties became a reality I was learning not education beyond what any college could pro-to take myself or life too seriously and quit my job vide. In fact, without it, Zoo Nation would not haveafter 21 years of loyal service to explore the great been possible. During my tenure I was afforded dailyunknown. At 47 I decided to create something more opportunities to learn, unlearn and relearn timelessmeaningful, something that would make me feel aspects of business and management that can betruly alive. I created Zoo Nation. applied to businesses large and small.SO, WHAT IS ZOO NATION? In order to share some insights, I’ve created You Can’t Make This Up, a collection of fun and inspir-Well, it’s two things actually. ing stories that delves into the corporate world, and shows through example, real-life experiences andZOO NATION raises awareness and money to help best recollections, the necessity for all of us to Be Dif-fund a variety of organizations committed to the ferent, Make a Difference and Have and well being of the communities we serve,with a special focus on mental illness, developmen- Enjoy!!tal disabilities, and youth enrichment. We donate100% of profits from our company’s signatureproduct - the Welcome Mat. Introduction 5
  6. 6. 1 LearningThet It was a cold January Monday morning in Saint John, New Brunswick and my first day as the General Manager of the Heating Division at Irving Oil. Look-Cap ain ing back on my climb up the corporate ladder, I’ve come to appreciate this particular rung and the went people and events associated with it. Arriving at the Golden Ball Building, dressed appropri-down! ately in my new Seville Row suit, I reflected for a mo- ment on my new position. Moving from a cube to an office. Having a secretary (oops!) I mean, executive assistant. And How Mr. Irving had chosen me – me of all people to carry out the infinite day-to-day details of his business. It was only 48 hours earlier that Mr. Irving gave me an assignment of checking-in on “the boys” at the Saint John Home Heat Branch to see what time the drivers actually fire up their trucks. It seemed ludicrous at the time but I did it anyway on my way in just in case anybody was watching. I kept the visit short as the arrival of suited execu- tives often made workers nervous and introductions awkward. Luckily for me, everything looked fine. Six, 3000 gallon delivery trucks were lined up side-by-side ready for the day. As I walked through the delivery area casually nodding and greeting the guys, I saw Lou Costello (no, not the one from the famous com- edy team) - a long term driver who dedicated over 25 years of his life to Irving. He was something of a leg- end who took great pride in mentoring new employ- ees, teaching them the Irving way of doing business and taking care of each customer, one at a time. The Captain Went Down! 6
  7. 7. 1 Learning“Why such an errand?” I thought. After all, I was in sage to me on the previous Saturday where he said,charge of the biggest heating division in Atlantic “You are the captain of the ship, now you got toCanada - approximately 100,000 customers and it earn your stripes”. Again he repeated “the captainwas my job to grow the customer base - not spy on went down, the captain went down… did you knowthe work habits of drivers. Having gained nothing them”? I stared shockingly and blankly towards him -from my visit I thought it was just a waste of time but I didn’t know what to say. “Did you know them? Thecould honestly report that I was there if asked. fishing trawler that went down last night. All the fisher- men perished.” Mr. Irving continued, “you’re fromSettling into my new surroundings that morning I Lunenburg, that’s where the fishermen were from,couldn’t help but feel like a new man. Senior Manag- did you know them?” I reminded Mr. Irving I was noters and executives were congratulating me on my from Lunenburg, but from Windsor, a small town ap-promotion, shaking my hand and making me feel proximately 30 miles west of Lunenburg.welcome. These were now my peers! I made it!...or so I thought. Without missing a beat, he looked me squarely in the eyes and asked me if I did the little favor we talkedSuddenly there seemed to be a “buzz” within the about. Proudly and confidently I replied “Yes sir,office. A perceptible electric charge in the air that drove through just shortly after 6:30 AM this morning…made people move, phones ring and things hap- trucks were fired up and ready to go”. “That’s great,pen. Having experienced it before, I knew what it now how were sales last week?” was his reply.was – Mr. Irving was here. A wave of heat came over me like I was being stud- ied under a magnifying glass in direct sunlight.Catching me totally off guard, I was summoned to a He can’t be serious I thought. I’ve only been on thenearby office. “Keep cool. Don’t panic. Don’t inter- job for 2 hours and already he was setting up somerupt. Let them do all the talking” were the instruc- accountability for me? I vaguely knew sales weretions I replayed to myself in my head. As I crossed down a few percentage points, but I didn’t know forthe threshold of the office door, Mr. Irving looked at sure… something like 3 or 3.5 %? I simply didn’t sharply and said “The captain went down, the With a dry mouth, I replied as honestly as I could.captain went down!” I paused dumbstruck trying “Well, was it 3 or 3.5%?” He retorted. “That 0.5 % mayto decipher the meaning of this statement. Was it not mean much to you, but it certainly means a hellsome sort of secret greeting executives gave to one of a lot to me.” He continued, “you have to be like aanother like Masons? Was it something to do with pilot, he plugs in his coordinates before take-off andmy job? he knows exactly where he’s going and where he’s going to land. It’s all based on his starting numbersThe only thing I could connect it to was his final mes- and what he plugs in… he knows exactly what these The Captain Went Down! 7
  8. 8. 1 Learningnumbers are… and you have to be exactly like that Specificpilot… and if you don’t know the numbers in your Measurablebusiness unit you won’t know where you are going orif you are going to the land the plane safely”. AttainableHe was right, of course and he added, “you need to Realistic’have goals, and it’s all based on the numbers. Tangible with a target dateNow go and figure out your goals, write them down,and remember to have fun”. Sample Goal Sheet:Empirical research and anecdotal evidence clearlyshow the connection between having goals anddoing well. Now evidence is mounting that not onlydoes the fact of having and writing goals down willlead to ultimate success, but can lead to ultimate What are your lifetime goals?happiness.In his article “Positive Affectivity” psychologist DavidWatson writes about the process of reaching the What are your goals for the next 3-5 years?goal as being equally or more important than thegoal itself. This is what I believe Mr. Irving meant whenhe said “now go and figure out your goals, and writethem down, and remember to have fun”. The jour-ney versus the destination of goal setting is a critical What are your goals for the next 12 months?concept I learned at Irving. Without having fun alongthe way, everything is for not. I did not fully grasp thisfundamental principle until years later. A goalenables us to experience a sense of purpose. What are your weekly goals?Getting caught up in the hectic daily activities ofwork, school, and just living pay check to pay check,we all lose sight of long term goals. Of all the goalplanning methods, the one approach that mademost sense to me is the S.M.A.R.T design. The Captain Went Down! 8
