3 Customer Experience Stories (From Companies Not Named Starbucks) That Will Inspire Your Company to Deliver Better Customer Service

Disclaimer: I love Starbucks but I recognize that we share Starbucks stories, and companies like theirs, frequently. I wanted to start sharing stories from companies you might not be too familiar with to give evidence that regardless of your industry or size of company, you too can become a case study. If you know of a great customer experience story please share in the comments section of this post.

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I’m going to share something with you that has helped me be the best customer-centric leader that I can be for my company, team and customers.

My partners and I run a business that has 150 employees – people who rely on us to constantly be customer-focused. After all, it stems from the top! We welcome over 50,000 guests per month to our venues, so we have to build scalable systems that allows us to deliver great customer experiences each and every time.

What’s my secret?

I spend a few hours a week studying other companies and use their stories as motivation to constantly strive to be better than we are today (as of writing this blog post our Net Promoter Score is 79).


I wanted to share three stories from companies that inspire me. One of the companies I mention below I have a relationship with (I’ve hosted a full-day workshop for them), one we’re familiar with but, perhaps, doesn’t get the same press coverage as companies like Ritz Carlton or Zappos, and the last is one my business partners and I own and operate.

As you read this blog post, I suggest you think, “why not us?!”

Why can’t WE lead our industry like this?

Why can’t OUR team consistently deliver exceptional experiences like this?

Why can’t I lead MY team like this?

The answer is…YOU CAN!

If you like what you read, please consider sharing this on social media and with your team. Enjoy!

CBC Federal Credit Union


The story: One of their members (their terminology for customers) who had been a member of theirs since 2004, recently had something happen that impacted him and had nothing to do with banking or finance.

Mr. Arteaga (second from the left) came into one of their branches in California for an everyday banking need. While being helped at the branch, the CBC employee learned that the member recently had something stolen from him that was very precious to him, a scarf.

The scarf was a gift from his son who brought it back from a trip to Spain. The scarf was particularly special to him because it was one of his favourite sports team, FC Barcelona (you may have heard of they’re star player, Lionel Messi). Mr. Arteaga expressed how upsetting it was to him because it was a gift from his son.

Armed with this information, the CBC employee organized the company to purchase a FC Barcelona scarf understanding that it wouldn’t hold the same sentimental value, but a thoughtful act nevertheless.

When you hear this story you might think, “that’s nice!” But, listen to what Mr. Arteaga had to say about the customer experience:

“You guys have been more than just a financial institution all these years and I am just blown away by this. You say it is a small act, but you have no idea. Coming here is like going to my Abuelita’s (grandmother’s) house.”

Over the years, this member has been a true advocate for the business recruiting his wife and other family member to do business with CBC Federal Credit Union.

My Take and Question: when I hosted a full-day workshop for CBC Federal Credit Union in October 2018 I introduced them to my micro customer experience (MCE) strategy. This framework will grow a business and inspire an entire organization to exceed the expectations of customers or, as CBC calls them, members.

The MCE program works when you train your team to listen and take action on what you’ve heard, provide them with an operating budget and lead by example (CBC Federal Credit Unions CEO, Patrick Miller, is pictured on the far right).

Have you provided your team with the operating budget (something on your P&L) to deliver these exceptional customer experiences?

Hampton Inn


The story: A Hampton Inn employee in Pennsylvania named Kahlief did something that surely will resonate with this young guest named Colin for years to come.

Colin has autism and doing card tricks is not only a passion of his but also helps him focus. When Colin met Khalief he asked if he wanted to see some of his card tricks. Khalief marvelled at Colin’s experience and went ahead and showed Colin a few tricks of his own not once, but twice on consecutive days.

Something Khalief didn’t know is that Colin had recently lost his father, was living with his mother and sister and longing for more male interaction since the passing of his father.

The Hampton Inn team member could have easily excused himself from being able to entertain Colin because he was too busy. But, he took ownership over his role and was able to manage both serving guests and delivering an experience Colin has never seen before.

My Take and Question: You might think, “This is a nice story” but let’s not stop there. Your employees need, what I refer to as customer-centric DNA, to do this authentically. You and I can’t train our employees how to do this habitually. Khalief is a perfect example of a professional that willingly delivers memorable customer experiences to guests. As leaders of our companies, it’s our responsibility to find team members like Khalief and get out of their way to deliver these types of customer experiences.

Before I explain the ROI of doing this, isn’t it something we should be doing to build true businesses? Ones that our communities love!

The ROI of customer experiences like these are customer loyalty, engaged employees (team members with this type of DNA thrive off being able to do things like this in the workplace) and free media as many major local and national news (ABC News, Today and Good Morning America) outlets have shared this story.

During your interview process, do you ask probing questions (like this one) to identify if the person you’re interview has a customer-centric DNA?



Okay, okay, okay. This customer experience is from one of my businesses but I stand behind the story because it’s a great one!

One day a woman called into Baro to make a reservation. While our hostess was accommodating the guest on the phone, she mentioned that she would be heading to Punta Cana the following day for a vacation.

With this “customer intelligence” in hand, our hostess alerted our manager, Christina Parihar (someone I profile in my People-First Culture book) and our marketing department. They put together a customized brochure profiling information that the guest would find useful for her trip: places to eat, typical climate, local customs and more.

Prior to the guests arriving for their reservation, our hostess team had the brochures placed subtly inside their menu which were placed on their table before they arrived. Sure enough, we received the reaction we had hoped for which was the guest thinking, “How on earth did they pull this off?” You see, we had less than 24 hours to gather the information, design the brochures and have them professionally printed.


As you can imagine, this was another example of creating an experience your customers have never seen before that is worth sharing with family, friends and the internet.

My Take and Question: Examples like these aren’t just reserved for customer-facing team members. Notice how we included our marketing team, employees who typically aren’t customer-facing. Our finance team has been trained to do this for our investors and our vendors such as our payroll company, banking representatives and insurance providers. To truly build a people-first culture, you must include EVERYONE in your company to deliver experiences like these. It’s not just reserved for customer-facing roles.

During onboarding, regardless of the department, do you train your team and make them aware that everyone is responsible for creating experiences like these? Do you habitually mandate that these experiences be delivered regularly?

If you’ve been inspired by this post, please consider sharing it on social media and with your team!

For information, on how I can help your company create experiences like these for your customers, email me michel@michelfalcon.com or visit my website www.michelfalcon.com to learn about my private workshops and keynote presentations.


Why Customers Have A Responsibility To Help Companies Improve Their Customer Service

I believe you and I have a responsibility – that responsibility is to help companies we do business with improve their customer service.

How? When was the last time you received great customer service? Did you go out of your way to call or email the employee’s manager and tell them of the great experience?

Watch this video to learn why I believe we as consumers need to step up and help the employees of these companies!

Comment below: name a company that delivers great customer service to you and recognize their efforts.

I’ll go first – my favourite company is Starbucks! No matter where I go in the world they always deliver an amazing experience. If you enjoyed this video make sure to subscribe and connect with me on LinkedIn where I share videos just like this on a daily basis!


Talking Company Culture, Entrepreneurship & LinkedIn’s Reach with Swish Goswami

In this interview I sit down with Trufan’s founder, Swish Goswami, to talk about how he motivates his team, what type of culture he’s looking to build at his business and why he’s going hard on LinkedIn with content.

Talking with Swish about his vision for his business is always exciting. He’s a young entrepreneur who understands the value of building a strong company culture.

This interview covers 3 main things:

1) Do’s & don’ts of LinkedIn
2) What startups should be focusing in their early days when it comes to company culture (and how to deal with employees who go against what you’re trying to build)
3) How to grow your leadership skills

Click the video above to watch the interview with Swish or read the transcription below.

Michel Falcon: Hey, everyone. I’m here with Swish, the CEO of TruFan, somebody I greatly admire. He’s on the speaking circuit. He has a book coming out.

Swish Goswami: October. I know. It’s on youth entrepreneurship, how to start a business while you’re still in school. But I’m really excited to be with Michel here.

Michel Falcon: Do you have a title for the book yet?

Swish Goswami: Yeah. The Young Entrepreneur.

Michel Falcon: Sweet.

Swish Goswami: Yeah.

Michel Falcon: I’m going to jump right into it. You have been advocating LinkedIn-

Swish Goswami: For a while.

Michel Falcon: For a few years.

Swish Goswami: Three years.

Michel Falcon: Three years.

Michel Falcon: How old were you when you first started at Linkedin?

Swish Goswami: 18.

Michel Falcon: Okay.

Swish Goswami: 18.

Michel Falcon: Gary Vaynerchuk in recent weeks-

Swish Goswami: Has gone crazy with it.

Michel Falcon: He’s been advocating it. He’s been pounding his chest. What makes Linkedin so attractive today?

Swish Goswami: That’s a great question. There’s three things. One is vulnerability. You can’t really show that level of insecurity and failure and vulnerability on Instagram. Because a lot of people when they come on Instagram they’re looking for positivity.

Michel Falcon: True.

Swish Goswami: They’re looking to be happy. They’re looking for positive stories that uplift them.

on Linkedin you really have folks talk about failure in professional setting, and to meet that with people that can relate to it directly.

Swish Goswami: Number two is the organic reach on the platform. I don’t even know how the algorithm works entirely, but it works. If you’re authentic, if you’re engaging in the comments with your community. If you’re trying to find ways to collaborate with people, you will see the results of that.

Swish Goswami: And the final thing is, it’s basically like Instagram and Facebook eight years ago. You know there’s so much you can do with the platform. You know there’s a lot you can do. I did meet ups for example. We’re now in over 480 cities that we posted Linkedin locals in, and it started in New York when I started back for the first time with 20 people that came out to a meet up. So, that was kind of two years ago. You really do something new on the platform.

Michel Falcon: So, those were the do’s of the Linkedin.

Swish Goswami: Yeah.

Michel Falcon: What are the don’ts?

Swish Goswami: The don’ts, I think one don’t be overly salesy on Linkedin. I think it’s easy to do that because it’s a professional platform. You’re like “I want to get customers. I want to close these deals online.” What you really should be trying to do is cultivate relationships and then eventually if there is a customer that you’d like to close, do it in an offline setting. Right, go and meet them or get on a phone call with them. You’re not going to close them in the comments section of a post. Unlikely.

Michel Falcon: Right.

Swish Goswami: Number two is I think try as much as possible to be yourself and that obviously is a very, you know- everybody keeps on saying authenticity, authenticity. But people don’t really understand what it means. Being yourself means, if I was coming up to you in person how would I interact with you.

Michel Falcon: Okay.

Swish Goswami: So, on Linkedin the reason I think people liked me on the platform originally is when I engage with them in the comments section, I’m literally talking to them. My periods and my commas are all over the place. I’m not speaking in grammatical sense and whatsoever, but I’m speaking to them as if I’m right there with them and they can have a conversation with me in the comments, which is really authentic.

Michel Falcon: Whose doing Linkedin very well right now? Maybe not the Gary V, maybe the not so familiar.

Swish Goswami: So for video Quentin Allums. He’s a guy, Quentin Allums is a good friend of mine. He puts out some of the best videos I’ve seen.

Michel Falcon: What makes them so-

Swish Goswami: They’re short snippets like minute to two minutes. They have subtitles on them, which is really critical as well nowadays, because again Linkedin is an international platform. You’re going to have people that do speak very well English, but also people that are just coming in and learning English for the first time. The final that thing I love about Quentin he engages with every single comment he gets.

Michel Falcon: okay.

Swish Goswami: It takes him awhile. It’s not like he’s always on Linkedin. He has a marketing agency on the side and obviously there’s a crossover between that. But at the same time even if you commented at four days after he replies to you, I as a consumer of this content feel very rewarded to get that comment back. That’s him for video.

Swish Goswami: I think for articles, for any text based posts my initial inspiration Michaela Alexis, she has over 140,000 followers and she is crushing it. She got laid off from her job and she got a job through Linkedin and she just talks about how to be able to go from basically rock bottom to be able to now speak around the world on a topic she loves. And pretty much a topic that changed her life’s trajectory entirely. So she’s very open about talking about everything, you know recently she talked about how her and her husband had a hard time conceiving a child. Like even going into topics like that…

Michel Falcon: Really.

Swish Goswami: …to being very vulnerable about it but still keeping it professional…

Michel Falcon: True.

Swish Goswami: …and not entirely personal.

Michel Falcon: Okay. So Quentin, Michaela we’ll tag them up in this so that anybody watching this can, recommended by Swish, connect with them, follow them.

