022: Jeanne Bliss: I wasn’t getting any traction
Jeanne Bliss Show Notes
Jeanne couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t getting any traction. Once, Jeanne had someone do something very important in the trajectory of her personal and professional life. After that she began to do something different that caused people to want to do what Jeanne needed them to do. Listen to Jeanne’s story and what she learned that can help you get over the hump.
Jeanne Marie Theresa Lombardo Bliss grew up in Des Plaines Illinois. As the third of seven children, she learned early on that she’d better grab some food to eat as the platter was set down on the table, or there wouldn’t be much food left after her four brothers dove into the meal.
Her dad Vince Lombardo (yes, no joke) owned a Buster Brown Shoe Store, not far from the very first McDonald’s in downtown Des Plaines. At the shoe store, each of the Lombardo children would take their turn dressing up every summer in the Chicago heat and humidity as Buster Brown, blonde page boy wig and all. It was a much needed and early lesson in humility.
The far greater lesson was watching her dad “shoe” multiple generations of children. He often times put the very first pair of shoes on kids feet. He knew the families, and the kids and the kids’ kids. Because he was a small town merchant he couldn’t even leave the store for lunch, and so he’d make sausage and pepper in the back room for his lunch on a hot plate.
Not only did he “shoe” all those families, he fed many of them too. He became a part of the story of peoples’ lives. So much so, that when he retired, a line of people three blocks long stood to say good-bye.
And that is the story that Jeanne has carried her my heart throughout all of her work, and the journey of her life.
Her grandmas were kind of like that too. She has a hard time remembering either one of them sitting at a table while the family was eating a meal. They were always hovering, behind chairs…plopping more food on their already full plates, saying “Mangier!” “Mangier!”
The food festival didn’t end there either. Nobody was able to leave either of their houses without a bag of groceries. They’d go into the cupboards and scoop up whatever they had and package it up into a bag from Dominics, the local Chicago grocery.
So what Jeanne’s really carried with her throughout her life from all of this is two things: leave people with a memory and nourish them. Whether it’s their heart or their souls…always leave them with your version of a bag of groceries.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“How do you create a wonderful next version of life?”-Jeanne Bliss Click to Tweet
“Balance the living part of life with the working part of life.” -Jeanne Bliss Click to Tweet
“How can I keep on living but save the best for last?” -Jeanne Bliss Click to Tweet
“What’s another thing I can do for the world?” -Jeanne Bliss Click to Tweet
“Earn the right to grow by improving people’s lives.” -Jeanne Bliss Click to Tweet
“Choose it and deliver it.”-Jeanne Bliss Click to Tweet
“People all need a safe place to be who they are.” -Jeanne Bliss Click to Tweet
“The more you advance in your life the more humble you should become.” -Jeanne Bliss Click to Tweet
“Why are you in business and how are you going to improve lives?” -Jeanne Bliss Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Jeanne couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t getting any traction. Once, Jeanne had someone puller her aside and told her that she did not do the work she was taking credit for. For Jeanne, this was something that totally change the trajectory of her career and life. After that she began to put others in the spotlight more. Listen to Jeanne’s story and what she learned that can help you move onward and upward faster.
Advice for others
Don’t forget that your feet are made of clay. The more you advance in your life the more humble you should become and the more you should be open to learning. Be willing to change and put you defense mechanism on the shelf.
Holding her back from being an even better leader
Brain moving too fast.
Best Leadership Advice Received
Write like you talk.
Secret to Success
Passion and persistence and not stopping…ever.
Best Resources in business or Life
Going back to my roots and who I am and how I grew up.
Connecting with Jeanne
Gift from Jeanne
First Chapter of Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-driven Growth EngineClick to access edited transcript
Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
Jim Rembach: Thanks Kimberly. Okay, Fast Leader legion, I am excited today because you’re going to get two guests. One, being that you get to meet the guest that I have today, and the other being is that you get a download to a brand-new book.
