Stop Treating Your Stars Like Crap!

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Motivational Speaker Bill Stainton

Me and Jay. Jay looks a lot older now. I still look the same. Maybe even younger.

I’ll always remember the first time I met Jay Leno. It was around 1986, and I was the executive producer of Seattle’s legendary comedy TV show Almost Live! Jay was coming into town for some corporate event, and he had agreed to do a guest spot on our show. We’d arranged to pick Jay up at the airport, so at the appointed time I, along with our show host Ross Shafer (who already knew Jay), and a pre-“Science Guy” Bill Nye piled into a TV van and headed down to SeaTac.

Cut to: the interior of the Seattle airport.

Here comes Jay Leno down the hallway, looking exactly like Jay Leno! There’s no mistaking him for anybody else. None of this, “Is that him? It looks kind of like him, but I’m not sure….” No, Jay Leno is unmistakable.

So we drive Jay to the hotel that his corporate gig has lined up, and it’s…how can I put this nicely?…a piece of crap! Jay took it in stride (as a working comedian, he’d stayed in worse), but we were incensed! You don’t treat a star like crap! We did some scrambling (this was pre-cellphone) and got Jay a nice room at a nice hotel. And we paid the difference.

Years later, when I was writing monolog jokes for Jay on The Tonight Show, he still remembered—and still appreciated—how we treated him.

So here’s my question to you leaders: how are you treating the stars on your team? How are you treating the stars among your customers?

[Tweet “So here’s my question to you #leaders: how are you treating the stars on your #team? “]

By “stars,” of course, I don’t mean “prima donnas.” Prima donnas, in my experience, are almost never worth the time and effort it takes to keep them happy (which will never happen, by the way). No, by “stars” I mean your top performers. The top performers on your team, the top performers among your customers.

Are you showing your stars that they’re valued? Do you even know who your stars are? (It always amazes me that there are some companies—actual, for-profit companies—that have never bothered to identify who their best customers are.) They’re the “20” in the 80/20 principle: the 20% who are responsible for 80% of the results. They’re the ones you particularly want to hang on to.

I don’t know why this company chose to put Jay Leno in a crappy hotel. And Jay probably wouldn’t have said anything to them. But I’ll bet he wouldn’t have worked with them again.

Your stars are important. They’re your A-team. Make sure they know it. Don’t put them in a crappy hotel and then act surprised when they start looking around for something better.



About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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