I blew it.
Recently, I made several presentations to a large title agent in the east. Over the course of two days I successfully presented our leading product to the staff, the marketing team, their customers and the executive team.
At one of the final presentations, the president, vice-president and founding partner were in attendance. My presentation went well and they all agreed we would be a good fit to help them gain significant market share. At the conclusion of my presentation I stated, “I have taken the liberty of creating a branded brochure for your company announcing your partnership with NextDeal.”
That’s when things went awry.
I had just received the brochure via email from our graphic design team the previous night and in my haste I only reviewed it quickly. As soon as I had handed out the brochure to the executive team, the founding partner said to me loud enough for all to hear, “You’ll want to pick these up immediately—there’s another title company listed in the second paragraph.” I was completely embarrassed and I didn’t even bother to offer an explanation as everyone gave their copy back to me. There was nothing to say.
When I started to write this post I was going to title it, “The devil is in the details.” But I changed my mind as that is too much of a negative comment and won’t deliver the real message I want to convey. While this saying is true, I prefer to focus on learning from my mistakes and going through life with the motto, “EVERYTHING COUNTS”.
Every task we perform, every day, no matter how large or small, counts for us, or against us, without exception. Have you ever received an email with bad grammar or misspelled words? (In this day of technology, how do you not use spell and grammar checker?) How about retrieving a file from storage only to find out the document you needed wasn’t there? (Try explaining that to a hurried homeowner, “No, Mrs. Smith we can’t seem to find your HUD or Note in the file.”) Were you three minutes late for your last meeting or for work this morning? Everything counts.
It is too easy these days to fall into the trap of thinking, “That’s good enough” when the job isn’t 100% complete. I know of a high-powered business consultant who walked out on a top client when one of the executives performing a planning exercise said, “That’s good enough.” There are many examples of those who skate through their work day doing only as much as necessary to get by. Thankfully there are more examples of those star performers who routinely go above and beyond what they are paid to do.
Ever hear the story about a clerk who worked for Harvey Firestone’s company back in the ’20’s? Not long after he was hired he noticed Mr. Firestone worked late almost every day. He saw him in his office hand-writing letters and documents rather than dictating because his secretaries had already left. This clerk took it upon himself to stay late one day, off the clock, to take Mr. Firestone’s dictation. The clerk continued this each day after a full day’s work. Mr. Firestone thought this young man had been assigned by the company to stay late just to work with him. He had no idea, for many weeks, this employee had volunteered to work for him after hours without pay. You can probably guess the rest. Mr. Firestone eventually learned what this new clerk was doing and immediately promoted him. The clerk (who ultimately became an executive in the company) worked for many years in the Firestone company; always doing more than what he was paid to do. This “clerk” retired from Firestone years later a millionaire. Everything counts.
My lack of attention to detail didn’t cost me a new customer. All it did was perhaps tarnish my reputation a smidge, but it didn’t need to happen and my forgetting that everything counts is to blame. The most successful people I know, the ones who are real personal and business/financial successes, started at the bottom and worked their way up faster than anyone else. They got to work early, stayed late and worked hard—harder than their salary demanded. They embraced change when it came and looked for innovative ways to improve the value of their company (and themselves.) They know what I had forgotten last week: everything in life counts, no matter how large or small, at work or at home, and they made this universal law pay off for them by the millions and in the rich quality of their personal lives.
Every positive thing you do, no matter how small not only counts, but, will come back to you multiplied in a big way. It may take time and you’ll probably need to be patient. Don’t wait until you are promoted to VP, manager or closer. Make this your motto for every email your write, every meeting you attend and all tasks big and small. Do it when people are looking and especially when they’re not.