  9. 9. 1 LearningPut these goals in writing and redefine your goals especially young as I was, didn’t grasp this funda-over time. BUT, writing down the goal is the absolute mental principle.most important part of the strategy to achieveyour goals. As Tal-Ben Shahar wrote in “Happier”- Goals are means, not just the ends. He goes onto to say “theI just wish I had understood goals in this context. proper role of goals is to liberate us, so that we canI sheepishly felt Mr. Irving wanted more goals, only enjoy the here and now. There are many ways toto feed his inexhaustible appetite for wealth. But in get things done in organizations. Goal setting is notreality he got it - work ethics that he handed down to the only way, but it is an important way, as Mr. Irvinghis family and coworkers were as a result of his love demonstrated in my early hours of being in theof the journey, not the final destination. Most people, hot seat. “The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Alvin Toffler The Captain Went Down! 9
  10. 10. 2 Learning I moved to Saint John, New Brunswick in the fall of Now 1989, just a few months after starting with Irving. As mundane as that may sound, it is the circum- stances that led up to that move that have proven get up to be life changing. A new position was being created within Irving Oiland learn! to promote oil heat in the emerging new home construction market. Up to this time Nova Scotian homeowners were not really given a choice of how to heat their homes and building contractors could bang in electric baseboards for about a 1/3 of the cost of an oil heat system. Most new homeowners took such decisions for granted and felt secure in the assumption that the contractor was knowl- edgeable and offering the best system available. Unfortunately for the homeowner, winter would arrive and with electricity rates soaring, they soon realized that not only were they paying an ever increasing cost for basic comfort, electricity was an inefficient way to heat a home. Years later, I learned from Noel O’Dea, President of Target Marketing and Communications that this marketing psychological profile was known as High Inertia, Low Involvement. A home heating system is a grudge purchase without the sex appeal of buying something like a computer, cell phone or automobile. It’s just something that comes with the house, right? I love the term High Inertia, Low Involvement. People look at me as some sort of ivy-league genius when I start throwing it around into everyday conversation. If I’m at a restaurant with friends and the server asks me if I want pota- Now get up and learn! 10
  11. 11. 2 Learningtoes or rice with my meal, I just dazzle them with an a technical wiz and my ascent up the learningabridged synopsis of this point. Which is also prob- curve felt like Mt. Everest. Then the silence wasably why I don’t get invited out to many restau- broken on a late Friday afternoon. My boss calledrants anymore. to say he wanted me to prepare a presentation to all regional managers in Atlantic Canada on theAnyway, with less than 1% of the new homes going progress I was making in Nova Scotia on promotingthe oil route, we recognized the potential of this oil heat in new home construction. I had to be innew market niche and were determined to get Saint John – first thing Monday morning.a big piece of the pie. Sure, the up-front cost washigher, but the payback and improved comfort Luckily for me there was Ted Moore. Ted workedwere the main selling features. Besides, the retrofit out of the Truro operation and was out-performingmarket was going wild with high efficiency furnac- all of Nova Scotia combined. He was a wonderfules replacing old, broken down models. Especially salesman who would put on his rubber boots andfor those homeowners who were not happy with trudge through muddy construction sites to talkthe comfort of electric heat in their new “dream to builders face to face on the benefits of oil heathome”. and discuss giving homeowners a choice of heat- ing methods. I just had to share and exploit Ted’sAs a relatively new Irving employee, I was surprised successes. If he could do it, everyone could do it.when my boss asked me if I would be interested If the regional managers didn’t have a dedicatedin a new opportunity being created in Saint John new home salesperson, then my presentationto help grow the Home Heat Division – not just in would be part of the convincing strategy.Nova Scotia, but in all Atlantic Canada! What?Me? I could barely tell the difference between a Monday came and my presentation (completewarm air furnace and a hot water boiler system. with overhead projector slides, charts and graphs)I seriously doubted that I was the man for the job went well. It was not long after I finished that mybut my boss reassured me that there were other boss tapped me on the shoulder and asked mecandidates and there would be no harm in throw- to follow him. “Remember the opportunity in Sainting my name in the hat. So, I agreed. John that we spoke about two months ago?” he said. “We’re now ready to move forward and I’dAfter several weeks with no word on this big oppor- like you to meet Mr. Irving.”tunity, I felt I may have dodged a bullet and thatthis was for the better. Besides, I was really catch- “Oh God, just take me now.” I on and had added oil tanks to my repertoireof selling specialties. As you can surmise, I’m not At that time in 1989, the second floor of the Irving Now get up and learn! 11
  12. 12. 2 LearningCorporate Office was being renovated and Mr. herent response about being a hard worker, that IIrving was using a makeshift office on the 1st floor. understood the importance of being entrepreneur-As we made our way down the stairwell we had to ial, and basically ended my oration exhausted,watch our step as construction was also in progress confused, and feeling totally inadequate for thethere. job. There was a pause and the few seconds that passed felt like decades. Then Mr. Irving pointed hisNavigating past spools of hanging wires and ca- finger authoritatively at me and said, “let me tellbles, whirling table saws, loud hammers and drills, you, sometimes you got to know when to shut-upwe approached a man in a plaid lumber jacket and stop talking.”when my boss said, “Darrell I’d like to introduceyou to...” But I couldn’t hear the man’s name due With that I was convinced I just talked my way outto all the noise. I responded with a friendly “it’s a of a job. My only desire at this point was to get thepleasure to meet you” even though I didn’t know hell out of this office and not come within 100 mileswho I just met. Moments later I discovered that the of this place ever was Mr. Irving. But Mr. Irving continued. “Tell me, did you hear An-As he hung up his plaid jacket, he looked at us dre Welland speak this morning?” I hadn’t. “Whatand said sharply, “How can I help you gentlemen do you mean you never heard him speak? Lubri-today?” My boss began by saying, “Mr. Irving, I’d cants are a very important part of our you to meet Darrell Zwicker, he’s working out of How about Frank Flynn? Did you hear him speak?”our Woodside office and is a potential candidate Again, my answer was no. “You mean you camefor the new marketing position to grow the home all the way from Halifax and you never heard Frankheating division throughout Atlantic Canada.” Mr. Flynn speak? He looks after our tires, batteries, andIrving looked me rather sternly and said, “where accessories department – another important areawere you born? Where do you live now?”“Windsor, of our business. What have you been doing sinceNova Scotia” was my answer to both questions. you got here?” With a dry mouth I offered up the“Tell me, what does your father do?” was the next truth. “I’ve been working on preparing my pre-question. I said he was a Sales Executive for Atlan- sentation on new home construction.” Obviouslytic Lottery for the past 10 years. Without hesitation unimpressed with me and my answers I visualizedMr. Irving shot back, “ they’ve only been around in my mind how it would look if I leapt out of myfor 9 years!” Then Mr. Irving said, “So, you think chair and ran screaming for the door. Just then ayou can help us?” Like a deer in the headlights, I rather official looking red phone rang on the desk.proceeded to demonstrate a total lack of pre- As it was some direct line to an important part ofparedness and went off into a completely inco- the company, Mr. Irving had to take this call and it Now get up and learn! 12
