Treat Me Like a Customer
Using Lessons from Work to Succeed in Life
Louis Upkins Jr.
Zondervan, 2009, 219 pp. ISBN 978-0-310-32029-6
Upkins is an entrepreneur that creates strategic alliances in the sports and entertainment industries. He suggests you can fulfill your calling as a parent and spouse by treating those closest to you as well as you would treat your customers. You can apply the skills you use in business to build a successful personal life.
Under promise and over deliver – that’s the mantra. Few things are as satisfying as successfully meeting the needs of a customer. (11)
Many men are successful in business but their personal lives are a mess. Success at work has little to do with success in life. (19)
“Even if you believe you have a pretty good marriage, you can’t just leave it on autopilot and hope for the best. When you don’t pay attention to details at work, things go south pretty fast, and the same thing happens in marriages.” (22)
“Without realizing it, many men have allowed their valued customers and people who affect the bottom line to supplant the people who are closest to them.” (24)
You may be doing all the right things but struggling with balance. (29) See a list of 15 warning signs on pp. 30-31.
To compensate for your long hours at work you reward your family with expensive toys and experiences. This may backfire because these too require your time and more money to support them and more time to produce the money. They want you. (32)
What matters most to you? “We put our work ahead of everything until we wake up one day and discover the thing we thought mattered most to us now feels distant and unfamiliar.” (39)
Reengineer your work life to give your family more time. Put family events on your work calendar. Negotiate with your employer for time off for family events. Take comp time if you are working more than you ought. Get more efficient. Change jobs. (42-3)
The allure of success is very strong. Stop and reset the default switch. (48)
Work is important but too many have an overactive sense of responsibility. Christian workers sometimes lose their families because of their devotion to ministry.
Take some steps to remind yourself who is most important. Reflect on your past relationship. Imagine the empty house if you lost her. Keep photos of your family in sight. Take off an afternoon to spend with your wife or children. Write her a letter with a pen from your hotel room when you travel. (52-3)
How well do you know your wife? Do you know where she would like to go on vacation? What would she do with 30 spare minutes? What household chore does she dislike? What book is she reading? What do you do that annoys her the most? Are you up to date with your “customer profile” on her? (63-4)
If you’re off track, get back on. Admit you are wrong. Listen – and then follow through. Catch up on your customer profile. Use your drive home time to prepare for an enjoyable experience with the people you love at home.
Avoid these communication mistakes. Don’t begin with “You never” or “You always.” Don’t blame others when you are criticized. Don’t rehash past offences. Don’t use sarcasm. Don’t give her the silent treatment. (70-71)
Touch base daily regarding schedules. Keep each other posted when you add something to your calendar. Always know how to reach your spouse. Have a regular time to talk “beyond the daily” about faith, life, family, and dreams. (75)
When you talk together, make eye contact, give and take, put away the ‘boss’ voice, lighten up. (78) Do frequent quick check-in calls or texts. (79)
“Strategic planning in marriage is as simple as identifying where you are headed as a family, how you plan to get there, and how you will know if you’re successful. … But without a plan…goals become little more than wishful thinking.” (86)
Loss of integrity has no price tag. The effect of a small offense can be as great as from a large offense. Integrity is involved in practically every decision we make. Go the extra mile to protect your reputation. Be as careful with your word around your spouse as you are with your customers. Practice full disclosure with regard to any information that might impact your spouse, even when you don’t think it’s a big deal. Do it immediately. (99-101)
“One of the best ways to preserve your integrity is to have a trusted friend or small group of friends with whom you can share your deepest thoughts and struggles. If you give this person permission to ask you anything, he can help keep you honest at work and at home.” (104)
If you mess up, confess immediately; apologize and accept responsibility; deal with your problem; accept anger or disappointment without getting defensive; and let your future actions speak for you. (106-109)
Customers usually see me at my best whereas my wife has to see me at my worst. Don’t let familiarity be an excuse for ignoring her needs. Customer service is everything that says: you are important to me.
“The sense of unity and fulfillment that is so essential to a successful marriage isn’t destroyed by a single, cataclysmic event. It erodes gradually in small, barely discernible ways. It’s only after a matter of months or years that we realize how far we have drifted apart.” (167, quoting Louis McBurney)
“According to an MSNBC poll conducted in 2007, 18 percent of married women surveyed admitted to being unfaithful to their husbands, and the reason cited by an overwhelming majority of those women was ‘the need for more emotional attention.’” Their husbands failed to pay attention to them. (129)
“Many people are so self-serving that they can’t serve others. We make ourselves number one, putting our needs ahead of every one else’s.” (131)
“There’s nothing wrong with a good fight in marriage. You disagree over something. You both state your case and go back and forth and then somehow resolve it. That’s what I mean by a good fight. But too many couples use tactics when they fight that make things worse and stand in the way of any kind of peaceful resolution.” (135)
Don’t assume improper motives, use sarcasm, keep the other person from talking by just talking louder, call the other person names, yell, scream, or walk out and slam the door. Avoid “all” or “never,” bringing up the past, comparing her to her mother, or pulling “head of the house.” (136-7)
“We schedule what we value.” (147)
Never give up. (155)
“It’s a good thing to settle down, but that should never mean we settle for less. Less fun, less excitement, less adventure, less sex, less romance—the very epitome of a happy enough marriage.” (168) Take some risks together. Do something different. Vary your routines. Plan for surprises. Try something out of character. Have a little fun. Surprise her with gifts. Look for an excuse to party. Touch each other.
“You don’t grow your business at your customers’ expense. The more you can help your customer succeed, the more likely you are going to enjoy a thriving business.” “Focusing on your customer’s success rather than your own seems counterintuitive, but it always produces better results.” (176) [You can make a number of applications here. DLM]
“Isn’t it funny how when it comes to material things, we want our families to have the very best? … If our kids deserve the best pair of shoes we can afford, how much more do they deserve the best dad we can give them? If our wives deserve the best home we can provide, how much more do they deserve—and want—the best husband we can possibly be? (193)
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