Instant Karma

There was a person who used to sit with me on the Board of Directors of the United Way. Her name is Alma Harrell, and she said something that always stuck with me. I asked her, “Alma, how you doing?” So she’d reply, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” I think Alma really got it.

There’s a song by John Lennon and you may have heard it back in the ’70s or ’80s called “Instant Karma”. We live in a very instant world nowadays, where we can get anything, almost immediately. I mean, online, you can order food and have a delivered to you and you can find information at the tip of your fingers. There are so many things that we can get almost immediately. We’ve come to expect things on demand. Karma, my friends, is not one of those things.

Paying It Forward

Yesterday I had a pretty good day. I woke up in the morning and went to church – we can only do that online in Illinois because of restrictions. I’m watching and they have the segment that says, “Donate $25 to feed a family this Thanksgiving.” I said, “Okay,” then clicked on the button and donated.

Next, I went to Walmart and there was a gentleman in front of me who had a Vietnam vet hat on and a US flag mask. I just had this sense, and it overcame me. So, I said, “You know what? I need to help.” He had pasta and he had some donuts in his cart, but nothing crazy or expensive. He was just standing there with cash in his hand so I said, “Sir, excuse me. Do you mind if I pay for your groceries?” The look on his face was like, “Wow, not at all.” So I took out my card, put it in the terminal, and paid for his groceries. Off he went. The girl at the checkout counter said, “Man, people don’t do that often enough.” I said, “Yeah, I know”. I agreed yet felt compelled.

Then I took my wife’s car to go get it filled with gas and make sure her tires were filled. I wanted her to be safe. As a karma day goes, it felt like pretty good karma.

TV Trauma

As the day was coming to an end, we were sitting down with the pizza we ordered and about watch 60 Minutes and our regular Sunday shows. I turned on the TV, and while we were watching the opening commercials I hear this click. All of a sudden the TV goes off. Next, I spent a half-hour trying to plug it in, unplug other stuff, do everything I could. I could not get that TV to power on, it was dead.

Now, over the years, I’ve had love-hate relationships with televisions. One I bought back in 1997 was a 36-inch. It was a tube TV, and I bought it at Best Buy. I had to drive all the way to Downer’s Grove (40 miles round trip), pick out the one I wanted, and get the deal that I needed. It was too big to fit in the back or front seat of my car, which was a Saturn at the time. I had to take it out of the box, throw the box away, put the darn TV in my trunk, and get it home safely. It was heavy. So, I lifted it up, put it in the cabinet, plugged it in, got ready to sit down and watch something.

Then, boom, nothing. I tried everything. Eventually, after calling Best Buy they said, “Bring it back.” So, I had to lug it back in the car. Guess what? They didn’t have a replacement, so I had to wait two weeks to get a new TV and I had to do the same thing over again. Man, that thing was heavy.

Then when we moved into our current house, we had this huge wall in our family room, and you can’t put a 36-inch TV there, so we bought a big one. I ended up buying a rear projection screen that was just huge. Now, in order for me to get that TV, my wife wanted the cabinetry to go around it. The TV was $5,000. The cabinet was $3000. We had this beautiful wall unit with this great TV.

Well, that one lasted about 10 years then poof, it was out. I’d tried to get it repaired, but the repairs were too expensive to make it worth it. That one had to go. My wife said to me, “Listen, we have this big space. I want you to fill it.” So, I had to go find a new TV to fit that space that wasn’t a rear projection, so I ended up buying a plasma TV at a place called Tiger Direct.

Similarly, I had to go there and pick it up. But luckily, at the time I had an SUV and was able to fit this big, 64-inch TV into my car and bring it home. That was the one that died yesterday, nine or ten years after I bought it.

Too Blessed To Be Stressed

Lo and behold, here I am thinking, “That karma thing just didn’t match up.” Luckily, we recently bought this little 32-inch for our bedroom, so I set that one up downstairs. We finished our dinner and then we watched TV. One of the segments on 60 Minutes was about displaced kids who could not go to school because their parents had to move, due to losing their jobs during the pandemic. A woman was trying to find these kids, find out what happened, and hopefully, help them get back to learning. I was just sitting there saying to myself, “You know what? I’m too blessed to be stressed.” It also made me think about what business are we really in?

Convenience

I started out looking on Amazon for a new TV. It’s obviously a big business that sells a lot of things. But the biggest ah-ha I had was realizing Amazon is a business based around getting things to your house. It’s a convenience business. Now, I no longer have to go to Best Buy or to Tiger Direct to pick up a TV or even shop for one. I can do it online and they deliver it to the house. If you have an Amazon Prime, delivery is free. That alone is worth the price of admission. I’m here to tell you the TV only costs $700 with tax and everything. So, it cost me about a fraction of the first projection TV and around a third of what that second TV cost me. And they deliver it right to my front door? FREE!

What Business Are We REALLY In?

So, let me ask you about your business. There are three things I think that all of us are in.

Firstly, I think we’re in the people business.

The key thing that I think that we do as business people, is that we are in the people business. We enhance relationships.

The question you have to ask yourself, is who’s relationship are you in here enhancing and how are you doing it?

Secondly, I think we’re in, is the improvement business.

How do you make things better? What was the problem that somebody was having, that you were able to offer a solution to, and how did you make it better than the competition?

The final thing I think that we’re in is the results business.

What are the outcomes that we create for our customers, whether we’re selling a product or a service. By working with you, how can you provide better outcomes for them?

Final Thoughts

In short, if you think about it, we’re not necessarily in the business that we try to fit into (advertising, marketing, social media). Amazon may be in the product-selling business, but is believe in essence, they’re really in the convenience business. I think we have to ask ourselves, what business are we really in and how do we make the world a better place?

In his song “Instant Karma”, John Lennon sings,

“Why in the world are we here?
Surely not to live in pain and fear.
Why on earth are you there?
You’re everywhere.
Come on and get your share.

Well, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars in the sun.
Well, we all shine on.
Everyone, come on.”

With that being said, be thankful for what you have and remember what Alma said. I think we’re all “Too Blessed to be Stressed”.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about the business and life lessons you’re taking away from 2020. Have you had to overcome any of the presented concepts? What worked and what did not live up to expectations? Do you have any ideas or advice you could share?