Sharing Success

Fundamentals for Business Success (and life in general…)

I have a good friend, John, who owns and operates a great business. Over the years he has shared many interesting business concepts with me, but I especially like how he describes his fundamentals for business success: “Show up, return your calls, and do what you said you would do.”

Let’s unpack this powerful message:


Show up: Delegation is critical to leveraging business success. Unless you are a one-person operation, a successful leader must carve out “personal thinking time” away from day-to-day operations to find ways to improve the business, identify and solve strategic challenges, and hold your team accountable for top performance.

The way to make sure that delegated tasks and responsibilities get done without constantly looking over people’s shoulders is by measuring performance. After all, “What gets measured gets done.”

However, “tracking the numbers” by itself is not enough to ensure success. There are also many subtle clues to how a business is really performing which “the numbers” fail to reveal.

That is why being a successful leader also requires “being present” during day-to-day operations, not as “another player on the field” doing the work, but as the coach observing from the sidelines how everything is running.

For example, there is no substitute for seeing expressions on your customers’ faces, observing how employees interact with customers/each other, independently tasting and visually evaluating the flavor, freshness, and appearance of your ingredients/finished foods, judging the cleanliness of your facilities “through customer eyes,” and anything else that might possibly influence customer satisfaction.

In short, delegation will help free your time to be the leader. And as the leader, one of the most valuable uses of that time is being “present” in your day-to-day operations.


Return your calls: By this, my friend John means honor your relationships. If employees, customers, or suppliers believe something is important enough to bring to your attention, regardless of communication method, you owe it to them to hear them out and respond. Throughout my career, I’ve come to realize that nearly every business conversation can lead to opportunity – now or in the future.

For example, when a salesperson visits, you may not be looking for the solution that they are presenting. However, taking a moment to speak with them may reveal some other type of valuable news, ideas, or information that you hadn’t anticipated.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that it is up to the owner to field “What are your hours?” calls. It also doesn’t mean that you must respond to communications the moment you are contacted. However, if someone who can influence your success has taken the time to contact you, it is just common courtesy to respond within a reasonable amount of time.

By the way, “returning your calls” can also be a valuable management tool in training desired employee behaviors. For example, when employees say, “Here’s the problem, what should I do?”, the best response a leader can give is often “What do you propose?” If they haven’t already thought through a good solution, ask them to return when they do. In my experience, this encourages employees to learn to think for themselves, making them more valuable to the business and to themselves.


Do what you said you would do: Honoring your commitments will go a long way in establishing your business and personal brand. As my Uncle Dino was always fond of saying, “Always keep your word, even when it is painful. This will also cause you to be careful about what commitments you are willing to make.”

I would like you to think about your personal life for a moment and recall a situation in which something really important had to happen correctly and by a certain date. Who got it done for you? Now imagine if that person came through for you on multiple occasions. That person has established with you that she/he can be trusted, and trust is vitally important to a strong relationship.

In a world where “talk is cheap” and it is unfortunately common for many people to make promises lightly, being known as a person or business that comes through when needed will significantly increase the trust and loyalty of your customers.

My friend, John, has this concept completely figured out. “Show up, return your calls, and do what you said you would do” is a deceptively simple, yet powerful recipe for success!