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What's in Your Product?

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Derek BartonDerek Barton

The Capital One credit card has a long-running campaign with celebrity actors like Samuel L. Jackson. Their mantra is "What's in your wallet?" You may or may not have given any thought to that question, but you may stop and think about this question directed at your own company, "What's in your product?

No matter how long you have been in business, you always have to stop and ask yourself, "Is my product or service still relevant? Do people still like it or need it?" One of my health club clients a few years ago said to me, "I know that people really don't need to come to my gym to get in shape." That insight and honesty floored me, but he was right.

My wife and I recently spent ten days in New York. We're both from there originally and have family and friends living in New York and in New Jersey. New York City seems to be on everyone's Top Five list for many reasons. It's vibrant, exciting and filled with a ton of things to do. Amidst the tall buildings in Manhattan, I saw more trees, flowers and honey bees than I do in Los Angeles. And, the one thing that really stood out for me was that the people in New York are in much better shape than in most cities I've visited.

I made that statement to my wife as we were having a couple of drinks in a popular restaurant/bar looking out over Park Avenue. She knew the answer right away and said, "We all walk here. We don't drive cars. We take the subway while walking up and down the stairs. We walk many blocks to work, to restaurants, to the theatre. Our minds and bodies are active here in New York." It's one of the reasons I married her. She's always right.

I really felt alive there. I walked more in those ten days in NYC than I did in the last ten months in Los Angeles. I couldn't help thinking about what my client had said about people not really needing his gym to get in shape. My mind was racing back to a time when we used to do more physical work as human beings. We weren't even thinking about working out in a gym in those days because we were always lifting and carrying things. We all seemed more active in our daily lives. I don't remember eating any better, but we never skipped a meal like people do today. We got our "three square meals" and some snacks here and there, but we were always active. Kids today exercise their fingers on cell phones, iPads and gaming consoles. And, so do many adults.

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