There, among the great pyramids of fresh picked apples, was a Whole Foods employee bear hugging an elderly customer. Her silver hair stood in sharp contrast against his dark, muscled arms.  

This was not a scene I was used to seeing while buying  groceries.

There was something different about this Whole Foods, and his name was David.

For the last five years I've watched David high-five and hug his way through our neighborhood grocery store. He remembers every person's name, asks about family members and Facebook posts, recognizes new haircuts and small details like freshly polished nails and makes every person who enters his store feel important.

He has even been known to attend the memorials of his customers who have passed away. David is a master at his craft. And he loves it. And customers love that he loves it.

Check out his Yelp reviews:

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Let employees own their job like it is their own business.

Whole Foods Founder and CEO John Mackey had clearly heard about David's reputation before they met. When they were first introduced, John asked, "What is it that you do that makes so many people call corporate and send all these emails?"

But David's business of loving people wasn't enough to have this much impact. Whole Foods had to give him the freedom to do it. "Whole Foods gave me the the autonomy to just be me." David said, "Their policy was, if you were going to shine and make Whole Foods look good in the process, then they would let you do it."

Beware, the results can be shocking.

And the results were amazing; too good in fact.

David left Whole Foods three years ago. His last day was rough for Whole Foods.

When customers found out, they went a little crazy. One started a Twitter campaign to bring him back. At one point, the Whole Foods corporate office received 20 calls an hour from upset customers blaming the company for David's departure.

And now, three years later, current employees tell David that customers still ask for him.

What's the trick to getting these type of results? In David's words, "When you work for an employer who makes you feel appreciated, what aren't you going to do for them?"

Find out what people are great at.

Instead of focusing on candidates' greatness, today's hiring processes are focused on experience. Has the candidate performed this task before? How many years has the candidate worked in this field?

But "A" players aren't just experienced; they are passionate. They were made to do the specific work the business needs done. They have found their calling and are actively pursuing it and living it out through their work.

That's why almost half of my interview questions are focused on determining what the candidate was made to do, and not necessarily whether or not they have done the job before. I tell every candidate, "You were made to do something very specific. You were made to be great at something. What is it?" Although this strategy does not cover every conceivable need, the results can be astonishing.

According to Gallup, "people who use their strengths every day are three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life, six times more likely to be engaged at work, 8 percent more productive and 15 percent less likely to quit their jobs."

So remember:  

  1. Hire people who love their work

  2. Set the expectation that they are to own their role like it is their own business

  3. Give them the freedom to be themselves

  4. Let them know how much they are valued for their contributions

It is people that make a business successful. Invest in those whose passions align with your business and success will find its way to you.