Joye at Work

After our friend and partner, Larry Allen, passed away last May, I was called to care for his clients in Houston, Texas. I went down there to visit them in June to find out what they wanted to do. I had absolutely no expectation that any would want to continue with BUILT TO LEAD.

As often happens, I was wrong.

All of them continued with me as their Builder. I have been traveling to Texas once a month since then, and it has been “freakin’ awesome” as some other partners in this crazy band are fond of saying. I have made friends, learned a lot, and practiced our tagline: “Together, we improve.” I have been privileged to serve and learn from each of our wonderful Lone Star clients.

Every time I visit Houston, I have lunch, and sometimes dinner, too, at The Corner Bakery. It’s a regional chain of bakery restaurants a lot like Panera and Au Bon Pain. At all three chains, I’ve found that the places are clean, well-lighted, the food’s good, and they all have free Wi-Fi. Except the Corner Bakery on Kirby Street in Houston Texas has a secret ingredient that no other chain can easily match…

Her name is Joye, and she lives true to that name.

Every time I return to Joye’s store, she greets me warmly by name as if I am a family member returning from a long absence. She knows me by name. She seems genuinely glad to see me as she asks “Thank you, Jim, for retuning to my Corner Bakery! May I order you ‘the usual’ or would you like to try our (fill in the blank) special today?”

Joye knows that I really like their Santa Fe Chicken Salad…I almost always order it.

Joye treats me just as she treats everybody else–like a family member. Her other customers, her co-workers at the store, everybody gets plenty of love, warmth, eye contact, a huge smile, and a keen interest in YOU, even at the lunch rush when she’s busy.

This month, I decided to wait until Joye’s shift was over to ask her to sit down and talk to me about all that, well, JOY. Where did it come from, and why was she so doggone friendly?

I was shocked when she told me that she was not the store’s manager! She was simply an hourly employee who happened to act like she owned the place. She explained something simple and profound to me when she said, “Jim, I just like people.”

Joye just likes people.

She went on to say that work is an opportunity to meet new people, have fun, be engaged with others, work with nice people, develop some of the younger ones, learn some new things and, oh yeah, bring home a paycheck. Joye never mentioned money while we were talking.


I figure that The Corner Bakery on Kirby Street in Houston Texas has seen incremental revenue growth of about $1000 by serving someone out of Columbus, Ohio and his clients and prospects. About $950 of that were repeat sales that came simply because Joye likes people.

Are you hiring for experience, character, or both?

When you screen resumes for relevant experience in your industry, do you think twice about how, and what, your competitors have trained your new candidate to think and do?

Do you factor into overall recruitment costs any additional amount for remedial training to undo any of the damage your competitors have done? After all, your brand is different and better than theirs, right?

Do you hire people who like people? How do you know?

Do you have people who like people in your HR area screening for people who like people? How do you know?

Do you have well-trained managers who like people developing people who like people to like people better? How do you know?

Do YOU like people?

How would WE know?

P.S. If you live in Central Ohio and want a little fix of joy with your coffee one morning, head out to the downtown Dublin Starbucks and you’ll meet my friend Annie, who “works” there. Annie’s parents must’ve served the same flavor of Kool-Aid to her that Joye’s parents served.

2 thoughts on “Joye at Work

  1. Sully,

    Thanks for shining a light on uncommon pleasantry. It’s far TOO uncommon.

    BTW, I frequent the Dub S’bucks and was thinking of Anne before you even mentioned her!


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