E15 – The Five Laws of Retail with George Troy – Expert Interview

 
 
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E15 – Interview With Retail Business Consultant and Author, George Troy

In this episode, I interview George Troy. George is a widely read blogger, author, and consultant focused on retail business communities, including online and brick-and-mortar stores. He has enjoyed decades of real-life experience as a senior executive for some of the best-known and most successful retail companies in the US and globally. A specialist in apparel, footwear, sporting goods, cookware, and home furnishings, Troy has led the retail divisions of Deckers Outdoor (UGG Boots) and outlet divisions of Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn. Today, he reflects upon his years of experience and discusses his new book, The Five Laws of Retail.

George Troy

You Can Read the Transcript of Our Interview Below:

Nathan Simmonds:

Record, so I’m recording. We’re live, this is grand. Welcome to Sticky Interviews. My name is Nathan Simmonds. I am working with MBM. We are the soft skills provider for the UK grocery and manufacturing industry. These interviews are about sharing the philosophies and the thinking of great people to help you be the best version of yourself. Today, I’m interviewing George Troy. Now, I’ve had some wonderful conversations with him from everything from chickens to squashes to the five laws of retail which is exponent, expert …

This is his field of genius. I’ve been speaking to him about these, and I want to share some of these ideas with you, or get him to share them with you.

Nathan Simmonds:

I want to introduce him first. I’ve got his bio here and it’s pretty decent reading for someone in the consultancy industry. This is good stuff. 35 years of real life experiences, a senior executive for some of the best known and most successful retail companies across the globe. A specialist in both men’s and women’s apparel, sporting goods, cookware, home furnishings, and he’s even led a retail division of Deckers Outdoor, which we all know as Ugg Boots, Williams Sonoma, and The Pottery Barn.

Key successes, taken Ugg Australia retail sales from 0 to 400 million in the US, Europe, and Asia in just 8 years. That on its own George is a pretty decent celebration right there of a career.

George is currently a consultant with the Grayson Company, based in New York. He’s also serving on the board of directors for two non-profit organizations based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Also, he’s got a BA with honours from Berkeley in anthropology, which makes his storytelling unique to say the least, and he uses that as the backbone of his approach to his book, ‘The Five Laws of Retail’. Please, welcome George Troy to the camera and the interview. George, thanks for being here. Really appreciate this.

George Troy:

Well Nathan, thank you very much for that introduction. I’m glad to be with you. It almost sounds like he could never hold down a job.

Nathan Simmonds:

Well I think you’ve got the experience from the apprenticeships of some of your earlier roles, which then got you into Ugg because of that real life experience and the stuff that you cut your teeth with. You know what? Now you’re a consultant doing that for other people. It just increases the impact you get to have on those businesses. You know what? I’d rather you didn’t hold down a job because it means you get to go and see more people and do more good in the world.

George Troy:

That’s true. That’s true. Thank you very much.

Nathan Simmonds:

So look, for me, the big question first of all when I’m talking to people is why do you do what you do? What was it that inspired you to be where you are and do the things that you’re doing right now?

George Troy:

Well there are a lot of things. Primarily, the book that just came out, The Five Laws of Retail, can I show that for a moment?

The Five Laws of Retail, and it’s just released last spring. It’s doing fairly well, and there’s several reasons I did that. One is that I honestly believe, I know, that these things will help people. They’ll help people be more successful and to avoid failure. The other thing is as you just alluded to are the stories. I tell the story of these laws through the stories of things that happened to me, and that I did research and historical research and business research too, because retailing, whether it’s groceries or beverages or shoes, is all about the people, and it’s all about the types of interactions and the things that happen.

George Troy:

Nathan, you know, if you’ve been around the track a few times, like some of us have, there are a lot of stories every day, every week, every month, and some of them are sad, and some of them are funny, and some of them are poignant, but they’re all instructive. Those are the things that people remember. I wanted to tell those. I wanted to share those with somebody or with the people who read the book. That’s the main reason.

