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24. Embrace Change. | John’s Message

John’s Message:

In life, change is inevitable. That makes change the only fact of life guaranteed to never change. And these days change happens at a faster rate than ever before. Resistance is futile, but how you respond to it is entirely up to you.

We are dealing with new products, new procedures, different personnel, a different time clock system, new health and safety regulations, and more. Let’s say these changes are a bucking bull.  Do you: (A) jump off and run away, (B) hold on and try to survive, or (C) grab the horns and steer. In other words, do you resist change, accept it, or lead it?

There are three basic ways to respond to change:

  • Fear/resistance — Allow change to control you and intimidate you.
  • Acceptance — Try to make the most of what’s happening by adapting what you do.
  • Leading — It starts with acceptance but evolves into determining the outcome of change.

How do we lead change?

Step 1—Recognize that change happens.

Once you can accept that “different” doesn’t always mean “worse,” you’re on the right track. The more quickly that realization happens, the easier it is to accept the challenges the future presents. Eventually, you’ll learn to savor the new opportunities.

Step 2—Empower others to help you lead change.

You’ve got friends and family in life and work. Use them. Just as a politician surrounds himself/herself with trusted advisers, you should find a close contingent of people with the willingness, expertise, leadership prowess, and credibility to help you enact change.

Step 3—Lead change based on vision, mission, and values.

If we don’t know where we’re going, how will we get there? To lead change, we need to know where we’re headed. This means understanding our values (the Famous Family and 40 Fundamentals), our vision (the desired end result), and our plan (the steps necessary to get there.)

Step 4—Establish urgency.

People need a compelling reason to change. Without urgency, great ideas sit idle for months or years. To create urgency, show others the vision of what change can do and outline the steps needed to make that change possible, necessary, and desirable.

Step 5—Move ahead, regardless.

You’re going to encounter some sticks-in-the-mud along the way, people unwilling to accept the inevitability of change. Your approach, to paraphrase Dory in Finding Nemo, is to “keep swimming.” Bring everyone along for the ride, but let them sit in the back seat at first. As change occurs, they might come around, but they will eventually remove themselves if they don’t like where the car is headed.

Step 6—Create a culture that embraces change.

Whether we’re talking about a small team of people, a business, or an entire organization, it’s important to actively seek change. Those who stand still get left behind. So in your department, branch, and region, make sure you’re seeking out ideas. A good reminder: there are no bad ideas. Nothing stifles innovation faster than a brainstorming session where participants feel uncomfortable.

Step 7—Learn new things.

There’s a reason they update the dictionary every year to add new words, such as “man cave,” “bucket list,” “mash-up.” The world is constantly changing. That’s why lifelong learning is such an important concept, and it’s the best way to embrace change at a personal level. The best leaders are the best educators. They seek out training opportunities for others, but they don’t stop there. They’re also responsible for seeing to their own continuing education to provide fresh perspectives and new insights.

John Mellor

Customer Service Manager/Youngstown Famous

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24. Embrace Change | Brian’s Message

Brian’s Message:

Just when you start to get used to doing the same thing every day, life will always throw you a changeup. Change is not always as welcome as trading your fold up map in the glove box for a handy little smart phone. How we respond and adapt is what sets us apart from others in life and business.

Think of change as it relates to your favorite sports team. Each year fans eagerly look forward to embracing new changes with players and coaching in hopes of having a team that can contend for a championship. The best teams look back at what they’ve done and develop new strategies and rosters in order to move forward towards the goal of winning a championship.

Famous Supply has been in the distribution business since 1933 selling countless different brands and delighting customers with our service. In recent years we’ve changed things up by offering our own Private Label products. This came about by changes in the market as our competition developed their own Private Label goods. Customers consistently demand more value to stay competitive in a changing industry. We embraced the request by sourcing high quality products that our customers love. This initiative has greatly benefitted Famous by allowing us to be more competitive when we sell these quality products, giving our customers a new choice of product that meets their needs.  

