When I was growing up back in Kentucky I began to learn about loyalty early, especially brand loyalty. When I would help my dad work on the car I noticed he was particular about which spark plugs and oil he used even as others were less expensive. When I asked him why he chose this one as opposed to the other, his response was simple, “It’s a better product and I like it better,” which I call “His Loyalty Statement” and you can’t get much more precise than that. His loyalty to his favorite brands/products taught me a very valuable lesson for when I came of age and began to choose for myself.

The first thing I learned was quality matters. “It’s a better product” not only rang true for car parts but when we would build a deck on the back of the house and other aspects, I quickly realized quality was important. The phrase ‘good enough’ implies this is already not as great as it could be. In the book, Good To Great, Jim Collins opens with, “Good is the enemy of great.” The premise is when being good is enough then you fall short of being great which usually only requires a little bit more effort. Now that I’m an adult I have to decide for myself, when choosing a product, how important quality is to me which I’ve concluded, you get what you pay for.

The next thing was there needs to be a connection. When Dad told me he “just liked it” there was a connection as to why he liked it. Sometimes it was because it was recommended by someone he respected, it was tested or a number of other reasons, such as he just liked it. My brother and I loved to eat peanut butter as kids (truth be told, it’s still my favorite snack) which we ate by the bucket. Mom, in an effort to save on the family budget, chose to substitute our Peter Pan with some generic brand because it came in a bigger bucket which meant she didn’t have to buy it as often. Immediately we noticed a difference because it didn’t taste the same nor was as good and bottom line, we just didn’t like it. Needless to say we went back to the brand we liked and pretty much saved the peanut butter industry. Just so you know I still have Peter Pan in the cupboard.

These two lessons shape a lot of what I do and what I purchase as well as what I will put my name behind. There are tons of products out there which claim to do this or that but when it comes to where the rubber meets the road or in this case, the coal meets the fire, does it hold up to what it claims? If it doesn’t then I may use it to get by in a pinch but I’m quickly moving on to the quality product with which I have a connection. When you have these to lessons in place when choosing a product, no matter if it’s as big as a house or as little as a briquette, you’re going to feel much better and those you share your life with will be much happier.