Moving On From The Usual


My wife & I snuck off to our favorite breakfast place for a quick bite before my flight out.

Yes, it was a detour, but this has been our go-to for the past few years.

Reality quickly took a turn from our expected outcome: The usually fresh biscuits came out as over-cooked and stale; the service was less than inspired; and then oh my heavens, a bug on the arugula?

Upon receiving the bill we were surprised to see just a small discount off the meal for the insect surprise, as they figured we’d be back like we always have been.

That was when we realized each visit over the past few months had been less than stellar, that this place has taken a turn for the worse, and we’ve just overlooked it until today.

We aren’t returning to our favorite place, and now I’m even writing a blog about how much we don’t like it anymore.

This is a Promise broken to the Audience/Customer, and we are not returning – it is now officially unable to be undone!

I call The Promise “The Engagement Experience” for this very reason:

You have ONE shot!

And if the customer returns, you again have ONE shot!

Don’t waste that performance my friend!

Listen to Hamilton if you have to – “I’m not throwing away my shot!”  Perfect song summarizing The Promise to the audience.


The tables turn quickly in life and business when it comes to the realization that we can and should move on from “The Usual” because someone else definitely wants our business and will keep their Promise. 


Pre-Speech setup and sound check that didn’t go particularly well


Speaking at an event outside of Las Vegas this past week I was stunned at what I experienced at the venue:

  • Disgruntled AV Team who couldn’t figure out the simplest of tasks: how to hook up my computer to show my powerpoint slides, so we went without for my speech;
  • Banquet Team griping when the annual client asked them to move 2 tables to fill in a hole in the middle of the room;
  • Venue Event Planner who demanded client walk on eggshells with every request

Following my standing ovation I knew I had the client’s attention.  I asked,

“Why on God’s green earth do you return to this horrendous venue year after year, when there are hotels and locations within 5 miles of your offices that would prostrate themselves to earn and retain your business?”  

The answer: This is just how we’ve always done it.

My response was harsh:

“I am in venues worldwide on a weekly basis and this is the worst one I’ve seen in years!  You are a wonderful organization. You are a very good event planner.  You put together a stellar event.  I mean heck, your Keynote Speaker was incredible 😉 

You are literally breaking The Promise to your attendees by having your events here year after year.  Your clients are all timid to ask the staff anything because that’s how they know this staff is!  You are breaking The Promise to yourself by suffering through this annually. 

Don’t come back!  Other businesses will throw themselves at you to win your business.  It’s exactly what I was just talking about on stage for the past hour.  Someone else wants your business and you’re too good for this place.”

I could see my client’s eyes widen as I told them of 3 venues I knew of that would be affordable, have superior service, be closer to home, better accommodations, capable staff, and would bend over backwards to have a shot at winning them over.

It was as if they hadn’t considered the thought.

It was “The Usual”.

Sadly, it’s the perfect storm – The staff stinks because the management stinks because the leadership stinks because the ownership stinks…and you can smell it in the carpet when you walk in the stinking room!

This is a broken Promises situation all over itself.  Bleh!


Sometimes we need a bug in the salad to see the light, other times we need an outside perspective to point out where The Promise is being broken to us, and in turn we are breaking it to ourselves and our clients.

Think of the services you pay for, yes, even the relationships of old chums on social media who drive you nuts, or how about giving your time serving on a board because you’re such a nice person and yet no longer agree with the mission and integrity of that organization, but you power through anyway…

The same old-same old, because you’ve always done it that way.

Does the Reality outweigh the Commercial?  Is the service, the interaction, the engagement you are receiving better than was advertised?

Because if it’s not, then it’s time to move on and keep The Promise to yourself and let someone else win your business, win your time, win your affection.

And hopefully, for those businesses left in your wake, they will eventually wake up to what must change with their Promise because so many of the “Regulars” like you have disappeared.

That’s The Promise you keep or you break to YOU.



Leadership Expert * Author * Speaker Hall of Fame * Award-Winning Entertainer

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8 thoughts on “Moving On From The Usual”

  1. Kenneth Kovanda

    Right on. When I was practicing dentistry if anyone called with a tooth ache or a problem we would see them that day. We made room in our schedule for emergencies to see them before 1:00 pm if they called in the morning and be at 5:00 pm if they called in the afternoon. Because of this one thing very few ever left because they were an emergency being seen from another office and the dentist was not available to see them. But, some left their prior dentist and returned to our office. Patients were the life blood of our practice and a happy patient will stay with you and refer other people. We also worked with people so they could have the best dentistry and not second best if they could pay monthly, that way there was no compromise. When I retired people owed me $250,000 and I collected all but $65 and $250 from my patients.

    1. Jason Hewlett

      What an INCREDIBLE example of what this post is about. You are The Promise. Love it. Thank you and congratulations on an amazing career and for helping so many lives.


    Love this, SO many gems! Way to have that courageous conversation with your client — hope they take your advice and move their venue next year!

  3. John B Hewlett

    Great perspective, client and customer service and respect is the most important thing. Excellent commentary, and change is often the best anecdote for a better life.

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