Every January, our company leadership and sales managers get together for a few days of fellowship, recharging, learning, and preparing to meet the year ahead of us as a unified, cohesive team. This year, our retreat took us to Dollywood’s Dreammore Resort in the heart of the Smoky Mountains where, in addition to the great hospitality and endless food buffets (we all gained at least 5 pounds!), we were treated to some excellent speakers, one of the highlights being staffing industry executive, author & speaker Mary B. Lucas.
Thankfully, several of our executives had been so impressed with Mary’s presentation on her book Lunchmeat & Life Lessons – Sharing a Butcher’s Wisdom at Staffing World 2016, that they jumped at the chance to bring her here to speak to us. And she didn’t disappoint.
As Mary noted in both her excellent book and her presentation, the tendency among the “college-educated” among us might be to discount the business advice of someone who might not technically be as “book-learned” as we think we are. But as she learned early in her career, some of the best wisdom comes from a life well lived, particularly a life building a successful business from the ground up.
Our theme this year was to #Ignite our newly minted company values – Excellence, Grit, Integrity, and Service, and if any one individual personified the essence of those during his life, it was Mary’s father, John Bichelmeyer, who founded Bichelmeyer Meats in 1946 and built it from a small storefront to what is today one of Kansas City’s premier butcher locations. And somehow, in between all the butchering, packaging, and cleaning, John the butcher learned a thing or two about how to keep customers coming back for his products, again and again.
Isn’t that what everyone in business wants to do, when it’s all said and done? Don’t we want our customers to come back again and again for what we have to offer? John Bichelmeyer called it his “comeback sauce,” and if you aren’t exactly sure what that means, read his daughter’s book or watch her speak for a few minutes and you’ll begin to understand how “a butcher’s wisdom” applies to every single one of us who hopes to make a living by serving others.
A newly minted Kansas State graduate beginning an exciting staffing industry career in 1980, Mary thought she might even be able to show her father a thing or two about the business world. But as it turned out, it was her wizened father who would be doing the teaching, and although the concepts would be universal, the phraseology he’d use wouldn’t be located in any of her college textbooks. In her book, Mary describes some of the most important lessons she received from her father at the kitchen “butcher-block table” where the family liked to gather, lessons that not only stuck with her for the rest of her life and helped guide her amazingly successful career as a staffing industry executive, but also inspired a book that has since equipped and inspired thousands more.
From selling that very first hunk of meat (yourself!) to slathering on the “comeback sauce” to keep ‘em coming back, from putting on those “blinders” and focusing on work instead of drama to “finding the like” in people and situations you might not be fond of, it doesn’t take very long to realize that John Bichelmeyer the butcher long ago figured out the secrets of life, and of business, without ever setting foot in any fancy college classroom.
John passed away in 2004, but his daughter’s insightful, inspirational and poignant speech to us brought his wisdom back to life in a way none of us will ever forget. And her book will do the same for its readers.