We made a lot of mistakes in those early days at Swisse, but Michael had a unique ability to see the best in every situation and turn those events into teachable moments. His attitude made these challenging experiences easier to bear. He believed, as I do, that words have the power to build people up, or the potential to drag people down. For example, rather than give the team ‘feedback’ on how they could do something better, he called it an opportunity to ‘learn, grow and improve’, which we all referred to as an ‘LGI’ moment. This LGI phrase was coined by one of our long-term team members, Musabek, the production manager. When something went wrong on the conveyor belt, he would say to Michael in his strong Kyrgyzstani accent, ‘This experience will help us learn, grow and improve.’ Michael loved that expression so much he used it in his feedback sessions as a powerful tool for reframing criticism.

These language modifications extended to the use of simple pronouns too. We never used the word ‘I’. It was always ‘we’. If something went wrong, no single person would be blamed. While the team leader would ultimately be responsible for the situation, the use of ‘we’ placed the onus on the entire team to fix it. (You'll notice I refer to ‘we’ throughout this book. ‘I’ am telling the story, but the success of Swisse was very much a collaborative effort.)

The word ‘problem’ was reserved for people with real problems, like those living in ...

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