Why New Leaders Fail: Common Pitfalls to Avoid

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From Amateur to Pro: Embracing the Path of a Practicing Leader

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

I had a, “I’ve been thinking about this all wrong,” moment the other week.

After reading and loving, The War of Art, I immediately read Steven Pressfield‘s next book, Turning Pro. In that book, Pressfield describes the difference between an amateur and a professional leader. Specifically, professionals have a practice. As part. of their practice, they get up, go to a set place, at a set time, and do their work.

He writes, “A practice may be defined as the dedicated daily exercise of commitment, will and focused attention, aimed on one level at the achievement of mastery in a field, but on a loftier level, intended to produce a communion with a power greater than ourselves.”

As he continued describing the elements of a practice for creating art, it occurred to me that leadership followed many of the same rules. The implications of this realization are that someone who practices leadership can be more successful in any leadership role than someone with technical or subject area expertise.

The Practicing Leader is a Warrior

As we start to view leadership as its own discipline, requiring a practicing mindset, it means that most senior leadership roles are being filled incorrectly. Rather than looking at someone’s technical abilities, length of tenure, or other pre-requisites, perhaps we should be looking at their results, team engagement, and character.

The results we feel are ones that permeate so much of my LinkedIn field. Arrogant bosses, narcissists and egomaniacs in Senior Leadership roles at the top of large organizations cascade misery throughout their organizations. When this happens, employees stay in misery and low productivity, or leave looking for better organizations. When employee engagement and low and turnover is high, management in supervisory roles are almost always the reason.

Understanding leadership as a practice in itself means understanding the qualifications for senior leaders totally differently than we do today.

Characteristic #1: The Practicing Leader has Intention

In Turning Pro, Pressfield writes, “Our intention…is to get better, to go deeper, to work closer and closer to the bone.”

The Practicing Leader has a leadership philosophy, which serves as their intention. She proactively decides what her team needs from her to be successful and puts that into place. She wants to be a leader to make a difference or to improve something. The Practicing Leader understands that leadership is not about her, but about the people she leads.

Characteristic #2: The Practicing Leader has as a Warrior Mindset

Pressfield explains, “The Sword Master stepping onto the fighting floor knows he will be facing powerful opponents. Not the physical adversaries whom he will fight, though those indeed serve as standards for the enemy. The real enemy is inside himself.”

The Practicing Leader is self-aware. He solicits others for feedback. He has a thick skin and does not take feedback personally. The Practicing Leader knows who he is because he has defined his values. He meditates and takes care of himself to continue to practice leadership and service for years to come.

The Practicing Leader is not deterred by obstacles or failure. He looks for new ways to accomplish goals and protect his team. He leaves nobody behind.

Characteristic #3: The Practicing Leader is Humble

Steve Pressfield writes, “We come to a practice in humility. We may bring intention and intensity to our practice. In fact, we must. But not ego. Dedication, even ferocity, yes. But never arrogance. The space of the practice is sacred.”

One test I have come across to understand the humility of a leader is their motivation for leadership. If ego is motivation, then leadership is not the right fit for that person. You call tell this by learning if the leader wants to “Be something” or “Do something.” If they want to be something, it is probably more ego.

Being a “Boss” in business is about ego. Characteristics of most bosses is status (Do as I say!), arrogance (What can I learn from someone like you?), and a lack of self awareness (Everybody loves me!). The character Michael Scott from the sitcom The Office comes to mind.

Additionally, modern attention seeking politicians fall into this category as well. These are the people who enjoy the trappings of the job, seeking fame, not better policy.

Pressfield writes, “My beef with American culture is that almost every aspect, including the deliberations of the legislature and the judiciary, has been debased to pander to the culture of amateurism. The promise that our products and politicians proffer is the promise one might make to an infant or an addict. I will get you what you want and it will cost you nothing.”

Sadly, we do the same with some people in Senior Leadership roles. We promote bosses and politicians and then wonder why we get amateur results.

