Laughing at the Old Lady

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago in the 1970s many of my neighbors and school friends were Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union who were able to leave.

Including one who came with his grandmother who didn’t speak a word of English.

She would smile and wave while me and my other friends, (who If I’m honest you would say we were all little sh**s) would find it incredibly funny to say rude things to her and get that smile and wave.

The years rolled on and my friend’s grandmother passed away.

We were out one night and for some reason we talked about our families and where they came from. I related how my parents both lived through World War 2 and the Greek Civil War that followed (which in their opinion was worse because it was neighbor against neighbor).

And then my friend, whose grandmother we used to tease, mentioned in passing something that I never forgot.

“Oh my grandmother lived through the entire siege of Leningrad…”

I realised then that the old lady we teased and made fun of, who we thought was simple, was actually much wiser and more clever than I could’ve imagined.

You see she had lived through hell – the most destructive siege in history where millions died (at one time 100,000 people a month mostly due to starvation). So she laughing at us – a bunch of silly boys, clowning around, thinking they were clever but we were just rude and stupid.

She knew what was important and what was worth becoming upset about – and a bunch of idiotic boys was not on the list.

Anyways why this story?

Because we have heard the cliché about not judging a book by the cover, but it’s a principle in business.

If you want to judge your customers do so by hard and accountable metrics. What is their satisfaction? What is their lifetime value?

Are you making the right investments to attract, service, retain and grow your customers?

Because it’s your customers and how loyal and committed they are that can make a big difference in your profits, the money in your pocket and how and when you leave or pass your business one day.

And If I could roll back time and be able to ask the grandmother a question

How….?”

 

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