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Kris Talley

Kris Talley

Kris Talley is VP of Sales and partner of Logo. Graduated from the University of Memphis with a BA in business management. He is a husband, father of three, and follower of Christ. Some of his passions are sharing the gospel, music, all sports, and getting to know people. He loves eating at old hole in the wall resturants and pulling for the underdog.

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I had requested the email but once I started reading it, I was sad, frustrated and absolutely mad. The rep had sent me a 30,000-foot recap of the last six months from one of our partner’s perspectives. It was ugly. The whole thing was a complete opposite description of what I desire about our company. I read about being late, product being defective, wrong logos on certain items and what seemed to be a lack of attention/concern for the customer.

Immediately I was sad, almost overwhelmed, with grieve. My company is costing another company money from lost sales, time in all the processing, checking, reviewing, returning, etc. and trust with us. My company is creating a bad name for my rep, who is incredible to work with and a complete professional. To call and say I am so, so sorry wasn’t enough.  However, I wanted to pick up the phone and call right away (it was 7:36 on a Sunday morning, so this wasn’t possible). I just kept asking myself, “What the heck happened?”  Well… Not just one thing, it was several....

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I tried to lower my head. Pull my hat down over my face. Quickly wiping away this substance coming from my face. Hoping no one around me would see. See the tears falling off my chin onto my shirt. After all, I wasn’t wearing a Patriots or Seahawks uniform so the excuse of having passion for my team couldn’t even be used. Yeah, John Legend just sang “America the Beautiful” and Elsa (Idina Menzel) the national anthem, but even the love for my country wasn’t the reason for these tears. I just couldn’t believe it… I pinched myself. I even had the couple behind us (Jason and I) take a picture, as I was sure I would wake up in a moment and none of this would be true. I was at a Super Bowl. Not just any Super Bowl mind you because anyone with enough money or the right timing can buy a ticket. I was there with Logo Chair. We were there. I was at the Super Bowl sitting in Logo Chair seats as a licensee (I could write a separate blog on the journey to even become an NFL licensee – Trust me it is hard).

This seems silly to you, I know.... You are probably like “Dude, what’s the deal? You are at the game, have fun and quit crying…” But you don’t understand. This wasn’t a seat at the game. This wasn’t just checking off a sports bucket list item. This was Logo Chair finally sitting at the table. This is 15 years of work. This is a BHAG (see a previous blog) come true. This was the biggest of big deals. This was an answered prayer. This was my “super bowl”. This was the end of what “couldn’t be done” and the beginning of so many more “to comes”…...

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Big. Hairy. Audacious. Goal. That is what a B.H.A.G. stands for in our world. I know it is a little funny. It is a bit adolescent. However, it gives our company a common goal. This kindergarten phrase is a goal that everyone in this company wants to achieve. We have been chasing this goal since we have been in business and for the first time we are close (more on this later).  Microsoft had a B.H.A.G. They wanted to put a computer with Windows on every desktop across America. Right now that doesn’t seem so crazy, however when they made this their goal it was laughable. I am not sure our B.H.A.G. was ever laughable but it surely didn’t seem possible.

Remember the big game? You were nervous yet excited at the same time. You thought you might get sick but you didn’t have time. Somehow you were able to channel all the nerves into passion and better play. I understand not everyone played sports so what about a song, the minute you hear the opening cords being played you can’t stop the chill bumps from spreading over your arms. Or how about the time you heard some of the best news in your life and without even giving it thought it brought you to tears. There are also the times when you just didn’t know what to say, something was so monumental. Somewhere in the middle of all these examples is where I currently reside. No, hitting this B.H.A.G. will not be as important as hearing my wife say she was pregnant the 4 times she has communicated this to me. This will not be as overwhelming of a moment, as finally seeing my sinful state before a Holy God, only to realize that through His Son’s life, death, and resurrection I was saved.  This isn’t like planning out what I was going to say (as I didn’t want to miss a single statement within my heart) to my then girlfriend (now wife) in order to ask her to be my bride forever. However, if we are able to obtain this goal I will cry. I will get chill bumps the moment before I hear the outcome. I have been attempting to practice my elevator sales pitch so I can accurately communicate who Logo Chair is and what we know we can do. It will be exciting. It will be rewarding. It does surface all the emotions and feelings in life....

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Ever been away from home for so long you forgot how home felt? What does the entry way smell like again? Which part of the steps on your way upstairs creek? Everything in your fridge has either been eaten, thrown away, or by now replaced! The sense of what it feels like to be standing in the middle of your den or laying in your own bed has escaped you. Well if I have even been there, I am there now. Seven thousand miles away from home and every step feels like I am getting farther instead of closer. Every day that goes by, even though a day closer till I return, feels like another year since I was last home. ...

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What is ambition? Ambition is an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment. Ambition is the object, state, or result desired of something we sought after. It can also be defined as a desire to work or having high activity, energy. Right now I am smiling. What you more than likely heard was the desire to work hard in order to achieve power, honor, fame, or wealth. Is that what the definition said or what me make ambition up to be for our benefit or others detriment? I heard ambition is someone having the work ethic, desire, energy, and willingness to achieve something they desire. ...

