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Posts Tagged “Steve Forbes”

Contemporary comic book writer and graphic novelist Joshua Dysart writes: “People, we’re always reaching for these big things…you know? Big ideas…big moments…big lives. And all the while the little things we’re ignoring are undoing us.”

I was reading a Maureen Dowd op-ed a couple of years ago in the NY Times. It was enjoyably full of her scathing, caustic observations, on this occasion commenting on a recent “Get Motivated!” seminar at the Verizon Center in Washington. As usual, Dowd was funny and more than a little mean. And right on.

My general feeling about these massive feel-good inspirational gatherings is that they’re a bunch of hooey. Not wrong in their stated insights, just shallow and quite temporary in their efficacy. Kind of like a business pep rally. Certainly not my cup of tea.

However, amidst Ms. Dowd’s cynical reportage on talks by the likes of Terry Bradshaw, Rudy Giuliani, Steve Forbes, Dan Rather and Rick Belluzo, I was caught by some business advice shared by General Colin Powell. His advice? Simply to be nice and particularly to be nice to the little people like the folks who clean your office and park your car (or simply other people on your elevator who sometimes turn out to be the CEO). He also avers the value of small details. For instance, Powell reports writing thank you notes on personalized 4-by-6 inch cards. “I write with a fountain pen. Never a Sharpie. Never a ball point pen. A fountain pen.” Dowd reports.

It seems to me Colin Powell is quite on to a real truth here. It’s little things that set the tone for successful entrepreneurship–little considerations, little details. Focusing on the small decencies creates an ambiance of service and real carefulness in business dealings. It becomes reflected in the larger actions of a company.

To expand on General Powell’s concern for the small things, I always recommend that any missive or serious communication one sends out go on high-quality stationary and be sent by snail mail, ideally with a commemorative stamp. This is sometimes cause for eye-rolling impatience by some cutting-edge entrepreneurs enamored of the wonders of Tweeting, Friending, Linking-in, etc. But there is a method to my antediluvian madness. Yes, it takes extra time and money to communicate in such qualitative ways, but the very effort communicates care and valuation on a subconscious level. There is a sensual subconscious statement that is communicated by the very feel of high-quality stationary. It creates an aura of seriousness, reflecting both respect for your client and the general business process. It unspokenly says exactly the manner you would represent a client and effectively serve her.

Additionally, the very fact that the personal letter is increasingly rare gives special notice to those who use it. It is not a dinosaur inefficiency. It is a notable differentiator that, in the long-term, makes a branding statement, as well as creating a subrosa gravitas and a sense of business seriousness.

Or, as John Donne says in his poem To Sir Henry(1663) “Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls.” Thank you, John Donne.

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og-mandino-books-and-stories-and-written-works-u3Sales writer and business aphorist Og Mandino once said, “It is those who concentrate on but one small thing at a time who advance in this life.”

I have always believed in the business efficacy of teeny, tiny things. While I have my five and ten year plans, I find little details and small daily accomplishments create dependable, steady growth in my business. These smallest of things are also where I create the trope of meaning for my everyday life. I find that both meaning and true success come out of the daily march of quotidian choices and actions, not from ecstatic moments, grandiose strategy, or epic deeds.

I am a great lover of Tolstoy. (Incidentally, in this vacation beach book season, may I recommend War and Peace. Except for a lot of unpronounceable Russian names, it is a page-burning, bodice-ripping, military melodrama of a narrative novel, not the intimidating tome it is often made out to be.) At the end of War and Peace, Tolstoy’s hero, Pierre, discards what he calls his “mental telescope” through which he has been seeing his world, to rather embrace “the ever-changing, eternally great, unfathomable, and infinite life of everyday existence”–a sort of one-day-at-a-time mantra.

In one of his later essays, Tolstoy tells the tale of Russian painter Karl Bryullov correcting one of his students’ sketches. The student exclaims, “Why, you only changed it a tiny bit!” Leo_Tolstoy,_portraitBryullov responds, “Art begins where that ‘tiny bit’ begins.” Tolstoy states: “That saying is strikingly true not only of art but of all life. One may say that true life begins where the ‘tiny bit’ begins, where the infinitesimally small alterations of consciousness happen.”

So with business.

