You Never Walk Alone

“It isn’t what you’ve got it’s who you know

We take that with us wherever we go

We stick together and we have our fun

You know we’re taking our days one by one

And when there’s trouble in my face

I’m a tired runner in the human race

It’s so good to see a familiar face

I never walk alone, I never walk alone”

~ Huey Lewis and the News, Fore! 1986

Just over a month after leaving my amazing career at Aaron’s, it’s still doesn’t seem real. What’s the hardest part? That’s easy, missing the constant, daily (hourly, by the minute?) interaction with my team and the other great associates. To go from being so connected that we start communicating in various forms at 6:30AM (5:00AM if there’s inclement weather) until I went to bed to effectively… nothing, is quite a shock to the system.

So, I’m working on my promised explanation for the departure and the master plan for the future, but in the mean time, I’d really like to share some the promised “Lesson’s Learned” that I received from my team. These are my completely edited and hand selected picks. If I included all of them, well, there would be around 200 in total. All were great insights and a joy to read (and a few tears to the eye). The selections provided below are the lessons that individuals said they learned while working at Aaron’s, building it’s human capital function (from scratch). Contributors included all levels within the organization, even including an Operational VP (wow!).

I’d be remiss without sharing these great insights from these amazing and talented teammates before moving on to the next chapter. They are a group of characters that I think about everyday and am thankful that so many continue to stay in touch. What’s even better, now they just consider me a friend and mentor. Although, I don’t miss the 5:00AM inclement weather calls…

Lessons Learned Part 2:

  • Be patient while new associates learn how to navigate.
  • Give opportunities to others that might not ever have had elsewhere.
  • Be a fearless leader, strive for relentless perfectionism, and don’t forget the “Block and Tackling”.
  • Provide friendship and remind everyone what is important in life.
  • Provide a reason to laugh a little every day….
  • Lead from the back and inspire others to be creative and think outside the box.
  • Those who dismiss a loud voice will strain to hear a whisper.
  • The very best I have to offer, is only as good as the best that I bring out of my team.
  • Always fess up when you make a mistake. It shows that we are human, and not perfect. Apologize, and correct it immediately.
  • Pay isn’t the most important part of the job. Great leaders, culture, benefits, meaningful work is.
  • You don¹t always get what you wish for; you get what you work for.
  • The failure to find good talent is not the result of talent being hard to find, but rather the result of a failure to provide an environment where people understand what value, productivity and true worth are all about.
  • Explaining the “why” ­ is far more impactful than explaining a process or procedure.
  • Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
  • Empathy and understanding go a lot farther than anger and rudeness.
  • It doesn’t matter how much you know or how much success you think you have had, if people don’t trust you, they will never follow you or allow you to influence them.
  • Ultimately, people are more loyal to people than they are to a company.
  • Building strong relationships, no matter the position of the associate or where he/she is located, we are given the opportunity to learn from each other and whether it’s a large lesson or an insignificant one, they are all valuable.
  • Your voice matters; so have a point of view and participate!
  • Dream big; write down ideas; and before someone says you can’t, show them you can. AND YOU DID.
  • Taking what we do seriously by not taking ourselves too seriously and not overreacting, it’s all about balance and perspective.
  • A leader sets vision, trusts his team, and keeps calm.
  • How do you create something out of nothing? Vision, Courage, and Value.
  • It takes an extreme amount of courage to embark on a new adventure when you are at the top of your game.
  • Seek continual growth opportunities for yourself and others. Aim to advance yourself and your career as well as aim to advance others and their careers. Refer your friends and colleagues for those openings, apply for that opening ­ aim to advance.
  • Find a Great Team, and Become a Part of It.
  • It’s great to find your stride and confidence within a role and a team and once you do, don’t be afraid to use your voice. But, always be mindful that others deserve the floor, too. The lessons you¹ll learn from those who found their voice before you are what will help shape your voice moving forward. Take the time to listen to those lessons ­you’ll be glad you did.
  • The difference truly is personal
  • Whatever you do and where ever you end up, just remember, “DON’T — STOP ­BELIEVING”.
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