Thursday, February 4, 2010

How much time do you have?

"Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think." The Last Lecture by Dr. Randy Pausch

I finished reading "The Last Lecture" recently. It is a wonderful book about achieving childhood dreams, being in zero gravity and finding out hidden truths about everyday heroes.

Dr. Pausch plays down the fact that this lecture was something spectacular. He even admitted that if he hadn't been dying of (pancreatic) cancer, his lecture or the ensuing book might not have had such broad exposure. But three points he made in this "lecture" to his children really stood out -- show gratitude, tell the truth, no job is beneath you.

1) Show Gratitude - Look your customer in the eye and say thank you! No matter the setting, a well-timed, sincere thank you can turn someones ordinary day into extraordinary. When someone renews their membership, tell them you appreciate their dedication and loyalty.

2) Tell the truth - Why is this one so hard to do? Even if it means you look bad in the situation, think how much worse it will be if you lie and the truth eventually comes out? Many years ago a friend of mine (former friend that is) made up this elaborate story about how she had just moved to town and was trying to rent an apartment. All she had was the check her grandparents gave her and no bank would cash it since she didn't have an account. I co-signed the check for her and was soon out the $500 for the check. She had stolen it and had skipped town once she got the cash in her hands. Lesson learned by me.

Think of how we treat customers when we are out of a product. If we told the truth instead of creating some elaborate story we could gain the trust and confidence of that customer. It takes less money to keep our customers than it does to attract new ones. Honesty, integrity, truth, quality . . . these are all words for which everyone and every business wants to be recognized.

3) No job is beneath you - I had an employee once who would NOT clean the bathroom even though they were contributing to the problem. I never understood that one. I asked if they cleaned their own bathroom at home and they said "Yes!" This was part of the big picture. If I were to have a list of all the jobs that needed to be done in a store it would appear intimidating to some. Taking out the trash is an integral part. Trash collecting and dumping is not the cleanest or sweetest smelling job around. At one of my stores, it involves a trip to the dumpster which is shared by a Chinese restaurant. Frequently, they miss. Some things don't always make in the bucket. Are you so proud that you believe there is a job you just can't do?

Early on, Walt Disney realized that trash cans should be placed no further than 25 feet apart. Any further and the guest might leave their trash on the table, sidewalk or drop it on the ground without giving it a second thought. Every cast member is responsible for the cleanliness of all areas. You will even see management, supervisors, and other workers picking up trash who have other job descriptions. There is no job beneath any employee and it shows.

So, are you making good use of your time? Are you grateful? Do you have integrity? Is there any job beneath you?


  1. David-
    Thank you for taking the time to write these blogs. We all need reminding of even the simplest of things which matter greatly!

  2. And that is my focus. We often think of the right things to do but never discuss them or share the ideas. Thanks for reading and sharing!

  3. Can't remember who told me this but I never forgot the message... "If you want to make yourself indispensable, do the job that nobody else wants."