Nathan Simmonds:

That word you used, which was instructive, now there’s a mechanism, a model that I teach which is the drama triangle from a guy called Karpman, Dr. Karpman, phenomenal model for psychology. It’s all about drama. But when I talk to people about it, and as you look at soap operas that we watch now, it’s all based on drama. The reason the dramas were created, you know the Greeks created drama, was to teach us stories of relationships and how we interact with people. It’s just that along the way we forgot to actually view the instruction manual that was being played out for us.

Nathan Simmonds:

And then when you talk about those stories of your experiences, my experiences, us being around the track, those stories have been going on for tens of thousands of years. It’s not like they’re any different. You share stories about the East India Trading Company and some of those. This stuff, it’s almost on rinse and repeat because people aren’t paying attention to the stories that are played out previously.

George Troy:

Exactly. Exactly. There’s always a consistency. I have one with you I’ll share with you right now if you don’t mind. We had a store in Manchester, and opened it just before there were some terrible riots in Manchester and throughout England. I forget even what they were about. I think it was some government cutbacks or something. So we were concerned about this, and instructed our store people to lock the stock room, lock up the safe, and lock up the store, and leave. They did because we were concerned about their safety.

George Troy:

Well sure enough, rioters, these hooligans got in, and they broke all the windows and they tore up the store. They didn’t get very much. The stock was in the back. But all during this time, our security cameras were running, so we recorded some of this. Well, during the time there were these riots and there were these hooligans in the store, a DHL delivery guy shows up with a pair of special order shoes. He goes through the broken window, and he’s got his invoice and a clipboard, and wants somebody to sign it. He gets one of the rioters to sign it, and then he hands them the shoes.

It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever heard of. The guy did his job. This was his job, and he did it. He got the signature and all the paperwork was done, and it was funny and at the same time instructive of something, but I’m not quite sure what. You shouldn’t always just follow the rules. You should be or one of your people if you’re the leader of a team to make decisions on their own. It’s not particularly smart to leave shoes with rioters. It doesn’t matter if he got the paperwork. And it was all on film and we had it.

Nathan Simmonds:

It almost seems ridiculous. Okay, I’ve got to go in here and get a signature. Who is the lead rioter here that needs to give me the signature?

George Troy:

Exactly.

Nathan Simmonds:

Nonsensical, yeah, and like you said … But then you can take that kind of informative thing or approach of actually well what’s the leadership lesson here? How can I use this story to actually instruct my leaders in their stores to make sure that, you know what? If things aren’t right, what’s the best decision you can make? The best decision would have been take the shoes back to where you need to be until this is all over, and then we’ll redo it again.

George Troy:

Exactly. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Nathan Simmonds:

And that is the best part. At the same time, should he even be getting out of the van? No. Again, it’s just encouraging those leaders to think for themselves. What is the best possible outcome in a crisis situation? Which we’re in at the moment as well, as we’re recording this. So look, I know this, I’m looking at books up here and up there of management books, of leadership books. What makes this one so helpful?

George Troy:

Thank you for asking that, and I hope that it is helpful. A couple of things, one is that I think sometimes people make things more complicated than they need to be. There’s a thing at least I’d always refer to, an affliction called analysis paralysis that some people have.

Now analysis is important, of course, and what you do with it is also important, maybe more than important. I think that what I tried to do is to distil the business principles that I had learned and employed into some very easy to understand and simple things, these five things, through which you can see your activities and your business grow through a lens.

If you filter things through these five things and use those as kind of a level set for what you’re doing, it’ll be a little easier. It should make your job easier, and more successful, and to avoid failure. That’s partly it.

Nathan Simmonds:

Nice. And those five things, this is the five laws of retail, yeah?

George Troy:

Yes.

Nathan Simmonds:

What are the five laws? Come on, give it to us now.

