International Airport for a cherry Slurpee and a bottle
of water. “It’s part of a ritual for me,” he says. The
employees there know him by name and know that
he’s the guy from Boston who’s the big Celtics fan.
Gross says he returns every time he’s in town not just
for the cherry Slurpee and the bottle of water, but for
the good vibe.
If you change the way you look at things, the things
you look at change,” he says.
Be Your Own Playmaker
In a word, he says, c-store success depends on one
thing: relationships. “It’s never about perfection. It’s
always about connection,” he says.
Before that sense of belonging can be passed on to
customers, however, it must be openly shared by
employees. That, he says, requires four things from
the chief playmaker:
• Create a joyful environment at work.
• Develop social connections that make workers feel
part of a team.
• Give workers choices so they feel valued at work.
•Nurture active engagement so employees feel
“You can’t make an employee happy—happiness
comes from within,” says Gross. “But you can create an
environment for people to find their own happiness.”
The good we do is the legacy we leave. We are not
defined by our jobs, but by our actions, he says. No
one identifies Gandhi as an attorney, for example, but
that was his vocation. And few remember Rosa Parks
as a seamstress, but that was her occupation. Both
are remembered, instead, for what they did to make
life better for others, Gross says.
Goodification isn’t hard. Maybe you keep you
store open during the next big snow storm—when
you normally would have closed it—just to make
sure neighbors have enough bread and milk. Maybe
you ask the customer who looks down-and-out
how they’re doing. Their answer might surprise
you—and talking about it might even help them
Each of us, Gross says, is chief playmaker of our
own lives. It doesn’t take much to share the love.
“Every human being has the opportunity to be in a
It can start as simple as this, Gross says: “How may
I help you?”
Bruce Horovitz, a freelance writer and marketing consultant, is a former USA Today marketing
reporter and Los Angeles Times marketing columnist. Horovitz, who also writes the monthly
“Endcap" trends column for NACS Magazine,
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 19, 2016 | 10: 15 to 11:30am
Steve Gross is founder and chief playmaker of the Life is Good Playmakers, a
501(c)( 3) public charity, which partners with frontline professionals—such
“Never make a customer
as teachers, social workers and child life specialists—who dedicate their
lives to helping children overcome poverty, violence and illness. These
Playmakers use the power of play to build healing, life-changing relationships with the children in
their care. At the heart of his work, Steve helps others access their own playfulness so that they
can build resilience and bring greater joy, connection, courage and creativity to their work and lives.
feel they’ve made it
inconvenient for you
by walking into your