  13. 13. 2 Learninggave me some time to regain composure. a corporate sponsored program but an immenselyWhen the phone call ended Mr. Irving asked me if proud moment for me as I finally had my universitythere was anything else I would like to say. I re- diploma. Mark Van Doren, the Pultizer prize winningmember giving him a response like “Mr. Irving if ever poet and critic so rightfully said it best:“Our bestgiven the chance to come to Saint John, I promise I chance for happiness is education.” I now had mywill work hard to help you grow the business...” The Diploma in Education and I was is a little hazy but the whole time I was talking Iwas privately thinking, “if you just let me out of this I had implemented and delivered a Managementoffice alive, I promise I will never come back as Training program for all Convenience Store Manag-long as I live.” To my astonishment at the end of my ers in Atlantic Canada. The curriculum was devel-statement he replied, “well that’s great… now get oped in partnership through Cornell University andup there and learn!” National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).So I got up and ran up the backstairs to the confer- Irving gave me that experiential learning opportuni-ence room. Within the hour I was tapped on the ty - hands-on training. Looking back, I can unequiv-shoulder again to visit Kenneth Irving. He asked me ocally say one of the most rewarding and motivat-if I had seen his Dad yet, I replied yes. His response ing traits at Irving is their level of commitment to thewas this is good news that you are here. I did get training of their employees. Irving was legendarythe job, but it was nearly 7 years into my tenure in this regard. It was truly a learning organization,that I truly grasped the meaning of “get up there however, quite informal back in those days.and learn.” Of all the wonderful learning opportunities, prob-“Get up there and learn!” I didn’t know it at the ably the most valuable and sustainable learningtime but this statement would make a big impact lesson was taught to me accidentally as I was pre-on me. paring to deliver a training lesson to frontline store managers. During my preparation, I was intriguedFor me, learning was painful. I did not enjoy school. by learning about a Johari Window, a psychologi-I disliked homework and formal learning. I felt so cal tool created by Joseph Luft and Harry Inghamliberated when I graduated from King’s Edgehill in 1955. The squares represent the windowpanesSchool. My tenure at the University of Guelph was through which we see ourselves and how others seeshort-lived and lasted only one and a half semesters us. I found it to be so simply profound and profound-before I bowed out early in 1980. It was many years ly simple to grasp and utilize.later that I finally graduated from St. Francis Univer-sity, a secondary education institute. It was part of Now get up and learn! 13
  14. 14. 2 Learning Socrates left a legacy of wisdom to the world. Learning begins with learning about yourself. And it The simplicity of his “Know Thyself” dictum belies its starts with the courage to look yourself in the mirror. complexity. This is the best advice I have Imagine that. ever heard. The Johari Window Known to self Not known to self Open Blind Adjectives that are selected by both Adjectives that are not selected by the the participant and his or her peers are participant but only by their peers are Known placed into the Open quadrant. This placed into the Blind Spot quadrant. to others quadrant represents traits of the par- These represent information of which ticipant of which both they and their the participant is not aware, but others peers are aware. are, and they can decide whether and how to inform the individual about these “blind spots”. Hidden Unknown Adjectives selected only by the partici- Adjectives which were not selected pant, but not by any of their peers, are by either the participant or their peersNot known placed into the Hidden quadrant, remain in the Unknown quadrant, rep- to others representing information about the resenting the participant’s behaviors or participant of which their peers are motives which were not recognized by unaware. It is then up to the participant anyone participating. This may be be- whether or not to disclose this informa- cause they do not apply, or because tion. there is collective ignorance of the existence of said trait. Now get up and learn! 14
  15. 15. 2 LearningJohari adjectives: A Johari Window consists of the • mature • self-consciousfollowing 56 adjectives used as possible descriptions • modest • sensibleof the participant. In alphabetical order they are: • nervous • sentimental • observant • shy • organized • silly• able • extroverted • patient • smart• accepting • friendly • powerful • spontaneous• adaptable • giving • proud • sympathetic• bold • happy • quiet • tense• brave • helpful • reflective • trustworthy• calm • idealistic • relaxed • warm• caring • independent • religious • wise• cheerful • ingenious • responsive • witty• clever • intelligent • searching• complex • introverted • self-assertive source-wikipedia• confident • kind• dependable • knowledgeable I can’t think of a better way to end this discussion• dignified • logical than saying “I believe Mr. Irving would be proud• energetic • loving of me today, as I am still learning.” “Learning is not compulsory… neither is survival.” W. Edwards Deming Now get up and learn! 15
  16. 16. 3 Learning At dawn on a frigid January morning, Kenneth Irving The and his father Arthur set out from the Hotel Beausejour in downtown Moncton for a brisk walk. As they reached Main Street they stopped to notice their arch rival Petro-early bird Canada filling up an oil tank at one of the boutiques in the trendy part of town. The oil truck driver, unaware of gets the the Irvings, could have no idea how this rather mun- dane task of filling up a tank had gotten their attention. For Kenneth and his father it was almost distasteful to worm! see a competitor conducting business in an area of town which they felt belonged to them. They decided to continue their walk and visit the Irving Regional Office which was less than a mile away. Making their way down St. George Boulevard they arrived to find the gates of the compound locked. Not a soul in sight and no sign of being open for business. It didn’t matter that it was 6 a.m. - just the very idea that the Irvings were caught napping was nothing short of blasphemy! You can only imagine the resulting “discus- sion” that took place after that - it probably could have peeled paint. This experience definitely gnawed at Mr. Irving and it wouldn’t be forgotten anytime soon. In fact, the entire experience was relayed to me on the Saturday I was promoted to General Manager. This was the reason I was given the assignment to check in on the boys at the Saint John branch - just to see if they were getting out of bed any earlier than their counter- parts in Moncton. This story of Mr. Irving and Kenneth up at the crack of dawn across from the Beausejour was told to me in a lively and animated fashion that only Mr. Irving could deliver. And after telling me this he looked me squarely in the eye and said, “the early bird gets the worm”. The early bird gets the worm! 16