George Troy:

I’m going to do this without looking at my notes. I wrote the book, but sometimes I have to [inaudible 00:09:00] so closely.

Nathan Simmonds:

I know this feeling. Sometimes people will ask me questions about my book and I’m just like, “Let me go back. I’ll come back to you.”

George Troy:

Right.

Well people first is the first law.

Turn is magic, and actually that … I enjoyed writing that subject. In the grocery business, turn … And I use some great examples from the grocery business. Turn is magic. You have to turn your inventory, turn it into money, and third is … I’m going to have to look.

It’s the retail price and not the cost It doesn’t matter what your mark-up is because you don’t make it until you sell the thing, so it’s the retail price … It’s what the customer perceives as the value.

And the fourth is the power of product, and the,

Fifth is to protect your downside. That’s kind of the last but you know … Things happen, as we’ve recently found out, things that you can’t predict, things that you can predict and you should be prepared ahead of times in those eventualities so that they don’t catch you off guard.

Those are the five laws: people first, turn is magic, the power of product, retail price, and protect your downside.

Nathan Simmonds:

I think they’re huge. I don’t think enough people do it, especially on that last one, protecting your downside. Honestly, I don’t think enough people do that. We get too complacent about a situation and we stay in it and we stay in our moment and we think everything’s going to be okay. We think that everything is secure, whether we’re self-employed or especially if we’re working in a company. Thinking, “Oh I’ve got this job and I’m going to do this job for 40 years,” but the truth is, if the CEO sneezes in the wrong direction, that company closes down quicker than you can say boo to a goose.

Nothing in nature is certain, and we have to prepare. There must be kind of some sort of plan to mitigate. No parachutist jumps out of an airplane without a second parachute. It’s not that they’re hoping to use it. It’s just that they know that if the first one goes, they really want a second one to back it up. The percentage chances of them actually using that second parachute is so tiny, but there was no way they would jump out of an airplane without two chutes.

George Troy:

Right, right. That’s a great analogy.

Nathan Simmonds:

Yeah and we need to protect your downside. It’s going to happen at some time. We’ve been here … I’m 42. How many recessions have I lived through? How many crashes have we seen? Even in the last 12 years, we’ve seen 2 major situations happen, 2 major, major situations.

George Troy:

Yeah. Retailers are inherently optimistic and positive. Next week, next month, next year is going to be better. We always plan for that. But you do have to plan for in case that doesn’t happen.

Nathan Simmonds:

Funny, you almost have to map it like it’s stocks and shares. You can see they’re going to go up and like this, but you have to work out where your peaks and troughs are going to be and adjust accordingly.

George Troy:

Exactly. It’s exactly right.

Nathan Simmonds:

So when it comes to, for me, because I’m a leadership person, I teach leadership, I coach leadership, and all those elements that people in retail desperately need I think. What one of the five laws would you say is most applicable to developing the leadership then?

George Troy:

Well, I think you’ve got to save people first because a leader has to create a community and value your people. Your people are your most important resource, and as a leader of an organization, you have to work through people whether they’re your direct reports or reports beyond that. You have to create a sense of empowerment is an old buzzword, but it really is empowerment. If this DHL delivery guy had been empowered to make right decisions, he would have made a different choice perhaps, but he didn’t feel that way. So we have to work through people and create a sense of community and an environment where you can get the most out of it.

Nathan Simmonds:

I think one of the challenges … And it’s true. I think people are a resource, but at the same time, I think sometimes people see them as part of the product. What I mean is say if you’re selling trainers or you’re working in a packing hall and they’re putting the trainers in the box. Often the people that work in that environment are being treated no differently to the shoes in the box. And remembering that they are people. They are human first and foremost. They have got a power internally, that empower, that internal power, and they just may have forgotten to switch it on or to engage with that.

