Long before the rise of email and social media I was extolling the virtues and value of saying “thank you” with handwritten notes. While certainly not an original idea (whose Mom didn’t make them write thank you notes for gifts?) they remain — in my opinion — one of the best ways to express gratitude and make another person feel genuinely good about themselves and the value they provide.
I’m often asked, “But with email so accessible and so much easier to write than a handwritten, hand-addressed, hand-stamped envelope, isn’t it so much easier to just send emails?”
Absolutely! That’s even one more reason why handwritten, personalized notes are so much more effective. Talk about distinguishing yourself — and your message — from others!
Whether sending a thank you note to a service person, their employer, a customer, your salesperson, a team member, and especially to those people who typically don’t receive acknowledgement, not only do they feel great about themselves, they feel great about you, too! No, that isn’t why you do it — it’s simply the natural result.
When speaking about this during sales and leadership conferences I’ll often hear from successful audience members who do this regularly. One of the most common stories is their discovering that many of those to whom they’ve sent these notes…have kept them!
Yes, people often keep them! Why?
they’ve been acknowledged;
they’ve been acknowledged in a powerful and personal way;
they received something from you they most likely have never received before.
In his excellent book, Creating Magic (highly recommended!!) former Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney World® Resort, Lee Cockerell — an avid note writer — shared a very touching story of a team member who had his note framed…and hung in his home!
While I have a specific format for my personalized notecards, there’s no one correct way.
What’s key is forming the habit of sending them, and sending them often.
Have you experienced something similar either by being on the giving or receiving end of a personalized, handwritten thank you note?
“We really care about our people.” “Our people are what matter most.” “We believe in building our people.”
However, if you were to ask most of those employees if that’s how they felt you’d most likely receive a “no” and a strong one at that.
Please don’t get me wrong. Indeed, there are a number of good companies out there. Their leaders truly do care, their people do matter, and they build their people. These companies also tend to also be very highly profitable. And, they are to be congratulated for both sides of that equation…the immense value they provide to all their stakeholders (including customers, service-providers and shareholders) as well as their profitability. Both matter.
However, here we have a “Go-Giver Company” on steroids!
As you might know, I love reading books on leadership. I learn from all of them.
This one not only touched me on a very, very deep level; it caused me to feel that business — even big business — could actually be this way.*
The person you are going to meet in this discussion, Bob Chapman, has the key to unlock this door in a huge, huge way. He and his company, Barry-Wehmiller have been doing it for nearly 20 years. And, they just keep continuing to prove its validity. This company is ALL about their people…and their financial success happens to be immensely healthy, too!
A Leader’s Leader
Chairman & CEO, Mr. Chapman believes that, “We have a crisis of leadership.” He says, “we have over 130 million people in our workforce who go home every day feeling they work for a company that doesn’t care about them. That is 7 out of 8 people in the workplace.”
To hear Mr. Chapman, talk about it, you can sense his anguish at this problem and his passion about spearheading the solution. And, spearhead it he has. The Guiding Principles of Leadership his company has implemented has resulted in a workplace consisting of people who feel good about themselves, about their jobs, and about the contributions they are making to its success. And they take that good feeling back to their families and communities.
He imagines a world full of caring work environments in which people can realize their gifts, apply and develop their talents, and feel a genuine sense of fulfillment for their contributions. The heart he has for people, making the world a better place to work and, as a result, live, is inspiring beyond measure.
And, it might be the type of business you’d least expect it to be. A manufacturing company; a privately held manufacturer of technology consulting and packaging machinery with more than 8000 employees worldwide.
In his foreword, Simon Sinek writes, “A lot of leaders talk about this. See what happens when you actually do it.”
Some of the topics in this fascinating discussion with Mr. Chapman include…
Defining the leadership crisis
A most unlikely place for an epiphany
What happens at Barry-Wehmiller University…doesn’t stay there.
The premise of Barry-Wehmiller’s Guiding Principles of Leadership
What happens when a leader DOES take a hit, along with his team members?
Can you see why I’m a raving fan of Bob Chapman and the company he leads?
Barry-Wehmiller’s tagline is, “Building a better world through business.” That’s their tag line. And, that’s exactly what they’re doing. In other words, “Everybody Matters” isn’t just a cliche on a mission statement; it’s the bedrock of the company’s success!
*Take a look at this quick video with bestselling author, Simon Sinek and Harvard Business School Professor, Amy Cuddy. It says it all.
Quotes from Everybody MATTERS
Below are just a relatively few of the many quotes within the book I felt the need to include here. Please know they merely scratch the surface:
“We first have to radically change the way we think about business, about people and about leadership. If we do so, we can build thriving organizations that bring joy and fulfillment to all who serve them and depend on them.”
“I had grown to understand that my responsibility as a CEO transcends business performance and begins with a deep commitment to the lives of those in our care–the very people who time and talent make the business possible.
“The key pillars are establish a shared long-term vision, fostering a people-centric culture, developing leaders form within, and sending people home fulfilled.”
