The Celery Test

Celery Test

Imagine yourself in a large supermarket and you are watching someone checkout.  In their cart they have rice milk, bananas, quinoa, granola and celery.  What can you deduct about this person?  Clearly, this individual is health conscious.  And if you are health conscious, you may even engage in conversation.  Why?  Because you feel you can relate.  This person believes in what you believe creating an authentic connection around shared values.

Now imagine a different person has soy milk, broccoli, candy, soda and jelly beans.  Now, what can you deduct? It becomes much harder to know what this person believes in.  You are less likely to start a conversation based on the uncertainty of his cart.  If you can’t understand this individual’s beliefs, you will fail to make a meaningful connection.

The best organizations consistently pass their customers’ celery test by clearly demonstrating what they believe through how they behave.  In Tesla’s metaphorical shopping cart they have rechargeable batteries, solar powered lights and always ask for paper not plastic.  Ford would have a pair of steel toed boots, a few flannel shirts, a tent and a Big Game Hunter video game.  Southwest would avoid paying name brand pricing, walk the aisles in the opposite way of everyone else and always have a smile on their face in the checkout line.  Home Depot might have books on empowerment, an Erector Set and would always use the DIY checkout lanes.  You get the idea.  They are loading their carts everyday with things to attract people who believe what they believe.

I have been thinking about what would be in our company’s cart.  DWC would have the latest tablet showing our progressive side, a lot of Hallmark cards demonstrating our caring nature, a box movie set of The Fast & Furious for our urgency and speed, Jenga indicating how much we like to build and rebuild, a few self-help books to continue our education and growth, coconut water for our desire to live healthy, and when we are checking out, we would always round up our bill to give our change back to charity.  If we added into our cart frozen foods, tobacco products and a few magazines about the latest drama in Hollywood, no one would be able to understand who we are or what we believe.

Every company must eventually pass their own celery test to become truly authentic in their market.  If the business sends out mixed or confusing signals to their customers about who they are, why they are in business or tries to be everything to everyone, no one will ever really understand what the company believes.  What you get is a fragmented, gimmicky brand that receives short bursts of a customer’s business through lower pricing or clever marketing, but never true customer loyalty.  The kind of loyalty that allows the business to grow in an economic recession, obtain higher margins on the same products others offer and even have customers willing to be inconvenienced to purchase their products and services over other brands.

This is why it is imperative we all remember who we are, and most importantly, why we do what we do.  It is the very reason DWC has a purpose and values that create and guide our authenticity.  By staying committed to being authentic, we are passing our own celery test allowing us to attract others who believe in what we believe.  As Simon Sinek likes to say, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”

 Written by Bryce Hyett, DWC CEO.