Michel Falcon: What needs to happen for LinkedIn to siphon some of the attention away from Instagram to get those young professionals focused on a professional platform?

Swish Goswami: Well A., I don’t really want that ever. From my end. Well when Gary was promoting LinkedIn, I’m like, damn it! Everyone figured out the secret now! More and more people eventually come onto the platform and saturates it and I do agree with Gary that marketeers ruin everything.

Michel Falcon: True.

Swish Goswami: So the minute people are like, oh my god the organic reach is high there, the amount of, quantity of content, not quality, but quantity of content is going to drastically increase. But that being said, I think LinkedIn has a number of things around live video and that’s their next step. They put out a beta, that released to a couple of users, about 500 users around the world and they’re incrementally going to be rolling out live video. And if that can catch on, and if the right professionals come on, not only to do live video resumes, which I think would be a really cool thing, but to even take live video to networking events and start doing that all on LinkedIn as a professional platform…

Michel Falcon: Right.

Swish Goswami: …that could be really cool.

Michel Falcon: Would you have an idea on when the live…

Swish Goswami: Live video?

Michel Falcon: …videos going to be rolled out?

Swish Goswami: I’ve been told that October is when everybody will get it.

Michel Falcon: Really?

Swish Goswami: But they’re going to incrementally give it out in regions as well.

Michel Falcon: okay.

Swish Goswami: So right now, any of the beta users are all in the United States, next Canda, and then they’re going to release it in New York.

Michel Falcon: Sweet.

Swish Goswami: Which is really pretty neat.

Michel Falcon: Alright, can you trust that it comes sooner than that.

Michel Falcon: TruFan, your organization, raised a million dollars.

Swish Goswami: A million dollars right now.

Michel Falcon: And I’m sure you’re going to use those funds for many great things.

Swish Goswami: Yep.

Michel Falcon: One thing that I gravitate toward in building a company is focus on company culture.

Swish Goswami: Yeah.

Michel Falcon: What should startups be focused on to build their culture in their early days? Whether they a million dollars or not?

Swish Goswami: Yep. So I think A, it’s pretty straightforward, find the right people initially.

Find those four or five people you can really set as a foundation of your culture. These aren’t just kind people, but these are empathetic people, people who would go out of their way to not only sometimes do the right thing, but also care about each other and each other’s success.

So if you even have one toxic person on the initial team, it can ruin the entire experience. You remember Brian Scudamore 1800GotJunk fired his first ten employees because he just wasn’t having fun, and it was a toxic environment. He didn’t have optimistic people around him. So, if you want to set good company culture, it comes down to the initial people. The people who have been with the company the longest.

Swish Goswami: The second thing I think is trying as much as possible not to have a clear chain of command. I think it’s very easy for especially young CEOs to be like “I’m on top and I want everybody in the organization to know that.” But if you can make that first five to ten employee experience for them very collaborative where they feel like even if they don’t have ownership in the company they feel like they do, they would go and make this their life’s work that is the greatest thing you can give company culture. It’s having more and more people come into the company not thinking this is a stepping stone to the next opportunity, but thinking “This is my life’s work, and I feel like I’m as much of the process right now as Swish is.” Which is really cool.

Michel Falcon: Okay. I believe that there is no one size fits all for company culture. You take a company like Netflix. They’re high-performance, but then you compare them to Zappos and Zappos as they say it are weird, it’s in their values.

Swish Goswami: Very weird, very weird, yeah.

Michel Falcon: How do you describe your company culture?

Swish Goswami: So there’s three things. One, basketball. Females or males, everybody on our team loves basketball. We have a mini basketball net in our office now.

Michel Falcon: I’ve seen that.

Swish Goswami: Yep.

Michel Falcon: Do you throw down?

Swish Goswami: I can throw down.

Michel Falcon: Yeah.

Swish Goswami: But like a mini net that’s like seven feet? Probably.

Swish Goswami: The second thing is memes. We’re very humorous people. We have a memes group. In our eight people we still are very active in our memes group that’s sometimes even overly more active than our work channel. We’re really active in the memes group. And we just love having a good laugh at each other, even if we’re all in different places. I’m traveling a lot, our head sales travels a lot, we’ll all be in different places but we can share a laugh with each other, which is great.

Swish Goswami: Third and final thing which I think is really important is we all are social entrepreneurs. Even if you’re a person that isn’t an entrepreneur per se, you could be intrepreneur, which is someone that thinks entrepreneurial within a company, but we’re all very social oriented. So a lot of what we do isn’t just behind trying to make money, it’s very purpose driven. We love seeing our clients use our tools to set up really cool fan experiences and then record that to put out to the world. Because, I don’t know if you saw Chris Paul, or Yannis, both of them had incredible fan moments in the last two weeks. Those videos went viral because the emotion behind it.

Michel Falcon: Wait, Chris Paul when he crossed the …

Swish Goswami: Chris Paul when, no no no, Chris Paul had a young kid, a ten year old kid come up to him after the game and just hug his leg and cried.

Michel Falcon: No way!

Swish Goswami: He’s been a fan of his for a while, and he signed an autograph and everything like that and this kid was just melting. I had never seen tears that much come out of a little kid. And then Yannis had a girl that had been drawing paintings of him for the last four years. She’s like twelve years old.

Michel Falcon: I saw that. That was cool.

Swish Goswami: Right? And she gave her book to him, and he came around and she started crying. That’s kind of like the essence of our platform. And I think everybody on our team loves that emotion. They love that feeling.

Michel Falcon: What’s a meme that is making you laugh today …

Swish Goswami: Right now?

Michel Falcon: …that will make you laugh in two years?

Swish Goswami: All the Winnie the Pooh memes. I don’t know if you’ve seen these…

Michel Falcon: Yeah I have.

Swish Goswami: …but there’s like the clean Winnie the Pooh and the business Winnie the Pooh. I love those ones.

Michel Falcon: What do you do when you have hired somebody who you are like total culture fit, checks all the boxes, but then three months later, they start going against your culture. How do you manage that?

Swish Goswami: We’ve had an extense of that before. We’ve definitely laid people off. I think, to not obviously give names or anything but to give context, we had a remote employee that I thought would fit in really well because they would–

Michel Falcon: What told you that?

Swish Goswami: Their job was marketing, performance marketing, they were really smart, they came recommended by two advisors of mine

Michel Falcon: Two?

Swish Goswami: So I wanted to give them a shot. When we gave them a shot we realized they were coming on to every team call, but they weren’t self-driven. And for them at the time, they were the head of our marketing department, it was a really really hard for us not to have somebody who wasn’t self-driven in that role. Because I couldn’t babysit their role, and also do mine effectively.

Michel Falcon: Of course.

Swish Goswami: The first thing I do is always approach the person. I’m very honest especially between my co-founder and I, too, if I have a problem, I will speak out about it immediately. I hate the lettering, letting anything fester, especially resentment, because if you have resentment against someone else and you don’t tell them immediately, it festers and it grows over time. And then that’s where complications really start to happen. So the first thing is approaching them.

Swish Goswami: The second thing is giving them a clear expectation of what I want them to do every month. So for us, every Wednesday actually we set a weekly deliverables, where as a core team now of four people, we will sit together and be like this is what you have to do this week, this is what you have to do this week, and we’ll compare, how did the last week go. And be very honest about things we hit, things we didn’t hit. That’s number two.

Swish Goswami: And then number three is having to be honest about letting them go. The person we did let go, he’s still a part of the company, because they were with us pretty much from the beginning, but at the same time, if things aren’t working, and they understand that as well, it’s just better to get rid of them early than to keep them on and have them drag the entire process of the company down.

Michel Falcon: Okay. You mentioned you have advisors in the company.

Swish Goswami: Yeah.

Michel Falcon: Is there someone past or present that you would want on your advisory team?

Swish Goswami: We have a pretty strong advisory team now, but I … past or present… I think Seth Godin would be great. Seth Godin is one of my favorite marketeers. He wrote The Purple Cow, you should definitely read that book. But he is also the type of person that, every time I’ve gotten on a Skype call with him, he’s always taken problems that I had and just simplified them. I feel like these problems are very complex, I’m rambling on for five minutes being like, “Seth, I don’t know how to get out of this,” and he just simplifies it like, “What do you want to get done, what is the main issue right now in terms you being able to get that done, and who do you need to contact for it?”

Michel Falcon: Okay.

Swish Goswami: That’s it, he distills every big problem I have into very simple actionable items, and that’s what you really want with an advisor. They’re not here to babysit you and guide you through, they’re here just to clarify situations for you.

Michel Falcon: How would you describe your leadership style?

Swish Goswami: Leadership style, I’m quite assertive. I’m definitely very honest. I move very quickly. That’s something my entire team knows. So when I ask them to do something, they never ask “when do you want it by?” That’s just not a question that ever comes up now, because if I ask you to do something it’s likely because I need you to do it ASAP. But I also do like to give a lot of autonomy to people. For me, for my co-founder, for our head of sales, for CMO, CFO whatever, I know that the reason they’re in their job is because they’re the best at what they do. So, I am in no position to tell our CFO how to do their job. IF they want to work eight hours and then the next day go to the beach with their girlfriend, as long as they got all their work done I’m happy with that.

Michel Falcon: Sure.

Swish Goswami: But I’m not the type of person that would go in and try to make them work like me. I don’t want them to be another me, but at the same time I do need things done and I’m quite assertive about that.

Michel Falcon: Okay. For the useful and the veteran professionals that are wanting to invest in their leadership skillset, where do you recommend people go?

Swish Goswami: So, A, for confidence, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. I don’t know if I can swear, yeah? Good, yeah. Marc Manson. Best book I’ve read in my life.

Michel Falcon: Really?

Swish Goswami: Best book, I mean–

Michel Falcon: It’s hard to escape the book.

Swish Goswami: It is indeed.

Michel Falcon: And I’ve heard–you see it everywhere, and I’ve heard a lot of recommendations that it’s probably the best of the times.

Swish Goswami: That’s number one. Number two there’s a paper called The Five Myths of Great Leadership.

Michel Falcon: The Five Myths

Swish Goswami: The Five Myths of Great Leadership. I’ll send it to you, you can link it. That’s a great paper. Its also like ten pages long. Pretty easy read. It’s really good because it’s counterculture, like a lot of great leadership advice that you’ll see on Instagram, or you’ll see on viral content, they actually debunk that and they go very deep into talking about how that’s not really the case.

Swish Goswami: One for example is a lot of people say that leaders should eat last, right? The idea that Simon Sinek put out in his book. There’s a really really cool myth that leaders are the person that they want their entire team to succeed and they only succeed, but there is actually a counterculture approach which is a lot of times your team if they see you as a role model and if they see you already “eating”, they’re going to want to work to be like you. So they kind of do stuff like that and it’s really cool because obviously leadership there’s no real definitive way to become a leader, and yes there’s a science behind it, but there’s also not. So, you kind of have to figure out what works for you.

Swish Goswami: I’ve seen leaders that aren’t extroverted. I’ve seen leaders that are quiet, they’re silent ninjas. But at the same time, leadership comes in different forms, and it also is based on how you build your team. If your team responds to threats, and they respond to really assertive people, then if you’re not that type of person you probably don’t have the right team around you. But if you have a team that’s around you that you know will respond to how you work, and if you set a good role model for them, they’ll follow, that’s for you as well.

Michel Falcon: Is leadership born within oneself, or is it developed?

Swish Goswami: It’s developed. It’s definitely, obviously natural characteristics people can be born with, like confidence can come naturally, it can also be nurtured at the same time. But at the end of the day, again I’ve seen leaders that are the people who go out of their way to make their employees’ lives hell. Especially after Steve Jobs passed away, everyone read their books everyone saw the movie and stuff. I saw a lot of people were entrepreneurs that were like “I got to be like Steve now, got to make my employees really miserable because that’s how their creativity will spark,” but I’ve also seen CEOs like Brian for example and he’d go to these huddles at 10:05 or whatever–

Michel Falcon: 10:55.

Swish Goswami: 10:55 every morning, they’re there, they’re in front of the team, they’re clapping with their team, they’re approachable. And the people around Brian, I was even talking to them, they idolize Brian. Which is great, I think I would want to be at his [inaudible 00:16:43]

Michel Falcon: I was in a couple weeks ago and I did a video with Brian and we talking about leadership…

Swish Goswami: Yep.

Michel Falcon: …and in a very similar environment as I’m doing with you right now, and one of the things we talked about was his slogan “It’s all about people.”

Swish Goswami: Mmmhmm.

