I had the opportunity to sit with Paris Jewellers' Director of Operations, Chau Lui recently to talk about the book "Good To Great" by Jim Collins, and how this book was the spark that inspired new thinking, a new direction, and lots of change for Paris Jewellers. Here are some excerpts from our conversation together.
Erin Hazen: Chau, you have read or listened to the audiobook "Good to Great" dozens of times - tell me about the first time you read it.
Chau Lui: It was actually Trang (Chau's sister, co-owner or Paris Jewellers) who read "Good to Great" first, and called me to tell me I absolutely had to read it. Trang had just started working with me at Paris Jewellers, and we were having long conversations into the night about our business. What needed to change, and how were we going to do it? This book came into our lives at the exact right moment.
EH: There are hundreds of books about business, what was it about this book that stuck out for you?
CL: There is so much valuable information out there - but when I read "Good to Great" for the first time, it was like a lightning bolt hit me. Six words would stick out: "good is the enemy of great". This was a huge epiphany for both Trang and I. Paris Jewellers was good, but how could we make it a great company for everyone?
EH: That must have felt huge.
CL: It did. Trang and I talked a lot about how we felt like our eyes had been opened. We had to confront some brutal and difficult truths about ourselves, and our business. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't fast...but when we started to get real about what needed to change, things started becoming crystal clear, and we began to form a plan for how we were going to move Paris Jewellers out of "good" and into "great". One of my favourite quotes from the book is; “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.” Over the years, this continues to become more and more true.
EH: "Good to Great" is required reading for all District Managers, and Managers at Paris Jewellers. A copy is at every location for Brand Ambassadors to sign out if they want to read it as well. What made you implement this standard for Paris Jewellers?
CL: We want everyone to learn what we were learning! We know that "Good to Great" is completely aligned with our vision for the future of Paris Jewellers, so to truly understand the "why" behind all of our decisions, changes, and strategies, our team would need to read "Good to Great". It really sums everything up, and gets down to the basics of why some companies are successful and why others are not. For example, another of my favourite quotes from the book is, "Great vision without great people, is irrelevant." It's not about people - it's about the rightpeople.
EH: So this was a huge catalyst for change. We can get into the nitty gritty of the shift for Paris Jewellers in our next conversation, but briefly, what was the biggest change?
CL: Honestly, it was us. Trang and I. We had to be very honest and vulnerable, and confront the brutal facts. Why do we do what we do? What do we stand for? What kind of people do we want to surround ourselves with? What is on our "immediately stop doing this" list. With a family owned business, it is difficult not to fall into the trap of "doing what we have always done". Confronting this was key, and then planning our action steps to move forward! It was terrifying and exhilarating all at once.
EH: I have read Good to Great, and re-listen to the audio book at least once every few months. I feel like I get something new out of it every time.
CL: This book truly is everything. The goal is always to have to right people on our bus, who are aligned with our vision, understand our purpose, and to continue to move forward together to build a great and enduring company for all of our team members.
Have you read "Good to Great"? We'd love to hear from you! What are your "a-ha" moments? Hop over to our Facebook page and tell us about your experience with "Good to Great", or other business books you love.