Standin on “G”, Waitin on “O”

One of my key components of success is a serious sense of urgency.

Just like in the Olympics, those who win the medals have a serious sense of urgency. They are always looking for something that can give them that .001 percent advantage over their competition. I also believe sometimes, that’s the same number that gives us the advantage over our competition in retail grocery. It’s also sometimes that same component that gets us the job over someone else.

One of my all-time mentors and friends is Mr. Ken Gracey.

He was the meat department regional director at United Supermarkets in Oklahoma. He was by far, the most genuine, sincere mentor and friend I’d worked with in my career at that point. He loved his sweet wife, Joan, along with his children, grandchildren and Oklahoma Football. He had a lot of sayings that I still use today, but none more than the title of this blog entry.

I don’t know how many times I heard him use this one liner when asked if he was ready to do something.

Hey Ken, you ready for lunch? “Standin on “G”, waitin on “O”. Hey Ken, you want to go golfing? “Standin on “G”, waitin on “O”. Hey Ken, you ready for the holidays? “Standin on “G”, waitin on “O”. Hey Ken, you going to the OU game this weekend? “Standin on “G”, waitin on “O”

This same sense of urgency attitude is what I like to see from our teams. Those in the stores and those in the store support office.

Many times, when you ask someone a question, the response is more like, “Sittin on “S”, might get around to “low”. There is absolutely no energy at all in their response or in their actions. What I’ve learned over the years, is that most people are either wired for “GO” or wired for “Slow”.

Have you ever been behind a slow driver? How about a slow walker? How do you deal with someone who just talks slow?

This quote above is really the leadership gold nugget on Ken’s saying.

He was one of the most aggressive guys I’ve ever known, but it was never out of any kind of panic or anxiety or fear threat. He was one of the most soft-spoken guys I’ve ever known. I never saw him mad or out of control. He was a gentleman when he made store visits and everyone always looked forward to seeing him. He was a vendor favorite because of the way he treated vendors – like partners. He taught by the way he acted as much as the words he had to say. But make no mistake, he held you to the same high standards that he lived his life. He did everything possible to help you be successful, but also would make those hard decisions if he had to.

When I walk in a store or any department today, I can immediately tell you the energy level of the leadership of that store or department. I can also sense it in a meeting at the support office. Our customers can also feel your “GO” power. They can tell if you are interested in helping them or if they sense you are avoiding them. There is nothing more powerful than just a big ole smile when you first see customers. It’s your welcome sign!

GO Power is also a part of your home life. It’s important to those you go home to that they don’t get the leftovers of your day. They should get the same equal energy as the strangers you encounter everyday. (This is easier said than done.)

Be the person that just your energy draws people to you. It’s in that, that growth happens.

Ken Gracey grew up in a family that clearly embraced and was wired with the “GO” factor. His mom (Fran) ran a restaurant in Hobart, Oklahoma for many years. His dad (Charlie) was a meat department manager for United for years. His brother (Darrel) was also a meat department manager that I worked with. His son (Travis) is in the meat department business to this day in Oklahoma. Without a doubt, the “GO” legacy lives on in the lives of Travis, his sister Bethany and their children.

We lost Ken a few years ago, but his life and his legacy continue to impact many, many people today.

Hey Ken, wanna cruise the streets of gold?

“Standin on “G”, waitin on “O”