One of the favorite stories from my book, “The Kindness Revolution”, deals with the Nordstrom philosophy of hiring their employees. They call it “hire the smile and teach the skill”. Restated, this simply means that they have found it makes more sense to hire good people and teach them the retail business than to hire experienced retail employees and try to mold them into good people.

It must work well…the success of Nordstrom is phenomenal.

I don’t have to describe the incredible customer attraction of an organization consisting of “good” employees, employees who are trustworthy, kind, and empowered to use their own judgment to deal with customer problems. Most companies can only imagine the results of this cultural change.

But it can, and does, happen. Companies are rapidly discovering the improvements in both employee and customer retention when they focus on redefining their cultures to emphasize values such as kindness and respect and not taking their...


The Kindness Revolution is beginning a national campaign to encourage recognizing and buying from local, small businesses. In my opinion, there are good reasons that we consumers should shop local as often as we can.

Before I go any further, let me emphasize that our campaign is by NO MEANS an attempt to boycott or eliminate large chain operations. I certainly realize the economic impact to many communities based on the presence of large, national organizations. As a Memphian, I can attest to the importance of FedEX here in my town. Their presence assures a more stable tax base, more purchasing power in the community, more job opportunity, and their corporate support of everything from local charities to athletics is unmatched.

That said, my urge would be for these same FedEx (and other) employees to shop local as often as they can.

Let’s take a look at some reasons why:

First, and maybe most importantly, the innovation and creativity behind many local...


I am going to talk today about the specific difference between chasing new customers and attracting them. It is my hope that by the time you reach the end of this column, you will agree that the latter is better!

For most companies, the “chase” begins with advertising. A typical “Chaser” will run an ad (magazine, radio, social media, etc.) and wait for prospects to respond. While this method has been successful in the past, the evolution towards the desire to acquire like-minded customers is changing the dynamics of recruiting for new customers. An “Attractor” understands the long-term value of creating an environment or trust in the relationship and is willing to invest the time to create that trust.

The reason for the change is simple; the number of ads that a consumer is bombarded with makes it more difficult to get the consumers’ attention to accurately assess their options. I call this “option shock”…how often can i hear that this choice is the cheapest and...


I speak professionally to business people on the power of kindness. In business today, with all of the fear, negativity, and indifference in the marketplace, businesses are finding that values-based leadership makes an extremely positive difference in the workplace.

Do our children feel this way? Can it be cool to be kind?

I have four grandchildren that I adore. They are kind kids being raised by kind parents. I may sometimes worry about their well-being but I never worry about their values. They are values-driven, kind kids.

What I DO worry about, however, are the kids that are being taught that kindness isn’t cool, that nice guys finish last, that being kind equals being a wimp. I am afraid that too many of our children’s’ role models are tough talking athletes, TV, and movie celebrities that are great entertainment but poor examples of the power of kindness.

I want to make this as clear as I can. It is time for kindness in every aspect of our...


For a long time, I have advised clients and seminar attendees to “hire slowly and fire quickly”, with the meaning being when you make a hiring mistake, even after due diligence, correct the mistake and move on. While I quickly relinquish any claims to originating this idea, I have found it to be good advice. An employee who doesn’t fit a positive corporate culture can drastically and negatively impact a company, especially a small one.

The question for this article is this..Is there a good time to fire a client? Can a bad apple in our client base destroy the culture of a small company? In my opinion, the answer is “yes”.

Usually, a simple run-through of your existing customer/client base will help you decide. Do you have one (or more) clients that seem to consistently cause you problems…unwarranted complaints, uncommon requests or demands, constant threats to leave, rudeness to your staff? Sometimes, the combination of stress and time makes them more costly to keep...


In my corporate talks, I like to reference a theory which scientists have been unable to disprove. It is called the Butterfly Effect and theorizes that, given the proper conditions, a butterfly flapping its wings in Memphis can create atmospheric changes that can result in a hurricane in Japan.

You might be wondering what this has to do with a column on customer service. The answer is…a lot!

Surveys constantly support the notion that the number one reason that customers leave a service provider vowing never to go back is due to an attitude of indifference on the part of one employee. Just one! In other words, the seemingly insignificant actions of making a customer feel unimportant results in the permanent loss of that customer. That customer, in turn, may tell another prospective customer who then doesn’t patronize the service provider to begin with! The storm begins to swell.

Many business leaders and executives fail to realize how much their small actions...


Considering today’s competitive environment, it has never been more important for small businesses to have something that separates them from their competition. Perhaps it is time to consider Cause Marketing.

As a broad definition, Cause Marketing is when a nonprofit and a for-profit corporation partner together with the purpose of advancing the mission-related work of the nonprofit and the marketing goals of the corporation. The purpose is to create a win-win situation for both participants.

With regard to the “marketing” side of the equation, the idea is to attract consumers who support the “cause” side of the program. Experience and history show that Cause Marketing, when used properly, can be a VERY effective way to attract prospects to your agency AND separate you from your competition.

It is very possible that if your business doesn’t stand for a cause, consumers may turn to your competitors. The results of the Cone Cause Evolution survey show that the...


One of my favorite expressions is “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” With so many consumer choices today, it has NEVER been more important to make that first impression a good one!

I want to begin by saying that in my dealings as the President of The Kindness Revolution™, I have the opportunity to interact with literally dozens of businesses on a weekly basis. In that role, I am contacting many of them for the first time for me. Some would be well served to do a little inventory as to how they look from the consumer side. I’ll have more on that later.

Let’s begin by discussing the ways that your first impression is made. You may be surprised at the options…here are the most frequent ways a prospect is going to experience you for the first time.

  • Website
  • Social media (LinkedIn, Facebook)
  • Telephone call

Let’s take them one at a time from a first impression standpoint.

I would like to encourage you to...


A cursory look at the behavior of many leaders in politics, business, athletics, and entertainment could conclude that the best way to succeed is to be a bully! Media coverage of these leaders often includes a reflection of styles that can be considered, at best, bombastic, rude, unkind, and discourteous. A conclusion, therefore, might be supportive of the quote famously attributed to the late Leo Durocher (former manager of the baseball Brooklyn Dodgers) that “Nice guys finish last”.

As a parent, grandparent, businessperson and concerned citizen, I find this both discouraging and inaccurate. I contend that “Nice guys CAN finish first” and, in fact, can sustain that first-place position longer! Additionally, since conducting research some years ago for my book, The Kindness Revolution (2006, New York, NY, AMACOM), I have written and reported on numerous companies who succeed as a result of a leadership culture based on kindness.

For the sake of this...