  17. 17. 3 LearningYes, we’ve all heard that one before. But can it ap- manufacturer. Sure enough as I leafed through theply to business? Well, the truth is that we all know the paper I found an ad by Kerr Manufacturing out ofearly bird really does get the worm - especially in the Parrsboro, Nova Scotia promoting their new furnacehighly competitive world of business. And if you’re line, right on page three.not following up on a consistent basis, you’re goingto lose a lot of deals simply because someone else It truly amazed me how Mr. Irving was on top of everywas more persistent, and motivated than you to get aspect of his business at all times. His “early bird”it done. comment never left my mind. Think of all the talented people in any number of fields: singing, painting,Getting out of bed and ready for a day’s work is half dancing, sports and more but who lack the persis-the battle and persistence is an attribute that does tence, determination and sense of urgency. Theirnot come easily. Working at Irving I learned that be- achievements certainly are not what they could ready and prepared was key to survival. Which I knew if I were to bring any kind of value to the Irvingsreminds me of a great African proverb that spoke to I would need to be consistently at work early ev-me as loudly as Mr. Irving’s well-worn adage and it eryday to demonstrate my understanding and thegoes like this: importance of knowing whatever our competition was up to and how we could out do them. Or in Mr.“Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up. It Irving’s words “the early bird gets the worm”.knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will bekilled. Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must Do it now! List 5 things you have been procrastinatingoutrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. about and make a plan to take at least a little bit ofIt doesn’t matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle... action on all five this week.when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” And if you think you can delay your plans until tomor-A few months into my new job, I went into work one row, think about this … Multiply your age x 365 daysSaturday morning to catch up on a few things. It was - then subtract that number from 27,375 days (that’sabout 8:30 and I heard voices coming my way. It was average lifespan) = ___ days left to accomplish yourMr. Irving and his son Arthur Jr. Mr. Irving didn’t hesitate dreams! Remember, every day quiz me as to the time when I arrived. I told himjust a few minutes earlier. He said, “well to keep upwith me, you need to get in here earlier than that.” X 365 days = daysHe then stated that he had been up since 3 a.m.and asked if I read the morning paper yet. I replied days left to accomplishI hadn’t and he quickly pointed out that I should be 27,375 days – = your dreams!aware of an ad on page three placed by a furnace The early bird gets the worm! 17
  18. 18. 4 Unlearning I learned early in my career that sales is part art, part sci- You ence - that there’s a process to sales and if you followed the steps, you’d find great success at the end of the rainbow. Well, when it came to sales, Mr. Irving also hadhave to great insight and shared a very important aspect with me in his own direct way. ask I was in his office getting checks signed, a ritual where I never really knew what would happen. My goal was to get in and get out as quickly as possible with the fewestfor it! visible scars. You see, when you went in for check signa- tures, you never knew if you’d get all the checks signed. There were lots of variables involved such as the time of day, the amount of a particular check and of course, any extenuating circumstances. Mostly, the time it took to sign checks depended on how many questions Mr. Irving had and what lesson he was going to teach. It’s funny, whether they knew it or not, for most visitors to Mr. Irving’s office, there was always an underlying lesson. This particular day we were talking about hiring more sales personnel to grow the residential heating business when Mr. Irving looked me in the eye and asked, “Do you know how to make a sale?” Keep in mind that Irving was a sales-focused organization where the old ad- age of “nothing happens until a sale is made” reigned supreme. I froze. Was this a trick question? I wished for a time machine where I could set the controls to “yesterday” so I could prepare an answer. He asked me again and as I sweated and wondered what to say, Mr. Irving blurted out “well it’s simple… you have to ask for it”. Oh, of course it is. I was just about to say the same thing I mock- ingly said to myself. You have to ask for it! 18
  19. 19. 4 UnlearningMr. Irving continued, “selling is as simple as asking for it. Well, for starters it helps to be passionate about theCan we count on your business today? Simple as 1-2-3 product you’re selling. If your mind and heart are notand if they ask you a question, and you don’t know the fully engaged, then maybe a career that relies on youanswer, tell them the truth - ‘I don’t know, but I’ll get the influencing others in making decisions is not right for you.answer to you right away’”. It was obvious that Mr. Irving If you are engaged, start asking great questions. A saleloved to sell. is the result of creating value and value creation starts with value creating questions.Tom Hopkins International Inc. conducted a survey onwhy people were not persuaded to buy a particularproduct or service. The most common answer: Theywere never asked!Can you imagine after all the preparation, prospecting,phone calls and emails to get to the presentation andthen walk away without ever asking for the sale? All Value creating questionssalespeople have to ask for the sale sooner or later tobe successful. What’s most important to you about . . . . . . . ?For years, I thought that if I simply asked for the sale, andif I asked often enough, a sale would be made. Invari- What has been your experience with . . . . . . . ?ably this is true, but by focusing on just this selling virtuealone, greater opportunities to close more sales were If you could change one thing about. . . . . . . ?missed. The old sales philosophy of “Always Be Asking …and Closing” is often misconstrued to mean not taking Explain what results you’re hoping to achieve.your foot out of the doorway until the customer buys. Aswidely believed as this is, I really had to unlearn it and …What plans have you made ?…acquire a new skill. By substantiating the value of thecompany, the product, and/or service I represented, I What time frame are you considering?could turn what I knew into action.Now you’re asking yourself, “how do I articulate value Tell me a little about . . . . . . . …by knowing what sets my offerings apart from the com-petitive landscape?” You have to ask for it! 19