Jeanne Marie Theresa Lombardo Bliss, grew up in Des Plaines, Illinois. As the third of seven children she learned early on that she better grab some food to eat as the platter was set down on the table or there wouldn’t be much food left after her four brothers delve in on the meal. Her dad Vince Lombardo own a Buster Brown shoe store not far from the very first McDonald’s in downtown Des Plaines. At the shoe store, each of the Lombardo children would take their turn dressing up every summer in the Chicago heat and humidity as Buster Brown—blonde, pageboy wig and all, it was a very much needed an early lesson in humility.
The far greater lesson was watching her dad shoe multiple generations of children; he oftentimes put the very first pair shoes on kid’s feet. He knew the families, the kids, and the kids, kids. Because he was a small town merchant he couldn’t even leave the store for lunch and so he makes sausage and peppers in the back room for lunch on a hot plate. Not only did he shoe all of those families, he fed many of them too. He became a part of the story of people’s lives, so much so, that when he retired a line of people three blocks long stood to say goodbye and that is the story that Jeanne has carried in her heart throughout all of her work and her journey of her life.
Her grandma’s work kind of that way too. She has a hard time remembering either of them sitting down at the table while the family was eating a meal they were always hovering behind chairs popping more food on already full plates saying, “Mangier! “Mangier!” The food festival didn’t stop there either nobody was able to leave either of their houses without a bag of groceries they go into the cupboard and scoop up whatever they had and package it and throw it into a Dominick’s bag.
So what Jeanne’s really carried with her throughout her life from all of this is two things: Leave people with the memory and nourish them, whether it’s their heart of their souls always leave them with your version of a bag of groceries. Jeanne Marie Therese Lombardo Bliss, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Jeanne Bliss: I am ready. [Laugh]
Jim Rembach: Alright this is exciting. I’ve given our Fast Leader legion a good intro about you because you are so passionate and I think that story and that bios just really revealing about. But, what is your current passion so that we can get you better?
Jeanne Bliss: That’s a great question and thanks for telling that story about my dad, my grandma’s being Italian, you can’t leave it far behind from who you are. What I’m really trying to figure out in this point in my life is I’m 56, so, how do you create a wonderful next version of life? I been working and doing a body slam at work for 56 years and I love it. But I also love my husband and I want to see more of him. I want to have a balance in my life somehow, so that’s really what I’m trying to do, is balance the living part of life with the working part of life and figure out as I move to that next stage of my life, how can I keep living but save the best for last and have that joyous last part of my career. For me, I’ve done this great customer experience that I want to figure out what’s the ‘give ‘em back’ part of my life.
Jim Rembach: That’s interesting, Jean, you talked about the give back phase and I myself has been part of the Customer Experience Professional Association and you’ve given back a lot through that association. What else is on your horizon?
Jeanne Bliss: Well, I love that and it’s been fantastic, Bris Hampton and I, it was a labor of love for this association. For me, I want to figure out what’s another thing that I can do for the world—homeless, girls. The skip back that we have is about creating memories and helping people in their lives, in fact, that’s really my big mantra is, “Earn the right to grow by improving people’s lives.” So, I want to say this was the money-making version of give back what’s now the more charitable versions of give back as I ride into the sunset. It’s not tomorrow but 7 or 8 or 10 years from now, what I going to do to take this skip bag and give back to the greater good.
Jim Rembach: I appreciate all that you’ve done and all that you really set up to do. You’re a great role model not just for women but for everyone, and I appreciate that.
Jeanne Bliss: That’s nice. Thank you.
Jim Rembach: You’re welcome. There is no doubt that somebody with your energy has to find passion in certain places to continue to fuel the fires. I remember hearing about Michael Phelps when he was and is Olympic prime, having to eat like 12,000 or 20,000 calories a day just to keep up with that. We’d like to focus on quotes at the Fast Leadership show, because they do just that. Sometimes they just pick us up mentally so that physically we can keep going. Is there a quote or two that stands out for you as something that just does that?
