Do You Have a Kenneth?; Steve Sims

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Do you have a Kenneth in your office? Now that may sound like a strange question, but let me go into you about what actually happened. A few weeks ago, I held my speakeasy in Silicon Valley. Speakeasies are our masterminds where we get 30 to 40 top shelf entrepreneurs and we quite simply just tell them to meet us in a location at a door. And then the next two days, they have no idea what’s going to go on with their life, but we’d get them into cool venues, cool places, and we get some amazing people to come and help workshop their life to make their business more productive and to make them more impactful.

Anyway, pitch for the speakeasy over, this one was in Silicon Valley and our host hotel was the Virgin Hotel in San Francisco. Now I turned up, I had a speaking gig the day before. I turned up late morning, just having a quick bit of lunch, and a guy came over to me and he said, “Can I interest you in a drink, a cocktail or a coffee or what would you like?” And I said, “Is your barman any good?” Now, anyone that knows me, knows I’m incredibly picky with my drinks, and they know that they have to be right. You start muddling a cherry or an orange in an old fashioned and I literally can cringe up. It’s horrible. I interviewed the bartenders, I probably struck the free into some of them, but I actually said to them, “You any good? Do you make a lot of these? What do you use? Do you muddle the cherry, do you muddle the orange? And if they say, we do, then I say, “I’m out.”

Anyone that knows me, knows I'm incredibly picky with my drinks, and they know that they have to be right. Share on X

This guy didn’t do it. He said, “Our bartender’s actually pretty good.” And I said, “Okay, fine.” He went over, spoke to the bartender, obviously said, look, we’ve got a pain in the ass over there, and he’s asking if you any good. And the guy came back and he said, “What whiskey do you choose?” And I said, “Look, you’re great, you tell me what I should have.” And he went, “Okay, leave it with me.” And he went off. I have to admit, wasn’t overly confident. He came back with a tray, with my old fashioned and on there, the bottle of Yamazaki 12, which for any of you that don’t know is a pretty decent, but not overly expensive whiskey, and it’s a Japanese whiskey. This was a very loose version of an old fashioned, but it was an incredible drink. It really was incredible.

Then, the guy came over, introduced himself to me, we chat a little bit and I left, and I was really impressed with this drink. I went back later on in the day and I said, “I want an old fashioned.” He’s like, “I gotcha, we’re not doing the same though.” And he went off and he did me a different one, this time with WhistlePig.

Now here’s the thing, and I’m never going to call him a bartender again. He’s a mixologist. He’s an artist, without a doubt. He, over a period of two days, and I had quite a few nice drinks from this place, from this gentleman, I never ever got the drink I ordered. Every time I asked him for an old fashioned, every time I asked him, and there’s a drink called a penicillin, every time I asked him for one, he’s like, “I gotcha.” And he went and did something better. And he said to me, “Look, if you don’t like it, I’ll change it.” But he went out of his way to give me something that would wow me, that would impress me. He took it on himself. Now, if you haven’t worked it out by now, the guy’s name is Kenneth.

Day two, we went up to the roof top bar of the Virgin Hotel, and I’m there with a friend of mine, Nick. And I said to him, “This is a fantastic hotel.” And he said, “Are you kidding?” I said, “No. This is brilliant. I absolutely love it.” Now, it was only about eight months old when we got there so everything was pretty fresh. The hotel was quite nice. I’m not going to tramp the hotel. It’s a great hotel, really nice, good location, but he found that the place was horrible. He had an impression, it was horrible.

I said to him, “Are you… I was down there yesterday.” And I told him my Kenneth story, and he turned around and he went, “Order a drink now.” I basically had to lasso one of these people to come and serve me what was a mediocre, over-iced, horrible thing in a glass. And I realized that my entire view of the Virgin Hotel had been painted by Kenneth. You see, Kenneth was the front line, was my interaction I had with the hotel. I fell in love with the entire hotel, the entire experience because of the way that Kenneth actually put himself out there. Nick didn’t meet Kenneth, so Nick met these little tiny servers that really weren’t paying attention.

Now, in our business, if someone comes to us, it’s our business. We love our business. We know about our business, but we employ a lot of people that are focused on Friday night, focused on paying their mortgage. That’s fine because we’ve all been there, but Kenneth wasn’t getting any share split of the bar, but he held himself accountable to look after a client, i.e., me. That Kenneth gave me an experience that I went and even boasted to other people about.

Now, my question to you is, in your business, do you have a Kenneth? When someone comes into your business and they can’t get a hold of you, who were they talking to? Who gives the first impression of what you stand for? Who’s your front line? Now, we all know about marketing, promotion, branding, all of this kind of stuff, but when it comes down to it, the first interaction you have with someone under your brand is what sets the pace for your company, for your product, for your service, for any interaction. And if you go to someone on the front line that isn’t committed, then let’s be serious, they’re probably not shining in you very well.

Who gives the first impression of what you stand for? Share on X

I want you to go back. I want you to look at your team very aggressively and go through it. Which one of these is a Kenneth? If I was out ill, which one of these could stand up, hold the fort, express my tone, express my passion, express what I stand for? Because sadly, when you do that, you find out there’s a bunch of people that work for the paycheck and there’s others in there that work with you, and you may want to get rid of some of those people. I’m very proud that I have some people who I trust that are great frontline people, and I have a few Kenneths.

That’s it for now. I want you to focus on that. I want this to be more impactful because bear it in mind, I want you to be brilliant, and if you’ve got some people holding you back, even if they work for you, then that’s a problem. Anyway, Steve Sims, chat with you soon.