Finding Insight in a Box of Matzah

Greetings. For most of us in business today, selling our products and services is one of the greatest challenges we face…even when we have pretty darn remarkable offerings. After all, most customers have lots of choices, plenty of information, and only so much money to spend. Yet, in our wildest dreams, we fantasize about our ability to create products and services that will literally sell themselves. Products and services that are so unique, so intrinsically valuable, so totally cool, so compelling, and so essential to life on the planet that our customers simply can’t live without them. Products and services that seem, up to a point, to defy the laws of cost, competition, and even nature.

Yes these products and services do exist, but they are few and far between. Still we marvel at the brilliance of companies like Apple, Tesla, Airbnb, Under Armour, and even Lululemon before we could see through their clothing. Companies that inspire us to think that we, too, might also reinvent our industries in ways that really matter.

So imagine the challenge of trying to sell a product that is not only very old but hasn’t really changed much since the time it was invented. And when I say old, I mean really old. Like 3,500 years old. And as for innovation, which most of us assume to be a vital ingredient of business success, the only major change has been its production methods which were initially quite crude and crafted more out of necessity rather than a carefully developed plan.

Then let’s add to the equation the simple market reality that most customers only buy this product for seven or eight days a year. And that the folks who buy it represent one of the smallest market segments on earth. Now add to the mix the fact that there are plenty of competitors fighting for this modest market and using the same exact ingredients to make products that few customers would ever suggest was awesome.

Okay, so I’m talking about matzah. A product that is somewhat popular during this spring holiday season. The “bread of affliction.” An edible tribute to the exodus from Egypt in roughly the year 1,500 B.C. (or B.C.E.). A staple of the Jewish holiday of Passover that only a limited number of people have been chosen to eat. Sure anyone could buy it, and you could certainly eat it the rest of year. But let’s be serious. In a world filled with freshly-baked bagels, pumpernickel, croissants, brioche, baguettes, and even English muffins or Martin’s potato rolls, who (in their right mind) would opt for matzah?

And yet, the folks at Yehuda Matzos have somehow managed to be voted Numero Uno in the world of whole wheat matzah. And one taste of their crisp, beautiful, and rather ancient-looking treat confirms that they have magically figured out how to turn whole wheat flour and water into a veritable taste sensation. In fact, their matzah is different and each year compels me to imagine what it must have been like wandering through the desert with Moses hoping only to find a bit of advice from God and an oasis where they sold premium quality peanut butter.

Which leads to one simple idea. No matter what you do, commit to being the best you can be! Because every company, product, service, or even individual has the potential to be remarkable in ways that really matter. Even if the heart of your “offerings” is all about authenticity or a certain biblical requirement. The most enduring businesses, offerings, and people are the ones that consistently figure this out.

Yehuda Matzos

We win in business and in life when we commit to being #1 in something worth doing. And when we understand what is truly possible for our products, services, and customers, more deeply than anyone else.

Cheers!

Gaining Insight From A Cellphone

Greetings.  It's the start of a new week and a great chance to focus on the things that matter most.  And if you've recently purchased an iPhone 4S you'll have one extra source of insight to guide you.  Yes, Apple's much publicized "Siri" personal assistant is not only there to help you search the web, figure out how to spell the name of of one of the former Soviet republics or locate the nearest Sushi bar, it's also there to help you set your morale compass.  Simply by asking a question of great importance.  A question like:

"What is the meaning of life?"

And, in case you're interested, here's Siri's answer:

"Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations."

Not too bad for a cellphone app.

Which suggests the power of applications in helping us to stay aligned, connect with customers, colleagues and partners in new and more engaging ways, and even smile.  And the importance of humor and messaging in all of our companies and organizations.

IPhone-4S-Siri-says-the-darnedest-things-GOGC0QP-x-large

We win in business and in life when we pause to ask questions that really matter.  And when we are always open to expanding our search for insight and the keys to delivering greater value.

Cheers and have a great week ahead! 

“Do You Need More Drugs?”

Greetings.  We all know that tough economic times require companies to do a better job of engaging their customers in order to win more of their business.  By staying in touch, being helpful, making life easier, delivering more knowledge and insight, making offers they can't refuse, and looking for any way–creative or not–to provide even greater value.  So getting a call from a company I do business with, even on a Saturday afternoon, should not have come as a big surprise.

Except when the call was from my CVS pharmacy.

"Mr. Gregerman, how are you today?" asked a pleasant voice on the other end of the phone.  "I'm fine, and how are you?" I replied.  "Great, thanks for asking.  I'm calling about your prescriptions," she continued.  'Prescriptions?'  I wondered to myself, only able to recall having one that I used all too infrequently.  "Is there anything wrong?" I asked, suddenly imagining that my pill had been recalled, or that they'd given me the wrong pill, or the wrong dose, or that I was about to have some cataclysmic drug interaction by virtue of eating way too much peanut butter. "No, everything's fine.  We're just calling to see if you need any more prescriptions."

And for a split second I wondered:  "Do I need more drugs?"  Pondering the possibility of some amazing pill or secret formula that might make me healthier, stronger, wiser, more beautiful, or able to recall unmemorable events.  Then, just as quickly, reality set in and I said that I was doing fine in the drug department–relying primarily on one baby aspirin and an undisclosed amount of chocolate (i.e., antioxidants) each day.

Then I started thinking about the oddness of a drugstore calling to see if I needed more drugs, and what special pills we might offer our customers as consultants, hardware stores, hotels, web portals, or government IT and defense contractors. "Pills" that could make them healthier, stronger, wiser, more beautiful, or able to create far more memorable results.  Pills that could make them more resilient in the face of their most pressing challenges.

CVS
We win in business by always looking for real opportunities to deliver greater value to those we serve.  Even when they don't need more drugs, they could use a bit more insight and innovation.

Cheers and don't forget to take your medicine…even if it's only chocolate!