It was 7:00a.m. Paul liked to arrive to work before the other staff. He wanted to set a good example for the other family members and staff.
As he sat in his office working on his working to-do list, there was a knock at his office door. He sighed and paused a moment. "I thought the door was unlocked?" Paul looked up from his neat papers and noticed that the second eldest was already making his way across the office toward his desk.
The "Vision" Guy
"Good morning," said Paul. "What brings you in early?"
"Well, Paul I wanted to talk about our situation. I really had a hard time sleeping. I'd like to review some of my mid-night thoughts?"
Paul wave his hand, gesturing him to sit down.
"With all due respect, I think you need to come up with a vision for the store and communicate that clearly and often." People need a strong vision. People need to feel like the store is going somewhere.
"I see," said Paul. "You don't believe we have that now?" Paul asked in as curious a voice as he could. He knew the vision and mission statement by rote. He thought all the staff knew the the vision of the store.
The second eldest shifted in his seat. "Yes, well, we do have a vision and mission. But we need you to champion the cause consistently and regularly."
Again, Paul cut in, "So, we have a vision, but you don't think I talk about it enough. Is that it?"
The second eldest shift in his seat again. "Well, yeah, the staff relies on you. When we meet for weekly staff meetings, sometimes the meeting just seems to flounder. It's like we don't know to what end we are working", said the second eldest.
The room got quiet. Paul broke the silence, "Hey, thanks for coming in to speak your mind. I can see you feel strongly about it. I have another meeting to get to, so let's pick this up later okay?"
The second eldest shrank a bit in his chair and then lept to his feet. "Okay, later then." The second eldest turned around and walked out of the office staring at the floor.
Its a "matter of Integrity" Guy
It was just after lunch that the youngest family member popped in. He bounded into Paul's office. "Do you have a minute?" said the youngest.
"Sure I do", said Paul. "You know I have an open door policy. You are always welcome."
"Well, I've been thinking about our situation. I think our problem is that we need to stand firm in our product integrity. What I mean is that Mom and Pop created these formulas and though there is pressure to adjust the formula, I don't think we should do that. Mom and Pop gave us these jobs -- they wanted us to carry the formula to the next generation. I think we need to be absolutely faithful as we do that. We can't capitulate to pressure to change it. The integrity of the recipe is really why we are here! I mean, really, the quality of our formula speaks for itself. The product sells itself", the youngest exclaimed with some urgency." Paul remembered the youngest had made this point in staff meeting.
"I can see you feel rather strongly about that", said Paul. I will give it some thought. Can we pick this up later?"
Paul peered carefully but strongly at the youngest. The youngest blinked and realized that the conversation was essentially over. "Yeah sure. We'll talk about it later." The youngest turned and walked out of the office.
The "Marketing" Guy
Paul had had a long day. He had reviewed sales reports and inventory levels. Paul's eye's were tired.
Just as the store began to close, Farmer John dashed in. Farmer John was a good customer. He purchased goods nearly every week since Mom and Pop opened the store. As was his routine, John grabbed some rolls and sausage and paid cash to the young lady at the register. As he walked toward the exit he popped his head into Paul's office.
"Hey Paul", said John. "How you doing?"
Paul manufactured a smile. "Hey John, I'm doing well. I've been looking at these sales reports all day. I'm a bit concerned." But Paul was lying through his teeth. He wasn't a bit concerned. He was very concerned and scared and frustrated. Judging from the visitors he had today, it seemed everyone had solutions to the store's dilemma. Everyone but Paul himself.
"Well Paul", said John, "competition is fierce these days. government doesn't make it easy to do business any more. My son just finished his master's degree in business. We were talking about business in a small town. He tells me that all companies need advertising. You've got to advertise and get the word out. That's what your parents did anyways. They always had an ad in weekly Sun."
Paul suppressed the urge to run outside, jump in John's truck and drive right over him. Did John think Paul was a complete idiot? Instead of voicing that out loud, Paul said to Farmer John "I can see you feel rather strongly about that. I will give it some thought. Can we pick this up later?"
Paul laughed about the image of Farmer John all the way home. He sat down on the back porch and lit his old pipe. It was a long time since he fired up some cherry tobacco. He sat there in his lawn chair underneath sparkling stars. It was mostly quiet in this little town. Tonight, all he could hear was the mockingbird singing from the telephone pole and the constant hum of his pool pump. He sat in silence as the voices of his three visitors bounced around in his head. Vision, integrity, marketing: Paul's visitors had highlighted important business tactics.
But there was something seemed odd about the visits. He couldn't quite put his finger on the what made him so uneasy.
Paul sighed. It seems everyone was looking to him to fix these new challenges. He took a hit on his pipe. "How can I possibly live up to the expectations of everyone around me?" He exhaled and enjoyed a long, still silence.