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The King’s Speech

  
  
  

describe the imageI watched the Oscar’s last night with greater interest than I normally do. I found I had a rooting interest, which is unusual for me. I’m not exactly the world’s most regular movie-goer, but I’d recently seen “The King’s Speech”, loved it, and was very happy when it won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Clearly there were many who found the story of King George VI and his efforts to overcome a debilitating stammer to be compelling. It obviously has tremendous appeal on many different levels. But what struck a chord in me was the story of an Australian-born commoner finding a way to connect profoundly with the future King of England. It is not just the story of a reluctant, but courageous King, but also the story of a fearless therapist, and, ultimately, their extraordinary friendship.

Lionel Logue, though not formerly credentialed, understood through his work with others that Prince Albert’s stammer was not merely a “mechanical” defect, but a symptom of far deeper issues. At once convinced of his instincts and approach, Logue set out to overcome “Bertie’s” royal reserve, fear and humiliation to earn his confidence and trust. In turn, he also earned the King's lifelong appreciation, respect and friendship.

The story is not the work of fiction. This most improbable of relationships was carefully researched and extensively documented. And it left me hoping that I might engage my clients with as much skill, conviction and caring, and earn their confidence and trust as completely as Lionel Logue earned the confidence and trust of his client.

For those who read this blog for insights into the fundamentals of running a successful retail business, I think the parallel extended to your clients: your customers. Retailing at its most fundamental is an interpersonal business based on building and sustaining relationships. The strength of those relationships has a high correlation to success, especially for independent retailers.

For larger, national retailers, their sheer scale prevents this kind of interpersonal engagement, and leaves them little option but to build their business models around delivering mass-marketed commodities at the lowest possible price. Smaller, independent retailers are not so constrained.

So for those readers, it seems to me that “The King’s Speech” leaves us with a pretty clear question: Are you setting out to earn (and actually earning) the confidence and trust of your clients/customers that Lionel Logue earned with his?

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