A Lesson on Priorities


Last week we went live with Seed, a cloud based platform that will allow us to put all of our machines, well...in "the cloud."

It's a project that's been over a year in the making so to finally go live with the first route last week was a, fly our rep into town, all hands on deck, kind of a big deal, week. It meant very long days and restless nights but in the end it WAS AWESOME!

As we slowly convert all of our routes on to this system we will be able to:

-know exactly when a machine needs filled based on perameters that we set

-know exactly what the machine needs before we get there

-reduce waste

-reduce our carbon footprint

-project our needs so that we can buy better

On Friday, the end of this very long week, I received a phone call from an upset customer. He was upset because he ran out of cups.

(Insert small disclaimer: I know that running out of cups is a big deal. I know that companies depend on us to help keep their office running smoothly. I know that it is our job to keep our customers fully stocked on their necessary supplies and I don't take that lightly. What happens next in this story might make a new customer not want to do business with us. But I feel like if I am going to share with you what I learned last week I need to be fully transparent. So this is a request to love me anyway, to trust me anyway).

This customer explained to me that because he ran out of cups he had to go to the store to buy some, in the rain. I apologized that the systems we have in place to make sure his company doesn't run out of cups failed. And I let him know that we would be there first thing Monday morning with more supplies.

He was irate, not understanding why I wouldn't go right at that moment to bring him cups. I explained that all my hands (literally my hands and the hands of all available team members) were on the task of launching Seed. I also explained that since he just said he went to the store for cups that I thought they would have enough to last til Monday morning since they don't work weekends. I apologized that I couldn't get there sooner and then he said,

"If you can't make sure I have cups and your job is to make sure I have cups, then what are you good for? Thanks for nothing."

And then he hung up the phone.

This happened on Friday January 20th. An earlier version of myself would have been in tears, questioning my self worth. He did after all have a valid point: my job was to make sure he had cups and I did fail him.

However, I didn't cry on Friday January 20th, instead I went back to work helping my team implement Seed.

I attribute my attitude change to two reasons:

1. I just finished reading "Present Over Perfect," a book that insists you realize that time is a limited resource. And that to best use that resource you need to realize that you can only please so many people. You will in fact disappoint people but you get to choose each day who you disappoint. The goal then is to choose the people you prioritize carefully.

2. On Monday January 16th I listened to episode #25 of the Building a Story Brand Podcast in which I was given a beautiful gift called the Productivity Schedule. You use this schedule to prioritize projects you need to finish in a day, your to do list, your rewards for finishing those projects, etc. It's a great tool and I highly recommend you listen to the podcast to find out why each of the items made it on the Productivity Schedule. However there are two parts that most apply to this story on the schedule:

a. There is a section where at the beginning of the day you write down what you would do if you could redo the day over again (i.e make time to blog, make time to connect with Ryan, focus and finish one key project). It essentially makes sure you list your life priorities.

b. At the bottom of the page you write down what you want your life theme to be. I haven't completely grasped this part yet but I do know that I don't want to let my core people down. If I have to disappoint people, I don't want to disappoint them.

On Friday my team needed me to help lead them through implementing Seed. I needed to be on location at the warehouse to pick product, to field questions and to gather as much information as possible from our Seed rep before he left us that afternoon.

My job might be to make sure that my customer had cups, but contrary to his opinion it's not my only job. I'm actually good for a lot of things.

On Friday, during that phone call, I chose to prioritize my team, to not let the ones down who mattered most and to stay focused on our company goals despite the easy distractions to focus on important but lesser tasks. (Side note: we also figured out how to get him cups the same day).

The point of all of this is that I'm slowly accepting the fact that time is limited, that my abilities are limited and that I will inevitably disappoint people along this journey. And that's okay. Because if I stay focused on what matters most to me and don't get caught up in the demands of others I'll end up exactly where I want to be and not where somebody else placed me.

I highly encourage you to the download the Priority Schedule, to start each day not with email but with a few minutes of self reflection so you can decide what matters most to you before you let others tell you what matters most to them. Use it as resource to check in with when you aren't sure what to do next.

To all of our customers, I promise that your happiness still matters a lot to me. Making sure you have cups is still important to me and I truly believe that Seed is going to be great for all of us not just one of us.

Here are some pictures of J&J's core people from the day we went live with Seed.


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