  20. 20. 4 UnlearningLastly, create an extraordinary sales experience for your to make that emotional connection. And like any artistpotential customer. The art and science of the sales who can “move” us, the artist known as a salespersonprocess is more important than ever, but it’s the art side can also affect others.that will give you a sales advantage. If you’re the boss,it’s paramount that you create a highly engaging work A great starting point is being aware of the importanceenvironment that inspires sales employees to give the of value creation. What you also receive: The part of thevery best of themselves. iceberg that is under the water and value points that are not seen and need to be articulated more often.Remember that every interaction with the customer is Value creation can take different forms, and providingpart of the value creation - the first introduction (to you new ideas or sharing new perspectives often is the valueor to the company), investigating the customer’s needs, creator, that enhances the perceived value of the prod-understanding and presenting options and yes, as Mr. uct and/or service. And often, it’s polishing off existingIrving schooled me, “asking for the business”. All of this strengths that are not talked about. Rather a hiddengoes into solidifying a long-term customer or advocate value, that would be deemed valuable only if shared.for life. As I gained experience over the years, I truly appreci-Yes, it does all seem quite simple when presented like ated “you have to ask for it”, but had to unlearn it as thethis but it’s all part of a carved out process that needs only part of selling. Value creation is the game changerto be adhered to if a sale is to occur. Each step needs in the world of selling. “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” Dorothy Parker You have to ask for it! 20
  21. 21. 5 Unlearning In the mid 1990’s I was quarterbacking a major Ever t initiative to promote oil heat in homes throughout Atlantic Canada. Helping my efforts were the facts that at the time the cost to heat a home with oil been o was less than electricity and the existing retro-fit market was booming.Sugarloaf? My “Oil Costs Less” campaign was scheduled to kick off in January of 1994. But as the launch day drew nearer it became abundantly clear that I was heading for a mental crash. This was a stressful time for me. I endlessly obsessed over the details I had reviewed with the owners and the extent of the campaign. Did I involve our legal counsel enough? Would I be sued by the utilities? Was the data in the campaign accurate? Was it validated? Was it current enough? On and on it went. I couldn’t turn it off. By the middle of February I was having full-blown panic attacks on a daily basis. During regional visits to promote the campaign, I sometimes thought I would end up in a local hospital’s emergency room. At least in Saint John I had the comfort of knowing that if I had the BIG ONE I was close to Saint John Regional Hospital. When I was calm I knew that all of the thoughts putting me in that state were just that - thoughts. But when my mind started to whirl in that panicky mode, my heart would race, my arms would grow heavy and I would have a water sensation rising up through my body. Trying to convince myself that I was not having a coronary was impossible. Ever been to Sugarloaf? 21
  22. 22. 5 UnlearningSure enough, on several occasions I did end up in and to Kenneth on other occasions. Unfortunately,an emergency room only to be reassured a few they were both out of town the day my doctorhours later that I would be fine. Just another run- prescribed the medical leave. So, instead of tellingof-the-mill terrifying but non-life threatening panic them, I told the HR Manager.attack. My doctor factually stated that I neededto address my health issue and would most likely It wasn’t until the following Monday that I finallyrequire some time off from work. What he failed to spoke first with Kenneth, then his father. Bothrealize was that I was Darrell Zwicker (alias Super- seemed genuinely pleased that I called and wereman) and that I could beat this mental hurdle in very supportive. Arthur pointed out that he hada single bound and not miss a single day of work. asked me two weeks prior if I was alright and thatBesides, big corporations thrive with big, strong, I said yes. “I knew at that time you weren’t up tocommitted employees like me, not shrinking violets. your old self,” he said.I was also nurtured by the thoughts that if I missed Arthur then added, “take as much time as youa day at work, took more than one week holiday need, your office will remain closed til you’re a time or had to admit to having a stress disor- And don’t hesitate to drop in to see the boys if youder that these were all valid points to be relieved wish.“ Then he asked “ever been to Sugarloaf?”of my job. I was also convinced that if I broached Was this a veiled reference to an early retirement?the subject with my boss and needed time off, it I wondered. What does Sugarloaf have to dowould be nothing short of corporate suicide. with my mental health? “Great place to ski andThis thinking was later validated by many of my unwind. Perhaps you should spend a couple dayscolleagues. there,” he remarked. I thanked him for the advice and replied I was under doctor’s orders not to ven-So, as the “Oil Cost Less” campaign built up steam ture too far from the city since I was seeing the docand got attention on many fronts, I was losing every two days.steam and getting attention in emergency rooms- blowing into a brown paper bag. By the end of Well, the time-off, the psychotherapy, the rest, andFebruary I finally had to admit to myself, my wife most importantly, the support I had from my wife,and my doctor that I needed to take some my doctor, and my employer were the best pre-time off. scription for me to recover. The time off for healing and re-creating myself was key in controlling myNow I had to tell my boss. The trouble was that irrational thoughts. Best of all, taking time off wasback then I wasn’t really sure who my boss was. not a recipe for professional and personal failure.I reported to Mr. Arthur Irving on a regular basis Since that time I have been able to control my Ever been to Sugarloaf? 22
  23. 23. 5 Unlearningpanic and anxiety episodes, and could even joke ing lesson - that I was put on this earth just to workabout it. Over the years I’ve shared my story with and that time off was a sign of weakness. Nothingcolleagues, friends, and family as a way of offering could be further from the to someone after they’ve revealed someof their inner challenges. Have you ever been to Sugarloaf?... has become a mental image instilled in my mind, much likeTo this day, I feel I’m more capable both person- the images of watching the sandpipers along theally and professionally because of the struggles I beaches of Florida.faced. But most importantly, it was the unlearn- “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” Gandhi Ever been to Sugarloaf? 23
  24. 24. 6 UnlearningWhen was When I started working at Irving in 1989, I learned very quickly of two absolute obsessions with thethe last company - growth and providing great customer service. I was not sure which was more important or if they were of equal value. time you You see, back then Irving was acquiring lots ofvisited our smaller oil dealers throughout Atlantic Canada and New England. The marketplace, especially inwashrooms? Atlantic Canada, had very high expectations on the service Irving provided since that’s what the company was known for since it began in 1924. I remember being in Mr. Irving’s office when he put his pen down, looked me squarely in the eye and asked, “when was the last time you visited the washrooms in one of our service stations?”. For a moment I thought he may have had me confused with someone else because I didn’t work for the service station side of the company, I was in the heating division. Well, Mr. Irving clarified that in an instant and said, “I don’t care if you think you work for the heating division or not, it’s my name on the check, it’s Irving you work for. When you’re travel- ling, stop at every service station and check out the washrooms… our reputation for clean wash- rooms is critical for us to grow”. Years later Irving actually ran an entire advertising campaign around “OUR WASHROOMS ARE CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN !!” Our marching orders were to look after the customer - any customer. It didn’t matter how big or small or how far away from the bulk plant they were. “We need customers to turn the wheels on the truck” Mr. Irving often said. And it seemed there was no expense too great in grow- When was the last time you visited our washrooms? 24