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I think the hardest part of business is vision. Anyone can have a dream. That is easy. In business you are required to have a vision to accomplish your dream. It is the “how, what, when, and who” that is important. Otherwise how could the “who” in the equation know “when” to help accomplish the “what” within the dream? What makes this so hard are all the variables. What will the economy be like in 5 years? Will our best product still be relevant? Will our customer base still look the same? It is hard to project what will happen tomorrow so how can I know what 2017 will look like?

Next, throw in the timing. When is the right time to make a move? Should we hire now before the expected volume increase or after we know we have it in hand?  What about when to come out with new products? Not to mention which products to come out with.  Do you wait until ALL your ducks are in a row before you release them? Do you test them in sample markets? Will your competitors catch up with you if you don't pull it off flawlessly? This is starting to sound like fortune telling.  What about price increases? Sometimes we get them in the middle of the year. Economic climates change and the value of the US dollar decreases. In a moment your cost is raised. Steel supply is down while demand is up in the market, in a moment, our price changes. What do we do now? Keep in mind we have communicated a price to our customers. Do you just lose money?  Do you make the tough call and pass on the cost increase? Timing can be everything....

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A young man threw me a pen and said “sell this to me!” I looked at him for a second and then followed up my confused look with the words, “huh?” The young man, a new intern at Logo, then proceeded to tell me a story. He was preparing for interviews. In his preparation he was told that there could be a case when he would need to sell a pen to the person doing the interview. I guess as a way of saying be prepared to sell anything to anyone if you want a career in sales. ...

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We have rules and policies in order to run our business. How to take a sales order, a process to pick, pack, and ship orders. We have rules on warranty issues, pricing, and production timelines when taking “out of stock” orders. They are all essential to run our every day business yet there are very few that are black and white. Most of these we would deem as gray. Here is a great example. One of our rules is we need our sales reps to submit orders via our Logo order form through our customer service email address. However, if one of my reps calls me on a Tuesday afternoon with a rush order, that was written on a napkin, from a lunch meeting, in which the order needs to be there Friday and the rep wont be home till the end of the week, you better believe we are entering that order the day we receive it over the phone to ensure it is there by Friday. It helps our rep, our sales number, and most importantly our customer. See... They are gray rules. ...

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Several weeks ago I spent almost two days with a group of men and women that simply amaze me. They are a breed of people who have been around since production of products began and stores needed merchandise. Most of their life is in a car. They are in and out of cities, towns, and your local shopping centers. This group gets a bad rap from everyone. Manufactures think they don't work hard enough for their money (a positive way of stating that they are lazy), many retail stores often fail to give them credit when they do a good job and then blame them for most of the mistakes made. They collectively get this wrap from the small portion within them that actually don't work and look for the next gravy train from the retailers/manufactures. ...

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Fear can be overwhelming. It comes in so many forms. Fear of man. Fear of the unknown. Fear of heights. Fear of not having all the right answers. Fear of transparency. Fear of loss. Fear of public speaking (FYI: This ranks 1st among Americans). Fear of death. Why am I so afraid of everything. Should I be? As I think out this post I am currently afraid of something. It is a mixture of the list above. 

In a short summation, right now I am getting over my fear of transparency by typing this all out (we will see if I post it to the blog or not). Currently I am afraid of a meeting, specifically fear of man. A man’s response to a difficult situation that I hope I can eloquently communicate while getting Logo Chair’s point across... I am fearful of the unknown. How will he react? After I start the meeting, how will I be able to keep it going for 30 minutes without digressing into my sales pitch about how great our products are and why he should always buy from us? (selling this customer isn't the purpose of this meeting) Will I have the correct words to say? Will I have enough to say? Am I willing to say all that needs to be said? Will I say it all too fast in a nervous, shaky voice?  ...

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There are mornings when I wake up and ask myself, “why do you do what you do?” It seems my life runs at 100 miles an hour, every day. Up early for work. Long hours while at work, taking/making phone calls, answering questions from our team, sending out and responding to countless emails. Then off to a soccer/t-ball/basketball practice, youth at church on Wednesday, a meeting with a church member, lunch with the family, another meeting for work and to finish the week off a meeting with a student about life over breakfast followed by a dinner conversation with my wife. Mix in travel season for work and it goes something like this... Up early for flight, new city, same city, rent a car, check into hotel, meeting, catch a cab, take calls, set up meetings for next week, text with a student from church, call home to make sure the family knows you are alive, eat at restaurant at the bar, then off to a meeting, followed by a meeting, check out of hotel and then a flight home to 800 emails. Shouldn't something give? ...

