It's no secret I am a Chipotle fan. I live in a city where that sentiment seems to be shared by all. A place where you can find a Chipotle thoughtfully situated at both ends of the same suburb, with a line 20+ patient people deep at both. I love their purpose and soul. I love their clever branding. Their social team is at the top of my list of people doing customer happiness right. And it's that last point I want to talk about today.

As much as I love the line of 20+ patient people at both our Chipotles, I've gotten into the habit of placing my order online so I can pop in, bypass the line and pop out. Lunch hour maximization! It works like a charm. For the longest time, I used to skip the "additional comments" section on the web form, until the day curiosity got the better of me and I started wondering if anyone actually reads the additional comments. So, I tried it. I left a little message.


When I picked up my order, I noticed this...

heart bowl

IT WORKED! A SECRET RESPONSE MESSAGE! (Okay, for all I know they do this for everyone, but it still made me feel special and happy.)

Flash forward a couple weeks and I am hurriedly throwing together a lunch order. Additional comments? You're the heroes of my burrito lunch. Off I go. Bypass the line. Hurry home and eat.

A couple hours later I notice a voicemail on my phone from a number I don't recognize. "Who is this mystery caller," I ask myself?

[audio m4a=""][/audio]

Alyssa, I don't know who you are. (I don't even know if I'm spelling your name right.) But I just want you to know that you are not only still the hero of my salad, you were the hero of my entire day.


I can't think of a single brand that doesn't want to be, as Chipotle puts it, "unconditionally loved," but I can think of so many that just can't seem to figure out where to begin. The answer is people. People on the inside, people on the outside. It starts at the top (and from within) and trickles down. It takes root when you create a culture where people can grow and be their (awesome) selves. You can't create a brand that people love until you build a company your people love. And once that happens, they're going to carry that love out into the world via burrito bowl lids, clever tweets and unexpected voicemails. You're going to create a culture of heroes.

This is my Thursday nugget of wisdom for to you, brands. Go look at your team. Can you spot your Alyssas and your Joes and your Rustys? Are you giving your people permission to be awesome? And I don't just mean telling them to be awesome, I mean actively giving them the resources, trust and support to be awesome. Are you fostering a culture that inspires your people to become honorary cupids who carry their love for your company out into the world?

If not, you've got some work to do.

After all, heroes aren't born, they're made.