Michel Falcon: And I kind of challenged him on that, and I didn’t necessarily need to because I’ve developed my career at his company, but a lot of people can look at that and think that’s such a platitude, that’s something a nice rallying point.

Swish Goswami: Yep.

Michel Falcon: How do you recommend companies go from having platitudes to actually embedding it into the DNA of the company and making it authentic?

Swish Goswami: Cool. That’s a great question. I think number one is not overthinking it. Having those huddles is great, but if Brian didn’t have those huddles, it didn’t mean that he had a crap company culture.

Michel Falcon: Sure.

Swish Goswami: Right? The huddles actually came out of the company culture itself. It wasn’t like Brian initially was like at the start of the company, we’re always going to meet at 10:55. It’s just the team got to such a size that they needed to build that as another element of their culture. So I think A is not overthinking it, go along with the ride. Be very responsive to what your employees want. If your employees do not want to have a huddle at 10:55 A.M. but they’d rather do Skype sessions every week, or they’d rather go and have a client meeting that you come with them on, right?

Michel Falcon: Right.

Swish Goswami: Stuff like that could be a lot better as well than having the huddle where everybody meets. The one is responding to what your employees want over time and not overthinking it. The second thing is as much as possible take a look at what works in terms of your company culture and know that if you’re at ten or fifteen people, it might not work when you’re at fifty.

Michel Falcon: True.

Swish Goswami: Right? It really might not work when you’re at fifty. But the big thing that you’ve got to do is you have to inspire the initial ten to fifteen people to be like you when the team was really small.

Michel Falcon: Right.

Swish Goswami: Which is they have to go in to their divisions and spark their own internal company culture. So the overall company might be doing really great, and there might not be any cross pollination between sales and marketing, but if each of those individual organisms have great company culture, that is a win in my mind.

Michel Falcon: I’m going to borrow something from our mutual friend named Jayson Gaignard…

Swish Goswami: Who is that?

Michel Falcon: Going to get his ass beat for [inaudible 00:18:59] first. If we were celebrating something a year from today, what are we celebrating?

Swish Goswami: So I think A would be TrueFan. TrueFan, we’re hopefully going to be at around twenty people by the end of the year. That’s where we’re projected in terms of sales, in terms of hiring. And we’re making a lot of good moves within the cannabis industry within esports.

Michel Falcon: Nice.

Swish Goswami: So it could be really neat to have a big partner come one day and even have us license our project out entirely. Which I think is very probable. Incredibly, my co-founder is incredibly passionate about that space–

Michel Falcon: Okay.

Swish Goswami: So he’s been willing all those projects on really really well. The second thing I think would be my mom. My mom has been through the last two years have really been a personal battle if you will, splitting up with her husband, my father, and we’re at the endgame now. Avengers coming out, that was a reference to that. We’re at the endgame now, and I’m really really excited to be able to celebrate with her where she doesn’t have anything in the back of her mind.

Michel Falcon: Moms are the best human beings…

Swish Goswami: They actually are.

Michel Falcon: My dad is a pretty, like a lot of brawn, and everything, but my mom is a hundred times stronger than he is.

Swish Goswami: Yeah, yep.

Michel Falcon: Moms are a beautiful thing.

Swish Goswami: Yep.

Michel Falcon: Alright, Swish, thank you so much my brother. Follow Swish, where can they find you?

Swish Goswami: LinkedIn, Swish Goswami S-W-I-S-H G-0-S-W-A-M-I or you can hit me up on Instagram as well, very approachable, @GoSwish G-O-S-W-I-S-H.

Michel Falcon: Did you learn something by watching this awesome interview? Click the share button, click the like button, and I’ll see you next time.

This Empathy Tip Made Me A Better Leader

Welcome to another People First Monday.

You’re going to crush this week. Click the hashtag because I’ve been creating these short videos since the beginning of the year, follow along, learn about the topics that I’ve been speaking about. This week I want to share an empathy trick that I use in my career to become a better leader.

That trick is when an employee comes to you with a challenge or something that they’re struggling with, before you form an opinion or say a single word, I want you to reflect for a moment and ask yourself have I also experienced that in my career or in my personal life?

Being able to have a connection to something that you also have experienced will provide you the ability to authentically experience empathy for your team members. Use this trick, it’s working fantastic for me in my career, have a fantastic week and I’ll see you next week.

What Is A People-First Culture? (Fireside Chat With Jayson Gaignard)

Earlier this year, Jayson Gaignard, WeWork and I hosted a fireside chat where Jayson interviewed me about my People-First Culture book.

Watch (or read) the interview if you’re interested in:

? Understanding why I focused a lot of attention on purpose-driven companies within the pages of my book
? Learning about my Employee Advisory Board and how it’s helped us create a great workplace
? My approach to customer experience strategies to grow a business

Interview Transcript


Jason:                           I’ll throw you under the bus. Actually, why don’t we just toss it to you? What’s the most unpleasant job you’ve ever had Mr. Falcon?

Michel Falcon:              Bag boy at a grocery store in north Vancouver. Only because it’s such a thankless job. Because when you pay for your groceries, a customer says thank you to the person that takes payment, and is out of thank you’s by the time they pass you as the bag boy. It’s a thankless job. I would say that was probably the worst, most difficult job I’ve had.

Jason:                           So you went from grocery bagger …

Michel Falcon:              I was good. The best.

Jason:                           Right. So then you went from that and then eventually found yourself making 10 bucks an hour at a call center at a 1-800-GOT-JUNK. Which, if none of you are familiar with the brand 1-800-GOT-JUNK, I think they’re very successful. In a sense that our mutual friend, Cameron, joined and were at 2 million dollars. They went from 2 million to 126 million in 6 years, with no outside investments. Now they do …

Michel Falcon:              I believe?

Jason:                           Multiple brands, and Brian is just crushing it. When you started working for 1-800-GOT-JUNK, what was the goals that you held within the organization? Then what were some of your big takeaways?

Michel Falcon:              Working for such a great brand. Before then, first I was in business school, in Vancouver. I’m not academic. I struggled at that for about a year and a half, and recognized if I want to learn how to grow businesses, I should probably go work for one that grew from nothing to something admired. That was either going to be 1-800-GOT-JUNK or Lululemon pre-Ikea. I told my mom, and my parents, that I’m going to leave the university to work for a garbage company. I’m South American, so they’re very traditional. You go to school, you get married really young, and have kids really young, and whatnot. I took this other path.

Michel Falcon:              My first job was at Colson Industries, for a year. Much love to the Colson Industry. I speak at some of their events. It just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t what I was going to build my crew around, or on. From there, I got promoted a couple of times. I gave myself to my career and my career choice. I worked my butt off, got promoted five times in five years, and eventually ended up in the operations’ department of the company. So I’m head office of 1-800-GOT-JUNK in Vancouver. It was there that I found what I was going to leverage to build my career. That’s essentially three things. Company culture, customer experience, and employee engagement, and how all those three work together to build an admired, profitable company. Pretty much everything you’ll find in the book.

Jason:                           How long were you in this organization for?

Michel Falcon:              Just under 5 years.

Jason:                           After your time there, is that when you started leaning to advising?

Michel Falcon:              Yeah. I had the aspirations to grow this big experience, design advisory firm in my early 20s. I remember speaking to my manager. He was doing my performance review, and he asked me something along the lines of, “What do you want to do after this?” or in the future. I said, “I want to build this experience design company for employees and customers in culture.” And I want to advise for companies like Coca-Cola, and he … I remember his name, but I won’t say it. He was like something along the lines of, “keep your goals realistic.” I just looked at him sideways, like, “Mother,” right? Just because you didn’t do it, doesn’t mean that I can’t.

Michel Falcon:              I left. I called the name of my company Falcon Consulting Group, because preemptively, I thought there was going to be tons of employees and a dope office. Truth be told, it didn’t get bigger than me and my dog. The clients started off really small. $2,000 engagements, $1,500 engagements, small retainers. Eventually the first big boy/big girl client that I got was Verizon Wireless.

Michel Falcon:              I went from advising a million dollar company to 100 billion dollar company. I was like, “I hope I can figure out how to submit an invoice, and write a proposal. I might need a phone number that’s not my cell phone.” I spent two and a half, three years advising, speaking, hosting workshops, while I was still in Vancouver.

Jason:                           This may seem overly simplistic. How was the culture at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I wouldn’t throw Brian under the bus, if it wasn’t great.

Michel Falcon:              I believe 1-800-GOT-JUNK was the godfather of company culture and [inaudible 00:05:05]. They were talking about company culture in ’05 when people weren’t even talking about it. Best place to work in Canada in 2006, second best place to work in all of Canada 2007. They were in there early. To answer your question, it was fantastic.

Michel Falcon:              Then the recession hit. They went from … this was great, real-world experience that I could not have paid for in a university. I saw the company go from 125 million dollars in one year, to 88 the next. Needless to say, there was rounds of layoffs, and I found myself not in the office when this happened, while the layoffs were happening. I avoided three rounds of layoffs. Then the culture was different. It was survival of the fittest. It still was a part of the DNA of the company. Imagine losing a great percentage of your company three times in a year and a half. Your friends that you’ve worked with, built these programs with, had wins with, had losses with. Now they’re gone.

Michel Falcon:              It was tough, but the culture was still within the DNA of the company. Once the market turned around, it was like pre-recession.

Jason:                           This may sound like an overly simplistic question, but why invest time and energy into culture? Actually this kind of plays into the question of how do you get leadership to see the value of investing in the culture.

Michel Falcon:              I’m on a crusade right now to help companies, just by way of conversation. The book, and any way I can share a message, that there should not be a divide between the relationships that you have in your personal life, as you do the ones in your professional life. The example that I give, is that when I go home back to Vancouver on December 20th this year for the holidays, and I spend time with my mom, going on a walk with her, or cooking her something to eat, am I asking myself, “What is the ROI of doing this for my beautiful mother?” Of course not. That would be psychotic. Yet, we still have that thought in our workplace.

Michel Falcon:              If you bet on humanity, where if I do something good for someone, like we were talking. We’re cynics. Then good things will come to me too? That is the bedrock of building a great company culture. Servant leadership is something that every single person, regardless of whether you are a leader by title or not, is something that we need to be studying and advocating. Servant leadership, and benevolent leadership. Those two things help build a foundation of any great company.

Jason:                           Let me play devil’s advocate here, real quick. I love my mother. I don’t look at her from an ROF perspective. That’s a long-term thing. When you have staff, you don’t own that staff. I know there’s this big fear of what if i invest x amount into my team, or what have you, and then some of them leave. How would you address that viewpoint?

Michel Falcon:              So be it. Right? It’s just if you’re fearful to invest in somebody because they might leave you, then you already are in a divot. I would question one’s leadership if that is the case. I actually want people in my company to leave. If they want to grow within the organization, if they want to be the director of x-y-z department, awesome. Let’s do that together. If they inspire to do something else, and I’ll go even as far as compete with us, by opening up a bar or a restaurant of their own, great. Let’s do that together, because that’s such a great representation of your brand.

Michel Falcon:              One thing that I am very strict on is language within our business. We don’t use the word staff. Staff is a German term to represent a group of assistants. I don’t see our team as assistants. They’re team members of our culture. I’m not paralyzed by what if’s. What if I do something go for somebody, and they leave me? Or what if I cross Duncan street and I get hit by a car, does that mean I’m not going to leave here tonight? Might some people say I’m naïve? Sure. If I’m wrong, by somebody I invested in? I could see why.

Jason:                           How would you articulate to, if you’re not in a leadership position, do you understand the importance of culture. Is there something that you would tell somebody to point to, or something to say specifically? Is there a way to show that culture actually does impact the bottom line?

Michel Falcon:              Yeah. Let’s just visualize you can measure how much you’re spending in training and development, and if we’re able to review some employee turnover, that is all cost savings that goes straight to your bottom line. There’s three things in the book that I outline. It’s one thing made up of three. It’s the three P strategy. It’s purpose. Understanding the purpose of your company. I hope it’s not just to make money. What is the purpose of our company? What is the purpose of our employees as individuals? Not as staff, or employees, as individual human beings. What is the purpose of our customers.

Michel Falcon:              Once we’re able to intuitively understand what those three things are, then you can start building processes to enrich the lives of our employees, our customers, and our community. The output is profit. I can’t tell you when you are going to ear that 10x on that strategy or whatever the case might be. I can’t tell you when you’re going to do that. If we look at companies that have come before all of ours, the ones that have withstood troubled markets, great competitors, they all have that people first culture built into the DNA of the company. When I’m asked what is the ROI of this, what is the ROI of that? The first thing that I’ll do is I’ll work backwards to what would happen if we didn’t do this? What would happen if we didn’t invest in our employees?

