With everything changing so fast and the retail horizon seemingly unrecognizable, the element we need most is always going to be human.

Earlier this fall, I again attended the Fast Company Innovation Festival in NYC and was again inspired and motivated by the insights and expertise shared by leaders in their various fields of industry.

From Starbucks to luxury clothing goods to reality television stars and digital influencers, the common thread I found repeated over and over was that all of these individuals had figured out and confirmed their own sense of personal direction. The raw and genuine impact of knowing exactly who you are and what you stand for will always give you the ability to move forward and sustain your efforts.

And when we can fully connect to ourselves, we can begin to connect to others.

Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks stood before a packed room of conference attendees and not only spoke to the importance of innovation and what that means to the continued success of the Starbucks brand, but he also spoke to the importance of his own emotional connection to Starbucks. He told the room, in no uncertain terms, that he was a better person because of his work with Starbucks.

This was humbling.

In moving your company forward, you must aim to eliminate too much risk. You have to be able to pull from the experience and personal insights of your team and yourself. But to attain the fullest sense of success, there needs to be a marriage of financial gain and emotional connection. Of empathy. Of strength and purpose. We need to discover the yin and yang of compassion and financial integrity.

Kevin Johnson understands what needs to be done to continue elevating his team towards Starbuck’s financial goals…but if he personally wasn’t happy or fulfilled by the values and the work towards human connection that Starbuck’s creates, he would choose to work elsewhere.

Happiness matters. Fulfillment matters. And both of these can be found within our daily work life and employment pursuits.

As we ask others to come and work for us or to continue to work for us and with us, we need to know we are delivering on that human connection. As we look to figure out the puzzle that is the future of retail or the ability to attract and retain generations of workforces, we need to remember that the answer is a human one. It’s about assessing needs and asking questions of ourselves and figuring out how can continue to elevate others.

Never discount the value of the person standing right in front of you.


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