Characteristic #4: The Practicing Leader is a Student

According to Pressfield, “Even the peerless sword-master Miyamoto Musashi. Entered the fighting square to learn as much as to teach.”

The Practicing Leader always has more to learn. She approaches her team as a student and a servant, learning and synthesizing information to make life easier, more focused, and more productive. She goes to where the work is, and does not turn her office into an ivory tower.

The Practicing Leader is a voracious reader, getting her hands on all the information she can to be a better as a professional. She learns from everyone around her, regardless of title, and strives to nurture and develop more practicing leaders.

Characteristic #5: The Practicing Leader Practices for Life

Finally, Pressfield explains, “Once we turn pro, we’re like sharks who have tasted blood or renunciants who have glimpsed the face of God. For us there is no finish line. No bell ends the bout. Life is the pursuit. Life is the hunt. When our hearts burst then we’ll go out, and no sooner.”

The Practicing Leader views leadership as a lifelong endeavor. As long as there is a worthy cause requiring the power of collective thinking, the leader will answer the call.


To illustrate that practicing leaders exist and the benefits of approaching leadership this way, there are three case studies worth focusing on: Ted Lasso, Vince Lombardi, and Richard Branson.

Example #1: Ted Lasso

I’ve written in the past about Ted Lasso, one of my favorite television shows.

The Apple TV+ series is about a college football coach who is hired to manage a Premier League soccer team in England.

It is a running joke in the show that Lasso knows nothing about soccer. However, he knows about leadership.

Just look at Lasso’s first press conference and the question here gets from journalist Trent Crimm: “I just want to make sure I have this right: You’re an American, who has never set foot in England, whose success has only come at the amateur level, a second tier one at that and is now being charged with the leadership of a premier league football club, despite clearly possessing very little knowledge of the game…Is this a joke?”

Now, just 2 years later, Trent Crimm is writing a book about Ted Lasso’s coaching style. He describes Lasso’s leadership, which we witness him practicing throughout the series, like this: “Slowly but surely building a club wide culture of trust and support to thousands of imperceptible moments.”

SPOILER ALERT (Skip this paragraph if you haven’t watched the finale): At the end of the series, Lasso becomes a successful soccer coach.

If you looked at Lasso’s traditional resume, he had no business coaching in the Premier League. However, his success skyrocketed when he found a tactic that supported the culture he built as a leader.

While Ted Lasso is, of course, a hypothetical character, there are more examples of leaders who have excelled even in areas where they have no experience or expertise because they practice leadership.

Example #2: Vince Lombardi

Vince Lombardi was a practicing leader
Vince Lombardi by Daniel A. Moore Credit: Smithsonian National Postal Museum

In 2014, Ian O’Connor wrote a detailed article on Vince Lombardi for ESPN The Magazine called, The Gospel of St. Vince. O’Connor describes the legend of Vince Lombardi who is best known for winning Super Bowl’s I and II. In fact, professional football’s championship trophy is named for him.

But, it wasn’t only Lombardi’s accolades as a football coach that stood out. Lombardi’s first coaching job was at St. Cecilia’s High School in New Jersey. In addition to coaching football, Lombardi also coached basketball.

However, Lombardi didn’t know the first thing about basketball. As the story goes, he went to the library and read old manuals on basketball to become more familiar with the game.

In the documentary, Vince Lombardi a Football Life, we hear from Mickey Corcoran, one of his players on that team who said, “He didn’t know much about basketball but he knew about people. He was a master psychologist…He just made me want to play harder.”

Lombardi coached basketball at St. Cecilia’s for eight years. He finished 105-57 and he won the only state basketball championship in the high school’s history.

If leadership is technical, how did Lombardi pull it off? How did he post a 65% winning record and win a championship in a sport he learned overnight?

