This is a fantastic story from Josh McKiterick of Rockstar Trainers.
Josh is working with me to audit and improve our curriculum in my mentorship practice, Two-Brain Business.
Josh was visiting Vietnam for a wedding. He took his young family with him, and they stayed at an incredible resort.
Nestled at the base of a mountain, the resort was picturesque: gorgeous views, perfect rooms, large verandas with beautiful seating for visiting. The food was plentiful and exceptionally well done. The mountain had a tram service that would take guests to the top and back down whenever they wanted. The staff was always eager to service any request.
Josh happened to meet the Hospitality Coordinator on the tram. He asked how she inspired her staff: their service seemed worthy of a Michelin star, or something straight out of Setting the Table by Danny Meyer.
She laughed and said, “Almost all of our staff comes from local villages. So our first training session isn’t about our philosophy or our mission or what ‘hospitality’ means. Our first training session goes like this:
“This is a fork.
This is a knife.
Our guests use these tools to eat their food.
Here is how they work.”
Then the new staff sits down to try eating with forks and knives, often for the first time.
The villagers aren’t dumb–they pick up the new skills quickly and eagerly. They’ve just never seen forks and knives before.
“Our ‘basics’ are not their ‘basics'”, she said.
I shared this story with my team of amazing mentors at Two-Brain. They returned some stories back to me that, had I not asked, I would never have imagined:
Clients who had never heard of Google Docs, and didn’t know how to use them
Clients who had never used a spreadsheet before
Clients who haven’t automated their payments, and spend hours entering them manually every month.
Clients who pay for their groceries out of their business checking account.
Actually…that last one was me. I had a degree in exercise science; five training certifications; and I spent two hours every day reading research on physical performance. But I had no idea how to run a business. Luckily, my mentor introduced me to job descriptions and SOPs…though he was a high-level CEO with an MBA and many successful exits, he understood that my “basics” were far beneath his “basics”.
Here’s what to do about it, according to Josh:
Every time you prescribe an action to a client, ask yourself:
“Would an 8-year-old be able to follow these instructions, or do I need to make them simpler?”
(He chose the age of 8 because that’s the age when we stop asking adults “how do I do that?!” or saying “I don’t get it.” After age 8, we tend to pretend we understand, even when we don’t.)
No matter what you’re coaching, your clients want to be successful. They don’t lack motive or work ethic. But if they don’t understand the basics–THEIR basics, not yours–they’ll fail. And if they fail early in your program, they’ll quit soon after.