Back when I was the corporate leader of the UGG retail organization (UGG-Australia footwear) for its U.S. stores, we used to collect donations from customers for the Boys and Girls Club of America. The store teams took this on as a mission, not just as a perfunctory task to get through. This practice has since continued every year, once a year, and it turned into something really wonderful.
Every week, each store would share donation stories from customers or employees, some of which were truly inspiring. It turned out that many of our employees had been involved as kids with local Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and now they were very enthusiastic about the chance to give something meaningful back to the organization.
During one of these fund-raising drives, I received a letter (an actual handwritten letter, with a stamp and everything) from a customer. In it, she described how, while shopping in one of the stores, she had been asked for a donation to the Boys and Girls Club. She had made the donation, left, and later written the store a thank-you note—the very one I held in my hands.
The letter explained that she had a 12-year-old nephew back home who was severely disabled. He liked to collect souvenirs that friends and relatives brought back to him from various places they visited—pins with the Statue of Liberty on it, buttons with pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, and so on.
Well, this story so touched the hearts of the store employees that they went around to the tourist shops in the area and purchased trinkets with their own money, then mailed them to the customer so she could pass them on to her nephew.
This was a wonderful example of The First Law at work. The UGG store organization really did internalize and implement The First Law, “People First.” There was a wonderful, rich sense of community among the employees, as well as between the customers and employees; and the result was success all around. It is also a real-life parallel history to the more famous retailing concerns. This retail organization was not about making a lot of money or building a nation; and yet it changed people’s lives in a meaningful way.
Excerpted from the Upcoming Book: The Five Laws of Retail