Lombardi on Being a Practicing Leader

In his own words, Lombardi said, “I think coaching is teaching, see? So I don’t think there is any difference whether you teach on the football field or whether you teach in the classroom, right? They are both exactly the same. It’s a question of a good teach puts across what he must put across to his pupils whether it is done on a football field or done in a classroom, it is one of the same thing.”

While Lombardi knew a lot about the technical side of football to the point of obsession, he still identified not as a football coach, but as a teacher. He too viewed leadership as a practice, which is why he was successful not only as a football coach, but as a basketball coach.

Example #3: Sir. Richard Branson

Richard Branson is a practicing leader
Photo of Richard Branson Credit: Virgin

Sir Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group. Virgin now has business in entertainment, health and wellness, music, finance, technology, travel, and space travel.

Branson has been massively successful in almost all of these business areas, which at first glance seem to have nothing to do with one another.

All the while, Virgin has a global presence, but no central headquarters, no management hierarchy, and minimal bureaucracy. In his book Losing My Virginity, Branson discusses his leadership style and practice. He encourages his teams to have fun, not worry about failure, and always think about the customer.

One of my favorite of his quotes is “I’ve never gone into business to make money. Every Virgin product and service has been made into a reality to make a positive difference in people’s lives. And by focusing on the happiness of our customers, we have been able to build a successful group of companies.”

Conclusion – Becoming a Practicing Leader

There needs to be a fundamental shift in our understanding of leadership. Leadership is not defined as getting results via leadership, or simply as a means to an end. Instead, it is the idea that I understand leadership, so I get results.

Becoming a practicing leader is work. For some people, managing people is excruciating. For these folks and others that excel in vital technical areas, there should be a compensation ladder on-par with Senior Leadership that does not require them to manage people.

Today, leadership development is viewed as a series of tasks. We describe how to set an agenda for a meeting, how to conduct 1:1’s, and how to hire and fire. Those skills are all important, but they are not leadership skills. They are management skills. To take it to the next level, aspiring leaders must start and stick with a leadership practice. Leadership development and leadership coaching must rise to this calling and develop the programs to nurture practicing leaders.

If you are new to a leadership role, I encourage you to adopt the mindset of a practicing leader. Understand the characteristics of a practicing leader and develop yourself as one. Solicit the help of leaders you admire, mentors, and team members.

Key Takeaways

Leadership should be seen as a practice requiring commitment, intention, self-awareness, humility, and a continuous learning mindset. By shifting our focus from technical expertise to these qualities, we can cultivate effective leaders who achieve results, foster team engagement, and make a positive impact.

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Mastering Focus in the Digital Age: Navigating Distractions for Productivity and Success

Being able to avoid distraction is one of the hardest skills to master in the digital age. The world is full of cheap dopamine hits, notifications, and pings. When distraction increases, impact and productivity often decreases.

Let me give you an example of discipline in action. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself at “Hyper Kidz” an indoor playground with my wife and two sons.

To be clear, I dreaded going. There are few things that appeal to me less than screaming kids in a confined space.

But, my boys needed to get some of their energy out and we were stuck inside because of the poor air quality due to the Canadian wildfires. So, off to “Hyper Kidz” we went.

We were the first people there, which was intentional. I have two sons, 3 and 1. My 1 year old spent most of his time crawling around exploring and throwing balls back into the ball pit. My older son, though started by walking through the entire play area, exploring his new enviroment for the first time.

He was timid at first, looking around and seeing where he wanted to play. Hyper Kidz had a lot of options and play spaces for all ages. At 3, he is kind of in the middle between playing on the areas designated for smaller children and the areas designated for “Big Kids.”

My son and the slide

He looked around. He dabbled. As more kids arrived, he eventually decided he wanted to spend time going down the slides pictured here.

In a world filled with distractions and constant temptation, maintaining focus and avoiding distractions is crucial for productivity and success in business. While it's important to be open to pivoting and adapting plans when necessary, it is equally important to dedicate sufficient time and effort to a chosen path before making a switch. By doing so, we can discern between genuine opportunities and mere distractions.