  25. 25. 6 Unlearninging the business - newspaper ads, radio, TV - you Back then the idea of firing a customer was un-name it, we did all with the support of the Irvings. heard of. Customers who are unprofitable, unruly,Forget expensive campaign consultants, drab mar- and time-wasters should be fired without hesitation.keting statistics and bottom line ROI forecasts. Broadcasting marketing messages to the masses isWe had to seize the day. These were fun and excit- a waste of time. Narrowcasting to your target audi-ing times! ence is the only cost effective way to go. Unlearning the idea of getting any and all custom-Of course getting customers and keeping custom- ers at all costs was a tough process for me as iters are paramount to any business but it took me went against conventional Irving wisdom.years to unlearn this premise of getting customers But the day Mr. Irving asked me, “when was theat any and all costs. It was learning the importance last time you visited the washrooms?” will stay withof getting and keeping the RIGHT customers that me forever.led to a breakthrough for me. “You can’t be normal and expect abnormal returns.” Jeffrey Pfeffer When was the last time you visited our washrooms? 25
  26. 26. 7 Relearning You got In January 2010, after 21 years of loyal service, I decidedto be kidding! to take a hiatus from the oil industry and breathe life into a small family business. What I didn’t realize then was that I was going to have to relearn many aspects of starting a business that I had accepted as truths or givens regarding such a venture. It was a classic clash of my baby boomer mentality in the old economy versus the generation X & Y mentality of a new economy. For instance, in the old economy if I needed legal help I dealt with a lawyer. If I needed an online presence, I dealt with a web developer. And if I needed a professional video shoot, I dealt with a videographer. So by April 1st, and this is no April Fool’s joke, I shockingly learned that if I had adapted to a new economy mind set sooner, I could have saved a minimum of $20,000 in start-up fees. I’ll share my story in regards to my legal learnings. Primed to become the next Howard Shultz, I registered our new company and did a name search at a price of $2,200.00. At the time I felt this investment was money well spent. After all, it takes money to make money, you know. About a month after securing our name and registering it, we asked our lawyer about licensing agreements, and for approximately $1,600.00 he would oblige and send me an agreement that could be easily modified for each state. I tucked this information away until I needed it. In the meantime, when another name for our company had to be registered and protected I noticed an ad for Legal Zoom, a do-it-yourself legal document service, and it intrigued me enough to go to their website. You got to be kidding! 26
  27. 27. 7 RelearningKnowing that my initial investment was $2,200.00, I was agreements and if so, what would it cost? Remember,hopeful that I might be able to save some money. the lawyer said that this type of document would beI thought it was worthwhile to at least evaluate the approximately $1,600.00. “We can help you with thatentire process and then make a judgment on whether Mr. Zwicker” I was told. I held my breath and said, ”OK,involving a lawyer was really necessary going forward. how big of an investment am I looking at?” The replyLegal Zoom made it clear up front that they could not was $14.95, and included a Licensing Agreementoffer legal advice, only options. Fair enough I thought, Guideline Booklet. “FOURTEEN DOLLARS AND NINETYworth the experience just the same. FIVE CENTS??!! - you got to be kidding!” was my reac- tion. I was torn between wanting to fly to L.A. to giveWell, right out of the gates I thought I blew it, because I him a hug or leap out my attic window. Imagine that,misspelled the word I wanted to protect. It was Zoo- $14.95 versus $1600.00 - it took about 1 nanosecond toapalooza, not Zoo-apolooza. In a panic I emailed and make the decision.called Legal Zoom in L.A. even though it was a Satur-day. Instantly I received an email back, thanking me The more I thought about this the more I realized thisfor the business, and stating that they would make the new legal model must be a real threat to the legalappropriate changes to the application on Monday. world, at least to the ones that pump out standardWhew! Simple and easy enough for me. legal documents for a living. I felt certain that the ones that don’t offer true value in advice and other areasOnce that was taken care of I thought OK, now what will be out of business. Their focus needs to be on valuehappens? Thankfully, every step of the way I received creation, not document email explaining my options. Even though theycouldn’t offer advice, if I needed clarification I was Nowadays, I feel I could compete with old economyinvited to call Eric in L.A. I took them up on the offer and business by using the ingenuity and technologicalthought to myself - OK, this is going to be painful at best, advancements and offer more relevant productsI’m out of my element here, I probably need real legal and services. It’s about thinking beyond old economycounsel and I’m calling a call center. But again the businesses that adhered to and /or paying on a bankexperience was simple and easy. loan of outdated infrastructure, despite them being in business for decades.Bottom line… my investment to protect Zoo-apaloozathrough Legal Zoom was $494.00 versus my original If that’s not a wake-up call to us all, nothing is... andinvestment of $2,200.00. But wait, there’s more! Here’s as a magnet on my refrigerator says, “Life is not aboutthe “you got to be kidding moment”. Since my initial finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.”experience was so great I asked one of the Legal Now, the question I ask is - how am I creating myself?Zoom customer service reps if they provided licensing How about you? You got to be kidding! 27
  28. 28. 8 Relearning Isn’t it interesting that most of us grew up with such advice as:Be different, • you gotta fit in • don’t bring too much attention to ourselves • can’t be different make a The relearning of these 3 points can be summed up as be different, or go home. Whether you’re a lawyer,difference, coffee shop owner, printing firm, oil dealer or any small business in America, you need to touch the have fun! heartstrings of the community to create a customer… for life. Imagine that our job is to change people’s perspec- tive on us, our industry, our lookout, and even our day! That’s a pretty awesome and cool respon- sibility when you think about it. And accomplish it by having fun. My Dad said, “who has more fun than people?” Pema Choldron said, “the whole globe is shook up, so what are you going to do when things are falling apart? You’re either going to become more of a fun- damentalist and try to hold things together, or you’re going to forsake the old ambitions and goals and live life as an experiment, making it up as you go along.” Just imagine if we could lead our life, our business - with these three attributes: 1 Be different 2 Make a difference 3 Have fun The relearning of running a business genuinely and authentically different to make a difference, with fun to boot is an awesome challenge to embrace. Be different, make a difference, have fun! 28
