Love One Another…. It’s That Simple.

Once again, over the last few days we have been witnesses to acts of unspeakable violence and hate.

Once again, our differences have torn us apart.  I don’t understand.

I don’t understand how someone can hate an entire race, creed, orientation; I don’t understand how someone’s heart can grow so hardened that the fears of our differences bring us to such a place and I am thankful for that lack of understanding.

For decades, I suppose centuries, our differences have continued to define us.  At what point will we find our similarities are so much more important than our differences?

Unfortunately, these acts of violence have hardened all of our hearts.  We send our love to victims, we pray for entire cities and we tweet about our heartbreak, but what do we actually do?

It’s not about guns, or politics, it’s about hearts, minds and a lack of understanding.

There are billions of people on the planet, each one of us different and that is what makes the world such an amazing place.  I can’t fathom a world where everyone was like me, short, fat, bald, old white guy, how boring is that?  What makes the world so amazing is our differences, our vast beliefs, religions, races, why can’t we seem to accept that and get along?

Our society has grown so hardened that we witness these senseless acts and then go on about our day, we just keep moving along and wait for the next atrocity to happen, we then send out thoughts and prayers and wait for the next, unfortunately it seems on a weekly basis.

Like all of you, my heart breaks a bit more each time one of these mass murders takes place and I am lost, I am lost to know what to do, I am lost to understand…. I am lost.

I don’t think I am the only one who is lost, I think we all are, we are lost to find answers when the fringe of our society begins to define us.

This isn’t a Democrat or a Republican issue, it isn’t an American issue, it is a human issue, one that brings us down instead of building us up.

I will always believe that 99.999999999999999% of the planet is good, but sadly today that infinitesimal percentage that is filled with hate and rage define us.  Our fringe should be just that, fringe, not the voices that we hear most often, but the ones who are set aside and witnessed to about the goodness of humanity and not encouraged and held up as a voice that should be leading our charge.

What do we do as people to stamp out this hate?  What do we do to celebrate our similarities and allow good to overcome evil?  What do we do?

Several years ago there was a movement in our society, it was begun by young people and it was symbolized by four letters…. WWJD?

What would Jesus do, a simple phrase with a simple answer….. LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Jesus gave this simple command to his people, he didn’t say love one another except for those you disagree with.  He didn’t tell us to only love those who were like us, he told us to love all people, everyone.

We can’t love when we continue to allow our differences to separate us, if we are to truly love we must first look at how we are alike and then in voices of compassion, resolution and understanding we must work together to work together to overcome our differences.

I’m not a Bible scholar, but I have studied.  I can’t find a place in the Bible where we are told to love someone unless they are Black, Brown, Yellow, White, Jewish, Gay, Muslim, the only command I see is LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

At some point, if we are to survive as a people love has to overcome the hatred that we have for one another.  Hatred of our differences will only continue to tear us apart, continue our heartbreak and our tweets of compassion, when a tweet is simply too late.

Thankfully, all hatred doesn’t end in violence and death.  In our society today, we see people being harassed on a night out with a loved one, hate is hate.  We tear each other down over our beliefs, families are torn apart , people we value as friends are swept aside over simple differences.  Imagine how things could change if we just talked to each other, kept the temperature to a slow boil and discussed differences to find solutions like respectful humans.

I don’t hold myself aside from these actions, I am as guilty as anyone else, maybe one day we will all learn and embrace our similarities and stop letting our differences overtake us.

Sadly, there are few places where we are safe anymore.  Churches, synagogues, restaurants, nightclubs, the workplace, have all been attacked.  Our places of work and play are now battlegrounds and sites of mass murder, it is truly a sad commentary on our world.

We can do better, we must do better, we must find a way to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

I don’t understand a hatred that engulfs someone, I don’t understand hatred of entire group of people, I don’t understand….. and I hope I never will.

Life’s Playlist…. Take this Job and Shove It by Johnny Paycheck

Today, my friend Tammy will leave a job that she has dedicated her blood, sweat and tears to.  Over the years Tammy has moved across the county for her job, she has dedicated countless hours to being the best of the best.

She leaves today to take a job with a company that she is excited to join.  Tammy works for the same company I used to work for and until 2 years ago it was a great company.  Unfortunately after the company was sold, new management and a corporate philosophy that no longer values hard work or the customer, it became a horrible place to work.

I loved working with Tammy, her excitement for her job was infectious and you knew she really cared for her tenants, her customers, her co-workers and her pre-sale employer.

Before I left the company Tammy was thinking of leaving, I talked her out of it, I regret my words encouraging her to stay on.

Today, Tammy can walk out of the office and never look back with her head held high, knowing she did her best.  I hope she finds an appreciative, supportive and challenging career ahead!

Good luck Tammy, this song is for you, I hope you sing it all the way out the door!

Life’s Playlist…. What the World Needs Now performed by Sara Bareilles

On this date in 1995, America was attacked, by our own citizens.

I can recall the moment I heard about the Oklahoma City Bombing, I was sitting in my office at Carey Special Events in Atlanta, like with many horrific events in our nation’s history, it took some time for the devastation to sink in.

American citizens drove a moving truck into the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  The moving truck was a bomb, the impending carnage killed 168 Americans.

Over the next hours and days, the heartbreak of Oklahoma City encompassed our nation and when the reality of those lost, including toddlers in a preschool became known, the nation mourned.