Because like the DHL guy who’s just being told what to do. Well you just go to this store, you just get the signature, and you just get back here as quickly as possible because we want to make sure you’re doing it in the right time because that’s all we care about, productivity. Whereas actually we want to instil with some questions, that person, to fire them up in their own way and to do it from the inside out, not to expect to be told what to do every time. That’s how you get people to do great things for themselves.

George Troy:

Exactly.

Nathan Simmonds:

Yeah, I’m a big advocate for it, George. People first.

George Troy:

Yeah.

Nathan Simmonds:

What have you got in the book? We shared a couple, or you shared a couple of stories. What have you got in the book then that really brings that people first element to life?

George Troy:

Oh well I hope there are lots of things but you know if you think back to your experience in a retail environment or any kind of business environment, whether it’s a shoe store, a grocery store, an airline desk, or a church, and I talk a little bit about religious retailers because they’re some of the best. They have a product to sell with a great mark-up and people will pay anything. But that’s an aside.

George Troy:

I talked a little bit about the karma and the feeling of a place. How often have you walked into a store and just feel good? It’s a place where you want to be and these are people you want to be with. When I talk about a leader must build a community, it’s not just your employees and your direct reports. It’s your customers. They want you … The most successful retailers of any category bring their customers in and create a community that involves them.

In the book, also I suggest that people think about a different kind of organization structure. That hierarchical structure with the guy at the top and then the stuff … That came actually historically out of World War II, where you had the Supreme Commander and the generals and admirals and corporals and however that sets up in the military. And then after the war in the 1950s, that was sort of applied to business. Well that seemed to work. Let’s do it like that.

George Troy:

Well I suggest that an org chart might be more of a circle, where it shows kind of illustrates our inter-dependentness, and our interconnectedness, spokes on the wheel, and the customer is part of that organization. It takes away from that hierarchical thing, which I’ve never liked anyway. I mean I’m just always a rebel and just don’t like that kind of thing.

I think a great leader working through their people, not telling them what to do but like work through them, and it takes a little more time to do this. It’s not easy. It’s not an easy thing to do. But you’ll be rewarded with a community and an environment that has a positive karma. I’m probably dating myself when I use words like that, but it is. It’s sort of a vibe, a karma, that is communicated to your customers. You’ll be rewarded in lots of ways.

George Troy:

The other thing that I think it’s important to recognize, Nathan, is that people work for other reasons than the money. You know, you do get the pay-check and we all need that, but there’s other reasons people show up for work every day. As I mention in the book, somebody taught me along the line you want your people to want to come to work, not feel like they’re dragging their ass in and they have to be there, although that is part of it too. But they want to be there and to be part of something and to see your company and your business flourish. That’s how real success can happen. That will also see you through tough times like we’re going through right now.

Nathan Simmonds:

Yeah, agreed. It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, I used to work in car insurance at one point and now in tool hire and different areas. It doesn’t matter whether it’s shoes but in the nicest possible way, we don’t go home and tell people how many car insurance policies we’ve sold or how many pairs of Ugg boots we’ve sold. We just don’t talk about that.

What we talk about is we talk about the interactions with our colleagues. We talk about the interactions between our customers. I spoke to this customer today and they loved this and I’ve got to share these ideas with them. They ended up buying 20 pairs of shoes, but it was the conversation that happened that caused that. Like you said, it’s that community piece. And community, communion, communication, it’s about being with people in an environment. As leaders, we create not a vortex but almost like a bubble where the customer wants to come back to that, where the colleague wants to come back to that, and they can congregate and feel safe in that space and do good work, which is the fun part.

George Troy:

It is. It is. Yes, you want to have an environment where people want to hang out and be part of it.

Nathan Simmonds:

Yes.

George Troy:

That’s very important and that’s very well said.

Nathan Simmonds:

This is the thing. They want to go home and talk about it, so they talk to someone else that then talks to someone else that says, “You know what? I want to be a part of that.” It’s like the culture of Apple, wasn’t it? It used to be if you wanted an iPhone or you wanted an Apple computer, it was called the cult of Apple because it was part of that community ethos. It’s about building that stuff.

