Every week I am blessed to learn about a company and how it impacts an industry. Recently, after two date changes due to the pandemic, I was finally able to serve Great Lakes Wine & Spirits. This is an 80+-year-old company in Detroit, Mich., USA that has over 1,000 employees.  

They’ve remained a family- owned and operated, Michigan-based business. It serves all 83 counties in the state as a multifaceted industry leader in the alcoholic beverage wholesale business.  

They were kind enough to ask me to share my latest thinking with their leaders. However, I took three pages of notes as I discovered what makes them great and how they think about the future.  

Here are just a few ideas that I learned and will apply to my business:  

  • Recognize change and change how you think about the future. 
  • Be ready to wear several hats. Gone are the days when one says, “That’s not my job.” Be multidimensional in how you approach business.  
  • Improve the team experience. People want to work for a leader who wants them to win at home, in their community, and in their life. It’s not just about hitting your monthly revenue target. 
  • Be an example for others to follow.  
  • Ask yourself on a daily basis, “Is this where I want to be?” If so, act like it.  
  • Train your team members so well that they will leave. Make sure that everyone is cross-trained.  
  • Be confident. Be calm. Be organized.  
  • Use all available internal technical resources. It will work if you work it.  
  • Do not ask your team members to do something that you are not willing to do yourself.  
  • The hardest person to manage is the person in the mirror. Always hold yourself to a higher standard of excellence.  
  • Be a team player who wants to make everyone better.  

I am forever grateful that I had an opportunity to serve Great Lakes Wine & Spirits. They treated me and my wife, Jodi, like royalty by reserving overnight accommodations at the prestigious Detroit Athletic Club.  

I walked around this club, which was founded in 1887, and had my wife take a quick photo. I wanted to remember this moment as I think about the future.