How to Make Your Customer a Hero

Everybody wants to be a hero! We all want to be the shining star that our family, friends, peers, industry, and customers look up to!

However, to be that hero, a business leader must take a counterintuitive step backwards and become a supporting character.

Our customers do not want to hire a hero, they want to be the hero!

The best thing we can do for our businesses and careers is to make the customer the hero. In doing so, we will accelerate our business and career and, in a round about way, become heroes ourselves!

What does this supporting character look like? Well, Luke Skywalker would never have succeeded without Yoda by his side to equip and guide him. James Bond would have died in his first movie if Q had not outfitted him with state of the art gear. This theme repeats over and over again in movies, comic books and in real life!

No great leader has ever risen to the top without being supported and guided along the way by a cast of supporting characters. We all have teachers, mentors, coaches, and advocates in our personal and professional journeys that have shaped us into who we are today. This applies to world leaders, business people, innovators, athletes and entrepreneurs. It applies to Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, and to you, me and our customers!

So, how do you become the supporting character and make your customer the hero?

Acres of Diamonds

Think Big Things and Then Do Them

This week’s book review is Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell.


Conwell was a war hero, lawyer, businessman, educator, orator, minister, and visionary who is probably most famous for founding Temple University and for his trademark lecture “Acres of Diamonds.” This book is a transcript of the lecture along with a biography of his life and a commentary of the impact he has made on the world before his death in 1925.

The central point of the Acres of Diamonds lecture is that we do not need to look in exotic places to find business opportunity. Business opportunities are all around us. All we need to do is change our focus to looking at the needs of society and the people around us . . . If we strive to serve their needs, business opportunity will present itself!

My takeaway from this book are these three statements from Conwell’s lecture:

What is the Recipe for Powerful and Effective Meetings?

According to a University of North Carolina cross-industry study cited by HBR in their Stop the Meeting Madness article, 71% of senior leaders said that meetings are unproductive and inefficient.

In addition to this, they said that meetings:

  • Keep them from completing their required work (65%)
  • Come at the expense of deep thinking (64%)
  • Miss opportunities to bring the team closer together (62%)

My Poll Results

How to Use Combat Lessons From Iraq To Improve Your Business

Many business leaders overlook leadership lessons from the military because we don’t think they cross the chasm between the harsh realities of war and the world of business.

I would argue that, regardless of the differences in operating environments, the same leadership principles do apply. In fact, the leadership principles tried and tested in the most extreme combat conditions must be applied in the world of business! If business leaders are not leveraging leadership lessons from the military then we are doing ourselves and our organizations a great disservice.

For example, how many times have we seen a power struggle between two mid-level business unit managers while the leader of these managers is too scared or preoccupied to take action to resolve the situation. When the lack of action by the leader allows the squabbling to continue, inevitably the whole business suffers. Morale drops, production and sales fall, customer relations are hurt and eventually the bottom line of the business feels the impact. The inability of a leader to take decisive action to resolve internal strife will damage your business.

This inaction and lack of decisiveness is not tolerated in military leadership. Lack of decisiveness costs lives in combat. Plain and simple.

It seems pretty easy to transfer this lesson from the military arena to the world of business but what about other leadership lessons?

Extreme Ownership

How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

This week’s book review is Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

Willink and Babin have earned their leadership stripes in some of the toughest environments known to mankind – as SEAL team leaders under combat conditions in Ramadi, Iraq. These guys definitely have what it takes and know what true leadership is all about. After leaving active service Willink and Babin started their own business consultancy called Echelon Front where they apply their leadership expertise into the business world. Extreme Ownership summarizes their leadership experience and knowledge and how it can be applied to the business world.

My takeaway from this book is the 12 Leadership Principles summarized briefly below: