This week’s issue is overflowing with coverage of our recent Leadership Conference, a reinvented virtual event that had more content and drew a larger retail audience than any its 24-year history. If you read this space regularly, you know our theme this year was “Reinvention.” This focus reflects the dramatic changes the industry has had to undertake in the past year and the continuing adaptations it will need to make moving forward.
I’m sure each of our attendees had their own favorite moments and their own special takeaways. Here are some lessons I’ll carry forward:
From keynote speaker Kevin Brown: You never know which moment of your life or which interaction you have with others could be life changing, so bring your best, most extraordinary self to each moment and to each interaction.
From keynote speaker Kaihan Krippendorff: I know his focus and theme was finding a fourth option, a new way of looking at things, and that’s critically important. But the question he asked that I cannot get out of my head is, “What business are you in?” It’s likely not the one you think. His example that Starbucks is not in the coffee business, but the people business serving coffee is one that resonates strongly with me. The answer to this question will figure strongly in what you see from us in 2021.
From Todd Wanek at Ashley: If you are not constantly, passionately and proactively seeking to reinvent and improve your business, you are on a path to being irrelevant.
From Kurt Darrow at La-Z-Boy: Don’t be afraid to acknowledge mistakes. Take your medicine, make the difficult choices to put you and your company in the best position to move forward, and face the new realities.
From Farooq Kathwari at Ethan Allen: What are you willing to lose for? Foundational principles that guide you and your business are more important than profit and loss. They are a key to long term-sustainable achievement.
A sampling from some of our Lessons in Leadership participants:
- When making necessary changes, don’t waste your time trying to convince the naysayers. Focus on those who embrace change; the others will follow.
- Digital marketing in the age of e-commerce requires re-thinking the sales funnel. Engaging consumers before they have even begun the shopping process is as important as closing the sale. After all, if there’s no one in your funnel, who are you going to convert?
- You will not be able to compete long-term without an e-commerce option in your tool kit. The store and the website must function as a single, integrated unit constantly feeding and reinforcing one another.
There are so many more insights I took from this that it’s at times overwhelming, from new ideas in human resources and logistics to strategies on consumer finance and insights into consumer behavior.
I will close with this thought from Overstock’s Jonathan Johnson, and I’m summarizing not quoting: Focusing on too many things is like focusing on nothing. Choose a focused number of critical objectives, and concentrate the force of your time, energy and resources on achieving those.
I hope those of you who attended this year’s Leadership Conference will likewise find some inspiration, some motivation and some key points of action to take with you and apply for 2021.