Thinking about current situation, because right now we don’t know if we’re in the middle, we don’t know if we’re at the beginning, we don’t know if we’re at the end at the moment of the current situation with COVID-19, how is this stuff relevant right now then?

George Troy:

Oh gosh. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, of course, as everybody has. I think there are several things that are important for business leaders to recognize and to understand. The first is that many people who have been in the workforce for maybe just 5, 10, maybe just even 15 years have never seen a bad year. They’ve never had a bad time. Although none of us have seen anything like this, but those of us who have kicked around for a while, we’ve seen a couple of recessions, we’ve seen a couple of mergers, we’ve seen a couple of bankruptcies maybe. Some things have happened. So we’re a little bit more prepared. But others haven’t.

George Troy:

I think that means a couple of things. One is it’s unreasonable to expect you’re going to get 100% work out of your people. It’s not going to happen. You have to be a little bit understanding and give them some slack because people are scared. They’re genuinely frightened. They’re worried about getting sick. Worried about their family getting sick. Also, they’re worried about their income. Just managing your life right now is challenging and difficult. Getting to the store, and you know groceries are an essential business of course, but doing it has become more difficult. Getting laundry or getting your haircut or getting all these things is a little more difficult on top of being stressed and worried about being ill or worrying about your money. A good leader has to be sympathetic to that and allow them some slack.

George Troy:

I think the other things that are really important are some of the basics. You have to be honest and you have to communicate, and that means frequent communication. If you don’t know all the answers, and you won’t, it’s okay to say that, and here’s what we’re having now. Here’s what we know now, here’s what we hope to learn later, and here’s when I can get back to you with more answers or an update. People want to have that and they’ll hang on every word. It’s very important to do that and do it with integrity and authenticity.

You’ll be rewarded with respect and loyalty as a result, and you’ll all work together better. Those are some of the main things. I think be sympathetic and empathetic to people’s concerns and worries right now because they’re very real, and to be honest and constant communication. People want to hear. Of course, many of us are feeling more isolated and separated as we are sheltering at home is what they call it here about staying home more often. I think those are some of the most important things.

Nathan Simmonds:

That comes back to kind of that first law, people first. People want to be communicated with. They want that transparency. Even if you don’t have all the answers, that regularity of conversation is going to help keep them in the loop, that they know in an hour’s time we’re going to get another update, and even if that update is we still haven’t got the answers yet, they still feel connected to the community. They still connected to the situation.

George Troy:

That’s right. It’s not that scary. If you’re not honest and don’t communicate, then people make things up, and those things are worse than what the reality is. It’s okay to tell them. I think probably the people that you work with and your clients know that, and model that themselves. I hope so. But it’s okay to be reminded of it and put a little more effort behind it at this particular time.

Nathan Simmonds:

I mean this is something I’ve heard, and when I say lots of people is you know common sense isn’t so common, unfortunately.

George Troy:

Seems that way.

Nathan Simmonds:

And sometimes when as leaders, there’s a high percentage of people making a presumption of well if I know it, they must know it, but like you say, that worry kicks in and there’s that uncertainty, and when I’m worrying about this, I’m worrying about that. That neocortex, that logical part of the brain isn’t working at 100%. What might have seemed like common sense yesterday, it no longer functions, and actually as the leader you have to act as that rational point of contact to help remind people it’s okay. This is what’s happening. These are the actions I’ll take. You’re supporting to them to think. You’re the leader. They’re looking to you for that input to make sure that actually you’re leading that community in the right direction in times of crisis.

George Troy:

Exactly, exactly. This is where all those skills become most important. I mean, when times are good and business is easy, business is easy. Not that it ever is totally easy, but when it’s difficult like this is when these kinds of things are most important, to be consistent with.