  29. 29. 9 Relearning Need When I left Irving in the spring of 2006, I was really up- tight because it was the first time in 17 years that I was unemployed and looking for a job. After all, that’s why we exist, right? We go to school, finish school,a job! and then get a job for the rest of our lives. Even though I had a healthy severance package, I didn’t want to stop and smell the roses - I needed a job. Speaking of school, I remember my Dad saying, “before you go west, go out to Murray Sawler’s place and he’ll show you how to drive one of his tractors and you’ll never need to worry about a job again. And if that university stuff isn’t for you son, look the professor straight in the eye and tell him to take those books and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine and you’ll be coming home Charlie Brown!” Years later I came across a quote from Fran Lebowitz, that echoed my Dad’s sentiment on formal educa- tion. “Stand firm in your refusal to remain conscious during algebra. In real life, I can assure you there is no such thing as algebra.” My Dad was self educated and felt education only delayed the inevitability of getting a job. I realize now my Dad’s approach to formal education was the right approach for someone like me - riddled with dyslexia, attention deficit, anxiety and panic disor- ders. He had a wonderful way to look at the big pic- ture. The education would come because continual learning would occur. Need a job! 29
  30. 30. 9 RelearningAfter considering moving to Florida in the spring of west of the Atlantic Ocean in North Hampton. Since2006, I landed a job in New Hampshire. At least at 1923, the family had been providing home comfortthe time I thought it was a job… it became much in the area… from wood, ice, coal, oil, to alternativemore. I had a position as Marketing Director for energy solutions. The locals knew the story, but manyLamprey Brothers, which later led me to become of the newcomers to the seacoast did not know thetheir General Manager. During this time I acquired rich history.a passion for transitioning this oil company into analternative energy company. It was fun taking customers, suppliers, and opinion leaders throughout the historic homestead. It wasI didn’t have a job. I was having fun! I was doing only at this time I started to realize I didn’t need orsomething I enjoyed! It was my calling! I started to want a job. I and most likely others only wanted theunderstand what people meant when giving advice results of a job - a paycheck.about career choices - “do something you’re pas-sionate about” they would say. But I was never quite By early 2008, I was getting a nudge to do somethingsure what that meant. It conflicted with the continual different… that would give me a reason to make adrone heard throughout my life of, I needed a job. difference… the creation of Zoo Nation is a result ofIs it something you stumble upon or is this something this. While there may be a lot of motivation to have ayou acquire after years of contemplation? job, doing something that in some small way express- es our family’s soul is a strategy that will sustain us inAt Lamprey Brothers, I realized bit by bit the culture the long term.of the company was changing by simply chang-ing the story… sharing the history, the affinity for the And I finally relearned the importance of havingfamily’s love for the land and the animals. Lamprey a job.Brothers is a wonderful family business just 1.5 miles “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” George Bernard Shaw Need a job! 30
  31. 31. 10 The next chapter Zoo Nation helps companies and entrepreneurs breathe life into their mission and find tangible solutions to everyday challenges. Are • Corporate branding • Consultation services for developingyou ready corporate vision, mission, and objectives • Individually customized marketing strategies • Awareness-building public relations campaigns to make • Effective and creative website design • Understanding and employing social media integration things • Enhanced leadership skills Partnering with a person or an organization is anhappen ? investment-both financially and emotionally. Even though my title is CEO & CMO - don’t let that fool you - we are small and nimble. Zoo Nation is a wrecking crew of a few good, I mean, great people. AND capable of making things happen in introducing your business.the consulting arm Perhaps more important we have heart and soul, and deem our relationship successful, only if you are successful. of Zoo Nation Call, tweet, or drop us a line today to help you start to make things happen! Phone 603 502 4344 Email- Facebook: Twitter: 31
  32. 32. 10 The next chapter Create Call To Action To All Current & Former Irving Employees and Corporate America In General. What is the story that has impacted your life in the a positive way ? Everyone has a unique memory, an interaction, a story next that can have an impact on all of us. That’s why I am sharing a free digital download of You Can’t Make This Up! chapter Now is the time to share your story! If you chuckle, find value, or catch yourself reminiscing about your time at Irving Oil or with any other company, please share it with others. ofYou can’t make this up! Here’s how you can participate: • Email, tweet, or blog about this FREE gift to your colleagues and friends. • Tell them about Zoo Nation and the services we offer to small businesses. • Share your story with us - we can help you create the next chapter. And to inspire you, here are stories shared by Terry Small, longtime Advertising Manager at Irving Oil. contact us : Darrell Zwicker: (603) 502 4344 Facebook: Or Terry Small: Twitter: (352) 404 6397 32
  33. 33. 10 A Few The next chapter Stories When Darrell asked me to contribute a few stories, I thought to myself, where do I begin? After all, IRolled Into had worked at Irving Oil for 25 years! So, following are some of my stories, rolled up into one... see if One… you can figure out the learnings, unlearnings or relearnings... by Terry Sm I joined Irving Oil in 1984 and was charged withFormer Ad all, vertising M building an in-house advertising and sales promo- anager at Irving O tion team. It was felt at the time that doing more il marketing in-house would be more efficient and save the company money rather than hiring a full- service advertising agency. For an advertising guy like me with over nine years retail ad experience with Firestone Canada Inc. in Hamilton, Ontario. – this opportunity with Irving Oil in Saint John, New Brunswick was both exciting and challenging! To provide some context here, Firestone was a typical big, bureaucratic, publicly-owned com- pany. Everyone had a job title and you knew your job responsibility... and you stayed within clear job boundaries. In 1984 Irving Oil was the exact opposite in terms of company structure. Irving was (and still is) privately owned, it was not bureaucrat- ic, no one had a title and the company was rela- tively small, at least compared to its multinational competitors like Esso, Ultramar, Petro Canada, etc. And, in those days, every manager reported directly to Arthur Irving, president of the company. At Firestone, I could count on one hand the number of times I actually spoke to the president. A few stories rolled into one 33