Michel Falcon:              I can equate what that would be. Our employee retention goes up. Sorry, our employee retention goes down. Our customer turnover goes up. Then you try to equate those things. I guarantee those things will outweigh what’s on the other side of the equation.

Jason:                           For the entrepreneurs in the room, who here has an organization from 1 to 5 employees? 5 to 15? Let’s say 25 plus? Okay. When would you, before we get to the tactical stuff, because you touched on the three P’s, which I wanted to get to in a second. Before we get into tactical stuff, for those that have their own businesses, their own organizations, when should they start focusing on culture?

Michel Falcon:              Yesterday. I’m going to believe that all of your companies are going to have a huge 2019. That will bring you into 2020. As your company grows, and if you neglect to put some of the cultural things in place now, it’s going to be infinitely harder to implement and create culture within your companies. It is yesterday.

Michel Falcon:              There’s some light. I don’t like spending a lot of money to arrive at an outcome. I like to do things in a very cost effective manner. There’s a lot of cultural things that you can do within your organization that will help you gain momentum. Let’s stop obsessing over Air B&B. A company that I absolutely love, or organizations like that. There probably at 20 billion dollars. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by companies. You work as well, too. Right?

Michel Falcon:              They started somewhere years ago! Look at them now. Don’t be overwhelmed by these massive companies, and just start somewhere. Gain momentum and just start building. I have a rule of thumb in my business where it’s three strategic initiatives every quarter. Has to be deployed, whether it’s big or small initiative, to enrich lives of our customers, employees, and community.

Michel Falcon:              That’s where we’re at now. We started off with one initiative every three months. Where are we going to be two years from now? Maybe at five initiatives? Perhaps. Just start somewhere.

Jason:                           The one thing I, while we’re back on it, that I even have this notion that culture is expensive, right? We’ll keep on that, hopefully, a bit later. You did talk about the three P’s. The first one being purpose. I was actually surprised how much of the book you dedicated to purpose. That wasn’t even remotely on my radar, when I think of culture. Getting clear on your purpose, getting clear on your company’s purpose, getting clear on the employee’s purpose, and ultimately your customer’s purpose. If we move into the natural process side of things, where does one …

Jason:                           Let’s say somebody started from scratch. Where does one start to really employ this culture thing throughout the organization. Is it the hiring process? Is it prior to that? Is it creating core values?

Michel Falcon:              Yeah. It’s difficult to give you a one-size-fits-all answer, because each company’s different. You have to anticipate your growth. Let’s all be positive thinkers, and assume that our company’s going to grow year over year. Let’s prepare for that growth. You hit the nail on it’s head. As soon as you start getting ready to employ or hire one employee, 10, or scale to 100, or beyond that, that is where culture is going to start to deteriorate.

Michel Falcon:              You are the ambassador of your culture, and you must surround yourself with individuals that will contribute to your culture. Ensure that you do not hire people that are great skill fits. The skillset fits are poor culture fits. Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix says it best. He says, “We do not tolerate brilliant jerks because the cost of teamwork is too high.” The first time I read that, I was like, “Oh! That was brilliant!”

Michel Falcon:              The first thing, one of the things that you can do is prepare for that growth and scale up to welcome one person, two people, ten people. Ensure that you’re front-loading the culture assessment to identify if they’re going to be a culture fit before anything else. Look, I know it can be paralyzing, where you’re like “Oh, but this person has such a great resume, but I don’t like them, at all! No one’s going to like them, but, oh, they used to work at the Ritz Carlton, or they used to develop for Amazon, but, ugh, I don’t like them.” Say, “No!” Right? You wouldn’t do that in your personal life, right?

Michel Falcon:              Then there are other little smaller things that you can do to be a great, benevolent, and servant leader. There’s something I do called Breakfast and Jams. Once a week, I sit down with an employee and I have breakfast with them. We jam, and we talk. Often it’s not all work, unless they want to make it about work. This is something I learned from you, actually. Just take notes on people. Pull out your phone. The amount of times I’ll be in a Breakfast and Jam session for an hour and go to the bathroom, is to go write notes about the person, just so I don’t forget it.

Michel Falcon:              I’ll pull out my phone and write in the notes section Binley’s mom’s birthday is on March 3rd, and so forth. The hiring stuff is very structural, but the Breakfast and Jam stuff is very tactical. Please, please, please don’t tell me you don’t have an hour a week. Yeah, you do.

Michel Falcon:              When I was advising companies, I remember this one CEO of this probably 5-million dollar company. He was like, “Well, I don’t have time to do that.” I said, “Well, you’re not that important.” I got fired, but it’s okay. Nobody is. That’s 1/40th of your week, of the minimum workweek. There’s things that you got to do. Some of the things you have to do.

Jason:                           I remember one friend of mine, I may have mentioned that, she uses this gut test of whether or not she wants to hire somebody. What she does is she actually invites people to stay at her house for the weekend. I actually use that for a potential business partnership. We went away to the Bahamas. I was so in. We’re so going to do this business deal. A day and a half in, I’m like, “I’m going to kill this guy.” That’s a cool gut check, you know how you will see real core values on some of the clients.

Michel Falcon:              Yeah. That’s a great example. I can’t believe that you did that. You could also take people out to see how they treat the person at Impact Kitchen that brings them their food, Portland Variety. Naming every venue except my own.

Jason:                           So modest.

Michel Falcon:              No self promotion here.

Jason:                           A lot of the times, one of those things I remember hearing you say. I think it all the time. How you do anything is how you do everything. Again, going to a restaurant, see how they treat the servers, and that kind of stuff goes a really long way. Also, I’m very much in the hiring mindset right now, because I’m looking for director of operations. There’s a great book called “Who” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street when it comes to a process of hiring, and that kind of stuff.

Michel Falcon:              Actually, I want to interject right now. You’re about to make a massive hire.

Jason:                           Yes.

Michel Falcon:              What challenge did you have right now?

Jason:                           What challenge do I have?

Michel Falcon:              Yeah. Is there any anxiety that you have going into this big hire? I’m sure there are individuals in the audience here. I’m going to flip the script and interview you. Is there- because I’m sure there are many individuals in the audience right now that are about to make a big hire, or anticipate that end goal. What do you have any-

Jason:                           There’s a reason I’m interviewing you on the topic of culture. At my last business, we didn’t have great books and resources like this. Or, at least, I didn’t take time to read them. We had about 25 employees and I never focused on culture. We had B-level players, I had C-level under them. The culture was so bad that I would only show up to the office once a month. I moved to Grand Lake. Let this company crash and burn. It was a 7 million dollar a year company. I’m still licking my wounds when it comes to that. I’m trying to be very cautious with this. Master my talents in the new organization that we have.

Jason:                           Director of operations is a scary hire. It’s one of the key hires that you can make as a visionary if you follow Gino Wickman’s “Rocket Fuel” his philosophy around that and traction. It’s not a cheap hire either, right? It’s one of those things that you want to get it right the first time. Hire slow, fire fast is generally the rule of thumb when we were paying potentially 6 figures for Paul.

Jason:                           You don’t want to wait six months then be like, “Oh, darn, that was the wrong hire.” Not only because it cost you a lot of money, but that was a lot of waste of time.

Michel Falcon:              Absolutely.

Jason:                           Yeah. I’m pretty scared.

Michel Falcon:              Well, you got me there.

Jason:                           There you have it. Read the book! Not on purpose! That takes us through recruiting and hiring. Which is where we just kind of get it wrong, assuming for the most part. Then you have emotional onboarding.

Michel Falcon:              Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Jason:                           Can you explain what that is?

Michel Falcon:              How many people have, show of hands, raise them high. How many people have worked at a company as a team member, and on day one, nobody knew who the [explicative] they were, and their computer wasn’t set up, and it was just a disaster? Raise your hand.

Jason:                           If you worked for me, that wouldn’t happen.

Michel Falcon:              Okay. There’s a lot wrong with that.

Jason:                           Sure.

Michel Falcon:              A lot of companies will focus on the technical. Like, “Jason needs to have his lanyard, and his login, and we have to invite him to Dropbox, and all that onboarding stuff.” This is a great conversation. My girlfriend’s here somewhere, and she was onboarding in her company. I was just kind of sharing, “this is what onboarding is like.” That’s the technical stuff.

Michel Falcon:              The emotional stuff is where I’m, pardon my English, but I’m a pig in [explicative]. I’m so happy on the emotional stuff, because I am about to ask a team member, regardless of position, to give themself to a stranger. A customer, a colleague. So I must give myself to them first, to show them that we’re not asking them to do something that we wouldn’t do ourselves, and to help them realize and feel what that looks like.

Michel Falcon:              Emotional onboarding is something that … and we can play a game right now if you’d like. What is an indulgence? Here’s an interview question that we ask in our culture interview. [crosstalk 00:23:32] that’s both of you. You both pointed at the other person. What is an indulgence that you can’t live without that costs less than $20.

Speaker 3:                    We put that in our interview because of you. It works great!

Michel Falcon:              It works great! Okay, thank you.

Speaker 3:                    Fantastic.

Michel Falcon:              That didn’t work as planned, but thank you. Let’s say that this gentleman is interviewing for a bartender position, and he said it’s a bottle of wine. I’m going to say, “What type of wine? Red or white?” He might say red. “Okay, what type of grape?” He might say a Syrah. “Okay great!” I’m going to write that down. “Any type of brand?” He might say something. “Cool.” On with the interview. A week later, we might hire him.

Michel Falcon:              On day one of his first day, before he does anything, after a “Hello, welcome,” we hand him a card saying, “Thank you for joining us. Thank YOU for joining US because you have tons of options, especially in hospitality, so, thank you for joining us.” Not like, “You’re lucky to be here.” It’s the other way around. Then there’s that bottle of red Syrah, Cayman’s red Syrah, or whatever the case might be. Then this individual might say, “Red skittles, or cool ranch Doritos.” We’ve heard a lot of stuff, right guys? It’s cool, because you have a group of four, five, six people, all starting on day one, and they’re all looking at each other’s gifts. Be like, “Hey!” It’s a great ice breaker. Not only that, there’s always a rhyme or reason for everything that I do.

Michel Falcon:              Not only that, you’re about to ask these team members to go into training. You want their engagement to be very high, because you want their knowledge retention to be even higher when they come out of training. They sell better. They market better. They’re more efficient. All this good stuff. It goes back to serving others before you ask them to serve someone else. That, at the core, is servant leadership. Again, if you’re going to takeaway one thing from this talk, aside from following me on social media, Google servant leadership and get lost in Google. Click links, go into Wikipedia, and you’ll get so lost. Have you ever been to Wikipedia and click one link? Then another link, then another one, and you have no idea where you are by then? That is emotional onboarding. Do stuff that is different.

Jason:                           I think it’s so important, because I’ve been an entrepreneur for 14 years. A lot of what you read out there is around customer experience design. Really focus on customer experiences. I have this question around how do you scale without losing touch. You care about your staff or your team members, and ultimately they will care about the client base.

Michel Falcon:              You have to balance macro and micro stuff. The macro are those big strategies that you’re going to deploy every quarter. The micro are those light memorable touches that you, or your employees, or your customers. Truth be told, I started my career as customer experience management being the thing. Then I soon realized there is no customer experience without employee engagement and company culture.

Michel Falcon:              I spend 80 percent of my time focused on what’s happening internally within the business, because I know if we can get that part right, then what happens external will be taken care of. You have this company that has it built into their DNA. I don’t believe the customer is always right. I spend more time serving our team than I do our customers.

Jason:                           The end result for you guys is what’s the industry standard retention rate for hospitality?

Michel Falcon:              It’s bad. I can’t really say a number off the top of my head, but think about it. I’m sure lots of people have worked in hospitality before. It’s kind of one of those careers that you have at one point in your life. Retention is god-awful. It’s so bad. Our retention rate, last time I checked, was 2.5 times higher than the industry average. Now I’m not so in love with employee retention as a metric anymore, because there’s voluntary and involuntary turnover.

Michel Falcon:              I want my team members to leave. I genuinely do. I have one team member that left last month, and I’m happy for him. He gets to start his own business. That is what he is destined to do, so I wanted him to leave. We supported him. I have another one leaving in five weeks, and that’s going to be a happy time for me, too. It’s going to suck [explicative] having to replace him, but I put him first.

Michel Falcon:              Retention is not a DPI that I like to track. I like surveying employees, and just asking them simple questions anonymously, and taking that data and creating operational improvement plans from that.

