Updated: Jun 11
We all sense the importance of our intuition, but at the end of the day, does it really actually drive results in business? The answer might surprise you as you learn the real-life successes story of Sherry Stewart Deutschmann
I had the honor of listening to Sherry Deutschmann at a recent live podcast interview hosted at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. Sherry is a well known Entrepreneur and has a new book out titled, Lunch with Lucy. This book is a dive into how she started a company from her basement with zero dollars and zero employees and eventually sold the business for 40 milllion.
Although that is a strong enough reason to write a book, especially considering that only 2% of female business owners break the 1 million in annual revenue mark, according to Forbes magazine. The actual narrative woven throughout her new book is her philosophy of how to run and grow a successful business. The most important part of her philosophy to me is that it ran up against the current paradigm of how to run a businesses at the time. It was a truly creative approach based one singular idea.
Focus on employees FIRST.
Her journey into owning her own business began when she was a sales executive and started growing frustrated with customer retention. She would close one deal, and three would leave. She went to the owner of the company and told him that she believed the problem was the employees felt undervalued, so they didn't care about their work, thus leaving work undone or done poorly and customers leaving. She had an idea that if they focused on fixing this issue, this could really help the bottom line of the business. In essence her intuition was telling her that if they treated the employees better, the company would thrive.
When she told the owner this, he reached across the table and tapped her on the hand and said, "Sherry, you don't know the first thing about running a business".
At that moment Sherry was faced with an important decision. Do I trust my gut, even though I have little to no actual data that it's correct? Little did she know that her decision to trust her intuition would not only change her life, it would change the lives of her future employees and their families.
Sherry decided to leave the company and start her own, as a direct competitor of her former employer. She doubled down on her intuition, her idea, that if she placed her employees first, she would succeed beyond her imagination. You have to understand that at the time of her move, the entire paradigm of business was customers come first. She also had no logical data to prove her point. In fact, she had nothing to go off but her own intuition. Customers come first makes sense, because customers drive revenue. Without customers, there are no employees.
But Sherry felt that the customers would care about the culture she was building. She followed her hunch and began selling. Eventually as the company grew she had hired reps to do the selling, but and her reps often requested Sherry to come and visit on the final meeting so she could close the deal. Sherry wouldn't say a word during the entire presentation and finally at the very end would provide just one point of clarification to the client.
Sherry would simply look the prospects in the eye and tell them, "I'm sorry, but at my company, you don't come first. My employees do."
At first the prospects would have to pick their jaw off the conference table, but eventually as she explained the culture she was building around her employees, and the customers eventually "got it" and were thrilled to work with a company who valued their employees so much.
There was even one customer that called to tell Sherry, "Sherry, I wanted to let you know that you were 10% higher than the other bids for our business, and we are going with you". She of course asked why and they said, "Because we believe in the culture you've built".
We believe in the culture, you built......
Imagine this for a second. A customer was willing to pay 10% more for a service because of the culture Sherry created for her employees. That fateful day when she was told by a real life business owner that she didn't know the first thing about business, she could have believed him. Let's be honest the analytics where there. The analytical side of her should have instructed her to stay there.
She had no experience, she had no proof, no data or analytics that she could actually do it. Yet she didn't listen to the analytics, she listened to her intuition. Following her own intuition changed her life.
I believe we are at an interesting point businesses right now. Companies have grown more and more analytical and data driven, and in large part that is due to the Digital Age. There is no doubt of the importance of data and information in running a successful business. I think the larger question lies in what all busin
Is there any real value in creativity, is there any real value in intuition, the side of our selves that create and have gut feelings and inspirational ideas?
I would argue that in Sherry's case, following her own intuition when there was no reasoning to support it, was the very ingredient that created a massively successful company, and let's not forget a very large real life pay day.
Some people say you can't cash a check on philosophy, and I agree.
But you certainly can cash a $40,000,000 check on the real sale of a real company, on one good idea that came from your intuition.
To me that's pretty good ROI.
Return On Intuition