Here I am, sitting on a plane Monday morning headed to Southern California to visit family and friends after officially retiring from Lowe’s on January 31, 2016, after 22 incredible years. I must admit, I felt completely stress-free this morning going through the whole airport experience with my wife. Mondays have seldom felt quite like this—at least for the last 35 years in retail.
Paying It Forward
I feel an overwhelming need to pay it forward as I will always be indebted to the retail industry and loss prevention profession that I inadvertently chose back in 1981.
At my first interview with Robinsons-May, I had no idea what loss prevention was, and my soon-to-be supervisor quickly picked up on that. But for whatever reason, he made the decision to hire me anyway, and the rest is history.
My first thank you goes to Jim Lee and LP Magazine for giving me an opportunity to write a column based on my experience. I warned the LPM team that I am far from politically correct, and my intent is to write a column that will be real, from the heart, and an honest reflection of my experiences.
I plan to be retrospective in disclosing where and how my many failures and poor decisions occurred. There were, no doubt, many moments of frustrations along the way as well. But these were far outweighed by the achievement of many successes and milestones, while maintaining a sense of humanity in the midst of the endless pressures and stress that come with our responsibilities in retail.
I will also share some insights from the successes and failures of my former team, including the often-understated factors such as leadership behaviors and principles that invariably determine a team’s performance outcomes.
I will delve into attitudinal aspects of building essential cross-functional business partnerships necessary for your team’s success and long-term viability. I will share my experiences when hearing an executive speak words like, “Remember—it’s business. It’s never personal.”
On the humorous side, I will share my insights on the many instances where I had a moment—which we all do—where we internally evaluate the level of importance of our employment before responding or reacting during a time of conflict.
My second thank you goes out to my mentor and “big brother” Bob “Obie” Oberosler, who saw something in me 24 years ago that few others did when he first promoted me to the director of investigations position at Robinsons-May. His infectious passion, enthusiasm, and drive left a significant impression on me and influenced my management style forever. He taught me to assemble a strong, diverse, driven, and talented team; create healthy competition in order to drive performance; and have a hell of a lot of fun along the way.
Friends and Colleagues
My third thanks goes to my best friends and most respected colleagues in the retail industry, Leo Anguiano and Cornel Catuna, who were also part of Obie’s original corporate team at Robinsons-May.
Obie was a master at telling each of us individually how we were the best investigator or interviewer, only for the three of us to get into a spirited debate as to who was the superior interviewer. As we each steadfastly proclaimed our dominance, we would suddenly realize that our convictions were all a result of the same praise we received from Obie. We agreed our friendship would always take precedence over our competitive aspirations for our careers, and we always remained true to that promise.
This is one area that I wish was more prevalent in our industry—remaining grateful and experiencing lasting, loyal friendships with our mentors and sponsors, as opposed to allowing ego to create unhealthy, competitive environments that are often at the root of talented, yet dysfunctional teams.
The Lowe’s Team
My fourth thank you goes out to my awesome, highly functional, best-in-class Lowe’s loss prevention, safety, and hazmat team. We instilled a team-first approach over personal accolades, and the results were unbelievable. My team executed while I listened and led as required.
Family and the Future
My last thanks goes to the beautiful woman sleeping next to me on the plane—my wife, Lucia, of twenty-five years who basically raised our two children and kept me sane with her positive outlook and personality. Thanks to her and the good Lord for being my ultimate role model, calming force, and influence of my core principles.
I will make one more promise: my articles will be about real-life experiences, at times controversial, and retrospective of career events at every level of our profession. After all, I started in an entry-level position like many of the readers of this magazine. I have one objective—providing thoughts and learnings from my experiences that may help someone in our industry glean an insight that may in whatever small way improve their career in loss prevention.