I remember attending a seminar at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. several years ago called “Get Motivated!” My general feeling about these sorts of massive, feel-good, inspirational gatherings is that they are a bunch of hooey. Not wrong in the stated insights, but just shallow and quite temporary in their efficacy. Kinda like a business pep rally. Talks by folks like Terry Bradshaw, Dan Rather, Steve Forbes, Rudy Giuliani, etc. Not my cup of tea.

However, I was caught by some business advice shared by General Colin Powell. His advice? Simply to be nice and particularly to be nice to the little people like the folks who clean your office and park your car. He also avers the value of small details. For instance, Powell reports writing thank you notes on personalized 4-by-6 inch card. “I write with a fountain pen. Never a Sharpie. Never a ball point pen. A fountain pen.”

It seems to me that Colin Powell is quite on to a real truth here. It’s the little things that set the tone for entrepreneurship–little considerations, little details. Focusing on the small decencies creates an ambiance of service and real carefulness in business dealings. It becomes reflected in the larger actions of a company. It creates culture.

3840f08To expand on General Powell’s concern for the small things, I always recommend to my clients at Corporate Rain International that any missive or serious communication they send out go on high-quality stationary and be sent by snail mail, ideally with a commemorative stamp. This is sometimes cause for eye-rolling impatience by some of my cutting-edge clients enamored of the wonders of tweeting, friending, and linking-in. But there is a method to my antediluvian madness. Yes, it takes extra time and money to communicate in such qualitative ways, but the very effort communicates care and valuation on a subconscious level. There is a sensual subconscious statement that is communicated by the very feel of high-quality stationary. It creates an aura of seriousness, reflecting both respect for your client and the general business process. Without words it┬ásays exactly the manner you would represent a client and effectively serve.

Educator and author Lauren Roedy Vaughn writes the following: “Little things, little things, are much more, more important than big things. Big things hit you in the face with their bigness and obscure the little, more important things that really define a life…” Thank you, Lauren.

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I was reading a Maureen Dowd op-ed in the NY Times on October 5th. It was enjoyably full of her scathing, bitchy observations, on this occasion commenting on a recent “Get Motivated!” seminar at the Verizon Center in Washington. As usual, Dowd was funny and more than a little mean. And right on.

My general feeling about these massive feel-good inspirational gatherings is that they’re a bunch of hooey. Not wrong in their stated insights, just shallow and quite temporary in their efficacy. Kind of like a business pep rally. Certainly not my cup of tea.

However, amidst Ms. Dowd’s cynical reportage on talks by Terry Bradshaw, Rudy Giuliani, Steve Forbes, Dan Rather and Rick Belluzo, I was caught by some business advice shared by General Colin Powell. His advice? Simply to be nice and particularly to be nice to the little people like the folks who clean your office and park your car. He also avers the value of small details. For instance, Powell reports writing thank you notes on personalized 4-by-6 inch cards. “I write with a fountain pen. Never a Sharpie. Never a ball point pen. A fountain pen.” Dowd reports.

It seems to me Colin Powell is quite on to a real truth here. It’s the little things that set the tone for sales–little considerations, little details. Focusing on the small decencies creates an ambiance of service and real carefulness in business dealings. It becomes reflected in the larger actions of a company.

To expand on General Powell’s concern for the small things, I always recommend to my sales outsourcing clients at Corporate Rain that any missive or serious communication they send out go on high-quality stationary and be sent by snail mail, ideally with a commemorative stamp. This is sometimes cause for eye-rolling impatience by some of my cutting-edge clients enamored of the wonders of tweeting, friending and linking-in. But there is a method to my antediluvian madness. Yes, it takes extra time and money to communicate in such qualitative ways, but the very effort communicates care and valuation on a subconscious level. There is a sensual subconscious statement that is communicated by the very feel of high-quality stationary. It creates an aura of seriousness, reflecting both respect for your client and the general business process. It unspokenly says exactly the manner you would represent a client and effectively serve.

Additionally, the very fact that the personal letter is increasingly not used gives special notice to those who use it qualitatively. It is not a dinosaur inefficiency. It is a notable differentiator that, in the long-term, makes a branding statement, as well as creating a subrosa gravitas.

Comments 2 Comments »

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