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  • Jerry Phillips

Essential Gratitude

I grew up on a small farm in central Kansas where we grew wheat and milo, and raised sheep, cattle, and hogs. Because I was a part of that environment, I took things for granted. It was hard work to do what we did, and there was a great amount of risk in that weather could have an oversized impact on productivity. Despite that, I never really thought about, or was grateful for the food we produced.

I was eating a breakfast my wife had prepared and it struck me that there was a huge amount of work that went into my food. The obvious was that my wife prepared breakfast and that is rare. She doesn’t eat breakfast so typically I make my own. That started me down the path of gratitude. I had to think about the farmer who planted the wheat for the flour and raised and milked the cows for the milk. There was the farmer or corporate farm that raised the hogs for the sausage. There were those that did the difficult work of taking the raw product and processing it so that we could have it packaged and shipped. There was the grocery store that keeps it fresh and on the shelf. The work they do really goes unnoticed. The ultimate sacrifice is the cow giving the milk and the hog that was raised to be our nourishment. Too often, we just go the store and expect to grab what we need. Are we grateful for what went into the entire process?

This may be an odd buildup for the point I want to make.

I believe that people, process, and technology allow us to have food at our fingertips. I also believe those same three things make our businesses successful, or not. Focusing on the people aspect, hiring is a critical piece. My best performers are people that have a sense of gratitude. People who know that they didn’t get to where they are by themselves. They know they have had mentors that have helped them. They know that a great sales team must have great products and great service to support them and there is a team of people that create them.

When I interview, one of the first questions I will work into an interview is one on gratitude. I ask who has helped them get to where they are. If they can’t answer that, I’m not interested in further conversation. Gratitude is an essential value for our company. Is it for yours?

Knowing the work that goes into what you sell helps you understand the value of what you sell. Knowing how it solves a customer problem reinforces that value. I’d suggest you ask your team this week to share with you what happens in the background that allows them to be able to do what they do. If they have gratitude for the support they receive, I believe they will be better salespeople.

Who would have thought growing up on a farm would have helped me understand the value of gratitude? I’m grateful I did.

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