Don’t Forget the Ice Cream

 

The entrepreneur has an idea to open an ice cream shop.

He works hard on the recipe for the right ice cream, designs the perfect space, creates the brand, hires his first group of team members, and opens the ice cream shop. Everyone loves the ice cream, including the people that work there. This group of people has been there from the beginning, and they are believers in the product, the service, and the experience. Over time, the concept takes off, and there is so much demand for the ice cream that the owner decides he needs another location. Soon, there are two, three, and four stores, and they are so successful that future growth is inevitable. But now, the entrepreneur needs an infrastructure in place to support this enterprise. He needs people to make this business happen at a different level, so he begins to hire people that are experts in their fields—accounting, human resources, marketing, construction. They are talented individuals, but they don’t share the same passion for ice cream that the entrepreneur and his original team do.

In fact, many of the people begin to take more pride in their individual contributions than they do in the actual ice cream.

They say things like:

“I work for the Ice Cream Company, but I’m in PR.”

“Oh, I don’t sell ice cream. I’m in the financial department.”

“Yeah, I run social media, but I’d never actually work in an ice cream shop.”

Early in the genesis of the business, the entrepreneur’s team was passionate about the product and experience. But as the company grew, and there became more distance between his team and the core of the business, some people became more passionate about their own activities. In fact, they became so enamored with their own roles, they almost valued their contribution over the piece of the business that made their jobs possible in the first place.

This anecdote is a caution to all of us. Regardless of your organization or business, we must never forget the core of what it’s all about.

Jimmy Collins, the former president of Chick-fil-A, understood this. He would often challenge people at the corporate office and say, “If you’re not selling chicken, you better be supporting someone who is!” He’s right.

It’s OK if you’re not on the frontlines of your organization, but you better be supporting the people who are.

Whether it’s a business, a non-profit organization, or a church, we ought to be supporting the people pushing the product, selling our services, or furthering our mission.

At ADDO, I’m going to have to hire more specialized roles in the near future. Eventually, we will need people to run social media or handle the accounting full-time, and I want them to love and thrive in their individual jobs. But I will go to great efforts to help them know their jobs exist to support the core of our business—the work we do to support our clients, build their brands, and create meaningful and impactful leadership programs.

You need to know and support the core of your organization.

If you work in the restaurant business, it’s selling food.

If you serve a local church, it’s teaching God’s Word and reaching your local community.

If you’re involved in a nonprofit, it’s serving your specific group of people well.

If you work for an airline, it’s flying people safely to their destination.

If you’re a contractor, it’s completing building projects where people will live, work, or play.

Wherever you work and whatever your role, do it well. Just don’t lose sight of what the business is really all about.

Walt Disney reminded his folks by saying, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse.”

So today, thank someone that’s making and selling ice cream in your organization. And do whatever you can to help make their job easier.


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Today, business means more than just mere products and services. Your organization needs to stand for something. Branding is what you tell the world; leadership is how you make it come true.

No one knows this dynamic better than Kevin Paul Scott.

Companies turn to Kevin for advice on how to up the meaning-quotient in their businesses, so that employees and customers alike champion the business as if it were their own.

Let Kevin come and teach your group about how to build a business and communicate corporate values in a way that resonates with consumers.

His speeches include:
• Building a Business with Meaning
• Leading When the Majority is Wrong
• In Changing Times, Hold to Unchanging Principles
• The War for Talent: Recruiting and Retaining Top Tier Talent
• Essential Exchanges: What You Have to Give Up to Go Up