Even inspirational leaders have people who inspire them to succeed in business; to work hard, take on challenges, think of customers and employees first. That inspirational person may be a colleague, customer, or a family member. During interviews with the 1to1 editorial team, several of the 2011 1to1 Customer Champions shared who inspires them and why:"Customers. They provide us with [feedback on] the things they absolutely love and we find ourselves extremely motivated to keep doing them."
--Chuck Sliker, senior vice president of operations services, Arby's
"I credit Walt Disney for happily ever after. That's what I want for all our customers, and I'm not satisfied until everyone has his happy ever after."
--Susan DeLaney, vice president, customer experience, UPS
"My mom and dad. They have five kids; they came from inner city Baltimore. All five of us went to college on their nickel and we all have a strong work ethic. Where I am...was instilled while I was growing up: If you love what you do, you never have to go to work."
--Mike Colbourn, vice president marketing, sales, and communications, Stowe Mountain Resort
"I get inspired every day by so many people. It comes down to people who have the courage to take the scary step to achieve something that they can only dream of."
--Donna Lendzyk, director, customer loyalty, SaskTel
"My inspiration would be my dad. He was a businessman and was focused on the customer. He gave me the whole ethic that I'm realizing now."
--Jay Topper, senior vice president, customer success, Rosetta Stone
"Omni President Mike Deitemeyer, because his outstanding leadership and high expectations make me want to work hard to perform well."
--Jeff Smith, vice president, operations and loyalty services, Omni Hotels and Resorts
"I would call myself an eclectic leader. I select things of an inspirational nature from many, many people.... The common thread is open, candid communication and a safe environment to take on challenging issues; living without fear of discussing anything and an environment that recognizes and rewards results."
--Tom Feeney, president and CEO, Safelite AutoGlass
"My parents. The way they carry themselves and how they do things."
--David Payne, assistant vice president, contact center, The Standard
"The folks at Macys who actually take action: the sales associates and sales managers. It's one thing to have business strategy that says put the customer at the center of every decision; it's another thing to live that strategy."
--Tim Teran, senior vice president, consumer insights and strategy, Macy's
"The biggest inspiration for me has always been my Dad. He came from humble beginnings [in a village in India]. He always said education is the key...it's the one thing that no one can ever take away from you. That's inspiration for me. I'm always educating myself, educating my [employees], educating my children. He passed away last year, and my brothers and I produced a book about the inspiration we took from him. I keep the book with me in my back pocket to provide direction and guidance."
--Ven Bontha, vice president, customer experience, CEMEX USA
"I have found author and business strategist Fred Reichheld's books on loyalty and [Net Promoter Score] to be thought-provoking and inspiring."
--Stephen Jackson, chief information officer, Harry Rosen Inc.
"Founder and President John Parham inspires me. He's started this business from the ground up by selling one part from the back of his van 32 years ago. Continuing that vision and never abandoning the customer is inspirational to me."
--Rich Brecht, director of customer experience, J&P Cycles
"First, my parents. They were very blue collar. They had a good work ethic and were passionate about what they did. I tried to carry as much as that over as I can. Even though we're in the entertainment business, we're blue collar and trying to make great experiences. I still take that lunch-pail mentality to work with me. Second, my wife inspires me because she is the same way, and we sacrificed a lot to get where we are today. We had a dream to be in motorsports at an early age together. Third are our guests. I went to engineering school for two years before they threw me out because I wasn't good at math, but this math I can understand: no fans equals no International Speedway, which equals no Roger Curtis."
--Roger Curtis, president, Michigan International Speedway