At first, my wife helped my son down the slide. The second time, my son got to the top by himself and then sat there for a while. Despite our encouragement, what finally made him come down was a gentle nudge from another child who wanted to use the slide. The next few times, my son used his hands and legs to slow himself down, controlling his speed as he went down the slide.

All told, my son must have gone down the slide another hundred times. Sometimes he would go down alone, sometimes there were other kids using the slides next to him, but it didn’t matter to him. He liked the slide and kept climbing up the stairs to get to go down the slides again.

The more he went down the slides, I noticed things changed for him. He got faster. He experimented going down with his legs and hands raised so he would go faster. My son tried lying down flat. He went down after throwing a couple of balls from the ball pit first and racing them down.

Most of the children in such a large, extensive play space would come and go from the slides. Who could blame them? There was so much else to do! At one point they started a bubble machine. There was video soccer and a light up dance floor.

But, my son just stuck to the slide, experimenting and improving every time he went down. Eventually another child joined him and they went down repeatedly together. They actually had so much fun that they hugged when we eventually had to leave.

As I watched my son going down the slide, I admired his focus and discipline in the face of a lot of (literal) noise and distraction. I also realized that I was lost in observing him and hadn’t checked my phone in a while and it felt great!

The Value of Sticking

In the fast-paced world of business, distractions abound, tempting us with shiny new toys and revolutionary ideas. It’s like stepping into a wonderland of modern marvels, where today’s bubble machine, video soccer, and the luminous dance floor at “Hyper Kidz” are swiftly replaced by Apple’s enticing Vision Pro or the next cutting-edge gadget. With the AI revolution in full swing, advertisements flood our screens, promoting the latest AI productivity tool. And let’s not forget the multitude of captivating offerings we’ve encountered over the years from the vast aisles of Amazon.

Amidst this sea of distractions, it’s crucial to ponder the value of “Sticking” or staying committed to our original ideas. As a leader, I’m constantly exploring how to integrate the latest advancements to better serve my customers. The allure of daring partnerships, untapped markets, and unexplored horizons often tempts me. However, I’ve recently realized the importance of designing a plan and remaining steadfast, at least for a defined period, before considering a pivot or diverting towards the next enticing opportunity. I’ve examined my own tendencies and acknowledged that I’m susceptible to straying from my plan in pursuit of new prospects.

Nevertheless, it’s imperative to discern between genuine opportunities and mere distractions—an art that matures with experience. I strive to master this skill, avoiding wasteful expenditure of time, money, and energy. After all, success lies not in chasing every fleeting idea but in investing our resources wisely.

Sticking and Pivoting are not Mutually Exclusive

It’s worth emphasizing that sticking to something that isn’t yielding results would be futile. Blindly adhering to a failing strategy is counterproductive and unwise. In his book, “The Lean Startup,” Eric Ries emphasizes the power and significance of pivoting in business. Countless tech companies serve as shining examples, having started with one plan only to discover that their product or expertise aligns better with a different approach.

In this blog post, my aim is not to promote dogged adherence to a flawed plan, but rather to advocate for dedicating sufficient time to a chosen path before making a switch. Let’s consider an example: if your goal is to master the guitar, I encourage you to stick with it for more than just a few initial lessons. Abandoning it prematurely in favor of learning the piano, for instance, would prevent you from truly gauging your affinity for the guitar.

This valuable lesson resonates with my own experiences and revelations. Just because the next groundbreaking innovation beckons from the horizon doesn’t mean we should hastily abandon our original idea without fully exploring its potential. By investing adequate time and effort, we can distinguish between genuine opportunities and mere distractions.

So, fellow leaders, let us embrace the virtue of staying focused, diligently nurturing our ideas, and charting a course towards success. By doing so, we can unlock the true value of sticking, cultivating the wisdom needed to navigate the dynamic landscape of business while avoiding the allure of every passing distraction.