Jason:                           That’s one thing I will praise you for. I will honor you for in a sense that I did a behind the scenes tour of Baro, which they should offer as a public thing, similar to Zappos. I was blown away at the onboarding materials we had. It was all where I’ve dropped the ball as an entrepreneur is I hire somebody, they show up, I forgot I hired them, all the time. I have no onboarding whatsoever. It makes total sense. We all have a deep desire to feel seen, and heard, and appreciated, and valued. There’s an opportunity, when people are most vulnerable, to be their biggest fan. That’s the time you make an investment in that relationship, when they’re vulnerable. I can’t think of a more vulnerable time than when you walk into an organization. You’re scared about the job. You’re scared about you’re going to meet. You don’t know anybody. Those kinds of things.

Jason:                           You make those little micro investments. They pay off dividends in the future. That’s where I’ve screwed up as an entrepreneur myself, for years.

Michel Falcon:              A lot of people have, right? When I first suggested these strategies, I had one of my business partners look at me sideways and be like, “That’s fluffy, man.” I was like, “So be it.” Right? If you feel like, “I’m not that type of leader. I’m a bit extroverted, or introverted.” That’s fine, but that doesn’t excuse you from implementing things like that from within your business. Find somebody in your company that can be that ambassador, and that flamer for you. Because it has got to be a part of the DNA for your company. Look, don’t just take it from me. Go study the Air B&B’s and the WeWorks and so forth. The commonalities are they are doing these things. I can tell you, you cooperated, it works. The playbooks. I was told something earlier in my career that resonated with me forever, to this day, and it’s been about 9 years. People don’t fail, processes do. People don’t fail, processes do.

Michel Falcon:              Let’s say you have someone on your team who’s not getting it, okay? “Billy’s not selling well,” or whatever. That very well might be the case, but you hired them, or someone in your organization hired them, so it’s your responsibility to figure out why that is. Ask yourself first, “Is it our training process that failed that individual? Or is failing this individual? Did we set them up for success? Do we have module-based training?” If you can say, yes, our training is fantastic, then ask yourself another question. “How did this person get through our interview process?”

Michel Falcon:              We’re supposed to have safeguards. Especially if they’re not a culture fit. Your supposed to have safeguards in place to ensure that great culture fits and high performers join your organization. If both of those processes are very strong, then consider off boarding them. The question I’m asked most often is, “okay, I want to build my culture, should I fire 50% of my team that don’t fit the culture?” No. Obviously not. Again, you hired them. You’re wanting to build the culture, you have to give everybody the opportunity to live within that culture with your coaching. Then make the decision if they’re going to fit within the culture or not.

Jason:                           That was going to be one of my questions. Is if you had an existing business, and the culture isn’t great. Tony, from Roma, is a [inaudible 00:32:36].

Michel Falcon:              Really?

Jason:                           Yeah.

Michel Falcon:              Awesome. Can you give them a part of the show?

Jason:                           To Tony Gareri owns a company called Roma Moulding. He’s a friend of ours as a company in Vaughn. They have 150 employees. Typically, they make frames, like picture frames. They’re the second largest framing company in the world. Anybody here familiar with Peter Lik painting, photos, and that kind of stuff? They had a photo, for example, sell for 6 and a half million dollars, that this company framed. Anyways, all I have to say is he’s super passionate about culture. He came to talk with mine. One of the questions that I had, was if you have an interesting business, but terrible culture.

Jason:                           Tony, for example was a family business. His father was old school Italian, and didn’t care about culture. He was not sexy at all. To talk about culture. He was taking over the company, and he had to let go of a third of the people. I was curious to know that you have an existing company, you’re already 20, 30 employees deep, 50 employees deep. What are the first steps to turn that culture around?

Michel Falcon:              I would present what this culture’s going to look like. Whether you do something like a vivid vision, or develop a mission and values. Introduce them to each individual one on one. Or as a company, and then doing it one on one. Then you’re going to know. You’ll know. If you know your team well enough, that’ll help you too. Who’s going to fit within that culture or not. You’re going to have your ambassadors and your ‘A’ players. They’re going to support you and help you grow this culture. Then you’ll know. “I don’t know if these four people are going to make it.” It’s still your responsibility as a leader to allow them the opportunity to grow within this culture. They very well might have never worked for a company where culture mattered.

Michel Falcon:              It’s not fair to them for you to exit them right away. It is your responsibility to help them thrive within the culture. It’s a nice win, if you’re able to turn someone around, and get them to live within your culture. I can tell you, first hand, it’s a great win that you can have for yourself. It’s a feather in your hat.

Jason:                           Who here has clear core values for their organization? Alright. So this is a great place to step back to on some level. For my organization, I didn’t have core values for the longest time. Actually, it was with Tony. I did the tour with him. He has 150 people working for him. He’s the sweetest guy in the world. I’m like, “You’re so sweet, how do you fire people? I have such a hard time. You’re such a nice guy.” He’s like, “We have very clear core values, so if somebody is not in alignment with the core value, we can just point to the core value. By the time they meet with me, they already know what core value they’re not in alignment with.”

Jason:                           I don’t know if you have any structure you can share, as far as how you identify core values. Two years ago, I’m like, “I’m going to get serious about core values.” I Googled it, then I found this step-by-step. You need post-it notes, and sharpies, and a retreat. I took my team out, and we were like, “What are our core values?” We put them up on the wall, and we voted. After that, we had these core values. By choosing them, I forgot what they were.

Jason:                           How does one create those core values? How does one keep them on top of mind?

Michel Falcon:              The first part of that question. How do you create them? If you are the entrepreneur or the leader within your organization, or soon to be entrepreneur, ask yourself a simple, yet really difficult question. “What do I want this company to stand for? How do I want it to operate when I’m not even in the building?” You just start brainstorming sentences and phrases. You know you’re on the right track if you’re three pages deep of key words and phrases.

Michel Falcon:              Then take a step back. Leave it alone for a week, or two. Then revisit it again. Ask yourself, “Do these things still matter?” As soon as you set your values in place, that’s it. You shouldn’t be changing your values. It’s not like, “what matters to me this year?” Once you have all these phrases and key words, I recommend working with a copywriter. Somebody that can wordsmith everything for you. Whether it’s three, five, or ten values. Like, Zappos has ten values, we have five. It doesn’t really matter, because it’s your business, you can call the shots. Go back to them and say, “Is this exactly what I want my company to stand for?”

Michel Falcon:              From there, the hard work comes into play. That’s the easy stuff. The hard work comes into hiring people according to those values. Celebrating them when people win, and live within them. Coaching people when they’re not living within them.

Michel Falcon:              If you go, and I implore all of you guys to do this, go to Baro, go to pay cash, and ask anyone what our five values are. My expectation is that they will be able to recite them. Hey, Carl!

Speaker 4:                    Oh, boy.

Carl:                             Yeah?

Michel Falcon:              What are our five core values?

Carl:                             Ownership …

Carl:                             Foresight, celebration, ownership, humility, [inaudible 00:38:12] integrity.

Michel Falcon:              Thank you. What that both of them that said that? We have to know what they are, and how they were created, and why they were created, and how can I be successful in them. If you’re going to ask a full team of people, whether it’s one or 1,000 people to live within them, they have to intimately understand why they were created, how to live within them. You can’t just be like, “here are five things! Go!” Like, what the [explicative] are these things? Why were they created.

Jason:                           Two questions. Question number one, how do you keep core values top of mind with your team? What are some of the things that you do?

Michel Falcon:              One, make sure they know how to recite them, so that’s already been mentioned. Two, we do something at 4:55 before service. It’s kind of a huddle. It’s a pre-service meeting. We talk about one core value every single week that we’re going to drive. Maybe it’s ownership. Be like, “Guys, ownership is the core value this week. Who’s going to do what by when to live within that core value?” Right?

Michel Falcon:              Have dialogue around them. If you use Slack or post Facebook group for your company, make sure that you’re celebrating people when they’re living within the value. For example, we survey our customers using a promoter’s score. If we read a comment from a promoter customer, that says, “Zach was absolutely amazing! I never had to ask him once to refill my drink.” Well, he lived within the ownership core value, because he took ownership over the guest’s experience.

Michel Falcon:              We’re going to take that, and message everybody through Slack, and Facebook, company wide and say, “Kudos to Zach for living within these values.” Those are three things. Those three, easy simple things that you can do. To add one more. If you do have those one on one sessions, whether it’s a Breakfast and Jam, or something more formal, like a goal setting review session or something like that, ensure that you go through your values. Highlight the ones that they’re living within, but also target one that you feel like this individual needs to pull up their socks. Be like, “I think you can do better in this core value, and here’s some examples. What do you think?” Give them some opportunities to talk about it. Those are some ways to be able to live within the values.

Jason:                           Beautiful. Awesome. I think we’re at around 10 minutes, or so? Roughly? Do we have any questions for Michel?

Sonny:                          Jason!

Jason:                           Sonny, you beautiful maniac.

Sonny:                          Yo, Michel.

Michel Falcon:              Yo.

Sonny:                          Can you talk about the employer deboard. I think a lot of people are going to get a lot of input from that.

Michel Falcon:              Yeah. Thank you for being here, Sonny, I love you. He’s the nicest human in the world, and is the only person that has better hair than me in the city of Toronto.

Michel Falcon:              The employee advisory board. Yes. This might be my favorite strategy. We have many departments. Dishwashers, hostesses, and so forth. Going in to this industry knowing that employee retention was very, very low, because they don’t have a voice often in this industry. I created something called the employee advisory board, where there’s one representative from every department. Is elected by their peers, to join me once a month for an off the record conversation for a few hours. The only thing that is on the agenda is the current state of our company culture, and for them to describe the workplace of their dreams.

Michel Falcon:              My business partner and I, Brandon, take notes. What are we doing well, so we can double down on those efforts, and invest more resources into those efforts. Where do we need to get stronger. It’s off the record. Managers are not allowed in the meeting. The reason why managers aren’t allowed in the meeting is twofold. One, managers already have their own meetings. Two, I’m trying to grow that next level of leadership. If we scale as a company, we’re going to need more leaders.

Michel Falcon:              I’ve seen leaders develop within the employee advisory board. We take that feedback, and then I immediately call a meeting with our management team, and share this information with them, that is anonymous. It’s really interesting that the things that I find out. I have ears everywhere. It’s not to sabotage our management team. I’ll be like, “Hey, so what’s up with this?” They’ll be like, “Yeah, we’re going to fix that.” I’m like, “That’s awesome.” Here’s the good, too, guys. This isn’t a reprimanding session. This isn’t an opportunity for employees to just air their dirty laundry, that’s not the point of this.

Michel Falcon:              A number of things come from this. One, those employees get to go home with a greater sense of purpose. “Wow, I got to share my opinion.” It’s worth noting, for me. Those ambassadors from each department are responsible for crowdsourcing feedback from their peers, too. Our next meetings are actually Monday and Tuesday. They have this entire week to go to their peers in their department and say, “Hey I’m on the employee advisory board meeting, give me some feedback, the good and the bad.” They come and share everybody’s opinions. Again, it’s anonymous.

Michel Falcon:              I’m going to assume we’re all really humble leaders. There’s a lot of value that is received from the team members when they go home and talk to their spouse, or their mum and dad, and they’re like, “I got to sit down with one of the leaders of the company.” I remember one year at 1-800-GOT-JUNK they did that to me. It wasn’t an employee advisory board, but they gave me a voice. Then, on the opposite side of things, you’re going to find so many strategies that you can use to create better strategic initiatives within your business to grow it. That is the employee advisory board. It’s highlighted in the book at length, if there’s more context that you need.

Jason:                           Thank you, Sonny. Two more questions? Here up front?

Speaker 4:                    Thank you for everything you said already. It’s amazing.

Michel Falcon:              Thank you.

Speaker 4:                    I have writing company at TML. My question is how do you champion company culture when your whole team is remote? I have like one person with me, but 20 of them all over.

Michel Falcon:              It’s a very, very common question. You have to be communicating on a daily basis, and leverage what tools you have. Are you leveraging Slack or something like that, to communicate with them?

Speaker 4:                    Yeah. Hangouts.

Michel Falcon:              Google hangouts, okay.

Speaker 4:                    I don’t communicate with them as much as the accounts team does.