“In the end, it is about truly caring for every precious human being whose life we touch. It is about including everybody, not just the fortunate few or exceptionally talented. It is about living with an abundance mindset: an abundance of patience, love, hope and opportunity.”
“Everyone wants to contribute. Trust them. Leaders are everywhere. Find them. Some people are on a mission. Celebrate them. Others wish things were different. Listen to them. Everybody matters. Show them. We don’t just need a new guide to leading in times of change or adversity. We need a complete rethink, a revolution.
“One great truth we’ve learned is this: The people are just fine it’s our leadership that’s lacking.”
“But deeper insights had come from a simple question we had started asking people: ‘How did it make you feel?'”
“We have 7000 people, and each and every one of them is somebody’s precious child.”
“Our responsibility as leaders, be it in the military or in business or in government or in education, is to create an environment where people can discover their gifts, develop their gifts, share their gifts, and be recognized and appreciated for doing so–which creates an opportunity for them to have a meaningful life, a life of purpose in which they feel valued and get a chance to be what they were brought onto this earth to be.”
“If leadership isn’t about fighting fires, what is it about? We believe it is about lighting fires.”
“If more than half of your communication with any individual is negative, it’s an oppressive relationship.”
“Business growth and people growth aren’t separate ideas; they are complementary pieces in creating value.”
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A bad day at the ballpark is better than a…well, actually, I’m not sure there is such thing as a bad day at the ballpark. And at Marlins Park in Miami there isn’t even a bad seat.
You know what sounded terrific though: the idea of watching a game from the comfort and viewpoint of one of their suites behind home plate. Many of these are rented for the season by major companies in order to entertain their clients in this relaxed yet exciting sky-view setting. I don’t blame them.
So, while watching a game on TV and hearing announcers Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton promote the availability of renting a suite for just one game I thought, WOW — what a fantastic experience that would be!
So about 20 of us (including friends, family, clients, and MasterMind partners) attended last Thursday night’s game where the “Fish” hosted the tough Pittsburgh Pirates.
This post, however, is not about the game itself but the experience that the Miami Marlins leadership team creates for their customers. First, every customer, whether seated in the bleachers or in the most prime boxes right behind the dugout, are treated wonderfully by the entire Marlins staff.
However, it also makes sense that for those renting a suite, there is incentive for the club to make the experience extra special. For example, the suite itself was a large room stocked with lots of delicious food and beverages and was continually being resupplied.
There was an attendant, Edwin, who took great care of us, had a fantastic attitude and made himself continually available. Oh, and halfway through two people came into the suite with a food cart from which they made fresh guacamole right in front of us. Yeah, baby!
She Really Made It Happen
To me, though, the true star of the game was our Executive Salesperson, Lysandra Justiniano.
Lysandra did everything right that a salesperson does in creating the ultimate customer experience. To begin, she returned my initial call very quickly and very patiently helped me through everything renting the suite entailed.
Over the next month, whenever I had questions she returned my calls and emails promptly. As busy as I know she was she made me feel as though I was the only customer she had.
Isn’t that so important? And, we can all do that for our customers if we hold such a thing as a high value.
At one point she actually took time over the telephone to walk me through using the internal system in order to make emailing everyone’s tickets and other information much easier for me. Indeed, I’m not the most tech-savvy person and she truly went above-and-beyond…we’re talking some extreme patience.
The night of the game she not only greeted me at the suite; she stopped in several more times to check on us, chatted with the guests, and brought by her boss, Director of Suites, Truscott Miller. After discovering that the Marlins Manager of Corporate Engagement, Tommy Knapp and I knew each other from some past South Florida events, she took him upstairs to visit, as well.
All of this; from the first call, the extra work, and the actual game, took hustle, caring, and effort on Lysandra’s part. And, while again, it felt like it was just for us, she’s doing the same for all her customers. And, she does this at every single home game.
People such as Lysandra who focus on giving value like this at every touchpoint create great customer experiences. They bring customers back, and elicit lots of referrals along the way. Sort of like this one.
By the way, my Miami Marlins lost that night. Though, really, it didn’t even matter.
My friend, Ilene, related to me a fantastic story on how a roofer helped her own a new roof for her home.
Earlier this year a powerful hailstorm greatly damaged the roof of Ilene’s home as well as that of many others in her community.
This was followed shortly by a number of roofers knocking on doors and offering to repair and replace roofs.
Ilene and her husband, Alan, had held off doing so until the above-mentioned hero of our story told them that the chances were excellent that if there was damage on more than 25 percent of their roof, their insurance company would need to foot the bill.
Surprised, they did some research and found out this was indeed true. They then called their insurance company.
When the insurance adjuster visited them, he explained that because the roof was ten years old they would need to take that into consideration and he would get back to them.
He did, and told them that the company would absolutely cover it. Ilene and Alan soon afterwards received a check for the full amount of the new roof.
Guess who got the sale?
Why? Because he was the most skilled roofer of all of them who’d called?
He might or might not have been. Regardless, that’s certainly not why the sale was his.
It’s because he was the only one that, rather than simply selling his services, found a solution to the problem his prospective customers had.
Selling: discovering what a person wants, needs, or desires…and helping them to get it.