Who are your Spinach Buddies?

You need people you can count on. You need people who are honest with you. You need people who tell it to you like it is.

You need Spinach Buddies.

Popeye eating spinach

Have you built a relationship with your customers or your donors where you would feel comfortable telling them they have something stuck in their teeth, either literally or figuratively? Would they tell you?

You’re probably wondering how you can have something figuratively stuck in your teeth. That’s something like a typo on your website, or you still have your out of office voicemail on even though you’re back. Or your fundraising appeal is way off. Or that your pitch is weak. Or your product is flawed. I’m not talking about people that just complain, those are easy to find. I’m talking about the ones who are so close to you, that when they see something going wrong, they genuinely care about you and your organization and want to see you doing better, so they tell you the truth.

Spinach Buddies aren’t only your customers, but they can be your volunteers, your suppliers, media contacts or your staff and colleagues.

On the journey for continuous improvement, ongoing, honest feedback from people who care is your best companion.


So how do you get more Spinach Buddies?

  • Make sure you have easily available channels for getting feedback – email, phone, in-person, social media channels
  • Seek feedback directly – surveys, tough conversations, focus groups
  • Make it okay for people, including your own staff team, to give input and actively reward feedback
  • Celebrate success and the results of implementing changes, giving credit to the people whose input was helpful
  • Keep current Spinach Buddies close to you by keeping them informed and going back to ask for advice

  • If you have a lot of Spinach Buddies, then you’re doing a great job of relationship building. Or you’re one of the very few people in our society who is actually eating too many leafy greens.

    Friends don’t let friends walk around with spinach stuck in their teeth.

    Thanks to a trusted colleague and friend, Nikki Pett, for the inspiration for this post. NO, she did not have anything in her teeth, but our conversation over a lunch was the basis for this post.

    Constant Questions: Has a customer or donor ever told you that you have something stuck in your teeth? Do you tell others when something isn’t right? Am I way off about this theory? Do I have something stuck in my figurative teeth?

    9 seconds of hilarity that is a nice fit.

    2 thoughts on “Who are your Spinach Buddies?

    1. I once left the house with toothpaste all over my shirt. It was also the day I was presenting for the first time at a professional development session. No one in the room told me my shirt was a hot mess of toothpaste. I got to work thrilled I survived and thrived the session. About 1/2 hour into work, a colleague who saw me exclaimed “What the heck is all over your shirt?” I was mortified that no one in the room (many fellow co-workers were present) said anything to me before the session. I really could have used a spinach buddy that day.

      • Thanks for commenting, Liz, especially with a story of vulnerability.

        That is a rough experience. I’m not sure why people feel they can’t tell you something like that. Perhaps they think they are sparing your feelings, or that you might even lash out at them (which I know you wouldn’t do). I’m sorry that no one came to your rescue until after the session.

        I want to live in a world where we all really look out for each other.

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