Michel Falcon:              Okay. You’re the leader of the accounts team, right? You got to be communicating with them more. They look at you as the- you’ve got to be the flag bearer. Now if you have a layer below you that can help you be flag bearers, then that’s amazing, right? Not a lot of companies have that. Leverage the people within the company to be flag bearers. I have two people on each property that are flag bearers for me, because I can’t be there all the time. Ensure that you’re advocating your core values. If you don’t have them, create them, and then share everything that I shared before. Just, top of mind, again, I’m happy that you brought that up, Jason. Always be communicating, always describe what, and why the culture is built. You’ve almost got to sound like a broken record. You have to ingrain it into the DNA of your company.

Michel Falcon:              Doing it virtually is challenging. Right? I’m in an advantageous position, and I’m sure many people are, too. You get to see your team members all the time. It’s as simple as a fist bump, or something like that. It’s hard to do that virtually. There’s emojis that you can show for fist bumps and stuff. Yeah, just communicate often. Celebrate people. Remove people that aren’t within, even if they are virtual, living within the culture. You got to be that person. Nobody’s- they’re not going to care as much as you are going to, because it’s your business. If they see how much you care, then you’ll see an uptick in their engagement.

Jason:                           Virtual must be really hard hiring them, because you’re not sitting in front of them.

Speaker 4:                    It is. The writers are always going to be provoked, so.

Michel Falcon:              Hiring people virtually, yeah. You don’t get to have that one on one conversation, but there’s some pretty good software out there. Like video conference in BlueJeans and stuff like that. Believe it, or not, there’s a software called BlueJeans. It’s about asking the right questions. It’s not the medium or the channel, it’s asking the right questions. If you have, in our business, we have 5 core values. We ask two questions per core value during the culture interview. To understand if this individual is going to fit within the culture. Ownership is one of our core values. We’re going to ask them two questions to understand would this person take ownership over the guest experience?

Michel Falcon:              Foresight is another core value. I ask them two questions. It’s not so much the medium, or the channel, or the environment, as the type of questions you ask to see if this person is going to fit within your culture.

Jason:                           We’ll take one more. One thing I’ll throw out there, there’s a book called “Remote.” I don’t know if you’ve read it yet, by Jason Fried. CEO of 37 Signals, or Basecamp, they have like 45 employees? Highly profitable, and very driven. Full remote team, currently worldwide. I’d check him out. One more question.

Michel Falcon:              All the way at the back. He’s brown. Alright, perfect.

Speaker 7:                    I can yell. You receive lot of ownership. Do you give ownership to all your employees?

Michel Falcon:              The question was, we talked about ownership. Do we give ownership to our employees? As of today, we do not. Profit sharing programs are something that we’re going to be looking into. Do I believe in giving ownership to employees? If it makes sense, sure. I’m starting to see companies give away share packages to everyone. Look, like, just because millennials ask for something, doesn’t mean you have to give it to them. I am a millennial. I’m really like a lot of grassroots companies. Not to say that we’re greedy, but right now it doesn’t make sense for us to do that. If it makes sense for you, that’s your prerogative, right? By all means, go ahead and do it.

Jason:                           I think there’s, within the entrepreneurial circles I find myself in, there’s this great debate. There’s pros and con’s to either one. I definitely think it’s a lively debate that I think we can have. With that said, I stole the mic. I will take that one back. Do we have names for the winners? Hot [explicative]! We have-

Michel Falcon:              Boro would be the first one.

Jason:                           Which one sounds better?

Michel Falcon:              Good question.

Jason:                           For petty cash, we have Hailey Rudolph? Heyo! Alright. Pass this out. Can you pass this down? I trust you. Then I always get this messed up because of the French in me.

Michel Falcon:              Stefan Dyre.

Jason:                           Stefan Dyre!

Michel Falcon:              There you go.

Jason:                           There you go!

Michel Falcon:              Booze and food usually draws a crowd, so that was good. I could ask, or answer a billion questions on these topics. This doesn’t work for me, so that’s all my social stuff. That’s my email. That’s my website. Feel free to hamper me with questions after today. I’m good.

Jason:                           I’m going to ask from you guys. If you grabbed a copy of the book, or you purchased a copy of the book, I think Michel would greatly appreciate if you left a review on Amazon. Those reviews actually really do move the needle from a social group perspective. Please do that. How much do you normally charge for a speaking engagement? 15 to 20 thousand. So if you want advice, it’s free tonight. Feel free, ask him questions. He’s around most of the evening. Thank you all for being here.

Michel Falcon:              Thank you guys.

What Employees Want You To Tell Them When They Hit Their Goals

Hey everyone, another People First Monday video this week. I’m sharing some things that I believe you need to communicate with your employees after they’ve achieved their goals.

The first is helping them understand how they accomplished those goals without telling them. You need to help them come to those conclusions on their own so that they can have extreme clarity so that they can do it again and again and again.

Often we only coach our employees after they’ve performed poorly. We need to allocate time to ensure that they understand why they were able to achieve those goals.

The second thing is peer to peer learning. Set up an environment for them so that they can coach their peers and share best practices that they are using to accomplish those goals.

And the third is asking them, “Do you prefer public or private praise?” When I was starting my career as a manger, I was … I had an individual named Antonia reporting in to me. And she accomplished her goals and I stook up in front of the entire company and recognized her efforts. And she didn’t like that because she prefers private praise. So that was a hard lesson for me to understand that some people don’t want public praise, they would prefer the praise to be one on one.

Improve Your Customer Experience With Customer Journey Mapping (Case Study Included)

In all my years of focusing on customer experience management, there is one practice that stands out amongst them all…customer journey mapping!

Watch my detailed video above (16 minutes) to learn:

? How customer journey mapping will improve your operational strategy.

? My ‘traffic light model’ to clearly identify your strengths and opportunities to improve.

? How I helped a dental practice revitalize their patient experience.

If you prefer to read about customer journey mapping, I’ve attached the transcript of this video below!

In this video, I’m going to share how any company in any industry, can improve their customer experience by leveraging customer journey mapping. I’m going to introduce you to my traffic light model toward the end of the video. It’s something that I use within my business, which sees tens of thousands of customers per month.

I’ve leveraged my customer experience strategies and shared them with companies like CenturyLink, Alfa Romeo, Verizon Wireless, and dozens of others. The reason I share that with you, is because my strategies are tried, tested, and true. They’re working for me and I guarantee they will work for you as well.

I’m going to teach you how to improve your customer experience by using customer journey mapping regardless of whether you are a million, or a billion dollar company. Not only that, I’m going to teach you how to host a customer journey mapping workshop for your company. I’ll share the value of it, and how to optimize the results. And you’re going to get an introduction to my traffic light model.

Customer journey mapping is a fantastic way to improve your customer experience.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what Steve Mascarin, a local dentist here in Toronto had to say after we hosted a customer journey mapping workshop for his company.

“So I’ve been working with Michel for two years now and I’ve seen him perform on stage in front of 2000 people, and in a small intimate group like we had today of 25 people. And he goes out with the same energy and passion, no matter how large the group is, or what type of industry he’s working with. And I cannot think of or know of anybody that’s got more experience, and is more on the cutting edge of the customer experience and customer touch points and improving them. And the results that I’ve had so far have been unbelievable. I’m so much further ahead of my competitors in my industry. And I don’t think there’s any way they’re going to catch me now because I’ve been working with Michel.”

For those not familiar, customer journey mapping is a workshop that you will host with your company that outlines the macro and the micro interactions that your customers experience when doing business with you from beginning to end. It gives you a holistic view to understand where your strengths and your opportunities are to improve from an operational perspective. It will allow you to build operational improvement plans to continuously refine the business.

I like to use going to the movie theatres as an example when I host private workshops because it’s easily relatable. What do you experience when going to the movie theatres? Well, there’s a lot. Some of the more common macro interactions would include awareness, such as seeing a Facebook ad or driving by the movie theatres. Next, you’re going to want to purchase your tickets. You might do that on a mobile website, or their desktop site. Or you might choose to go to the movie theatres and purchase them through an employee, or at a self serve kiosk. And of course one of the macro interactions within the movie theatre is purchasing popcorn at the concession stand.

But what about the micro experiences? The little interactions within the customer journey. This is where I like to live within, to be able to grow my businesses, because often this isn’t where your competition is focused on. Some of the micro interactions within the customer journey of a movie theatre could include the cleanliness of the bathroom, or does the ketchup pump actually have ketchup near the concession stand after you buy your hot dog? This is where we have to focus to be able to create an experience that our customers have never seen before and customer journey mapping allows you to do this.

I believe if you want to remain relevant within your industry, you must compete within the macro interactions.

But you must also excel within the micro interactions within your customer journey. Of course, these aren’t all of the touch points in a movie theatre, but you get the point. Hosting customer journey mapping workshops will improve your customer experience because it will bring your team together. My mandate is to have at least one person from every department present when hosting the workshop. This proves to be beneficial because you get a 360 view of the customer journey.

Identifies areas of strength and opportunities to improve your customer experience. It will influence positive debate within the company. You’ll create alignment. After all, how can you improve something together if you’re not aligned behind what you’re trying to improve. And it will have your team members literally saying, “I didn’t know your department experience that. That’s why you do it that way.”

Earlier in the video I introduced you to Steve Mascarin. He’s the owner of Taunton Village Dental. Rather than giving you anecdotes on how to host a customer journey mapping workshop for your company, why don’t I take you through the step by step process that we leverage to be able to create a customer journey mapping workshop for his dental practice. Prior to the workshop, this is how we prepared. We sent a company wide announcement, letting everyone know that they would be attending a full day workshop to improve the company’s patient experience.

The room was filled with people from all departments. We welcomed managers, dentists, hygienists, office team members, and many more. Within the communication, we outlined why we were doing this, and how we were going to measure success. We selected the perfect venue. I don’t recommend hosting the workshop at your place of business, because you don’t want the audience to be distracted with the day to day of the operation. We purchased things such as markers, sticky notes, and paper board.

We started the day by outlining a few things such as what is the difference between customer service and customer experience. I introduced them to my People First culture and 3P strategy, and explained how it would impact their dental practice. And we also role-played it through the movie theatre experience so that I could get them to start thinking about a customer journey of something that they’re familiar with.

I then broke the company into groups of five. Here’s some best practices in doing that. Ensure that departments separate themselves. For example, I didn’t allow dentists or hygienists to group themselves together. Perhaps you’re going to want to separate your sales, marketing team, or customer service team. Next, you’re going to want to appoint a note taker and a presenter within each individual group. We outlined five stages within the customer journey: awareness, booking, arrival, procedure, and post procedure.

Give them a real world example and have them define the customer persona. For Taunton Village Dental, I asked them to outline the customer journey for a new hygiene patient. Let’s evaluate the five different stages before we move forward. The awareness stage for a dental practice could be receiving a piece of direct mail, listening to a radio campaign, or seeing a Facebook ad. The booking touchpoint could include calling the practice to reserve an appointment, using some sort of booking software, or emailing them.

The arrival stage could include driving your car into their parking lot, opening the door of the practice, speaking to some of their friendly team members, plus much more. The procedure stage within the customer journey could include walking into the operatory, turning on Netflix, meeting the hygienists, plus much more. The post procedure stage could include billing, filing for insurance, leaving the practice, and receiving a follow up survey.

Let’s think about a different industry for a moment. My industry is hospitality, and when we hosted our customer journey mapping workshop, we outlined 37 different customer touch points within the entire customer journey just for one customer persona. Think about your industry for a moment. If you hosted a customer journey mapping workshop with your company, how many different interactions would your team members outline throughout the entire experience?

To improve your customer experience by hosting a customer journey mapping workshop, there are a few best practices to adhere to. Encourage your team to have an optimistic viewpoint when doing this. Having naysayers and negative people involved in this process will be demoralizing. As a matter of fact, get these people entirely out of your business. Ensure that you’ve selected a customer persona and outlined five to seven different stages within the customer journey.

Focus on the current state of the customer experience. Don’t outline what you want to create for your customers in the future. That will come later. Outline every touchpoint, macro and micro, and don’t just outline the touch points you excel in. And if there are multiple touch points that intersect each other. For example, if your customer can buy tickets to the movie theatre online and offline, then you can label those touch points as 3A and touch point 3B.

There is no one size fits all to host a customer journey mapping workshop for your company. After all, every industry is different. It took Taunton Village Dental four hours to outline the customer journey for just one customer persona. Once you’ve outlined at least one customer journey, you’re going to want to have each group present their findings. Now this is where it becomes interesting. You’re going to observe whether your team is aligned or not. In all my years of hosting customer journey mapping workshops for companies big and small, I have not experienced an organization present the exact same findings.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it will create awareness that the organization needs to create greater alignment behind the customer experience. Before moving forward, I will have the entire organization sign off on what they believe that customer journey is. Now is the time that I will introduce you to my traffic light model. Now, this is how customer journey mapping is going to improve your customer experience. I want you to go through every single interaction and label it: red, yellow, or green. Red is where customer retention is being negatively impacted. Yellow is threatened to turn red unless you do something on an operational level. And green are the interactions that your customers absolutely love you for.

