The following is the 10th chapter from Peter Nevland’s book, Wiener Dog Marketing. His interview with Roy Williams about the business lessons from the Buda Wiener Dog Races continues from where it left off in Chapter 9.
Peter: What about business employees? Is it possible that a good business owner could see themselves as the vamp of their customer representatives, technicians, etc…? If the business owner believes so much in his or her people and how they deliver great service and products to their customers, is it possible that they can become wiener dogs?
Peter: Yeah, but there’s some sort of belief there, right? The commitment of the business owner to his or her team?
Roy: My experience is the people can be replaced.
Peter: Yes they can.
Roy: Just so you’ll know, the business isn’t the people.
Peter: Ok, and the business owner knows that, but the business owner acts as if…
Roy: I had this conversation recently with a very, very, very, very, very big client. The people aren’t the business.
Peter: How so?
Roy: Because the people don’t make the business owner. The business owner makes the people who they are.
Peter: Ah, yes, I see.
Roy: And so the company and the culture of the…
Peter: But that’s what I’m trying to say. A business owner’s belief in his people makes them what they are.
Roy: No, that’s not true.
Peter: That’s not true?
Roy: A business owner’s belief in the fact that they are a wiener dog and being a wiener dog is worth dying for, they teach their people how to be wiener dogs.
Peter: That makes the people into wiener dogs.
Roy: In other words, so when you say, “look, I am this, and if you want to argue about it, you can’t work here.”
Peter: But if you’re with me…
Roy: If you’re with me…
Peter: And who I am…
Roy: If you’re with me, then we’re all wiener dogs.
Peter: Let’s be wiener dogs together.
Roy: And so if you believe what I believe, and if you’re willing to deliver what I promise, let’s do this together. But if you have a different opinion, eat shit and die. And so whenever you say, “It’s not a group project.”
Peter: Can I say eat poop and die?
Roy: You can say whatever you want. The simple truth is, whenever you say, “this is who I am. It’s not subject to negotiation. If you want to work here you have to get in line with who I am. I don’t believe in you. I’m the business owner. I don’t have to believe in you. You have to believe in me. The people have to realign themselves with the wiener dog.
Roy: The wiener dog isn’t the company. It isn’t the people. It’s the owner. It’s the leader.
Peter: See, but that’s a scary truth in our culture. It’s true, but it’s scary. People are afraid to submit to an idea that’s bigger than them. But it’s what’s necessary. And it just so turns out that in submitting to an idea and submitting to the idea of the wiener dog, getting behind the wiener dog actually makes you look bigger, better, more glorious than you would have looked otherwise.
I’m telling you it’s a truth of the world. It’s a truth of the universe. It’s a truth of all time. And it’s not talked about. It’s not talked about in the church. It’s not talked about in business. It’s not talked about in marketing or in fiction or very many places. But there’s something that’s true about when you actually humble yourself, get in line with an idea that’s bigger than you…
Roy: Bigger than you.
Peter: …an idea that’s bigger than you, you become something more glorious than you could have been on your own. And now you have the opportunity to take that glory that you’ve become and give that back. There’s something cool in that story…
Roy: there is.
Peter: …of who we were made to be.
Roy: There is. I agree with that. What I’m saying is this. When you think you are the thing that everyone else needs to emulate…
Peter: Uhh huh
Roy: …you’re probably wrong. When you realize there’s something else that you need to emulate, you’re probably right. And so being the thing that everyone else needs to emulate, you’re either a narcissist, or you’re a psychopath, or you’re insane…
Peter: Mmm. Mm hmm.
Roy: …or you are the one, true Messiah.
Peter: Ssh yeah, right.
Roy: And so, here’s the point.
Peter: Only one guy.
Roy: No, here’s the point.
Roy: Is it impossible to be the person that everyone needs to emulate? No, of course, it’s not impossible. It’s just unbelievably, astronomically unlikely.
Peter: Rare, yes, right.
Roy: So for most of us, for most of us. We need to be the person that emulates a true captain, a true chieftain, a true leader, a true messiah.
Peter: Mmm hmm.
