I had a lot of coaches during the years I played sports through school but my favorite one was the guy who was hardest on me. While my admiration for him is entirely due to the foundational basketball skills and play-making that I learned from him I don’t recommend his anger and his yelling as effective tools. They can do a lot of damage and sometimes I wonder how we endured. Anyway, I was a wide-eyed 13 year old at the time, captain of the basketball team, and the main focus of his intense scrutiny.

He was the first who made me challenge the limits of my physicality (and if I could’ve been verbally honest at the time I would’ve told him I was always surprised that I could exceed the levels I thought were my max) and set me on track for a lifetime of fitness. That’s something. But of all my memories of him, one thing he said has always stuck with me. He said it after a losing game when some members of our team were petulant and rude about shaking hands with the other team.

Always, always, always be a good sport with your competitors. Always understand they want the same thing as you.

This came to my mind during a meeting I participated in yesterday. I had been invited by Jay Nathan to be part of a Zoom session he and Jeff Breunsbach scheduled called, CS Leadership Office Hours. They invited various #customersuccess thought leaders to join and be available during an open forum for the broader community. I think there were about 100 people on the call and here are my takeaways:

  • There’s a whole world of suffering happening. I know that’s not a secret but it was interesting, and harrowing, to hear the tales of businesses failing and of people trying to understand how they can help their customers. (Honesty, plain truths)
  • The collaborative spirit has no boundaries. Despite what we have been brainwashed into thinking, that your competitors are enemies to be vanquished, that stance and emotion was entirely absent. Everyone on the call seemed to genuinely want to share (with no compromising IP or account info) their stories and to suggest actionable ideas that could help to ameliorate the challenges. (Listening with thoughtfulness, ideation and action)
  • There’s a powerful analytical force that is growing in the business world and it’s called customer success. There’s a focus on deeply understanding customers and being the data-driven instrument within our own employers that can drive the conversations and drive the necessary changes to address customer needs. (Intelligence)
  • This community is authentic and caring. The business world loves to endlessly talk about the perils of silos but the #customersuccess community has been demonstrating how to move past that for a long time. Yesterday’s call, for me, was the best example of what my coach from long ago said to me during that moment on the court. (Commitment to something bigger than your company and respect for others)