The 11th Commandment

It has come to my attention that Moses did not bring ten commandments down the Mount.  There is an eleventh … thou may only leave ONE message when trying to contact someone.

Or at least it seems that way.

With all methods of communications these days; voice mail, email, Twitter, Facebook, texting and, believe or not, good old snail mail — getting through to a person’s internal gatekeeper takes a Doctorate (and it better be from the Ivy League).

I don't see an 11th commandment

Now, on that note, talking with someone is still is the best way to start or enhance a relationship.  So, leaving one message ensures missable results.

I was a headhunter for fifteen years – and, most of the time, I was fairly successful.  One of my policies, not just not for myself, but also for my recruiters, was this — if you have something to say, GET A HOLD OF THE PERSON!

If that means leaving four or five messages a day … get on with your bad self. But get a hold of the person.  Fight with the tenacity of Joan of Arc and Beowolf combined.  And they did.

You know something?  Never once did anybody complain about this barrage upon their personal sanctity.  In fact, more times than not, they apologized for not getting back to me or my people sooner.

As disciples of “getting things done,” we must not let this heresy upon Moses continue.

Go forth, lead, and most of all … talk to who you need to talk to.

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A creative approach to panhandling

I have been visiting my daughter, Alex, in Westwood, the last few days, and every morning I go for a long walk with my new iPod (my first one).

Anything helps!

I ran across a guy who was carrying an art briefcase.  You know, the big ones.  He was clean cut and looked very respectable – like an art student.  He stopped me and asked me if I wanted to donate a dollar to the arts.

I’m willing to bet that that dollar would make it no further than his pocket.  But you got love his creativity.

I gave him the dollar.  God bless him for perfecting his craft.

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How to run a business in a recession … or not!

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to my friend Jim Albany in Denver.  He mentioned he had taken his fourteen year old son and his scout troop camping in the mountains.  Now, we’re talking about camping in a tent at 7000 feet in Colorado in January.

Wow!  Now I’ve camped a lot – but not under those conditions.  I asked him what his son thought about it.  “Well he used to idolize me … now I think he hates me.”

The timing of this is interesting because I’ve heard many, many commercials on the radio featuring Barack Obama talking about being a good father and how making just a little effort could mean the world.  Well, I think this takes fatherly participation to a new level.  Our president would be proud.

Camping in the mountains

Since I’m a camping “gear head,” we talked equipment.  Jim and and his son had North Face.  North Face is generally considered to be about as good as it gets – expensive, but high quality.

What a great testimonial! Fourteen year old kids conquering below zero weather in North Face.  You couldn’t write a better script.

Well I called up North Face and talked to a customer service rep and told him the story.  I figured he’d share my enthusiasm, or at least, kind of.

Well he didn’t.  Not only didn’t he, he was downright aloof.  “We sponsor pro athletes and they give us all the testimonials we need.”  What gives?  Are there so many pro athletes out there that that’s all they care about?  The recession must have passed North Face right by.  We could all be so lucky.

I wasn’t going to quit though.  I asked for his supervisor.  “No, I can’t do that.”  What?  I was perturbed.  “OK, give me the name of your president – I’d like to talk him,” I said.  “I can’t do that either,” was his response.  I felt like Bill Murray facing Rick Morainas, the key master, in Ghostbusters.

I relented.  One can only go so far to help.

It wasn’t hard finding out that North Face is a subsidiary of VF Corporation based in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Their CEO and President is Eric Wiseman.  Maybe somebody else should talk to him – and maybe they could mention their wonderful customer service.

By the way … Bill did catch all the ghosts in the end.

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Stuff from the “gaping void”

Every day, I write a lot of little things on my pad.  Stuff I find in blogs, stuff I hear from people…well, just stuff.  Every week I go back and put them into “The Brain,” my data base of stuff.

I went to my pad and looked at November 12, 2008 – why, I don’t know.  I saw “gaping void stuff.”  It comes from a great blog – which I have a link to on the right.

The "Gaping Void"

Here we go – paraphrased of course.

1.  markets are conversations

2.  change the world or go home

3. don’t stand out from the crowd … avoid the crowd altogether

4.  allow your age to work with you (more of a rationalization then anything, I think)

5.  good ideas alter the balance of power in relationships – that’s why good ideas are always initially resisted

6.  the more talented somebody is, the less they need props

7.  your sovereignty will inspire far more people than the actual content

Neat, huh.  Thanks, Hugh.

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I can be reached on Twitter at @clayforsberg

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What does customer service mean to you?

All firms think they are “into customer service.”  They’re customer oriented, customer centric or in the words of Pizza Hut, “customer maniacs.”

But are they willing to prove it?

Nineteen years ago, right after the birth of my daughter, my wife and I had an encounter with a new Acura dealership in Pasadena.  Three years previous we had bought a new Acura Integra in Minneapolis when we lived there.

My old car

At the time, Acura was a brand new car company (actually a division of Honda).  Their mantra was superior customer service.  Yea, whatever!

Fast forward to California and Acura Pasadena.  It was Christmas time and the grandparents were ready to fly to California and see their first grand-runt.  Two days before their arrival, our car broke … a bad engine head.  Now, Los Angeles is no place to have no transportation especially when expecting visitors.

We limped our car down the road to the nearest Acura dealership (which happened to be in Pasadena) to hope our world would be spared.  I suppose we could have picked up a rental car, but then the experience for this blog entry would never have happened.

We sat down with the service manager and explained our plight.  After his inspection – things went from not great to bad.  The Integra needed a new head and our warranty had expired 20,000 miles ago (apparently, I drive a lot).  The bill would be a thousand plus and it would take a week to get the parts, due to the holidays.

But then something happened.  The service manager (gosh, I wish I could remember his name) didn’t like the idea that the head went bad.  Regardless of the warranty being expired – a head shouldn’t  just go like that.  Talk is, well talk – and action, well that’s something else.

Here was his solution:

Replacing just one head would knock the engine off balance – all four needed to be replaced.  Since our timetable was NOW, he would pull all four off a brand new car on the lot and put them in ours.  And since … in his opinion, it shouldn’t  have happened in the first place, they would honor the warranty.

Well the general manager, his boss, put the foot down on dismantling his new cars – we ended up getting the heads at no change even though it took a week.  We borrowed a car from a friend for a few days and the grandparents and the grand-runt bonded.

We didn’t buy the car in Pasadena.  We hadn’t even been there before, but their service manager was willing to go … well, as far as he could to prove that Acura had “superior customer service.”

I’ve probably told this story fifty times (i.e. positive word of mouth).

Next time you are in a position to practice “customer service” – do something that will not only surprise them … but YOU also!

If you’re not remarkable to yourself how can you be remarkable to anybody else?

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