Here’s a real deep question for you: “What do you attract into your life”?

Please permit me to share an actual conversation that recently occurred at the Medicine Hat, Alberta Petro Canada gas station on our way from Saskatchewan to Calgary after three months at our cottage. I was filling our Toyota 4Runner with gas. If you are wondering, I drive a regular car with no adaptations. “Hand Controls” would be redundant. I steer with my right foot and use the pedals with my left. When using a self-serve gas pump, I stand on my left foot and use my right to do my credit card, punch in the code, grab the handle and hose and pivot it into my gas filler. I push the handle up and hold until full. Then return the hose and handle and put the cap in and twist and lock then close the cover. I’ve been doing this myself since 1976 when I got my regular driver’s license. Back to the conversation:

Petro Canada female employee filling bug cleaning containers approaches…”Can I help you, sir”?

Me: “I appreciate the offer but you look busy and I’m fine, thanks”.

Lady: “I guessed that. I’ve seen you here before and you are amazing”.

Me: “That’s kind of you to say so”.

She then heads off to some other pumps and as she’s returning past mine she stops again. “You know, you have an incredible attitude considering your circumstance. I’ve been working here for a while and if everyone who came here had your attitude, my job would be way more fun and way less stressful. People are so rude and inconsiderate it blows my mind what they complain about and here you are. I just wanted to thank you. Have a nice day and honest, if you need anything, please just ask. It would be my pleasure.”

Attitude Should Never Take A Day Off

I then took the time to dig a business card out of my briefcase and go inside the station to give it to her and tell her about my website and videos. She smiled, almost blushed and said…”You’ve made my day”!

How difficult was that? I learned this behaviour in my teens in small town Canada. When you live in a rural community, everyone knows each other so you learn you “Get What You Give”…Good and Bad! So I ask again, what do you attract?

I have had similar conversations with strangers my whole life. There are some days I simply don’t feel like being kind to a stranger, but “Attitude” should never take a day off. In fact, that behaviour has become “My Brand”!

Back to a previous observation about small town living. How would you live your life if every moment of your day, you were being watched? It’s exhausting keeping up with life, especially the last few months, huh? Sadly, many businesses have suffered through the Covid Crisis. But, many have thrived, even grown and it’s simply because they understand the “Alvin Law of Attraction”! Too many companies believe they are more important than their customers. It’s usually based on huge success and growth.

They Know Their Customers

There is a unique drive up restaurant in Calgary called “Peter’s Drive In”. It opened in 1964. It has no seats inside but picnic tables and benches outside. I first ate their awesome burgers in 1978 when I moved to Calgary to go to Mount Royal College. It took until 2015 for the ownership of Peter’s to expand by one outlet in Red Deer (90 minutes drive North of Calgary) and this past year, to Edmonton. Peter’s menu is simple: Burgers, Fries, Onion Rings, Hot Dogs, and the contentious recent addition of “Veggie” Burger. That’s it! Oh, and their world famous milkshakes made fresh every time! If you want to go to Peter’s, you need to drive there and for us, it’s a long trip from our home. But they know their customers and know to keep it simple. They are a huge success story, because they completely understand “The Alvin Law of Attraction”!

What actually inspired this blog was a story I first heard on CBC Radio while driving from the aforementioned Medicine Hat to Calgary.  I enjoy CBC Radio in Canada and one of my favourite shows is “As It Happens”. So after leaving Medicine Hat, the show came on. It’s a current affairs news program and they were interviewing a woman named Sara Golling. She was one of the founders of Mountain Equipment Coop, or MEC. In 1971, she and four university student friends were avid outdoors folks and lamented the availability of good mountain climbing gear in Vancouver. So, to the point, they created a Cooperative to bulk buy good quality alpine and hiking gear, as well as camping equipment. They were in essence, “Tree Huggers” so also encouraged others to learn to appreciate nature and even in 1971, caring for and embracing Mother Nature. Part of their magic then and until recently was to offer memberships for a one time fee of $5. Today, there are over five million members across Canada and multiple stores. The origins were based in understanding their customer. They understood the Alvin Law of Attraction!

But MEC is in the news because their current board of directors and new CEO are selling the Canadian icon to an American Fund Company. They have been flirting with bankruptcy for 18 months so this isn’t about Covid. I do acknowledge that business should be about profit. My wife and business partner, Darlene, will often hear from a potential client for a speaking engagement and they sometimes mention, “We are a non-profit organization”! I love Darlene’s response…”We aren’t”!

But a Cooperative has a different vibe. By the way, MEC doesn’t give out profit-sharing payments to its members because they aren’t “shareholders”, but receive discounts when they shop at the stores. My wife and I are members.

The stores all have a “Granola Vibe” to them, and I mean that with respect. As MEC grew, it was primarily due to the expertise in their stores. Their staff are clearly experienced outdoors types themselves, and they make you want to buy expensive stuff and go hiking. In fact, that’s what their original culture promoted. Healthy, outdoor living with respect for nature and the environment using your feet to explore nature, not a $200,000 motor home! Their stores were small and personal and the equipment was top of the line and expensive. But over time, that “personal” feel was shifting as stores grew, stock expanded and it almost started losing its roots. It fell into the trap that “Bigger is Better”!

So Sara Golling was in a bad mood because she saw the new management as “selling out” even pointing out the new board of directors were themselves not outdoorsy types but “MBA” types with no interest the simple roots of MEC culture in favour of big box retail where as Golling proclaimed, “You can now buy a $600 roller bag for flying to Europe, which is not environmentally responsible but adding to global warming. That’s not why we created Mountain Equipment Coop”!

Losing Touch With The Reason You Exist, The Customer, Is A Very Slippery Slope

So one could argue, she’s just an old person with sour grapes! You could suggest it, but that’s not the tone I got. Look, I’m the first one to say I don’t miss “The Good Old Days”, which mostly were not that good. I also understand that consumer choice has changed dramatically. Sadly, the smaller, often family owned retail outlets have been killed by the Costco’s and Walmart’s of the world. McDonalds has what feels like millions of restaurants all over the planet and there is a Starbucks on every corner in some cities. So big doesn’t always spell doom. But losing touch with the reason you exist, the customer, is a very slippery slope.

I’m not an MBA, but I’ve been self-employed since 1988. People have even told me when it came to selecting a speaker, I’m often chosen because of our client service. Darlene has taken a step back from operations last year but our clients loved working with her, often never even meeting her in person. I still choose a Peter’s burger over McDonalds. Will look for a small, privately owned coffee shop over Starbucks and Darlene and I haven’t been to Mountain Equipment Coop for years. In my opinion, they grew too big, too fast and became very greedy. They lost sight of their roots and forgot “The Alvin Law of Attraction”!

So the next time you step out into the world, please keep in mind that you really do “Get What You Give” so please, “Put Your Best Foot Forward”! It works. Trust me!