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In July, I started asking Joseph Kankam, the young man that tends the fruit in my local organic supermarket, “When do you expect the Honeycrisp Apples?” (If you’ve never tasted a Honeycrisp, you must stop reading, drive directly to a Whole Foods and buy these remarkable apples. But back to my story…) Joseph assured me the apples would be arriving in the fall.

In mid-September, I walked into the grocery and was greeted by Joseph’s broad smile. “The apples have arrived,” he said. “Would you like a taste?” Of course I said yes. Joseph went to get his paring knife and then we stood in the middle of the aisle and shared my first Honeycrisp apple of the season.

I am telling this story because it sums up everything I believe in as a business coach.

Happiness is contagious. The few moments in Joseph’s company assured me a wonderful evening ahead. In fact, my mood was elevated and heightened for the rest of the week – I wanted to share the story of the apple.

Likeability is a critical component to success. There are lots of smart, savvy people out there who undermine their own possibilities with a negative and brusque manner. Big mistake. We all want to buy apples from people who make us feel good about ourselves.

“Only connect.” In “Howard’s End,” E.M. Forster’s characters struggle with the difficulties of creating ties. By remembering my enthusiasm for Honeycrisp apples, Joseph let me know how much he values our relationship. He has converted me from a shopper to an admirer. And our relationship will stick.

Lead with passion. It doesn’t matter what you do – trade stocks, run a bank or repair dishwashers – your excitement and enthusiasm for your product, your company and yourself is a critical component to success. Get up every morning believing you’re selling the world’s best apples.

Take pride in what you do. I would wager that Joseph didn’t get a commission on the five apples I bought that day.

Emotional intelligence matters. In today’s competitive marketplace, it’s not enough to have the finest apples. You also need employees and the people who lead them to exude confidence, discipline, pride and a desire to connect on an emotional level with their customers.

We need more Joseph Kankams. And a longer season for Honeycrisps.

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