Fifty eight (i)

It had been a quiet day. I found myself staring out the window thinking how much I missed Rachel and daydreaming about living right next door to Myra so we could still be more of a family. I tore myself away on seeing Saket approach.

“Is this a good time?”

“Sure, pull up a chair.”

“So.”

I looked at him, waiting. He simply raised his eyebrows so I assumed he wanted me to pick a topic. So I did. “I have a question. Will all this stuff pay dividends? Will Lorenz Capital cash out? Actually, more to the point, how well does this bode for my long-term career prospects?!”

Saket adopted an appropriately serious posture. “Attenzi isn’t in the business of making money. It’s in the business of creating great products that celebrate great food and great cooking to the benefit of everyone involved. And when everyone derives value that includes Lorenz Capital. They can’t do it without you. You can’t do it without them. Everyone comes together to make this thing happen.

“So Lorenz Capital will cash out when you’ve helped everyone come together to create greater value all round faster than otherwise. And you’ll realize your full potential by helping everyone else achieve theirs.”

I guess I felt we were doing the right things, but even a Chief Executive needs some validation from trusted advisors. Make that especially the Chief Executive. We chatted for quite a while about what our performance metrics were starting to show – more on that later – and then Saket asked me if anything particular was making me nervous. I did have one itch I needed to scratch.

“Well, I can’t help but think about customer-centricity. You see, when I contemplate the stuff we’ve worked through together, I think I can start to see why you relegate customer-centricity. I think in fact you called it stupid.

“But then just as I think I’m getting it I pick up any management textbook, read any business magazine, talk to any peer at another firm, and there it is looming large. Maxims such as: ‘the customer is at the heart of everything we do’; ‘without customers there is no company’; ‘it’s the customer who pays the wages’; ‘there is only one boss – the customer.’ How do you reconcile that?”

Saket leaned forward. “I like a good pithy quote as much as the next man, but don’t confuse pithiness for accuracy.

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