Why I Love REI

My friend, Professor Terri Griffith sent this Yelp Review of Acme Bakery tonight because the review takes a side trip through REI… Check it out:

This is a delightful tiny, but busy bakery.  Everyone in town either knows first-hand how good the bread is or has been tipped off by Yelp.

I was visiting from Houston (recently relocated) and yearning for some sourdough.  These friendly ladies sold me and my friends a sourdough baguette ($2/baguette) and to top it off, they gave me some sourdough starter.  For free.  You need to bring your own lidded, airtight container, and if they have enough starter to give away, they will happily fill your container nearly to the brim.

This sent me on a quick run to the Walgreens on San Pablo Avenue and Gilman,  and they did not have any plastic containers!  I headed over to REI where I almost paid for a $10 hardcore camping-style container.  I told an employee my story, and he ran upstairs to give me a Pilot gas station plastic mug with a lid.  He found said cup in the employee lost and found bin.  I washed it next door in Chipotle’s bathroom and then returned to Acme where they filled it up.  (You can see I was desperate and willing.)

Fast forward three weeks: I fed this sourdough for three weeks in Houston and baked delightful bread.  I followed instructions from King Arthur Flour for sourdough baguettes.  All of my Cali-transplant coworkers in Houston are digging the sourdough, too, now.  We all say it tastes better and more authentic than any “sourdough” you can get in Houston.

Thank you, Acme Bread Company and kind REI employee, for my delicious sourdough.  I promise to send all of my friends, family, and fellow Yelpers here (both to Acme and REI) as much as I can!

You don’t get this kind of care and passion by hiring simply for a job description or by asking people to fit into a box. No way. People are not cogs and they don’t thrive if they feel treated as such. Every leader knows that success comes from how you bring together talent, purpose and culture. Purpose brings out the best in people and the best people. More on that thread here.

Of course, I’ve written about REI in the Social Era and I hope I can always talk about them with this much enthusiasm. REI rocks because they embody their purpose, which gives their brand (and their people) meaning.

Do you have similar stories of other companies? Share ’em below. We ought to celebrate them.

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