You don’t want to label things red, yellow, or green anecdotally. Leverage customer feedback such as Google reviews, customer surveys, and any type of feedback that you’re able to gather from a customer advisory board to ensure that you’re labeling each interaction correctly. Share the interactions that you’ve labeled green with your sales and marketing teams. I suggest this because if your customers of today love you for certain interactions within your customer journey, don’t you think perspective customers will also love you for those same interactions.

Have your sales team include these interactions within their sales presentation and have your marketing include it within their marketing mix. I wouldn’t suggest starting with yellow interactions unless it’s an easy fix because you want to begin with the red interactions, because that is where the bleeding is happening. I’m sure you’re going to be eager and motivated and want to tackle every red interaction at once, but I actually recommend against doing that, largely because of bandwidth and being able to effectively improve the operation.

Start with the red interactions that are negatively impacting customer retention, sales, and profitability. Begin with one red touchpoint. Create an operational improvement plan. Then don’t move on to the second, until the first has started to trend downward. Once you’ve completed all the red, then move on to the yellow interactions. Here’s a great thing that I have within my business that I wanted to share with you that will help you improve your customer experience.

Create a service level agreement. Within my business, our service level agreement is that we will create three operational improvement plans every quarter. This ensures that your customer experience doesn’t remain stagnant. Hosting customer journey mapping to improve your customer experience isn’t for beginners, but when you are able to implement it within your organization, you will reap tremendous value and benefits to continuously serve your customers and build your business.

Here’s the testimonial of a client that I recently hosted a workshop for:

Thank you Michel for your inspirational presentation. After you left, we went through an exercise to identify short term, longterm, cross departmental, and crazy ass ideas to put into practice at Century Lock. I expected our team to come up with 20 to 30 solid ideas, and I was blown away as we came up with almost 100. Thanks again for your help inspiring our culture and customer experience leadership.

This company generated 100 new ideas to improve their customer experience. By no means is that common. However, if you host a customer journey mapping workshop for your company, whether it’s 10, 20, or 35 new ideas, customer journey mapping has proven to improve an organization’s customer experience and bring the organization together to think about that next great customer experience strategy.

There you have it. That is how customer journey mapping will improve your customer experience regardless of the size of your business or the industry.

Along the way, if you need help, feel free to contact me directly (michel@michelfalcon.com). We can jump on the phone, and I can answer any questions you might have.

What Every Young Professional Needs To Hear About Career Growth

Welcome to another people first Monday video. And this week, I’m recommending what I believe people in their 20s should be focused on to grow their career.

And my number one recommendation is to become more curious.

Let’s say you work within an organization that has the typical departments; marketing, finance, PR and many others. What you should be doing is allocating time every single week to connect with someone within each department and learn about the inner workings of their efforts.

For example, reach out to the marketing leader, ask them to describe their social media marketing efforts. Ask questions like, how do you define success in your department? Go to finance and ask your finance leader to teach you how to read a balance sheet and a P and L. And go to every single department, make that a habit. Be more curious.

But you must also be curious about your own performance.

Regularly reach out to your manager and have them evaluate you. Don’t wait for your yearly performance review. Take the initiative, be more curious. Listen to podcasts, read books, connect to people on LinkedIn and ask them questions so that you can take that information from experienced people and apply it within your own career.

That is my recommendation, be more curious.

Brian Scudamore Interview: How To Grow A Business By Focusing On Company Culture

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Brian Scudamore, CEO of O2E brands, to discuss how he went door-to-door with a single truck to creating 300,000,000+ in revenue each year!

Brian and the 1-800-Got-Junk? team is where I started my career in Vancouver many years ago. It was here that was first exposed to company culture and putting people over profits.

Click the video above to see the full interview or read the transcript below!

MICHEL: Ladies and gentlemen, I am with Brian Scudamore. You know his background. You know his history. I’m going to jump in to the first question. It has to do with defining success for yourself as an individual. You have built a company that does hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. You’ve impacted the lives of customers, employees, and community. You don’t come across as the type of guy that needs the Ferrari. How do you define success?

BRIAN: Yeah, I don’t need a Ferrari. I wouldn’t want a Ferrari. I’d love to go … It’s on my 101 life goals list to rent a Ferrari in Italy for a weekend and go drive the coast. That would be cool. I can appreciate the sportsmanship of the car and the mechanics and so on, but that wouldn’t make me happy. The happiness would fade after a day of driving a Ferrari. Why would I want to own one? I wouldn’t feel right in one. I’m not a fancy guy.

To me, success, and I think as we all get older, which we all are every day, is you get smarter and wiser. I think for me, what success is and what I understand motivates me is making a difference in people’s lives. I would way rather watch someone else, a franchise partner of ours, if that’s what they wanted, was go buy a Ferrari. Paul Guy who was in Toronto, who’s our most successful franchise partner, he was the first. You know him. $16 million in revenue now a year in Toronto with 1-800-GOT-JUNK. He owns an Audi R8. Good for him, right?

That’s important to him. That’s a goal. Awesome. I love watching people build success and have an impact with what we’re doing, because they’re taking our recipe, whether it’s Shack Shine or Wow 1 Day Painting, to get into a franchise and they go build it to me. To me, I feel a part of helping make meaning much more than the making money.

MICHEL: One of the slogans you have within the company is it’s all about people. On the surface that could seem like a platitude and a great rallying point. How do you take it’s all about people and embed it into the DNA of the company and impact hundreds of franchisees and get thousands of employees to follow behind that?

BRIAN: That’s an awesome question. To make it more than just a platitude …

It’s the first thing you see when you walk into the junction, our head office. You’ve come in and rather than seeing a brand, you see it’s all about people with my name below it. Where that started, we had a woman who was here years ago, Holly. Holly Goes, “Brian, you always say it’s all about people. Let’s put it up in the front center for everyone to see. Let’s put your name below it so that people know it’s something you stand by as the leader that we can all follow behind.”

Then it is simply, and I say simply, I mean it really is this simple finding the right people who fit with that philosophy. When you were here, you get that it’s all about people. You were a really caring, fun guy around here. You’d sit there and say, “Hey, you guys want to learn to get healthier? Let’s go do some boxing. Let’s go downstairs to the gym. I’ll teach you how to box.” You care about others as they would about you. Find the right people, treat them right. It is all about people. That’s all any brand you own … You’re in the hospitality business, all that, all that you have in any restaurant that’s different from anyone else is really the people who are creating the food, serving the food and are part of the experience.

MICHEL: Whether it’s Netflix, O2E or my company, we’ve achieved success through company culture. Why is it that some companies or leaders still on going all in with company culture?

I think A, there’s a bit of a company leaders don’t always know how to build culture.

BRIAN: Yeah, or lack of skill. I mean, think of this, people who know how to run a good party, that’s creating culture within your home or within your business, wherever you’re throwing the party. Why can’t you put the same care and attention into a company? Make the culture the cult that you have within your organization where you’re like, “This is the party we’re living.” Every party isn’t full of tons of booze and people just screaming and going crazy. Whatever a party looks like to you as a company leader, create that same environment within your business. People overthink it. What are all the contests? What are all the rewards? Just think of the type of people you want to invite to the party first. Then sit there and say, “How do we grow this by holding ourselves accountable to the right people we’ve got on the bus?” When you’ve got the wrong people in one of your restaurants or in one of my companies, get those wrong people out. It could just be that the wrong people right now for the business or they’re in the wrong seat and maybe there’s a way to get them in the right seat.

MICHEL: Is there a company that you admire for their culture that you learn from?

BRIAN: Who do I admire for culture. I think one of them, and I talk about it way too much, but I also love the coffee side of the business, is Starbucks. The reason why I talk about them so much is they’ve got so many locations across the planet, and somehow every single time I go into a Starbucks in Saskatoon, in southern California, it doesn’t matter where it is, the barista says hello, smiles, says goodbye, says thank you.

“They just have a warmth about them. How is that possible that from store-to-store, region-to-region, country-to-country they’ve been able to maintain that? I admire that.”

I think if I look at 1-800-GOT-JUNK or any of our brand, Shack Shine, our methodology is hire happy people. I think that while we didn’t take that phrase from anywhere, but it’s our own, I think Starbucks does that.

MICHEL: Do you think it’s harder to control when you’re franchised the employees, I hate to use the word control, manage rather, when you are a franchise versus corporate or licensed?

BRIAN: Is it harder when you’re franchised? I’m going to give you the old yes and no. I mean, as a franchise owner, someone comes in. If you’ve picked the right franchise owner, I think it’s easier. Because if you’ve gotten that right, you have someone who’s got skin in the game, who’s got ownership, who goes,

“This is my culture. It’s going to be slightly different than Brian’s culture or O2E’s culture, but we’ve got the same values. I care about it enough that I’m going to make sure we always find and treat people right.”

I think as a franchise organization it becomes harder if you didn’t get the right franchise owner. I think there’s a lot more failing franchise owners out there than there are successful ones, because if you don’t find the right people, it just implodes quickly.

MICHEL: When I was working with you, I understood my purpose very clearly and that was to one day get into entrepreneurship. I didn’t know, I had no idea that ended up in the restaurants. My agreement with the company, and it was just kind of a self agreement, was I’m going to give myself to the brand. During that time, I’ll contribute to their success, and I’m going to learn entrepreneurship in this environment. If employees within the organization aren’t clear on their purpose, how can a leader help them discover it?

BRIAN: I think a leader can help people discover purpose by just asking questions. If I’m sitting down with young Michelle in the sales center answering phones, doing customer experience work, I’m asking you like “What really motivates you in life?” You think about it. You might have trouble answering that question. I try and push and dive deeper. I’m like, “Why? Why is that important? Why do you love doing that? When are you most alive? When do you most energized?” I think that a leader’s job is to help create followers. How you create followers? Get them connected to you. Learn more about them as a person. What interests and excites them? Help them uncover their purpose in life. Help drive them forward.

MICHEL: How would you describe your leadership style?

BRIAN: I think I lead by trying to throw possibility out there. Simon Sinek, he used to be on our board years ago. I remember he helped me uncover, through a lot of questions, what is my why? He did a brilliant job with it. It really turned into some level of, I create big possibilities and share them with the world. Like magic, some of them might happen. My leadership style is giving big ideas out there to others or helping them find big ideas in themselves and saying, “Hey, maybe we can actually make magic here.” Imagine being in a third country. Imagine having a fourth brand. Just thinking big ideas. Imagine getting on the Oprah Winfrey show.

MICHEL: Which of those that you did?

BRIAN: Yeah, we did the third company or the fourth company. We did the third country. All three of those examples I gave you happened. I didn’t do any one of them. I came up with the idea, but I wasn’t the one executing it. My why, my purpose and leadership style would be inspire with big ideas and create room for others to go out there and make them happen.

MICHEL: Past or present, who would you want on your advisory board that you haven’t had in the past or don’t have right now?

BRIAN: Yeah, that’s a good question. Past or present, who would I want on my advisory board? Nobody. I don’t want an advisory board. We don’t have one any longer. Here’s why.

MICHEL: Why? Because you did.

BRIAN: We did for years. No disrespect to anyone on that board, because they gave a lot of time and energy. What I feel when you’ve got an advisory board and you bring people together, it’s hard for the leader, the entrepreneur to distill whose advice is the best advice.

MICHEL: But don’t you think that you should have been like, “I trust all of these people, therefore I would want to take their advice, because they might come with different expertise.”

BRIAN: Yeah, I trusted them.

MICHEL: This is the first time I’ve ever heard anybody say that, and I love it.

BRIAN: I trusted my board. What would happen is sometimes we’d get this group think. People are like, “Oh yeah, yeah, we all agree you need to do that.”


BRIAN: But I wouldn’t necessarily agree. My gut would say, “I don’t need to do that.” Then what do you do? You’re going against your board. What I prefer, this might just be me, I wouldn’t want to pick one key person to be on my advisory board. I would want to pick key advisors that I go to to learn from.

MICHEL: Got it.

BRIAN: I do that all day long.

MICHEL: Who is you have yet to connect with that that you’re like, “Him or her, I need to get time with that person?”