Key Takeaways

In a world filled with distractions and constant temptation, maintaining focus and avoiding distractions is crucial for productivity and success in business. While it’s important to be open to pivoting and adapting plans when necessary, it is equally important to dedicate sufficient time and effort to a chosen path before making a switch. By doing so, we can discern between genuine opportunities and mere distractions.


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Elevate Your Leadership Practice with the 5-8-1 Mindfulness Technique

Mindfulness is an important part of any leadership practice. Today, I want to share a mindfulness technique that I’ve adopted from an unusual source.

Thanks to my amazing wife and this incredible sleep training resource, our boys have been reliably good sleepers. Generally they sleep from about 6:30pm to 6:45am. While that schedule has involved some sacrifice over the years, my wife and I both feel that it has been worth it.

My younger son recently turned one and has had trouble falling asleep on his own. So I turned to the internet for help and found a method that has worked well for my son called the 5-8-1 method.

The 5-8-1 Method for Infant Sleep

The 5-8-1 Method works like this: When it’s time for my son to sleep for the night or nap, I hold him while standing and move for 5 minutes. During this time, I rock him in my arms or pace around his room. Even if he cries or fusses, I just keep moving. Then, I sit down and hold him, sometimes rocking him in our glider (which is incidentally so comfortable, we bought a second one) for 8 minutes. Finally, I stand up and put him gently in his crib. He almost always rolls over on his own and then I gently rub his back for 1 minute.

The 5-8-1 technique for baby sleep

When I finish and leave the room, he is almost always sound asleep. While 5-8-1 hasn’t worked 100% of the time, it has worked close to that, around 90% of the time.

In addition to helping my son sleep, 5-8-1 has also given me 14 minutes of interrupted thought, which is hard to come by. Since I am holding my son, I can’t check my phone or respond to messages. I can’t scroll the internet. I can’t read an article.

Over time, I found that I really loved those 14 minutes. Not only do I get uninterrupted time to appreciate my son, but I also get uninterrupted time to re-set and re-center.

Adapting 5-8-1 To Busy Leaders

I’ve started experimenting with a 5-8-1 mindfulness technique for leaders to use during stressful days and have found it to be both therapeutic and helpful. After doing this adapted technique, I have found myself to be more productive and able to plan my next steps from a place of calm rather than a place of stress.

The mindfulness technique works like this:

  • 5 minutes doing some physical movement
  • 8 minutes of meditation
  • 1 minute of deep breathing

I found the combination of physical movement along with meditation close together to be part of the secret to the positive impact of this mindfulness technique.

Mindfulness Resources for 5-8-1

In the graphic above, you can see resources for each stage of the 5-8-1 mindfulness technique. Here they are with links to make it easier for you to try 5-8-1 for yourself.

5 Minutes of Physical Movement

8 Minutes of Mindfulness Meditation

1 Minute of Deep Breathing

  • Box breathing at a 4 count – This is a helpful breathing technique that works like this:
    • Breathe out slowly, releasing all the air from your lungs.
    • Breathe in through your nose as you slowly count to four in your head. Be conscious of how the air fills your lungs and stomach.
    • Hold your breath for a count of four.
    • Exhale for another count of four.
    • Hold your breath again for a count of four.
    • Repeat for three to four rounds.
  • Calm app – The calm app has breathing exercises as well that you could do for a minute.
  • Apple watch – The Apple watch has a “Mindfulness” app that includes short guided breathing exercises using the watch’s haptics so you can keep you eyes closed.

Of course, you can also use any of your own resources to meditate. These are just some resources you can use to get started. The most important thing is not which app you use but to try to 5-8-1 mindfulness technique.

The Benefits of Mindfulness for Leaders

There are an increasing number of academic studies validating the connection between mindfulness and positive leadership.