We don’t always have this kind of control when it comes to change but we do have control of the attitude we express when change is present. Look for the positive outcomes and remember that it takes time to do anything worth accomplishing.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” –Henry Ford


Brian Burrer
Business Development Manager/National Accounts

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24. Embrace Change | Rick’s message

Rick’s message:

“All change might not be progress but all progress is the result of change.”

Coach John Wooden

I was hired at Famous 14 years ago. I sat down at my desk at Melwood on my first day and thought my career at Famous would last about six months. At the time we transferred products from branch to branch and it would sometimes take a week or more to get product to our customers. I had a customer joke with me that a coil of copper tube he received looked like it had been on tour because it had so many transfer labels on it. I knew that if we continued on that path that we would not to be able to meet the customer’s expectations and we would fail. But then came our CDC (Central Distribution Center) and things changed. We were able to get product the next day, and now we have three DC’s and the best service in our market. There was some resistance and pain with the change but we would not have survived if we continued to do business the way we did prior to the DCs. We have made huge progress over the years, all because we were willing to embrace and accept change. Had we not, we would not be the company we are today. As we continue to change, we will become the company we can be in the future.

Change is the engine that drives improvement. Sometimes it is not easy, but if you don’t try something new there is no possibility of improvement. There will be times that change does not produce a positive result, but the key is to try. If we do not embrace change we will stop moving forward and quickly begin to move in the other direction.

Embracing change in work and life is essential to growth and encourages development. Change never seems natural or easy but embracing change is a key to success and happiness.

Throughout my career I have seen many changes. Some that were easy to embrace and some that were not. But the one thing that is for sure is that change will keep happening faster than ever before. There will be exciting opportunities for those who decide to accept the challenges of an ever changing world.

There are many associates at Famous that demonstrate this fundamental. One who comes to mind is Chris Murphy who has recently accepted the challenge of moving into purchasing from a career in sales. By embracing this change he has created an opportunity for growth and improvement for Famous as well as enhancing his own experience in our business.

Change is constant and how you embrace it will determine your growth and development in business and life.

Happy Holidays!

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24. Embrace Change. | Kevin’s message

Kevin’s message:

Imagine your manager comes up to you tomorrow and says, “you’ve been doing great work lately. I’m going to double your pay”. In this hypothetical situation, change would be pretty easy to embrace.

 Others aren’t so easy.

Think about some dramatic changes that Famous has made throughout the years;

  • Investing in our computer system (Eclipse) in 1998
  • Moving customer deliveries to distribution centers
  • Entering a new corporate headquarters.

Associates lost their routines for writing orders. Many people were unsure if we could service customer deliveries at a high level from the DCs. Moving into a new headquarters meant over 100 associates would have to work in a whole new way.

I use these examples to make a point that someone shared with me a while back;

 We do not fear change. We fear what we lose from the change.

 So why do we fear loss? The reason is that our brains like being certain about the future. If we know what’s coming, our chances of survival increase. It’s how our brains are wired.

 The human brain is complex and for many years the way it works has been a mystery. As we’ve studied it more, a significant theme emerged that explains why some change can be uncomfortable.

What we’ve found is that uncertainty heightens stimulation in our Amygdala. This is the oldest and most primitive part of our brain that controls “fight, flight or freeze” response.

This mechanism was far more important to our species many thousands of years ago than it is today. Uncertainty then meant being unsure of what was lurking in the jungle (that may want to make us their dinner), so our Amygdala was doing its job to keep us alive.

Uncertainty today does not have nearly as dire of consequences, yet our Amygdala stays working in the background of our lives every day. This means that when we decide to change the way we do something in our business, our brains release stressors to make us anxious. It’s trying to protect us from life-threatening danger, even though we aren’t in life-threatening danger. Fascinating!

 So what can we do about it?

One way is to regularly practice mindfulness to remain in the present moment. When we’re present, we don’t need to rely on our instincts to react to situations. If we’re here, our brains aren’t working in overdrive, and it’s easier to process new information with a clear, rational mind.