Nathan Simmonds:

I was just thinking about law number five which is that downside element. What would be kind of some sage wisdom to share with people? Fingers crossed we don’t go into a situation like this again for another couple or three hundred years, fingers crossed. But what are the lessons that are being learned potentially now that would help people to kind of prepare for that downside again in the future?

George Troy:

You know, that’s a great point. I’m glad you mentioned that because although this is such an urgent emergency at the moment, I’ve already heard people I’ve been talking to, there are good things coming out of it. Many people are learning a different way to work, not just working from home because that’s the only thing you can do, but they’re finding it really does work. Telemedicine seems to be working, where you can talk to your doctors. We’re talking right now. Describe your symptoms or a nurse practitioner and get some medical advice. There will be … I predict that there will be some very good and positive changes to come out of this terrible experience, and so we have to be open for that and look for those.

George Troy:

You can also, another mark of a good leader, is to ask your people, and let that bubble up. Undoubtedly things that we haven’t noticed that are out there that people are finding that are working. It’s just the … I’m never ceased to amaze that the genius, particularly of younger workers and younger leaders who don’t have maybe some of the paradigms that our 35 years have built up for us, so they see different things and different opportunities. I think it’s important to recognize that and to see that.

Nathan Simmonds:

That’s a massive point. People at the coal face see the world differently to people that are leading the teams or leading the business, and actually what’s it … When we’re leading a business, we don’t necessarily see the intricacies of what’s causing these guys blockages and challenges. Like you say, letting them percolate those solutions to the surface, because whether it’s homeworking, whether it’s a new solution, oh we could be using this tool, oh we could be doing that. Let the ideas come, and encourage the ideas to percolate to the surface, because it’s going to be those ideas that’s going to help them through best at work in the coal face in a new environment and challenging situation that we’ve got now.

George Troy:

Well that’s right. And as a result, the whole line organization will be stronger. The other thing at this particular time I think is to hopefully you develop some of these relationships and these communities already and have a foundation for them so that your other business partners, whether they be landlords or suppliers or whatever, can work together with you to mitigate some of the risk and some of the damage. Nobody should have to take the whole fall for it. In many cases, the really strong leaders do that.

George Troy:

I read an article just yesterday about Bob Iger who was the CEO of Disney. He’s still the chairman of the board at Disney Corporation, and he is giving his entire annual pay check for the rest of the year to a fund for employees who maybe need it, don’t have other resources, or whatever. I heard another great interview with the president of Bank America and he was asked on a business channel what they are doing. He said, “Well the first is I’m letting all employees know that they have a job. They will not lose their job,” and so he went on with that. That’s where he started, even though he’s a banker. He started with the people. Those are the marks of a really great leader. They’ve already internalized that and they’ll be rewarded for it.

Nathan Simmonds:

That’s vital. Like you say, the first thing … Especially in the finance sector, the finance industry, they get a pretty bad rap a lot of times, especially 2008, credit crunch, all those sorts of things.

George Troy:

And some of them deserved it.

Nathan Simmonds:

Rightly so, because they were playing a very different game back then. I think that may have been a historical nudge to actually say, “Do you know what? This isn’t okay.” It kind of is a prelude and a preparation to get to 2020 when this is happening to go, “Do you know what is right thing to do? It’s to use these bonuses, it’s to make sure we’re doing this or we’re putting people first to support actually what we do as a business. It’s not just about the numbers and whatever we’re doing to make that happen.” I think that’s hugely important.

Nathan Simmonds:

The other thing I was thinking about, and you said about that, was in the business is talking to suppliers and talking to the manufacturers and stuff like that. I was having a conversation. I wish I could remember who it was. They were saying, “As businesses, we need to be speaking to the people we’re supplying to.

We need to be speaking to the people that are supplying us, and also kind of brokering deals with them in the best possible way,” because maybe you run a business and these small companies over here that you’ve been supplying to, maybe they go out of business because they’re going through equally hard times as we are. By even you having a conversation with them and brokering a deal at this time, you strengthen that relationship so that when we come out the other side of it, there’s more of those people there, the small people, and you’re able to supply to them, so you’ve still got a business when you come back in a month, two months, three months’ time.

