I received a package in the mail a day or so ago. The return address read “Send Out Cards.” Several months ago I received a similar package. That package came from local entrepreneur, Bruce Brown. Bruce and his wife Marge own Fat City Cards, independent distributors of Send Out Cards. I moved to the “natural” assumption this was more of Bruce’s wonderfulness.
Since I “knew” they were brownies and I “knew” they were Christmas greetings from Bruce, I opted not to open the package immediately. (These brownies are GOOD. I have no self control. :)).
Yesterday morning, Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter (fellow career professional and dear friend) and I scheduled a catch-up call. We’ve learned, when we start sharing industry information, business tips and girlfriend stuff, we need to block out some serious time. With both our busy practices, it’s a rare and wonderful treat and a two hour phone conversation is not unusual.
After we hung up, I had a little time before a client appointment. The box on the counter beckoned. I opened “Bruce’s brownies” and found the most wonderful card. It started:
Hi Dawn (and Gary!),
And I thought, how wonderful of Bruce to remember my husband’s name. They’d only met once that I could recall. The card went on …
… so happy to have met you online and in-real-life.
I’d met Bruce in-real-life at a local bloggers meeting. We were friends on Facebook, followed each other on Twitter, so this sentence made perfect sense.
A spirited, special and spectacular Christmas (*alliteration smile*)
I’m a writer, so thought how sweet of Bruce to personalize the card that level – personalizing it to my profession and passion with my favorite thing alliteration. Gee. Did he put this much time into every card he sent? Wow. I knew he was a dynamo, but goodness that was a lot of work.
It went on to mention “your furry children” and “thoughts to your ‘children’ who have moved on to their pet ‘kingdom'”
Bruce knew I am a dog lover and have several (OK, lots of) companion animals. I’d tweeted about losses; and again I thought how wonderfully detailed.
It was signed,
I thought, gee, that’s funny, Bruce’s wife’s name is Marge.
Hmmmm. Rob must be someone that works with them.
And Louie (arf arf)
Only then. ONLY then, after reading Louie’s name did the fog clear. This wasn’t from Bruce at all. I’d just spent two hours on the phone with the sender and didn’t even acknowledge the package or the thoughtfulness.
I cracked up at my complete and utter bewilderment as to the origin of the box. Laughing, I dialed Jacqui’s number to THANK HER profusely and apologize for my oversight. As I told her the entire hilarious story, I commented, as any good writer would, there’s a blog post in here somewhere. Know what? There is:
1. Bruce Brown has an incredible presence and has properly distinguished his affiliation with Send Out cards. Imagine if you were an engineer or purchasing manager, and the only one who came to mind as a leader in your industry was you. Ask Bruce. It takes time, effort and commitment to build that strong a reputation; but look at the power of his reach. He was credited with a gift he didn’t send by virtue of his association of Send Out Cards for two full days. (And it was something Bruce would do. He’s thoughtful like that.)
2. Reader perception “pays the bills.” I was so completely and thoroughly convinced of this package’s origin, I completely rationalized facts to meet my personal belief. The fact that Jacqui and I frequently share alliteration phrases in the Twitter stream and in our correspondence completely escaped me. For goodness sake, the fact that Jacqui signed her and Rob’s name escaped me.
I frequently tell clients, you have to take the reader by the hand and escort them down your career path. Left to their own device, you never know what conclusion they will draw. If you’re an administrative assistant with managerial aspirations set the tone from the beginning of your resume. Walk the reader down the path as a manager, taking them where you want to go; not where you have been. I proved the power of reader belief when left to my own device with this story.
3. Jacqui commented how it took an animal connection to grab my attention. Her reference to my husband, alliteration, my “fur children”, AND finally, signing her and Rob’s names weren’t enough to break my perception of fact. It took Louie’s name at the end of the card before triggering the connection. I glanced (10-15 seconds) at the package and drew my own conclusions before even scratching the surface. Sound familiar?
You don’t know what brings that (subjective) connection for the reader. Jacqui sent a gift she KNEW I would like and filled this beautiful note with references that “should” have revealed the sender almost immediately. Each one flew past me. A generic, non-differentiating return address (like a generic, non-differentiating introduction on a resume) helped me travel down the wrong path. Once there, it took a while to get back on the correct one, even with exquisite detail and multiple connecting items. Make career documents rich and robust and full of attention-grabbing details. Then if your reader strays, you’ll be sure to have a “Louie” bringing to them back.
Thank goodness for Louie. Otherwise Bruce would have been getting a thank you note and wondering, “Who are Jacqui and Rob and why does Dawn want to know when I hired them?”