Recently I had the opportunity to speak on the velocity of change that is occurring all around us – but more specifically, in commercial real estate. Further, the direct impact it will have on the people and organizations that are unwilling to innovate.
The discussion brought back memories from one of my first jobs directly out of college and three lessons that I learned – oddly, they all centered around coffee being a catalyst for change which still hold true today.
Bad Coffee, Bad Morale
In the break room of my former employer sat an antiquated coffee machine and the type of grounds that no amount of cream or sugar could ever fix. Visualize in your mind poor lighting, old chairs and tables, paper cups – no energy, no fun.
Being young and ready to set the professional world on fire, I was quick to share my thoughts with the owner about improving morale through a modest investment in upgrading the area. To my surprise, I was promptly told no.
In a youthful statement of defiance, a month later I went out and purchased a new coffee machine. I also made it a goal to bring in new types of coffee each week. Not long after, several colleagues approached me asking how they could help. Through a series of meetings, new ideas formed, and conventional ways were challenged.
In this momentum, and over the next two years we would eventually reinvent our culture. While improving the coffee might be a stretch for dynamic leadership or innovation, I learned a valuable lesson – small changes can in fact lead to extraordinary transformation.
My early coffee experience also reminded me that quality matters in all things. It led me to adjust my way of thinking about continual improvement, a process that never ends for both our personal and professional lives.
The standard of excellence is not permanently chiseled in stone. In fact, it is constantly being redefined and pushed forward. Jim Collins, author of the book Good to Great said it best: “Few people attain great lives, in part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. Many companies never become great, precisely because… they become good – and that is their main problem.”
Breaking the mold, identifying areas needing improvement is a year-round mindset. Your team will always know when you are cutting corners.
Coffee is for Closers Only
With an article on business and coffee, you knew the classic quote from Glengarry Glen Ross, “coffee is for closers only” would have to find its way in here somewhere.
The last lesson I was reminded of is how taking an hour to sit down with people can shape relationships in significant ways (by the way, the same concept works with lunch, dinner, etc. – you get the idea).
In this world where the benefits of technology make the passing of information easier, losing sight of the importance of face-to-face interaction can be costly. While the landscape of commercial real estate continues to dramatically transform, this is still a people business.
There is a powerful driving force in every human being that when channeled the right way, can bring life to any vision. Wherever you might be today in business, here are a few important things to consider when it comes to having a positive impact on your environment:
If you see a need for change, you have a responsibility to be that bright light and not run from it. It’s yours to own – regardless of whether it starts with something simple.
Carefully listen to the opinions of those around you. Intellectual friction is a good thing when communicated the right way.
Finally, the best ideas may not be your own. Build an environment that allows forward-thinking suggestions to elevate. You won’t regret it.