Staying fresh with customers

Paul Berggren
3 min readJan 27, 2021

What do you do when a client calls and says “We’re totally committed to working with you but…?” I got one of those calls today. When I heard the lead in to the question, I leaned in closer. I didn’t have any direct reason to be concerned where this was going, but you never know. But I do know is that fear is a choice and I chose not to fear. Although we were talking by phone, I smiled and said with a warm voice, “Sounds interesting what are you thinking?” After all, this HR director and I are battle buddies by now.

It turns out some of their building principals, mid-level leaders, have been giving feedback on how to improve their experience with our hiring and development services. As they continue to get squeezed by increasing demands for their mental, emotional, and physical time they are naturally looking for ways to find new ways to get more value from current things. From an HR view, how do we keep it relevant and motivating for the frontline leaders using Crown’s tools?

I quickly gave her the short answer to three or four different areas of service with, “Yes we can do that, with your help.” This client is going into the second year of an unpredictable COVID world, and needs to know we have their back. This was a perfect opportunity to adapt our service in a custom way that will keep it fresh for them.

The best part is we get to ask “What if…” together and discover something wonderful that will last many years. We sketched out three major areas to find creative solutions to present and future challenges. We will find inspiring ways to learn in practical ways while maintaining personal connections that drive our training. We will find new questions to address emerging concerns for health and safety of students and staff. We will also adapt a few existing screening and interview tools to meet the realities of virtual education in ways that shift the focus back to learning.

One of the things Steve Jobs liked about being away from Apple for a while, is that he had a chance to be a beginner again. In this case a beginner at something new with a lot of wonderful experience that could be a reapplied because the old guard rails were gone. I much prefer this feeling of creative freshness without being kicked out a relationship. It’s much better to disrupt yourself within an existing relationship on purpose to keep it fresh for everyone, especially those we serve through our shared mission.

So here we go — leaning into an unknown space with several friends and adventurers to create something new together. This new work will become fresh yet familiar because we designed it together to make our part of the world a bit better.

Photo by René Ranisch on



Paul Berggren

I help people listen and learn from each other. As President of Crown Global HR, I bring clarity to growing and hiring people.