  34. 34. 10 The next chapter KC wrote this customer service philosophy in 1924!What Is A Customer? And today, it is just as relevant as it was back then. Is there anything in this philosophy that does notBy reporting to Mr. Irving, I soon realized I was in for apply to your business today?a great learning experience. Without question, thefirst learning for me was “the customer is #1”.Most companies say this, but Irving truly lived it! Attention To Detail.Every Irving branch office in Atlantic Canada, Another aspect that fascinated me about theand for that matter, many of the walls in the home Irving culture was the attention to detail. Here’soffice in Saint John displayed the following creed one brief example that every Irving manager canwritten by KC Irving, the company founder. relate to. If you spent the company’s money to buy anything from office equipment to gas pumps,What Is A Customer? you had to get Mr. Irving to sign the check. In my case, my ad budget was between two and three• A customer is the most important person million dollars a year! Just imagine how many in your business. checks I had to get signed! We were told that Mr.• A customer is not an interruption to your work – Irving signed every check himself so he could see he is the purpose of it. where his money was being spent. And at every• We are not doing him a favor by serving him. “sitting” you could be certain that you would be He is doing us a favor by giving us the challenged at least once… ”Why did you use this opportunity to do so. vendor?”, “Is he a good Irving customer?”, “How• A customer is not dependent on us – we are many quotes did you get?”, “Did we get value dependent on him. for our money?”. I learned early in the game – be• A customer is not an outsider to our business. prepared – know your vendors – be able to justify He is part of it. every nickel! And, the most important lesson –• A customer is not a cold statistic. He is a flesh and don’t try to bluff an answer! If you didn’t know the blood human being with feelings and emotions, correct answer, just say “I don’t know, but I will find biases and prejudices. out and let you know” and, you better not forget• A customer is not someone to argue and match to follow up quickly! wits with. Nobody ever won an argument with a customer. Attention to detail was and still is a big part of• A customer is someone who brings us his wants. Irving’s winning formula when it comes to build- It is our job to handle them profitably to him ing a network of Irving Big Stops across the Trans and ourselves. Canada Highway in Eastern Canada. The Lincoln A few stories rolled into one 34
  35. 35. 10 The next chapterIrving Big Stop near Fredericton is a great example.Start with a great location – quick access to the You Can’t Sell From An Empty Shelfbusy Trans Canada Highway; lots of parking – both This phrase still rings in my head. Remember backthe truckers’ parking lot and the regular parking in the early 90’s when those neon colored balllot have tons of room; easy access to both the caps were so popular? Well, I was in my officediesel and gas pumps; big letters on the building one morning and in walked Mr. Irving, who threwshout “Blue Canoe Restaurant” – code for great, a neon cap on my desk and said, ”we should gethomestyle cooking inside; the décor has a local, some of these, they’re a big thing in California”. Herural hominess feel to it – but still a very modern then walked out as quickly as he arrived. I thoughtservice station; inside the convenience store to myself… is he serious? How many should I order?there’s everything from the usual snack items – to What message would we put on them? I ponderedfresh fruit – to CDs – to magazines – to groceries – this a moment until the proverbial “light bulb”to toys – to, well, you get the idea. The staff looks went on over my head. We were just introducingsharp in crisp, professional uniforms; the wash- a new gasoline with an exclusive additive calledrooms – well, they are not your typical gas station Microlene and we could order a couple thousandwashrooms – they are immaculate; plus there’s a caps to help launch our new gasoline! I scurried1-800 number posted for you to call if you want to up to Mr. Irving’s office… proud of myself, that Ilodge a complaint! Everything is well organized, was responding to his request so fast… and saidleaving no detail undone! But, there’s more – start to him, “let’s order two thousand caps to promotewith great operators, long time Irving lessees, Microlene… we could ship every branch a coupleLynden and Beth Fenety – they keep everything in cartons...” That’s when he interrupted and said, asthe facility running smoothly and are always close only Mr. Irving could… ”Small, you can’t sell fromby to help a customer; there’s a big community an empty shelf… order a truck load… at least abulletin board promoting anything local; and of hundred thousand caps… every Irving locationcourse, the famous Irving Restaurant – even with needs to sell them….” Just then, his phone rang – Ilots of seating, it’s not uncommon to see a lineup was saved. I left his office and yes, ordered a hun-of customers waiting for a seat – and that great, dred thousand neon caps! Every Irving location inhome-cooked meal! Eastern Canada sold hundreds of these red, green, yellow and blue caps. Each one embroidered withEvery business could learn a thing or two from slogans like “Lean & Mean With Microlene”. TheIrving’s ‘attention to detail’ playbook…… caps were a novelty and big hit that summer. Every time I saw someone wearing one, I couldn’t help A few stories rolled into one 35
  36. 36. but remember those prophetic words “you can’t per ad layouts to review. As our meeting pro-sell from an empty shelf”. So simple, but yet so true! gressed Mr. Irving looked at the first layout, then the second and as we were waiting for his approval,Why Does The Fox Piss On His Biscuits? he asked, “why does the fox piss on his biscuits?” This was not the question we were expecting andIt was a typical, summer day at Irving’s home of- one that I was sure I didn’t know the answer. Darrellfice in Saint John when Darrell Zwicker, our home and I glanced at each other. An eternity of silenceheating General Manager and I were waiting out- seemed to pass until Mr. Irving answered his ownside Mr. Irving’s office. This area, referred to as the question for us! ”So no other animal will eat his“bull-pit”, was where Irving employees would wait food”. His message to us? If you are going to dofor their chance to meet with Mr. Irving. It did not battle with the utilities, you better be prepared! Didmatter how far up the ‘pecking order’ you thought we have our facts nailed down? Did we get legalyou were, every manager waited his or her turn counsel? Did we do our homework?in the bull-pit. When his office door opened youwould jump up, catch Mr. Irving’s attention, and On the surface, one might be confused by Mr.hope to get his signal to come inside. We anxiously Irving’s question; but just below the surface is thewanted to review with Mr. Irving our latest advertis- real meaning of the so-called ‘Irving culture’…ing campaign, called “Oil Costs Less”. We knew be passionate about your work; have integrity andwe had a winner, after all, oil heat was less than honesty; be decisive and as in the case of the ‘Oilelectricity and the new home building market was Costs Less’ campaign... don’t be afraid to take abooming. We had three or four different newspa- risk... if you are prepared! A few stories rolled into one 36
  37. 37. This material is copyrighted. Reproduction in part or in full for anything other than personal use is subject to express permission from Zoo Nation. We’d love to hear from you! Phone 603 502 4344 Email- References and books that provided content and inspiration: Rouillard, Laurie A. “Goals and Goal Setting” Crisp Publications, 1993 “Where will you be five years from today?” Sold Exclusively at Starbucks, 2008 Godin, Seth “LINCHPIN-Are you indispensable?” Penquin, 2010 Margolis,Michael “BELIEVE ME” Get Storied Press, 2009Vaynerchuk,Gary “CRUSH IT.Now is the Time to Cash in on your Passion” HarperCollins, 2009 Trout, Jack “In Search of the Obvious” McGraw Hill, 2008 KODAK Social Media Tips Booklet, 2010 Sernovitz, Andy “Word of Mouth Marketing” Kaplan Publishing, 2006 Peters, Tom “Re-Imagine!” DK Publishing,2003