Everything in the world is always changing and moving forward. We have to evolve and adapt, or we’ll be left behind. If we practice mindfulness to stay present, we will meet these challenges with a clear, happy and healthy mind.

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24. Embrace Change. | Marc’s Message

Marc’s message:

Change is one of the most perplexing words in the English language.  I say that because when change occurs, it seems that it’s human nature for people to often feel stress instead of looking at change as an exciting opportunity.  Think for a moment not only about what is taking place in your own life, but in society in general.  Every single thing that has ever happened is a change from whatever came before it.  Look at the progress that has been made in industries like heating, air conditioning and plumbing, or having a more comfortable car to drive in, warmer clothes to wear when it’s frigid outside, new technologies to save us time, educational enhancements to bring us more in depth knowledge, or medical devices to take away pain and solve health issues. These are just a few examples of changes that make our lives better.

So why do we feel anxiety when change is upon us?  There are certain things in our personal lives that are grounded in tradition like which family member may host Thanksgiving or do a barbeque on Memorial Day.    A business example could be our transition as we convert from Eterm to Solar in Eclipse.  And when something causes a little upheaval in that area of our job or life, it can often create an emotional change in us that doesn’t always feel right.  Interestingly, over time we often feel just as strongly, if not more so, about the new tradition or way of doing business and we wouldn’t even want to go back to the old way.

The second area of change that I believe causes pressure has to do with control.  When human beings feel out of control, they tend to worry.  Conversely when they feel in control, they adapt to change much easier.  This reminds me of a study I learned about in college, ironically in a class called “Corporate Culture.”   The study was about control or lack thereof.  A sociologist had two groups of people.  The first group came in to take a test and in the background there was loud heavy metal music blaring from the speakers. This first group had to take the test in this difficult environment.  But the second group of people, when they were given the test, was told that they could change the volume of the music or turn it off entirely, or switch stations to music of their liking.  Which group do you think performed significantly better on the test?  You guessed it, overwhelmingly; the second group because they were more relaxed, and could focus on their work.  I’m sure we can all relate to that scenario, as they were able to reduce the level of stress by simply having more control in their environment.

I’ve often thought about that “volume control” story when we make changes at Famous.  I don’t want you to feel out of control, and cause you undue stress, pressure, or anxiety.  We of course do need to make changes in the spirit of our fifth core value, continuous improvement. This helps us become a better, stronger, and more profitable company, which allows us to reinvest in Famous.  Since it is a natural reaction for people to feel some anxiety in the face of uncertainty, the key is to find the proper balance in how much change to undertake.  Too much of a good thing isn’t always good.  We don’t want to make changes for the sake of change.  So it’s incumbent upon all of us to help create a positive, nurturing and inclusive environment where we have open, honest and direct communication.  This means that when inevitable change needs to occur for the greater good, we shouldn’t be simply telling you what we are changing.  Conversely we should be discussing how we need to change and share why.  We will be better off with mutual understanding, and we encourage your feedback before or during the change process.  As we include our entire team in change initiatives, you will feel more in control and help us achieve our goals even more effectively.

This philosophy is more than just words on a page.  I truly believe it’s our responsibility and that we have a moral obligation to do our best to help give you that “volume control”.  However, I want to conclude with one last point.  And it has to do with trust.  It isn’t practical to talk to over 600 distribution associates on every change that the company makes.  Obviously we need to have more dialogue on the bigger changes.  Therefore, we need everyone to trust that any changes we make are for the good of the team, that our intentions are good, and we are making changes for the right reasons.  Everyone may not agree with every change, but when decisions are made, not only do we appreciate your support, but we need it.  I challenge all of us to continue to embrace change, and to do it in a way that energizes every associate in our Famous family.  I can guarantee you one thing; change is inevitable, so let’s create new and better ways of doing business and traditions as we build Famous to even greater heights.

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