George Troy:

Exactly, exactly. And that will happen. We will come back.

Nathan Simmonds:

Yeah, we will come back for sure. It’s not as if they’re unprecedented in the history of mankind, but the last time we had something like this was potentially kind of the Spanish Flu was one, that was much before our lifetimes, a few of us, and then you kind of get the plague, these things happen. In business there there iss always a crisis of some sort of varying intensities and proportions, whether it’s Blockbuster is going out of business because of Netflix or whether it’s Kodak going out of business because of digital cameras or whatever. There’s always a crisis to be managed. Like you say, it’s managing the downturn, looking after your people, perceived value. Is the product still valuable to your clients, your customers? And all those elements that you put into the book as well.

George Troy:

Exactly.

Nathan Simmonds:

Good.

George Troy:

Absolutely true.

Nathan Simmonds:

It’s incredible. I don’t think enough people look at this, whether it’s from a service provider or whether it’s from a product provider, ‘The Five Laws of Retail’ are still relevant and poignant and still very necessary.

George Troy:

I think so. I’ll tell you one more quick story, and it’s about a guy I used to work with. He went through some changes in his life. He went off on his own, opened his own store, the store failed. I think he became alcoholic for a time, and got over that, and all these things happened to him. Well, he ended up … I hadn’t talked to him for many years. He ended up working for the Catholic cemeteries of the San Francisco Bay Area. He was like their marketing director. And so I looked him up, and we went to have lunch one day.

George Troy:

I said, “Bob, how’s it going?” And he said, “You know, everything is retailing. Take this business, for example. There’s a great markup. There’s never any returns, and we put a smile on every customer’s face, literally.” It was funny. When I called him, his base, his office was in the cemetery. There were like five or six cemeteries that he worked with. It was called Gates of Heaven, and they had a receptionist. When I called up, she would say, this is absolutely true, she’d say, “Gates of Heaven, how may I direct your call?” With not so much as a snicker or a laugh at all. That’s just the way she was told to answer the phone, like the DHL guy. That’s the story. Everything is retailing and it’s all about the same principles. That’s what I believe.

Nathan Simmonds:

And it is. To echo that from a slightly different angle, I’ve always told people every day is a sales day.

George Troy:

Yes.

Nathan Simmonds:

And yet sometimes you have to sell getting out of bed to yourself because maybe there’s something that’s going on and you have to … Sometimes you have to sell yourself whether you’re going to have a cup of tea or a coffee. Sometimes you have to sell am I going to be nice to this person or am I going to avoid this situation? People that say they aren’t in sales, we’re all selling something at some point to somebody, whether it’s to ourselves or somebody else.

George Troy:

Absolutely true. Absolutely true.

Nathan Simmonds:

Amazing. I’ve enjoyed, George. I love this conversation, love the elements. I also love the storytelling parts. You talked to me about the East India Trading Company, and some of those you’ve included in the book. I really enjoyed that stuff, and then the use of large scale events that have happened when people know where their stuff went, whether it’s East India going to the Boston Tea Party, these are big events. Again, if you use these lenses to actually get that clarity, you can see where these people went wrong in their journey and you can apply that thinking and logic back to yourself very easily, so I appreciate it.

George Troy:

I think so.

Nathan Simmonds:

Last question from me, or second penultimate question. I keep making this mistake. It’s penultimate question, what do you think makes behavioral change stick? Or what do you do that makes behavioral change stick?

George Troy:

Oh, well that’s a great question, and you know, Nathan, I don’t think there’s an easy answer to it. That’s difficult. I think that’s very, very difficult. But I think consistency is one of them, and I think also that question kind of dovetails into another thing, which I have seen happen in the last several years, and that’s a seed change in values. The values that are important now in the 21st century and going forward, I think there’s three you can identify.

