Isn’t 90% Good Enough?

Most people I meet do a great job and are very proud of what they do. Yet many I meet still feel overwhelmed with the 10%s. Isn’t 90% good enough? We grow up with and work in workplaces with belief systems that we need to please everyone. They were wrong. You can’t. 90% is good enough!

Make Your 90% List

I think once in a while we need to reset ourselves and make a 90% list of what we enjoy about our jobs. Then we can draw from that list when we are depleted. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories, I love learning about other’s jobs, I love hotels, I love driving and I love being alone. Good thing I picked a job that requires all of those.


We don't jump in the elevator.
There is a sign in the elevator where the convention is being held. It is huge and bright yellow and reads, “If you jump in this elevator, you will be fined.” So when the 400 people arrive to hear me speak, I ask them, “Who has ever jumped in an elevator?” Two people put up their hands.

So we put up a sign for two people. It made me think.

Are you reacting to the 90% or the 10% in your business?

Three Words

Leslie Everett is a colleague of mine who is a branding expert. She asks audience members to pick three words that best describe them. Then she challenges them with, “Did you pick a job that had anything to do with the three words that describe you?” Great place to start when wondering what to do with your life.

I’d Like to Thank

Often I have attended events where the CEO got up to speak. And often they talk about their products and services and leave the thank you to their employees for the last part of their presentation.

We, as leaders, need to stand up and firstly thank those who serve with us. Then talk products and services.

Motivational CDs

If you have a company where your employees are required to drive a lot, I recommend that you buy those drivers stacks of motivational CDs to listen to while they drive. So often people say they listen to the news while they drive. How can we create a motivated group of employees when all we listen to is how terrible the world is? It would be a great investment in your people.

How is the Shrimp?

I was eating in an airport restaurant and being served by Jeremy. Airport restaurants tend to be small and overcrowded so you can hear other people very easily. I noticed that every time he went to someone’s table, Jeremy asked them a different question. Instead of the standard, “How is your meal” or “How is everything?”, he had a completely different question for each of us. “How is the shrimp?” “Are you enjoying the pasta? It is my favorite.” “Did you want to try a different drink or stick with this one?”

It made him very genuine and showed us how much he enjoyed his job.

It’s easier to engage with your clients when you personalize your responses.

Warn Them

We need to be very honest with people in job interviews about what the 10%s of the job are. It is very easy and far more appealing to talk about the 90%s. But we need to tell people up front and be reassured they are going to be ok with the 10% aspects too. I am always very honest in the interview process and I ask them, “Are you going to be ok with the dirty, unappealing and unpleasant parts of the job too?” Of course, they agree. There are two reasons I do this, #1 – it is honest and #2 – I can always go back to it. So when an employee is complaining about an unpleasant – 10% of the job – I can say, “Oh I hear you, but remember, I warned ya!”

Just Unhappy with Everything

I worked in and ran a tuxedo rental store for over 12 years. Once in a while there was a groom who was not happy with his tuxedo. What I noticed though is that the groom who was not happy with his tuxedo was not happy with the florist, the limo or the hotel. There are certain people who go out into the world and they are unhappy with everything.

So when we would encounter this unhappy groom, my staff and I would pay attention to the complaint and decide if it something we could learn and grow from or simply an unhappy man who is sharing his opinion? Most importantly, if we had done our best to ensure this man had the right tuxedo on the right day, we work take what we could learn and continue on with our day.


I have met a lot of people who were not happy in their job. I remind them of how blessed we are to be in Canada, have jobs and our health to go to them.

I think every Canadian newscaster should end every newscast like this: “You have just heard how the other half of the world lives in fear, war and famine. Now, I want you to turn off your radio, turn off your TV and go into your life in Canada and be so grateful for what you have.”

Some of the happiest people I meet have lived somewhere that was not as great as Canada.