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Savoring Summer’s Inspiring Moments

July is the quintessential vacation month, and, like many of you, I’m taking the opportunity to do some traveling this month. Over the course of my career in retail store operations, field leadership, and learning and development, I’ve been able to travel to many different places for work, leaving just three states in the U.S. that I have yet to visit: Alaska, Iowa, and New Mexico.

My trip this summer checks off one of those states from the list, Alaska. It also adds another area of North America I’ve yet to explore, British Columbia. With MOHR Retail being based in Miami, it’s been a perfect escape from the heat, humidity, and storms that make up a South Florida summer. I’m writing this newsletter as we sail from Seattle to Juneau, basking in the gorgeous sunny weather, with highs in the 70s, a welcome break from what we left behind in Miami. 

We began our journey flying into Seattle and then driving with friends to Vancouver, Canada, for a few days of biking, eating, and exploring. As a self-confessed foodie, I always seek out great restaurants and, if possible, the opportunity to meet the chef while I enjoy their food. A friend and business colleague made a chef introduction for me before I arrived in Vancouver, and we enjoyed a spectacular experience at celebrated restaurant Viji’s Bib Gourmand. The evening included a tour of the full restaurant, front and back of the house, followed by a private dining experience with the award-winning chef and owner, Vikram Viji. 

During our time at the restaurant, we met and talked with Chef Vikram’s entire staff, from wait staff and bartenders to bread bakers, cooks, and the sous chef. He explained that it was important to him that we met all of them because everyone contributes to the success of the customer experience. He wanted each of them to personally introduce themselves and share what they do, why they chose this career, and how long they have been doing it, both at his restaurant and in the industry as a whole. To a person, they were highly engaged and authentic; nothing was for show. Having spent a large part of my life and career developing leadership training to create this type of culture in retail organizations, it made a huge impression on me.


It was clear that history, culture, and customer experience were important to Chef Vikram, and it showed in how he managed his restaurant. I was struck by his background and expertise, and, mostly, by how humble and appreciative he was for his restaurant team, where he is today, and the loyalty, pride, and appreciation each of his team members shares with the diners and customers. One sign of just how powerful this culture is: Most of his team have worked with him for over 20 years!


The parallels to retail are evident: Treat your team/employees well, empower them with skills and confidence, and instill in them a sense of ownership and pride, and they will ensure your customers are well taken care of. It is the employee-customer profit service chain that I have followed my entire career. When you engage and empower people, they will deliver their best work for your customers. And they (and your customers) will stay with you for the long haul.

Read on for more of what I learned from this award-winning chef (and to find out more about the food!), and consider how you might apply these lessons with your team to create and sustain an inclusive, high-engagement, high-trust culture. We left Vancouver filled not only with incredible, delectable food but also so much meaningful food for thought. It was an experience I won’t soon forget.

I hope that, wherever your plans take you this summer, you are safe, savoring new adventures, and soaking up the times with your loved ones, family, and friends, and maybe some new friends your travels have introduced you, too. I’d love to hear about what inspired you on your summer vacation!

Mary Beth Garcia, CEO

P.S. A recent survey found 59% of retail frontline workers said they’ve considered quitting their jobs in the past year, underscoring the need to prioritize culture, ongoing coaching and development, and a commitment to “everboarding.”

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