Jeanne Bliss: One of the things that I realize is that you have a choice. You can choose happiness, you can choose to deliver a memory, and you can choose what kind of memory you’re going to deliver. And that is something that I keep in my mind all the time, choose it and deliver it.
Jim Rembach: I love that action-based aspect of that, [Laugh] because oftentimes we don’t have that action piece where we get the energy but don’t know where to release it, and that’s the key point, get it, release it and just continue to fuel that fire, so to speak. Now, I know though, that with having a high-energy type of personality, is that oftentimes we have hump to get over that bring us down, but those are learning moments, so is there a time where you had a hump to get over that shaped you? Can you take us back to that moment?
Jeanne Bliss: Yes. I have had a lot of humps. In fact, one of the things I talked about professionally is that this work is like pushing the rock up the hill and it’s fallen on my head a lot of times. I’m only 5’0 tall and it’s really about figuring out, for me, how to check your ego at the door. The works that we do has to be less about putting yourself in the spotlight more about earning the right to continue to do this great work by putting others in the spotlight. And that was something I had to learn when I was in my 20’s and my 30’s still doing this work with this great roles. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting as much traction and it was because I was putting myself in the center versus putting others in the center and making the work about enabling people. And I found that when I finally flip that everything really change but that was a hard learned lesson.
Jim Rembach: Can you remember when that defining moment happened?
Jeanne Bliss: It was probably when I was about 28, I was at Atlanta and it was a long, long time ago, and we had brought a lot of people together and somebody pulled me aside after a meeting and said, “We did the work and you’re talking about it as if you did the work.” And I said, “You know, I’ve facilitated the work” they said “No, yes, you got us together but we did the work. If it wasn’t for us…” And pham , it was like this really amazing moment that I realize that that’s what the glorious, you got to be Tom Sawyer, you need to get people to want to paint the fence but then you have to give them the recognition for painting the fence. And once I figured that out it changed a lot of things for me. It changed a lot of things in my trajectory, in my career, as well as personally, really trying to figure out how to—you listen to people and they talk about themselves. Somebody will tell you about time in their life, and they’re unhappy or sad or friends are going through divorce or whatever, and instead of empathizing with the person they will tell a story about themselves. If you’re in the middle of this terrible situation, you want to be listened to and be empathized with your life, you don’t want to hear about the narrative of somebody else’s lives at that point. So, that I think is the lesson.
Jim Rembach: There’s times where people have the opportunity to step up and speak and say those types of things that that person said to you but they don’t do that and I think they’re doing it less and less. As time has gone you talk about that thing many years ago, I don’t think there’s many people step up anymore. But that person in the way that they approached you, how they do it so that it did give you the opportunity to reflect and say, “Ah, I have an epiphany here?
Jeanne Bliss: Land’s End was a really safe place, I grew up there. I got there when I was 24 and I left when I was 34 and we had senior leaders who are mentors and you never felt like when they were talking to you that your job was at risk, and that was important it was more about, “Look I want to make you better, I want to help you.” But you’re right, you don’t see that anymore. That’s why this school thing we have at CXPA with the mentorship and all of that is important because people all need a safe place. One of the things that I taught, my husband and I talked about this is that we’re each other’s island. I’m your island and you’re my island. This is the safe place where you can be who you are and not worry about any other noise in the world. And I think that in business we all need to figure out one island at least where we can have a safe place and somebody can be really honest with us and tell us like it is. I’m a bull in a China shop, I’m Italian, I’ve got a big mouth, I’ve got a big personality, I never mean it but my bark is bigger than my bite and I have always appreciated and there’s many other times, certainly I didn’t change my ways from the one time—I mean I had to keep on renegotiating my life—but I’ve always found people who will settle me down and give me the straight talk. But I think you’ve got to tell people you want it.
Jim Rembach: So, if you were to say from all that you’ve learned—and we’re going to talk some other things in a moment as fast as where you’re going—what is a good piece of advice that you would give to our listeners?
