I was talking with Mary (a HAT member) recently, and she was describing a great resort her family used to frequent in Canada. When she first found this gem of a vacation spot, it was 100 percent a small business and a darn good one at that. The resort was led by a professional, charismatic, and detail-oriented owner that believed every single interaction with a guest was a chance to develop a lifelong friendship and customer (in that order). The fish stinks from the head and, in this case, it stunk in a really good way! Each staff member believed this to be their own core statement and motto as well and gave Mary and her family a very personal experience. Mary said that she really liked knowing that the money they were spending was going to the very friendly staff members that they interacted with.
And then just like the dark side from Star Wars coming onto the scene (music playing – duh duh duh, duh duh duh, duh duh duh!) a large corporate company came in and made the small business owner an offer he couldn’t refuse. Mary described the changes that happened: the personal touches that initially made the small business so appealing and charming were demolished by higher prices, fees on every service imaginable, and the atmosphere changed to have the cold, stark feel of a cookie-cutter establishment. Needless to say, Mary has not returned to this resort.
I clearly remembered this conversation after reading an excerpt from the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. The book describes the main character on a motorcycle trip with his friends and his realization that technology and all the noise that it brings with it has made our lives so hectic that we have lost sight of what things actually MEAN. The items we purchase, the restaurants we go to, the plates we eat off of, the furniture we sit on, the clothes we wear – we tend to take these things at face value or as they ARE with very little thought about what they really MEAN or about who our money goes to. What do these companies stand for? Do their values align with our own individual values? You only really see these questions arise in the media when a company does something drastically obvious which offends a specific demographic (like Chick-Fil-A’s COO Dan Cathy and his public comments opposing Gay Marriage or Chipotle’s recent move to become the only chain to only use non-GMO ingredients).
So where are you spending your money? Do those establishments have similar core values to those you have? Do you know what they are?
These are very important questions because how we really vote in this country is with our money! Do you want to support big business and shareholders that you will never actually meet? Or would you rather support the local shop owner who provides the experience described at the beginning of this article – someplace where you can actually see your money being put into action? I don’t have an epiphany or statement that will shock you to your core, but I think that the actual big lesson is in the question itself and beginning to be present to the fact that where you spend your time and money is a direct reflection of who you are, what you support, and what you stand for.
So I leave you with this: I propose that the next time you are choosing where to go eat as a family, buy groceries, or purchase new clothes that you designate a family member to look up the that establishment and do a quick, five-minute Google search on what that company stands for. You might be surprised what you find (good and bad) and have a much better idea of what it really MEANS to eat and support that business.
Let me know how it goes!
By: Ryan Segelke
Grand Slam Level Coach, CEO and
CO-Founder of High Altitude Tennis Academy