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Work like you’re working for yourself … well, because you are.


This story came via email yesterday from Phil. I’m sharing it here today because it gives me a chance to spend some time talking about my favorite topics – a positive attitude, good customer service, social media and old friends – and tie it all into job search and career advice. Life is good.

Phil is a good friend and coworker from back in the ’80s when I worked at Square D. Those were younger, wilder days and Phil was our “self-appointed social director”. Pre-Internet, pre-texting, pre-social media (it was the ’80s!) Phil could throw together an impromptu gathering in about seven seconds. There was a core group (me included) ready for adventure at a moment’s notice and we’d always connect with interesting people along the way. From what I’m told, we had a good time. <grin>

Phil left Square D and we lost touch … as so frequently happens. Fast-forward to 2009. Phil found me on LinkedIn – the power of social media! We’re a little older. (OK, a lot older, who am I kidding?? It was the ‘80s.) Rather than planning the next happy hour gathering, we’re sharing small parts of our lives via email. On top of being a great person and friend, Phil is an awesome source for bizarre, thought-provoking and inspiring information. Thanks to social media (LinkedIn) and an old friend (Phil), I’ve got a great story to share … about a good attitude and customer service.

So what does a good attitude and good customer service have to do with a job search? The attitude part should be obvious – no one wants to be around Grumpy Gus or Whining Winnie – especially during a job search. Everyone has problems and usually, given the opportunity to trade your problems with someone else, you’d gratefully keep your own. Exude positive energy, optimism and enthusiasm and it comes back to you. (But you already know that ….)

From a service standpoint, give more than what your customer expects. They and it will always come back to you. If resumes are sales and marketing documents and you’re selling your time and your talents when you accept employment, then it stands to reason the people in the hiring process are your customers. Give them more than what they expect during the process. As I’ve said time and time again … a little consideration goes a long way.

And once you land that next position, continue to give more than your employer expects. Word gets around. You’ll build a strong, supportive network in the process. Your reputation will precede you and you’ll be in demand. You’ll have people calling with opportunities. Before you know it, you’ll be in charge of your career instead of the other way around. Work like you’re working for yourself … like Wally in the story:

Quack or Soar. It’s your choice.

No one can make you serve customers well. That’s because great service is a choice. Harvey Mackay tells a wonderful story about a cab driver that proved this point.

He was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey. He handed my friend a laminated card and said, “‘I’m Wally, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d like you to read my mission statement.”

Taken aback, Harvey read the card. It said: Wally’s Mission Statement: To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment. This blew Harvey away. Especially when he noticed the inside of the cab matched the outside–spotlessly clean!

As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, ‘Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.’

My friend said jokingly, “No, I’d prefer a soft drink.”

Wally smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice. “

Almost stuttering, Harvey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke.”

Handing him his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.”

As they were pulling away, Wally handed my friend another laminated card. “These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.” And as if that weren’t enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him. Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he’d be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.

“Tell me, Wally,” my amazed friend asked the driver, “have you always served customers like this?”

Wally smiled into the rear view mirror. “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day. He had just written a book called You’ll See It When You Believe It. Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, “Stop complaining! Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.”

“That hit me right between the eyes,” said Wally, “Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.”

“I take it that has paid off for you,” Harvey said.

“It sure has,” Wally replied. “My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I’ll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don’t sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can’t pick them up myself, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action.”

Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab. I’ve probably told that story to more than fifty cab drivers over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it. Whenever I go to their cities, I give them a call. The rest of the drivers quacked like ducks and told me all the reasons they couldn’t do any of what I was suggesting.

Wally, the Cab Driver, made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles.

How about you? Are you tired of quacking when you could be flying? Come fly with me!!

Smile, and the whole world smiles with you.

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  1. rummuser says:

    What an inspiring story. Customer service now a days alas, is handled by automated machines operated by untrained chewing gum chewing juveniles. It is rare to come across a good story of excellent customer service but just mention it, and thousands of bad experiences crowd the podium.

  2. dawnbugni says:

    Ramana —

    I LOVE that story too. Made my customer service soul soar!

    But don’t get me on my customer service soap box! Employees need to realize the customer is the one who provides their paycheck, NOT the company. ‘Nuff said.

    Thanks for stopping by. Your comments always enhance my writing.

  3. Great story you have there! I just don’t get why most people can’t realize that customer service can sometimes make or break a business. It’s not even a choice so to speak, it should be inherent in everyone.

    Keep the great stories coming.

  4. dawnbugni says:

    Eric –

    I couldn’t agree more about service making or breaking a business. Unfortunately, too many companies and employees haven’t quite made the connection. They choose to give attitude and quote policy rather than serve the client base with a smile and gratitude.

    “Should be inherent” — absolutely, but then common sense isn’t so common any more either is it?

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. yescareerservices says:

    Hi Dawn, fabulous story and you paint a great picture with your words; apparent here and always in the great work you do for your clients. Your spirit is an inspiration and your wisdom is admirable. Thank you for thinking of others as you continue to share these great nuggets!

  6. Another Excellent post, I will be sure to bookmark this post in my Mixx account. Have a great day.

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