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Compliments sometimes come at the most random of times from the most unexpected places. Recently I was on the phone with a customer. Truth be told the customer is upset with Logo Chair. We have made some mistakes in our business partnership over the last two years. We have owned them and in my humble opinion made right on the errors. The reason for this current phone call was to schedule a meeting face to face so I could recap our business partnership and hopefully learn all the things that Logo could do better in the future either for this current customer or for any customer in the future. During this call the buyer said the following in reference to my father who use to work for Logo, “Rik Talley is one of the best human beings I know. Aside for the fact that he was good with people, he genuinely cared about the customer and what we thought about the company.” Honestly, while typing this I am smiling. The customer is right. I have grown up watching this man be everything I want to be on this side of heaven. He is caring, nurturing, loving, warm hearted, funny, smart, quick witted, and great with people because above all else he is the definition of Character. His yes is his yes. His no is a no. He is honest even when the truth hurts and is hard to communicate.

I have grown up knowing that the shoes I would be asked to fill as the next “Talley” salesperson would be large and quite impossible to fill. Not only has my father always delivered results where ever he was worked as a salesperson, but he did it all the while changing people all around him and making friends. His father did much of the same. The stories go on for days from Elvis impersonations to pretending to be a stubborn janitor in order to break the ice for a sales meeting. My eyes have seen. My ears have heard. I have been emulating him since I can remember. Memorizing his walk, praying for his patience, hoping that the Lord blessed me with the same touch my father has always had... People light up when they here the name Rik Talley. Still today workers jump up from behind their desk when they here his voice in the office. Logo staff who didn't even work with him hurry out of their cubical to shake his hand. So to say the customer on the phone was right is an understatement....

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When I was young I wanted to a super hero. I wanted to be Superman, Hulk, Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, you name the rest. I imagined myself flying to someone’s rescue that I didn't even know. I would daydream of holding a building steady through an earthquake so all the people inside could run free. I wanted to save for the glory that the saving provided. Deep down I knew it wasn't real, but still I longed to a hero to someone. ...

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Soon there will be a Dunkin’ Donuts opening near my home. Regretably, I will more than likely be a regular visitor there. (My kids love donuts on Saturday morning). You see there is a local donut store half a mile away I would rather give my business. I love local businesses. I also love the little guy beating out the larger guy (it is our story at Logo). However, it is becoming hard to go back to the local donut shop any longer. It isn't because they made me mad one time. It isn't because their donuts don't taste as good, they do... I can withstand their mistakes. I can handle a wait (over and over again). However, what is hard to swallow is mistake after mistake, poor customer service, not enough product from a company (donut shop) where they dont seem to care. They don't want to get better. Every time I have walked through their doors lately all the owner (and her husband who she often verbally abuses with a packed shop) wants to talk about is how we are all going to eat at “DD” when it opens. She says things like “everyone run on Dunkin, huh?” I just shake my head. Inside I am asking the question, “why don't you make it so I don't HAVE to “run on Dunkin”. ...

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I hate returns. Not because of the reasons you think. It isn't the hassle of the paperwork. It isn't the lost sale. It’s not even the fact that someone might be upset with me. I can handle all of this. It is the fact that someone is let down with the brand of Logo Chair and the product quality we offer. For some customers you only get one shot at making them pleased with your company. Therefore, a single return could represent one less person in the market that wants to buy our product again. That scares me...

For this very reason we take product quality very seriously. Our goal when developing a product is to make it “Home Good” (I stole this from the book Re-Work). Think about it. Any company can do just enough marketing and product development to entice you to purchase a product off the shelf. This isn't ONLY what we want. We want you to be enticed to buy our product off the shelf at any given retailer. However, our goal is to make the product so good that when it is at your home or tailgate and your friends see it or use it, they too want to go out an purchase one for themselves. Products that do not lose their luster once you get them home. Products that because they are what you thought they were you go back to the retailers you bought a given product from and you search for more from Logo Chair....

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Because I'm in sales, I get asked all types of questions in many different ways.  Lately, there is one question that keeps coming up: “Are you guys competitive?” They are asking if Logo competes with other companies and against our goals the way other companies do? I guess because of our companies proclamation of the Gospel, which is where all our hope is found, there is a misunderstanding of what that means when it comes to business.

Yes, we believe the Lord blesses our business with what he feels is best. But please don’t take this statement as a passive one. We will never sit around waiting for something to fall out of the sky in our laps.  We have a desire to work harder than our competition, and continue to grow our market share....

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Every day as I enter our building I pass this frame hanging on our wall. It is a simple frame with a simple message. However, it represents everything that Logo Chair is as company.  Four short phrases.  Small statements that define the people and the foundation that makes up our company. As I pass by, I am reminded that my goal for the day is to please my Lord and Savior.  I want to bring Him glory. That is number one while I am here within the workplace but also everywhere I go. 

I am thankful for this little sign as it is so easy to get lost in what we are doing, what the world tells us to do, or just the easy way out in any situation. We know and believe that our company is where it is today by the Grace of God. We are all reminded of this daily. We face this reality when we fall short of our other core values: to have the best customer service, make the best products and get better every day. Some days it doesn’t feel like each one of us (I know I feel this way) have gotten better or that we offered the best customer service when the news of a delayed product upsets a customer we have had for ten years....

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