Select Page

Listen and Hear above the Noise

Listen and Hear above the Noise

There are defining moments in a person’s career, moments that make you think and decide to change something, do something, or stop doing something. Moments that define you as a leader – if you chose to stop and think about them. Moments that can pass you by and have little impact on your life at all if you aren’t paying attention.

They can be direct interventions or subtle occurrences that you observe from the outside.

This is one of those stories.

Bob Ingram was his name, and he reported to me in the 80’s.

He wouldn’t mind me saying this but he was old school, as old as they come. Now given that this was the 80’s some would say I am now old school, so that would make his school ancient in retrospect.

I digress…

Bob used an expression “listen and hear above the noise” at times under his breathe in a meeting while others were talking.

My mistake?

He used it 4 or 5 times before I actually asked him what he meant. I was so green and arrogant. I didn’t consider that I should be learning from those who report to me. Most of my knowledge was acquired this way actually.  

Bob explained to me that is was the Signal Corps motto. They had to decipher coded messages that were present within a lot of static over radio-waves. It’s the way the enemy used to communicate. (He said that but I have googled it for years and can’t find the direct reference anywhere, so it must be one of the best-kept secrets if true).

I didn’t ask him why he used it in these seemingly innocent discussions in retail, but it stuck with me, and more and more I began to understand it and appreciate, and tried my damnedest to use it.

If I child says they have a sick stomach and can’t go to school, is there a message hidden amongst the noise? When you ask if they have a test that day and they say “yes”, you have your answer.

Listening and hearing above the noise is about trying to understand these covert messages that appear within a lot of overt static.

We can be distracted by the noise and miss what we should hear.

In Loss Prevention, it is critical to listen and hear above the noise. It gets you to the root cause of issues. It protects you against being misled. It allows you to extract the value of something that gets buried.

And it was a defining moment in my career, a career that allowed me to lead teams to extremely profitable results. Because we listened, and there was a lot of noise at times, and we got past it to hear what was really being said.

About Stephen O'Keefe

As an independent consultant I leverage my experience and knowledge to help a number of companies achieve results. Clients range from non-retailers looking for guidance to serve their retail customer, to retailers looking for quick solutions to unique and costly problems, right to the Industry Association. Bottom line Matters!

View All Posts

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Bottom Line Matter™

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Bottom Line Matter™

You have Successfully Subscribed!