For better or worse, I’m a noticeable guy. My voice is loud, I’m direct, sometimes (often? always?) inappropriate. My mannerisms can be seen as flamboyant, aggressive, and off-putting. I wear tight jeans and tight shirts, I don’t have a six-pack, and I drive a car that, if I had a dime for every time it had scared someone upon approach, would make me a millionaire.
I don’t shy away from attention yet those who know me well will agree I’m actually a total introvert.
I have no shortage of opinions, I live my life fairly openly and as I’ve commented on previously, I have scars of ignonimy which result from a life lived mindful of consequence yet unwilling to hide.
Self-flaggelation fait accompli, I try to exercise my capabilities at being accountable, appreciative, and authentic every single day, and I spend hours reflecting on times when I’ve not lived up to my own expectations in these areas. I have yet to be impressed with myself in these areas.
This brings me to my meeting at the Nordstrom Grill today resulting from my indictment of Nordstrom as a retailer and marketer. I’ve spent many hours thinking about this lunch, what I wanted to say, how I wanted to communicate my intent, including while I was on vacation, and regardless of the ideas I generated or the data I consumed, I came back to one glaringly important thing:
In my efforts to better myself, learn from past mistakes, gain insight from those I respect, and ultimately atone for past transgressions, I expected absolute forgiveness and a wiping away of my history.
I’ve expected a clean slate and I’ve struggled to understand why one was not being offered to me.
And in the most non-self-aware way possible, I failed to see this was similar to how I was treating Nordstrom and their CMO. I indicted, went personal, assumed, lacked any number of things necessary to make an informed judgment. Just as with our elections, I made a summary judgment based on just my own perspective and frustration accumulated over time – which, in statistical analysis, is really only just one data point. (See, Dr. Kats, I was paying attention.)
I spent all morning thinking of what I would say first. I was greeted by the hostess who said, “Oh, are you ‘the Jason?'” (I struggled to hold back “No, I’m fucking Macklemore!”).
“Wow, I was actually quite shocked when I got the call from X’s office requesting a table. I couldn’t believe it was the office of the X.” she said as she walked me to the table.
Bread appeared, and though I don’t think I ever ordered it, a diet Coke with lemon arrived…which is my non-alcoholic drink of choice. There was no straw. Also meaningful.
Up walked the CMO who could put Anderson Cooper to shame and had a disarming presence before he said a word.
My opening line: “You come here often?” I felt awkward.
Followed by a disarming handshake followed by me doing what I think is the true conduit to connection, righting wrongs and accepting accountability.
“I have to say, I’m really sorry. I learned a great deal about myself, most importantly that opinions and approach are two separate things. My opinions are well reasoned, I try to consider all sides, but my approach was absolutely not what I aspire to and I really apologize for that. I will use this experience often to remind me of this and promise to do better.”
The rest of the lunch is a blur. There was talk of sports cars, big data, cloud…honest conversations though, never shrouded in any sense of “I can’t tell him this.”
Nordstrom has a hard road to hoe, but herein is the lesson. So does everyone else.
The rate of change is greater than ever before, and the possible places for failure grow exponentially even while we fix so many things along the way.
I’ve been on the receiving end of jokes about product failures, and I’m watching the make-believe space race between Jeff and Elon become less about the aspiration to explore and more about who gets there first.
It’s not easy being perfect! It’s very easy to cast judgment, spot opportunities where things could have been done differently, and ultimately stand upon the shoulders of others who have tried for something. It takes courage and commitment to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who are trying.
I’m all in again on Nordstrom. I’m all in on us pushing every company we do business with to do more, be more, and give more. And I’m 100% for us making sure we forgive the same things we expect forgiveness for.
Cuz you know what they say about people in glass houses…