Jeanne Bliss: I think, don’t forget that your feeder made of clay. We get so full over in our head and whatever. The more you advance in your life the more humble you should become. The more open you should be to learning and for me, the more recognizing my foibles and things that I need to work on, and I think it’s just being open to that recognizing and being open to people telling you, ‘what’s up?” Telling you how or what you’ve said impacts them. And being willing to change and don’t take it personally, take it constructively. Put that defense mechanism on the shelf as much as you can.
Jim Rembach: So, you talked about going through and focusing in on something new to be able to give back but when you start talking what you’re focusing your energies and current passions, what are they now?
Jeanne Bliss: I want to help companies grow by improving customer’s life. I want to help leaders recognize that the whole reason that they have a business is to improve customer’s life. It’s not to get a service score, it’s not to get more sales, it’s yes you want to grow but I want to teach people how to grow. The way they grown that’s grounded and improving customers and employees lives. And this notion of earning the right to growth, that is really where I find when I work with leaders and CCO’s and whoever it is, that’s the switch that needs to be flipped. Why are you in this business? How are you going to improve the life? This week was a milestone in my campaign and crusade for helping companies turn their work around because I’m honored to release my third book this week called, “Chief Customer Officer 2.0 How to Build Your Customer-driven Growth Engine.”
Jim Rembach: That’s fantastic. And I think you’re going to give a gift to our listeners? Is that correct?
Jeanne Bliss: I am. My bag of groceries to everybody is the first chapter of the book and as well, when they go on to my website, my new website’s going to come up in a couple of week. It’s going to have customer center recipe cards that they can download, leadership messages that they can use regularly to start driving the action.
Jim Rembach: That’s awesome. Okay, Fast Leader legion, what we’re going to do is we’re going to make a link to that first chapter for you on our show notes page and you’ll be able to find that at fastleader.net/Jean Bliss. Jean we all wish you the very best. Okay, now it’s time for us to move on to the rapid part of our show and that’s the—Hump Day Hoedown.
Okay, Jean, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Jean Marie Teresa Lombardo Bliss, are you ready to hoedown?
Jeanne Bliss: I am.
Jim Rembach: Okay, what do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today.
Jeanne Bliss: Brain moving too fast.
Jim Rembach: Definitely need to catch up sometime. What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Jeanne Bliss: Write like you talk.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Jeanne Bliss: Passion and persistence and not stopping ever.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one your best resources that helps you lead in business or life?
Jeanne Bliss: Going back to my roots and who I am and how I grew up.
Jim Rembach: Now, I know this one’s going to be a little tough for you because I know people who are writers are also well read leaders but is there a book or two that you would recommend to our listeners?
Jeanne Bliss: “The Velveteen Rabbit”, one of my favorite books on the planet. It’s just sound silly but it’s about being real and being human.
Jim Rembach: Alright, we’re also going to make a link to that on our show notes page at fastleader.net/Jean Bliss. Okay, Jean, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning and you were 25 years old again and you are supposed to begin a new job as a manager of a team of people that is underperforming and disengaged but you retain all the wisdom and skill that you currently have your task is to turn the team around so you get up you get ready and head out to work, what you do now?
Jeanne Bliss: First of all, I want to meet each of them individually and talk about their life. Understand who they are? What are important to them? Why they took the job? And then I’d really sit down with them and ask what’s getting in the way of their ability to deliver and support customer and start to work that way. And then solve some of the thing for them but make sure that I’m continuously going back to them in their lives and serving and supporting them and coach and mentor them and give them a safe place where they can really feel that they can grow and be nurtured.
Jim Rembach: Jean, it was an honor to spend time with you today. Can you please share with the Fast Leader listeners how they can connect with you?
Jeanne Bliss: I’m so lucky I’m married the guy named Bliss, so you can find me at www.customerbliss.com
Jim Rembach: Jeanne Marie Teresa Lombardo Bliss, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot Woot!
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, especial offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
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