2014 Symposium General Session: What it Takes to be “Remarkable!”

March 28, 2014

There are some instances when normal might be good. For example, on a recent trip to the doctor and to hear your blood pressure and blood work is normal – that’s a good thing. But when it comes to business, David Salyers, vice president of local, regional, and national marketing for Chick-fil-A and coauthor of the book, “Remarkable,” said that normal simply isn’t good enough.

Salyers recently spoke during the general session at Bennett International Group’s 34th Annual Symposium held March 7 through March 9 at Château Élan Winery and Resort. During his presentation Salyers said he thinks work and careers should be remarkable, but sadly, most are not.
‘“Nothing is as common-place as to wish to be remarkable,’” Salyers said, citing one of his favorite quotes by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. “See, most people out there wish to be remarkable, but very few people ever are.”

“Why?” He asked. Normal certainly includes some things that as people we tend to cling to, such as what’s safe, comfortable, and routine. But one thing Salyers said normal will never be is remarkable.

“You will never have an easy and wrinkle-free life if your goal is to be remarkable,” he said.

And when it comes to business, what makes the difference between a normal business and a remarkable one? Salyers said remarkable businesses think well beyond the numbers, and he pointed out two things about Chick-fil-A and why the popular, fast-food restaurant wants to be remarkable and thinks beyond financial terms.

“One of them is, we want to mark the lives of the people we serve,” he said. “It’s really important for us to be successful financially. It’s more important to us that we mark the lives of the people we have the honor and privilege to serve every day. Secondly, we want to have done something at the end of the day worth remarking about. We’re going to spend a lot of years of our lives in a career. Don’t you want to look back at the end of that career worth remarking about? I think at the end of my career the least important thing I’ll ever get is a paycheck. If all I did is sell chicken sandwiches, fries, and a drink, I’m not interested, thank you very much. But we (at Chick-fil-A) look beyond that as an opportunity to do something more important.”

During his address, Salyers talked about three concepts to help each individual and Bennett as a company become remarkable.

The first concept was perspective.

“How we view things will drive how we do things,” he said. “How we see something impacts the way we respond to it. Perspective is the only thing in the world that can radically transform your results. To be remarkable we have to think differently. There’s a tendency in life to want to imitate everyone else. But remarkable companies and remarkable people innovate instead of imitate.”

Salyers went on to say that he sees that culture is important to Bennett.

“Culture is the ultimate competitive advantage,” he said. “A lot of things can be easily imitated. But culture is almost impossible to reverse engineer. It takes unique leaders that value that culture that protect it with all their heart, soul, and might because that’s what’s required to have a remarkable culture. It’s a place where people believe the best in each other, so they want the best for each other, and they expect the best from each other.”

The second concept was that of maximum creativity. Salyers went on to say that he believes we are created by God to create value, citing that in the Bible Jesus came to serve others, not to be served.

“Jesus was here to create value, not extract value,” he added. “Here’s the problem…the gravitational pull of business forces us to think about extracting value. It’s what we’re taught at school. It’s all about P and L and profit margins.”

From Phil Collins’ bestseller “Good to Great,” Salyers quoted, ‘”True greatness comes in direct proportion to a passionate pursuit of money.’” But Salyers tweaked that statement adding it’s a passionate pursuit of a purpose beyond money.

“The normal way of business is an opportunity to extract business,” he said. “Remarkable companies see it as an opportunity to create value.”
With that he posed the question, when God looks down on businesses, does he see P and Ls or does he see human beings that he loves?

“Remarkable companies use business as a platform to make a difference in the lives of the customers that honor them by coming to spend their hard-earned money,” he said. “What if we made it our goal to improve the story of everyone we did business with? What if that was our goal and we simply saw our business as a platform?

“When you do the right things for the right reasons, remarkable things happen.”

The third concept was maximum sustainability – to continuously create value, leverage your passions, your strengths and values to solve problems. Salyers used a personal example of when he was in college to illustrate the concept. He said during college, he strived to make good grades with a goal to have a killer resume to get his foot in the door of a great organization and then after graduation he planned to cash in to the highest bidder. His ultimate goal, to retire at the ripe old age of 35. Fortunately, that’s hardly what happened for Salyers. He explained he started his career just hours after graduation. Did he sell out to the highest bidder? No, he didn’t. Instead, thanks to a mentor, he went with a lower offer, and after more than 30 years with the company, it’s worked out for Salyers and it appears he couldn’t be happier. That company is Chick-fil-A.

He said instead of the conventional way of thinking, it’s important to think about what you’re passionate about keeping that in line with your God-given talents so you’re operating out of your strengths. And then it’s also important the company you align yourself with a company that shares the same values.

“If we can find the intersection where our talent intersects with our passion and in alignment with our values, you are in your element,” Salyers said, something he called “Remarkable Gear.”

Salyers ended his presentation talking about the Remarkable Movement. In the center of each table were a number of remarkable bracelets designed with the exclamation point, and when worn, they are to serve as a reminder of what it means to be remarkable. But the bracelet is not meant to be kept and worn solely by one person. When you find someone who is remarkable, it’s important to pass the bracelet along with the message of why and how they are remarkable.

“With really remarkable leaders – it’s not about them,” he said. “It’s about them bringing the remarkable out in other people.”

And with that, Salyers passed his bracelet along to Mrs. Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Bennett International Group.

“This lady understands this message,” he said. “She is a remarkable lady.”

For more information about the Remarkable Movement, visit www.remarkablemovement.com.

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