They are authenticity, honesty, and community.

When I talk and other people talk about the importance of community and how and why people work, and why people do whatever they do, it’s for more than just the pay check. It’s not just the pay check, not even in the 20th century. It was sort of an assumption that yes it is all about the money, and nothing else matters. Well a lot other matters as it turns out then as now. Now it’s more recognized. I think if you’re consistent with being honest with people, and I don’t mean not just stealing out of the till, but honest with facing the facts and authenticity, because people can smell that. If you’re not authentic or your product is not authentic or your stores aren’t authentic people know it instinctively. Even if they don’t articulate, there’s something there.

George Troy:

The community, which is … I mean we’re very social animals. That’s what makes this current crisis so difficult. We can’t get together and hold hands the way we want to or the way we’re hardwired to do. These things I think are hardwired and they’re more recognized now, and more recognized as being important. Some of the values of the last century, which were built upon the horrible wars of the first half of the century and the prosperity afterwards, are … They’re still there, but these other ones I think are more important. How do you make it happen over time?

George Troy:

There are lots of things that can threaten it. I’m glad you recognize that and ask that question because there are lots of … It’s not easy. A lot of things can threaten it and derail it and make the changes, the constructive changes that your leaders want to make not happen. I think it’s being consistent and being honest and building community. Those are the main things.

Nathan Simmonds:

Amazing. You’ve reminded me of … Actually because the San Francisco area … Is it San Francisco? No, Seattle. I’m getting my geography mixed up because Bruce Lee popped into my head. “Long term consistency beats short term intensity.”

George Troy:

Yeah. Exactly.

Nathan Simmonds:

You’ve got to be consistent. If I’m turning out with these values of authenticity, honesty, and community, am I turning up with those three things every single conversation? Am I turning up with those three values every single meeting, every single day, every single relationship, every single interaction? That’s the consistency piece that builds the relationships, that creates the community because you’re being authentic and honest that creates long term behavioral change. That’s a beautiful thing.

George Troy:

And it’s part of who you are. It’s already there. You don’t have to construct it. It’s already there, it’s part of who you are. You’re just recognize it and employing it.

Nathan Simmonds:

Employing it, doing it, making sure that the video and the audio sync up as I say. Kind of let the two things happen. And doing it because you know it’s the right thing to do. It’s human and humane and all of those things.

Last question, definitely the last question, where can people find you and where can people get your book?

George Troy:

Oh thank you very much. Well my website, georgetroy.com, also has you can sign up to receive my regular blogs on current business subjects. The last two are about this pandemic and advice about those things and that might be helpful. The book is available at Waterstones online now of course, and Amazon online of course, so they’re not hard to come by. Those are the places where I’m at. Other than that, I live in California but I’m in the UK from time to time, and I hope to be there again before too soon.

Nathan Simmonds:

And I have said we’re going meet up. We will be exchanging coffees, and George and I are both avid gardeners so we’ll be doing a seed swap at some point as well. Looking forward to that.

George Troy:

That would be great.

Nathan Simmonds:

Look, guys, watching this video, go and check out George’s work. As a small business, entrepreneurial type, people that are in the retail business, go and have a look at it. His book is helpful. These lenses are literally magnifiers of how to look inside a microscopic level and see what you need to be doing in the right way, but also gives you the long term view to actually see what’s coming down the stream so you can mitigate the downside, so you can put people first, so you can make sure the value your client are getting is on point, and make sure you’re turning over that product. This is what it’s all about. George, thank you very much for your time. So appreciated. Just want to say thanks again. Everybody, George, any final words?

George Troy:

Yes. On my website, in the book are my personal contact information and I would love to hear some of your stories.

Nathan Simmonds:

Amazing. Get in contact with George, share your stories, let him know what’s working and what areas the book is supporting you on. That would be phenomenal feedback for him.


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