Roy: And whenever you say, “ok, I’m going to follow this direction because this leader is leading me that way, and I believe in this leader. And so this is the truly, amazingly, breathtakingly successful franchises – truly introduced something that nobody’d ever thought of before. And they did it better than anybody had ever done it before. And if you decided I’m going to follow this franchise, I’m going to follow their beliefs, you become amazingly, unbelievably, astoundingly successful.
Peter: Mmm hmm.
Roy: And when you say, “ok, if you choose to follow someone stupid, then you also are stupid. If you choose to follow someone devastatingly brilliant, you also will be judged in the future to be devastatingly brilliant.
Peter: You have become a wiener dog.
Roy: Now you’re a wiener dog. So it’s like, “Gee, how did you become so smart?” “Well, I wasn’t really that smart. I just followed somebody who was incredibly smart. I followed my forebears. My father was a wiener dog. My mother was a wiener dog. I’m a wiener dog.”
Roy: And whenever you say, “I cannot be other than what I am.” These are the people I trust: the people who say, “I cannot be other than this.” And I look at it, and I say, “Hey, wait a minute. Wait a minute. What they believe is worthy and good. What they believe is in the best interest of the customer. What they believe is what I want for me.” And then you look at them, and you say, “Be that, and I’m on your side.”
Roy: And they ALWAYS succeed. Everyone wants them to continue being a wiener dog.
Remember how Roy said that anyone saying, “just tell me what I need to be, and I’ll be that…” is not the mark of a true wiener dog? When you try to be all things to your people, you’re doing exactly that. You cannot commit to the success of each one of your employees unless they first commit to exemplifying your core values as the wiener dog business owner.
Let me say that again, just slightly differently. Your employees cannot be successful unless they commit to the same thing you have committed to do. It doesn’t work. This is what books like Traction are all about: getting your entire team aligned and going in the same direction. Jesus himself said, “if a kingdom is divided against itself, it will fall.”
That would be a very heavy thing to bear as a business owner if you are simply committed to yourself. But if you’re committed to something bigger than yourself, it’s not unreasonable to ask anyone you decide to commit to the same thing and to follow your lead. If you don’t do that, you’re not being a leader. You’re not being a wiener dog.
In fact, the best team environments are created by business owners who know what they stand for and make clear the behaviors and attitudes that exemplify it best. They don’t wait for their employees to get in line. They talk about those behaviors and attitudes in their marketing and in their recruiting. The very act of doing this repels people who don’t believe what they believe and attracts people who do. If it’s well documented, it can be verified in a person’s first interview and used as a code of conduct throughout their entire career with your company.
1. How do you ensure that your employees have the same commitment that you do? What are the procedures and policies you put in place for this? Write down all that you can think of.
2. How could you apply the core values you wrote down in Chapter 7 to behaviors and policies that your customers can observe? Think of specific things that your employees do or you would want your employees to do for your customers and craft them into a list of 10-20 behaviors/policies. They need to be specific and able to be easily observed by your customers and managers. Otherwise you can’t hold someone accountable to them.
3. Edit and rewrite them so that each line starts with “We Believe…”.
4. What activities can you do to make sure that your entire team knows these and follows them? Think of all the ways that you could display these, implement them into your day-to-day activities, communication, and even invoices and write them down.
Now that you’ve finished writing all of that, take the list of “We Believes” and your implementation activities to your managers and leaders. See if they come up with significant additions to either list and ask them to prioritize the implementation of these one step at a time.
Read the rest of the series:
- An Introduction to Wiener Dog Marketing
- Wiener Dog Marketing: For the Love of Wiener Dogs
- Body of a Sausage: The Way Things Are vs. The Way Things Ought to Be
- The Wiener Dog Question: What Can You Count On Not Changing?
- Wiener Dog Focus: Helping the Customer vs. Helping Yourself
- Wiener Dogs on the Wrong Track: Having the Qualities of Success Without Being a Success
- Embrace Your Wiener Dog: Identity, Purpose and Adventure
- Becoming a Wiener Dog: What it Takes to Have Enduring Success
- Magical Wiener Dogs and Storytellers
- Follow the Wiener Dog: How Employees Become Wiener Dogs
- Once a Wiener… Repurposing the Proven
- The Heart of a Wiener Dog: Character Diamonds
- Wiener Dogs Forever: The Power of Crowd Promotion
- Are You A Wiener Dog? Last Chance to Commit