BRIAN: Yeah, everybody I’ve met with that I felt that way about, you realize there’s a bit of a rockstar in them. Whether it’s a Gary Vaynerchuk, who I met with recently or Fred Deluca started Subway, you get these great people. You meet with them, but then you kind of get a level of, not disappointment about them, but you kind of go, “Wow, they’re just real people like I am right or like you are.” It’s almost like getting behind the curtain of the Wizard of Oz. You’re like, “Whoa, you’re just this little person.” I think I enjoy connecting with random strangers. When I’m on a plane, when I’m traveling somewhere, I’m sitting on a train in Europe, and you just meet someone beside you and you start connecting and talking and getting different perspective, that’s the type of advice I love to hear. I love to hear what people are saying about our business and their own innovative ideas rather than connecting necessarily with the rockstars.

MICHEL: Would you suggest that companies are extraordinarily marketing centric before their customer experience focused?

BRIAN: Focused on marketing before customer service? Absolutely not.


BRIAN: No, I think you need to focus on customer service.

MICHEL: It’s not, what do you think we should be doing? What do you think of companies are doing? If you were to look at …

BRIAN: Oh, what do I think companies are doing?


BRIAN: Yeah, no, I think companies are doing it wrong. I think companies are focusing on marketing first and then customer experience. I think you need to flip it. You should have 1/10th of the business and do it really, really, really well before you get up there and market it more. Wow 1 Day Painting, our painting company can go in and paint someone’s home in a day. I want our franchise partners to go in and just nail the job and get it perfect, so that that person is then talking to their neighbors, their friends, their family and saying, “Have you heard of this Wow 1 Day Painting company? They come in. They paint your home in a day.” I want them to be so blown away because of the attention to detail and the care that our franchise owner gave, rather than that franchise owner going, “Let’s go market the crap out of this business. Let’s just get so much business. We can grow this like crazy.” You can grow it organically first, figure out the system, then layer on.

MICHEL: We’re using a lot of the jargon, the organic growth that I absolutely gravitate towards and just the controlled growth. When it comes to customer experience, how are you equating the ROI of your efforts financially?

BRIAN: Yeah, when it comes to customer experience, we’d like to measure NPS.


BRIAN: You were all about NPS here as well. We want to measure our net promoter score to see how we’re doing. Across brands, it varies from high 80s to low 90s, which is awesome. We’re proud of that. I don’t think we’re really quantifying the ROI of customer experience.

MICHEL: Is that a bad thing?

BRIAN: I think we’re almost not trying to quantify it, because it’s just hire awesome people, take care of those people. Here’s my belief. We say this in our painted picture, or vision for our brands. Take care of your people, and they’ll take care of your customer. Take care of your customer, and they’ll take care of the brand and the future growth. With taking care of your people, most companies say, “Oh, the customer is king. The customer’s queen. They’re always right.” No, you know your employee is the king or queen. Treat them with love and respect. Watch how they will then go on to take care of the customer.

MICHEL: Do you think that it’s easier for you and I, because we own private companies? What about the individual, the CFO or the controller of the publicly traded company that needs to report to the street every three months, easier said than done?

BRIAN: No, I think you always take care of your people first. A CFO still has customers. They still know and they’re smart enough to know that the bills are being paid and the money’s rolling in because of whatever product or service they’re selling. They take care of their team, and they do a really great job. Finance is an incredibly important part of the customer experience. If people aren’t getting paid on time and the payment experiences isn’t easy, customers don’t feel valued and then they don’t give value to … employees don’t feel valued and then they don’t give value to the customer. Everybody plays a role.

MICHEL: As a consumer, what companies are you admiring right now for their customer experience other than Starbucks?

BRIAN: Other than Starbucks? Who am I admiring? I think Air Canada, this is interesting because I wouldn’t have said this years ago. Air Canada does a brilliant job in business class. Now I fly coach, but I fly enough that I often get upgraded. I feel like I’ve just won the lottery, because the service in their business class is just so smiley and professional and unbelievable. I think they’ve got an opportunity to figure out how to do it in economy. I think they do such a good job in business class. I feel like, “Are they paying those people more in business class?” Probably not. There’s a level of expectation of the service that needs to be provided. Why can’t you provide that in economy? They do a good job and a not so great job. Who else am I loving right now?

MICHEL: I love that you mentioned Air Canada. My mom’s worked for Air Canada for 30 years.

BRIAN: I ran into your mom at the airport.

MICHEL: Yeah, I told her this morning. I was like, “I’m going to go see Brian.” “Tell him I say hi.”

BRIAN: Yeah, your mom’s awesome. She’s a great women.

MICHEL: She’s worked with him for 33 years as a front line employee. Her relationship with the brand is very, very strong. Therefore, she brings her whole self to work for 33 years. You get that outcome. With NPS and the data that you collect from your customers, going to your strategic planning and budgeting for the year, if the ROI isn’t going to show up on your PNL for 12 to 24 months, do you still make that bet?

BRIAN: If the ROI for what isn’t going to show it for 12 to 24?

MICHEL: If you’re wanting to build initiatives that are going to positively impact the customer experience, but the ROI is 12 to 24 months out.

BRIAN: Yeah, I think it’s so hard to even measure that the ROI is ever there, right? Like my previous answer, I don’t know if we measure it really that closely, because I don’t know if you can. It’s like someone saying, “Hey, here’s the rating I give you as being a good friend right now.” It’s hard to measure that experience and that connection. I think it’s really just you know the right thing to do. Put money into it, enough money that makes sense, and you’re not spending too much.

Customer service is something got to invest in. You can’t grow a brand without being an amazing at what you do.

I think companies that do well at it, Airbnb I think is also great of listening to their customers and listening to their people that are renting places and just getting feedback from their community. I met with the company. I met a guy, Bill, who’s the chief of marketing, chief of community for Yeti. Yeti makes these coolers and drink holders and so on. I was impressed with how much he travels around connecting with the community to understand, and they’re a billion dollar plus company, understand what the customer’s love, opportunities for improvement and just really having that connection to make things better.

MICHEL: When you were in New York with Gary Vaynerchuk, you guys talked about entrepreneurship. I’m paraphrasing, but Gary said something along the lines of entrepreneurship is a really hot topic right now. It seems like everybody wants to be an entrepreneur. Can everybody be an entrepreneur?

BRIAN: I think there’s differing degrees of entrepreneurship. I think that you can get out there and start a small business and sell stuff on Etsy. Is that an entrepreneur? Yeah, you’re entrepreneurial. I think the old school term of an entrepreneur as a real risk taker, getting out there and building something from nothing and growing it. Not Everybody’s cut out to do that. We have a woman who works with us here at Tressa who’s run some businesses. She’s helping with Shack Shine. She’s like, “I don’t want to be an entrepreneur again.” She loves processes and systems and building things, but she didn’t want to go up and just start from scratch and be alone and work through that lonely phase and so on. It isn’t for everyone.

Can everyone be one? I think what I love about O2E brands is I feel like we’re building something bigger and better together versus what we would have ever chosen to do alone. People can choose their degree of entrepreneurship. Someone can run an entire brand, like a Wow 1 Day Painting or You Move Me or someone can be a franchise owner in Shack Shine, building grow their local territory, Toronto, San Francisco, whatever it is. I think it’s a bit of a choose your own adventure type model where pick what you want to do. I think there’s very few people that want to do it all and start from scratch like I might have 30 years ago. The best part of my business career is every time I’ve gotten rid of something to allow others to come in, like Eric Church is our COO, to have others build this with me and to do a better job in just about every area of the business than I ever could. That’s what I love.

MICHEL: What would Brian of today tell the 20 year olds who are wanting to get into entrepreneurship?

BRIAN: Yeah, so for those that do to get into entrepreneurship, I think, we’ve certainly seen a model of franchising is one where a franchise partner can come in with a bit of a springboard and learn from us and grow with a bit of a recipe of success versus starting from scratch. I think I would say to that younger audience, “Don’t shy away from franchising and that learning through someone else’s mistakes.” The other thing I would say is anybody that does go out at whatever level of entrepreneurship is understanding that failure, and I know you’ve got my book prominently displayed, my book WTF, Willing to Fail. I wrote the book without a title. We finished the book, Roy Williams, my coauthor and I. We closed the book and went, okay, “now what’s the title?” It just jumped out, because it was stories of ups and downs, ups and downs, plenty of failures. We just came up with this WTF, Willing to Fail.

What I would tell the 18 year olds in the world who want to start something is understand that failure is your best friend. Failure is a gift. You are going to make mistakes if you’re going to be an entrepreneur. You’re going to make plenty. You’re going to make some that cost you your business. It’s okay. Take the learning from every failure to understand that it will get you to a better place if you allow it.

MICHEL: If you were to pick one failure that you’ve experienced in your career that has allowed you to be the CEO you are today, what’s the one that resonates with you the most?

BRIAN: I don’t think there is one that resonates most. They were all stepping stones to certain points. I needed to make all the mistakes. People say, “What would you have done differently if you could do anything differently?” Nothing. I needed to learn it all. The one that resonates from a relatability standpoint that I think people can get is 1994, five years into the business. Nine bad apples. One spoils the whole bunch. I had 11 employees. I brought them all in to the business. I said, “I’m sorry guys, I’ve let you down. I don’t have the right team, the right people. You’re not the people that I see in building this professional junk removal business. I might’ve made the wrong hires. I haven’t given you the love and support.” I parted ways with my entire company. I fired my entire company. Went from five trucks down to one, because that’s all I could drive, and then rebuilding the business. That was me learning from a massive failure that you’re only as good as your people. Find the right people, treat them right. I vowed that day never to make a hiring mistake again. Have I made them? Of course, but very few relative to where I would’ve gone hadn’t I decided to very intentionally recruit people in the company.

MICHEL: Guys, on that note, here’s the book. You can find it on Amazon. Just Google it. Don’t just buy one copy. Buy a handful. Buy it for your your team. Brian, I have been able to build a career that I’m absolutely in love with. It’s literally, it started here. My recommendation for anybody watching this who is one you get into entrepreneurship is learn first. If you have the opportunity to work with a company and contribute to their success and get paid to do so and be able to understand in a real environment, that is what helped me. My business partners and I have had an advantageous position, because we’ve built the systems and processes sophisticated enough to operate within $100 million company. I learned it here. On that note, Brian, thank you so much.

BRIAN: Yeah, thank you.

MICHEL: I appreciate it.

BRIAN: I think you give way too much credit to 1-800-GOT-JUNK, because you say, “Oh, it got started here.” I’ve met your mother. She a wonderful lady. It got started when she helped raise you and probably a lit a spark in you. Congratulations.

MICHEL: She’s melting right now. Thank you so much.

How To Host A Customer Journey Mapping Workshop

Today, I’m in Oshawa, Ontario working with Taunton Village Dental to help them improve their customer experience by hosting a customer journey mapping workshop. I’m going to introduce them to my people first culture and three piece strategy. Introduce them to customer personality types and how to manage behaviors, plus much, much more.

Customer journey mapping will give you an advantage over your competitors…

because you’re going to be continuously refining the interactions that they experience when doing business with you from beginning to end. My recommendation is to improve the customer experience by deploying at least three customer-facing initiatives per quarter.

“And I cannot think of, or know of anybody that’s got more experience and is more on the cutting edge of the customer experience and the customer’s touchpoints and improving them, and the results that I’ve had so far have been unbelievable.” – Dr. Steve Mascarin, Founder of Taunton Village Dental 

Customer journey mapping workshops will improve your organization’s…

customer experience because your company will be continuously refining the interactions within the customer experience which will influence greater customer loyalty and grow your business.

“With asking for my staff’s input on what they think a customer experience would entail, I was able to get more of a response from my staff, therefore they went above and beyond for our patients, because they felt like they had involvement in the process. So, therefore the things we implemented were always followed, because they felt like they were part of something that was happening in the office, rather than just being directed to do it.” – Sherry Fitzpatrick, Director, Operations at Taunton Village Dental

The key outcomes of posting a customer journey mapping workshop are…

to bring together the entire organization where each and every department is represented. During the workshop, you’re responsible for identifying each customer interaction within the customer journey.

Posting a customer journey mapping workshop acts as an operational improvement strategy, because you will identify the strengths and the opportunities that your organization has to improve the customer experience and earn customer loyalty.

“I’m so much further ahead of my competitors in my industry, and I don’t think there’s any way they’re gonna catch me now because I’ve been working with Michel.” – Dr. Steve Mascarin, Founder of Taunton Village Dental 

To contact Michel about hosting a customer journey mapping workshop for your company, simply email michel@michelfalcon.com.