Since Oklahoma City, there have been many more incidents of national tragedy, tomorrow will mark the 19th Anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

We get a lot right in America, but sadly we also get a lot wrong.  Hopefully one day we really will understand, what the world needs is love, sweet love.

Life’s Playlist….. This Is Me from the movie The Greatest Showman

Life’s Playlist… Stand By You by Rachel Platten

What ever happened to customer service?

From the beginning of my life in the business world I have always be taught the customer pays my salary.  They may not always be right, but it is my job to make them feel as though they are heard and responded to.

The best boss I ever had told me “always find a way to say yes,” makes sense doesn’t it.

At my store we strive daily to provide good customer service for the customers who give us the honor of doing business with us.  We don’t always get it right, but at least 95% of the time we do.

We work diligently to provide meet and exceed each customers expectations.

A few months ago I added a new piece of equipment to my store that allows us to provide an even better product for our guests.

For the most part I have been happy with the equipment.  It has its shortcomings but my team has worked diligently to overcome the obstacles.

None of the problems we have had are major and with a bit of help we can get it fixed, but getting the customer service from the company we purchased from has been frustrating at best, infuriating more often than not.

When looking to add the piece of equipment one of the things the company we bought from touted was their customer service.  On line and phone technical EXPERTS who were always available to help us.

Within days of our training, from a rep who traveled to us from Atlanta, who was more worried about missing rush hour traffic then ensuring we knew all the inner workings of our machine, we had reason to contact the manufacturers customer service line.

We have now contacted the CSR line multiple times with some of the same issues that keep popping up.  The answers are rarely the same and the CSR personnel seem to have one goal… get us on and off the phone as quickly as possible.

A few weeks ago, one of the ladies who works in the store found a Facebook page for owners of the type of product we own, we all joined the group and have found other professionals in the industry have been incredibly helpful in solving our problems.  Not anyone who works for the company, but mom and pop owners like myself who have nothing to gain by helping us, just good people who want to see our industry succeed.

Last Thursday I was fed up.  It had been a bad week and I was over the problems, I wanted something resolved or else I was ready to send the piece of equipment back.

I emailed the Sales Rep who sold me the equipment and voiced all of my concerns.  He responded that he had elevated my concerns to the DIRECTOR of Customer Service for the company.

I had asked specifically for a trainer to visit my store and work with us again.  Now that we had been using the equipment for a few months we knew the questions to ask and felt they would be helpful.

Below is the email I originally sent to my sales rep….

Ray, 

In October of 2017 ___________ company for an __________.  The machine arrived in early November and a tech from your company came here for about 5 hours for training.
We received the bare basic information on how to operate the machine.  Over the past months we have worked on programs and designs and continue to have issues with the machine.  We have called NUMEROUS times to the CSR line to ask questions, we have sent photos, we have emailed, we have done everything asked of us and quite frankly I am NOT happy with the machine and ESPECIALLY not happy with the “service.”  
I feel as though we have done everything on our end to make the machine work for us, but also feel as though we have been hung out to dry by your training and service departments.  I need some help here.  If I am going to keep the machine, I need to see it work for my company.  Having something that is not making me money is not helpful for a small business.
I am requesting a technician (who knows what they are doing, not someone who tells me I haven’t done very many of these) come and work with my team for a full day a FULL day (my team is here on Tuesday and Thursday, so this would be the time we would need someone to assist.)  Now that we have had the equipment and seen multiple failures, we know the questions to ask and if provided a tech who actually is familiar with the workings of the machine, I feel we can make this a successful element of our business. If this is not an opportunity that can be afforded us, I am afraid we may need to reevaluate the piece of equipment and having it as part of our company.
I look forward to hearing from you, I am not trying to be a jerk, but for a small business like ours, the ________ is costing me more at this point than it is helping me.  
Thank you!
My sales rep responded with the news that he had elevated my concerns to the DIRECTOR of the Department and I should be hearing from him shortly.
TODAY…. Monday, I received the following email from the DIRECTOR…..

Hello,  (I love how he used my name… not, I mean really?)

I was asked to reach out in regards to the email you had sent Ray. We can certainly look into the option of sending a tech to your location for further training and assistance. However, we currently will not have that option for at least another two to three weeks. Please continue to work with phone support with any questions or concerns you may have in the meantime.

REALLY?  Am I crazy here or is this response more infuriating than just telling me to go stick it?  I responded back and advised the DIRECTOR that if I told a customer I would not be able to respond to their questions for two or three weeks that I would lose the customer.  I also advised him that the very people he insists I keep calling were the problem.  I haven’t heard back from him yet.

However, I did report back to the group of owners and industry professionals what his response was.  Like me they couldn’t believe the response and I was soon connected with a retired gentleman who works closely as an Ambassador for the company I am having issues with.

Within minutes this gentleman was messaging me offering to help.  BTW, he was on an airplane while helping me!  He told me he was close with the upper management of the company and he would get to the bottom of the issue.

A few minutes later he told me he had received an email from the CEO and he had been asked to change his plans of attending a trade show in Orlando on Wednesday and come to our shop.  As we talked back and forth we realized those logistics would not be possible, but he sent a few tests for us to do with the equipment.

We are working on a resolution and hopefully on our way to getting the issues resolved.  My complaint is, wouldn’t it have been so much easier for the people who are actually hired to do this job to have taken care of the customer in the first place?

Customer Service is lacking in all aspects of our society…. let’s all work on that, shall we!?!?!?!?