Jack Welch gave me some of the best business/career/strategy advice I’ve ever received. Now, to be fair, he didn’t do it in one of our intimate conversations. Mr. Welch and I have never had any intimate conversations. Or any other manner of conversation. In fact, we’ve never even met.
But I do consider him to be a mentor of mine because I’ve read a lot of his work over the years, and even though I don’t agree with everything he says or with every decision he made when he was the CEO of General Electric, I’ve always appreciated his viewpoint.
One time way back in the 1990s he was featured on the news. They showed a clip of him addressing a class of leaders-in-training at GE University, and a comment he made really stuck with me:
“Don’t let anything get between you and your customers.”
The remark was made almost offhandedly, but it resonates with me to this day. It is not only a simple, powerful statement, it’s actionable!
Don’t let anything get between you and your customer! I’ve used that as a guiding principle to help me make all kinds of decisions over the years, and I’ve shared it with clients who have used it, too. The remark isn’t just a good battle cry to help you fend off competitors, but as a way to decide how to use your resources in any strategic decision. If doing what you are considering doing will bring you closer to your customer, it’s at least worth exploring, if not enacting right away. If it won’t, then you should likely set it aside and go back to focusing your energy on things that will bring you closer to your customer.
Don’t let anything get between you and your customer.” – Jack Welch