One such study, published in the journal “Mindfulness”, found that mindfulness was positively associated with employee well-being and performance. The study also found that mindfulness was mediated by emotional intelligence, which suggests that mindfulness helps leaders to better understand and regulate their emotions, which in turn leads to better employee well-being and performance.

More and more leaders are adding mindfulness to their leadership practice because of its benefits to both the leader and teams. I have meditated with my teams in the past and found the results to be positive.

The 5-8-1 Mindfulness Technique is now in your toolbox to use in your leadership practice.

Key Takeaways

Mindfulness is essential for leaders. In this post, I introduces a mindfulness technique called the 5-8-1 method. The method involves 5 minutes of physical movement, 8 minutes of meditation, and 1 minute of deep breathing.


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The connection between customer experience and leadership

Everybody wants to be a part of an organization known for having the best customer experience. Organizations in every industry market themselves as having “The #1 rated customer service” or “We’re known for our customer service,” but often fail to deliver on that brand promise.

In this post, I am going to explore why that is, starting with the relationship between achievement in customer experience and leadership.

Customer Experience and Leadership work together
Strong Leadership and Strong Customer Experience Go Hand-in-hand

Customer Experience as a Differentiator

I was recently listening to a speech by the famous billionaire investor Warren Buffett. In the speech he shared that any business that excels in customer service, can be a successful business.

In that speech, Buffett described the story of Jack Taylor, the founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. When Taylor got into the rental car business, there were two dominant companies in that market: Hertz and Avis. Taylor started Enterprise with 17 cars compared with Hertz and Avis having thousands, Enterprise was located in undesirable locations because the larger companies already had prime real-estate (think airports, for example), and the 17 cars he had were no different than the other companies.

Enterprise’s value proposition focused around customer experience and treating the customer better than any other rent-a-car company in America. For example, Enterprise is known for their slogan, “We’ll pick you up,” a commitment to free customer pickup when they need a rental car.

When Taylor passed away, Enterprise Rent-A-Car was worth more than all the other car rental companies put together, despite starting later and with many disadvantages in a commoditized industry.

The power of superior customer experience is real. It is a business imperative to get customer experience right and a business opportunity in industries known for poor customer experience.

What it takes to create a business that delivers incredible customer service

I have led the customer experience function for two large organizations. I know that most companies want their brand to be synonymous with excellence in customer service. However, most senior leaders of these companies do not understand what it takes to accomplish this goal.

A number of companies are known for excellence in customer experience. They include well known brands like the Ritz Carlton, Disney World, Chick Fil-A, Zappos, Starbucks, and Trader Joe’s.

While most companies say that they want to deliver the best customer experience, these companies above have actually done it. Their tactics are published in books, their leaders have explained what it took for them to do it, and their cases have even been studied in business schools.

These companies all follow the same framework to achieve their successes. They do the following:

Step 1: Define the universal behavioral expectations of the company in simple terms.

Example: At Disney World, they teach behavioral expectations aligned to 5 “Keys”: Safety, Courtesy, Inclusion, Show, and Efficiency.

Step 2: Create a campaign of engagement around these universal expectations.

Example: At the Ritz Carlton, the “Ladies and Gentlemen” read from their Credo Card that includes the Ritz Carlton service values on a daily basis during their lineup process.

Step 3: Educate all team members about the expectations.

Example: At Disney World, new hire orientation is called, “Traditions”. This immersive program is the first step of many training and education opportunities for Disney “Cast Members” to live the 5-Keys.

Step 4: Create reinforcing systems that show the employees and the customers the importance of the expectations.

Example: At Zappos, orientation for all positions includes time to answer calls at the call center. Also at Zappos, the company celebrates long customer service calls, where other companies establish Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to reduce the length of calls with individual customers.

Step 5: Empower team members to live the behavioral expectations in new and creative ways.

Example: At Ritz-Carlton, every “Lady and Gentleman” are empowered to spend up to $2,000 per day per guest to rescue a poor guest experience.

Despite the roadmap being relatively simple, it is difficult to execute. Many businesses struggle with customer experience, including basic customer service.

