Summit Session: Why I’ll Take ‘The’ Over ‘A’ Every Time

Summit speaker Ryan Avery shows the slide-in range he purchased from BrandSource member Appliance Depot in Denver.

By Rich Lindblom

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoyed Ryan Avery’s presentation during Summit.  Ryan is a best-selling author and Emmy Award-winning journalist who specializes in helping people learn how to communicate and connect with their customers and team members.  As much as anything, I think I enjoyed it because he and I tend to think along the same lines about a lot of things.   

Right out of the gate he touched on the effects of COVID-19 on our businesses, reflecting on how, because of the pandemic, businesses would have to either dissolve or evolve. Sadly, many businesses in our country and around the world, particularly in the hospitality industry, have been forced to close. Fortunately, that hasn’t typically been the case for BrandSource members.  Still, one thing for certain is that every single one of you has been forced to evolve. Stop and think for a moment about how you are doing business today versus how you did business just thirteen or fourteen months ago. It’s a night-and-day difference to be sure.

Avery loves to use stories when trying to make a point and that is something I have always been a huge proponent of as well. I like to call them parables, not because I think of myself as divine, but rather because the definition of a parable is a story designed to teach a lesson. Ryan believes that stories add value and provide examples which everyone can relate to, which helps to drive the point home. I couldn’t agree more.

A very interesting thing he said was that you should train yourself and your team to use the word want instead of need when speaking to customers. It’s a small but subtle difference that evokes a different feeling when used. Sometimes it’s pretty amazing the difference a single word can make.

While talking about the types of people he wants on his team, Ryan said we should be looking for inspired, grateful and creative candidates when recruiting team members. These are just the kind of people BrandSource members need on their teams to continue our streak of beating the box stores day in and day out. 

Now I have always been a firm believer in hiring and retaining employees who have a passion for what they do. That’s why I was dumbfounded when Ryan said he didn’t want a passionate person on his team. But he went on to explain that passionate is defined as “compelled by or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling.” In contrast, passion is defined as “having a strong enthusiasm or desire.” This was a perfect example of the difference a single word can make, because yes, give me a person with passion over a passionate person every time.

But the one thing that really stood out to me was his concept of being “the leader” and not just “a leader,” proving once again the difference a single word can make.  Think about it: anyone can be a leader, but it takes a special person to be the leader — the kind of person people want to follow, listen to and be like.

And that can be extended to every aspect of your life. Whether it’s being a spouse, a parent, a son or daughter, a coach, a volunteer or a mentor, don’t be ordinary, be extraordinary. Be the person that people look up to and aspire to be.

Rich Lindblom is a former principal of Advanced Maytag Home Appliance Center in Schaumburg, Ill., and member of the Maytag Leadership Council. He recently sold the 65-year-old family business and retired after four decades in independent retail. Got something on your mind? You can reach Rich at

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