It’s July 4th weekend, and I go mattress shopping.  I walk into a department store, bounce around on a few mattresses, and I’m ready to make a purchase.  I keep bouncing, thinking that a sales associate will surely show up at any moment.  Another customer comes over, asks if I work there.  Nope.  They take off in search of a salesperson.  Customer comes back with associate, and I offer that they are next in line.

I’m still bouncing an hour after I first arrive and have work to do on my manuscript.  The sales associate is on the phone when I leave, they’ve been placed on hold while trying to help the other customer.

I ask what their hours are for the week.

Mattress sale lost.

The next day I’m at a competitor.

The same day of the mattress excursion, I’m expecting a certified package and I head over to my post office after the morning mail service.   The package has not yet arrived.  Let me check on it for you, one of the postwomen offers.  My post office is tiny, its parking lot often overflowing.  Despite lines that can extend out into the lobby, the two employees behind the counter have always made it their business to know me, deftly combining efficiency and service.

Within minutes, the postwoman has the location of my package and tells me it might be delivered later that day.  Would I like her to call me if it arrives, she asks?  (Remember, the line at this place often extends out the door.)  I accept, with many thanks.

An hour later my phone rings.  The postwoman tells me that they’re open until 4:30, and if I arrive when they’re at lunch, (the office closes their counter service for this hour each day), just call her and she’ll bring the package out to me.

As I pick up my package, I express my deep appreciation for her going well beyond the call of duty.  She matter-of-factly says, “I always take care of my customers.”

The combination of efficient execution with superior service is where the future lies.

(Think Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods.)

Whether post-M&A debris has left your organization fractured and siloed, or rapid growth has unearthed a crisis of leadership (think Uber), or pervasive underperformance is impeding stellar execution , in these times of speed and uncertainty, competitive advantage goes to those organizations with both visionary leaders and exemplary employees.

Without either, you’re impeding growth at best.  Or, at worst, enabling your competition.


I work with extraordinary senior leaders who create the future.  If you’re preparing for a new role with greater responsibility and visibility than ever before, or find yourself in a new seat and drinking from a fire hose, you can reach me at to have a mutually exploratory conversation about working with me directly.

My most requested keynote is on Magnificent Leadership™ and I’m booking 2018 now.  To inquire about having me speak at your national conference or corporate event, you can reach me at