The Zappos approach to building a fantastic customer experience

Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh gave a 54-minute talk at Stanford University about Zappos’ culture. I would encourage you to watch the seminar in its entirety here:

In the seminar, Hsieh speaks to the discipline and focus a leader needs to run a high performing customer experience organization. Leadership at the highest level of these companies have a relentless focus on the needs of the customer. They prioritize customer experience over short term interests to build high performing cultures.

And, truly, that is the rub when it comes to building a high performing customer experience company. Most senior leaders want the result without understanding the work that excellence in customer experience entails.

Why leadership matters for customer experience

As you heard in the seminar, Tony Hsieh studied how great organizations create cultures that achieve results. A high performing customer experience organization cannot exist without leaders who understand how to build a culture that can execute on the five steps to create a high performing customer experience organization we discussed earlier.

Leaders like Jack Taylor and Tony Hsieh embodied the values they promoted. They were trusted because they would sacrifice short term gains for those values. Furthermore, they understood that the people closest to the work should love their jobs and feel equipped to create human connections with customers, while the leaders create the space for them to do that.

This may seem simple but it is not at all easy. Many leaders treat customer experience as an initiative to improve a KPI like net-promoter-score (NPS) or, in healthcare, the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. They often try to achieve the targets through tactics likes scripting, pushing customers for survey scores, or through financially incentivizing their teams to achieve those scores.

These tactics represent traditional command, control, and manipulative leadership. At best, the results of initiatives like this are temporary. At worst, they become an outright joke.

When Customer Experience Goes Wrong

Here’s what I mean by outright joke: Call AT&T, or whoever your cell phone provider is. Mine is AT&T.

I had an issue with AT&T that took 18 months to resolve. It took 18 months, multiple phone calls, multiple customer service chats, and one desperate plea at an AT&T store, which got me to a number where an agent finally was empowered to resolve the issue. It was painful.

After the experience, I was certain that my number one goal was to become a customer of literally any other cell phone carrier.

But won’t you believe that after every interaction, I was asked to give them 5-stars in the survey after the call. As a Chief Experience Office (CXO), I was embarrassed for AT&T by that request.

Leadership matters. It sets the tone and direction of the organization. Leadership that prioritizes customer experience also prioritizes humanness.

Why customer experience matters so much to me personally

We share planet earth with more than 8 billion other people. Our world, especially the lens in our head, is a tiny spec in the universe.

My own thoughts and needs are a dichotomy. On one hand, they are all I have to keep me safe as I experience the world. On the other hand, in the grand scheme of the world, I realize that my thoughts and needs are insignificant. 1/8,000,000,000.

It’s a humbling thought.

I have found that the more I can be kind and helpful, the better I can use my spec in the universe to make the human experience easier for other specs in the universe. I do not want to live in a world where everyone is so focused on their own thoughts and needs that the rest of humanity is irrelevant for them. Imagine if we all lived in that world. It would be miserable for all of us.

Organizations, whether public or private, not-for-profit or for-profit, giant companies or small businesses, are fundamentally just organized groups of people. They have the power to make someone’s life a little easier or a little harder. Organizations that choose to prioritize customer experience are also prioritizing making other people’s lives a little bit better.

In my life, I have experienced how frustrating it can be to interact with people and businesses that make my life just a little easier. It makes a difference in my day.

Mission BBQ

There’s a local chain that started here in Maryland called Mission BBQ. I absolutely love this place. The food is great, and they are connected to the brotherhood and camaraderie of the military. The restaurant is not fancy, it’s just the people who work there are genuinely good people. They take care of me at Mission BBQ no matter which location I go to.

When I am having a day where I feel like I need life to get just a little easier, I go to Mission BBQ. It is a company that has become a haven of sorts for me.

Customer experience matters. To me, it’s really making a better human experience in a fast and crowded world. It can be done well, but it requires real leadership.


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