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Are THEY happy?

Was watching Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer the other day. Not a big fan of mister Taffer. Too rough around the edges in my opinion and even got a confirmation when I had the chance to meet him face to face a few years back. Nonetheless, I admire him, his results, his doing, and I love watching shows with small business dynamics, process analysis and where emotions are involved of course. He does his thing with a sort of discovery at first, identifies the issues, challenges and gaps. Then he usually provokes some of these issues further to trigger the real emotional reaction behind that issue, puts a plan together and goes to work. While implementing the solution, the people involved sometimes push back, escape, resist and most times….happy ending.

One of things I really enjoy on this show is the one on one Mr. Taffer has with the staff during the show. The importance of these intimate sessions is critical. This is the environment where people really get genuine, open to a level they don’t with other people around. This is the environment where Jon looks them in the eye and get a real, honest response to the common question of – Are you happy?

In this last episode I watched, after the discovery, after the initial revelation of the "screw-ups", after embarrassing a couple of the staff members who deserved to be put on the spot, and after already starting the process of change, Jon gets to sit down with the owner. She is probably in her mid/late 50’s, inherited this bar from her dad who suffered a lot to hold on to his dream for so many years. This lady seems to have been given this painful dream from her dad and been struggling to keep trying to fulfill it. The dream. She has no clue on running a bar. She’s been trying, giving it her best and been very frustrated with the process and the results. And then, at that intimate point, after Jon and his team already came over to help. To “save” her dream. At this point, Jon leans over, looks her in the eye and asks her – Are you happy?

"Get closer than ever to your customer" Steve Jobs

Years ago, I attended a brilliant seminar by the brilliant Ronen Gafni. At one point he wrote on the board – Are you happy? He immediately explained this is not a philosophical discussion but a more practical one. So, are you happy at work, with your relationship, with the presentation you are about to give? Are you happy as a mechanism to ask for a specific status, task or a situation. Are you happy means are you satisfied, content, accepting. Well, if the answer is yes, I am happy, then keep doing what you’re doing. “But what if the answer is no?” Mr. Gafni pushed onward. Pretty much everyone in the room shouted – “then change something. Do something different”. And this is where Ronen’s brilliance came to life. He said, “hang on, do you want to tell me that when people are not happy with something, when they are unsatisfied with a current situation they can simply change it? How many people you know are not happy with their work, yet still been at the same place for 8 years? How many people you know who are bitching about their marriage, yet stayed in this relationship for over 20 years without doing much about it?”. This got us all thinking. “I claim” he continues, “that after you ask yourself if you are happy and the answer is no, you should ask yourself another important question: Do you WANT to be happy?”

This means, do you understand what it takes and are you willing to put the effort and go down that path to lead to being happy.

After contemplating whether you want to be happy, if the answer is no, then….you guessed it, keep doing what you’re doing. If the answer is yes however, then, and only then, you need to do something different or change something.

Now think of your client relationships. First think of how you can get to that intimate moment with your client. If you have the right level of trust and openness with them you should know when, where and how to do it. And when you are there, ask them if they are happy. Happy about how the implementation is going, how this past quarter’s results have been, happy with their role in general, happy with their boss etc. If you ask about the implementation and they tell you they are happy, that’s great. We got a confirmation, and they got the notion that you care. Win win. At this point I might ask a bit further for more insight of what exactly they are happy with regarding the implementation, but you get the concept. If they say they are not happy – boom! First, you now know. And then, it’s a perfect opportunity to ask whether they want to be happy. This will put you in an amazing partnership and a consultative role. Go ahead, get into a discussion about it WITH them. Invoke an interactive dialog around what will it take to get to a point where they are happy with the implementation. Doing it this way will hit so many emotional relevance points and your client, at the end of this discussion, not only will be happy but also will trust you that much more.

After the intimate one-on-one with her, Mr. Taffer realized the bar owner is very much unhappy. And so, in a rare move and super humane manner he offered to sell her bar for a $500,000.

It was as if the woman became 15 years younger in a flash. Her face, her body. Thankful. Relieved. Emotional.

Only because Jon Taffer asked. Only because he got to a level of trust and openness where he could ask. And get the real, actual and genuine desire and aspiration. Only then, he realized what and how will make her happy.

Do you know what and how will make YOUR clients happy?

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Neil Wood
Neil Wood
18. Apr. 2022

Bingo! We see far too many people staying in a miserable situation because they don't know how to leave that 'comfort zone'. My favorite daughter has the best encouragement when talking with her friends. YOLO - you only live once. Make it an amazing journey. Discover what it takes to be happy and go do that! This is LIFE, not a practice round.

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