Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Pro Bono Service, Silent and Powerful

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Apart from students, what do Publicolor, Midori & Friends, a college scholarship program and The City University of New York [CUNY] graduate school all have in common? They benefit from the counsel of four advisors who act like a silent board of directors. They share their connections, business acumen and counsel just as any marketing agency does, advising startups and charities that couldn’t otherwise pay for this level of service in a million years. The cost of doing business with them? $0.

These are silent partners in many ways. They’ve asked me not to name them or the company they formed. However, they hope that other retired people around the country might similarly share their experience to help others, as they have thrived doing for a dozen years.


This foursome has been friends for half a century. Two were partners in an advertising agency for 30 years, one wrote sitcoms and knows his way around television and the last one was a direct marketing guru turned real estate tycoon. They rent an office in midtown Manhattan and enjoy each other’s company so much that they lunch together almost daily. Their wives are also best friends, but they warn that the unusual personal aspect of their relationship, while precious to them, is not necessary for their angel model to work anywhere else in the country.

“We’re masters of stealth marketing,” said one of these compassionate mystery men, referring to their specialty also known as undercover or buzz marketing. “We give advice but we never write or execute a plan. After a two-hour meeting, it might take six months for our clients to implement a solution. Objectives range from building an effective board of directors or raising money to identifying the person with the power and/or connections to clear an unexpected logjam in an organization crucial to a charity.”

They distinguish themselves in another way: All their clients do good works. Through Publicolor, Ruth Shuman, her staff and volunteers add color to the drab, peeling walls of inner city schools. The violinist Midori shares the gift of music with underserved New York public school children and 200 talented children have gone to college thanks to a generous foundation the quartet has counseled. In addition, a city-run graduate system with a board of distinguished scholars initiated a successful and critical endowment program. The simple solution was staring them in the face: offer to name a building after a keystone donor.

In addition, each of the partners continues to support their own special projects related to alma maters, houses of worship and the like.

Do you know of people who generously share their wisdom like this? Might you form such a group or recommend to parents or grandparents that they share the legacy of their experience to benefit and serve others?   


Transforming a Bad Break into a Triple Win

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Matt Mecs, who has written a guest post here and most recently participated in the virtual focus group, “Do Good Manners = Good Service?” [February 13], shared a great experience with us. Matt is vice president, director of sales of Local Focus Radio. He’s also an instructor at Metropolitan College of New York.

Matt writes:

“The key broke in my bike lock that had a lifetime warranty, so I called a locksmith to cut it open with an acetylene torch, and bought a new lock the next day.

“I mailed the broken lock to Kryptonite and not only did they send me a new lock, they also paid me back for the cost of the locksmith!  To make things even better, my bike store took the new lock and gave me store credit for it, which ended up to their benefit when I bought a new bike from them.”

 Win-win: Smart business and great service on behalf of Kryptonite and the bike store. Matt also did the right thing. He could have looked for a super discount opportunity but was loyal to the local shop. Does Matt’s experience remind you of a similar one?

Service of Being a [Great] Customer

Friday, March 27th, 2009

We welcome this guest post from R C-F, a New England-based high school math teacher whose approach reminds me of what another calm, gentle woman I know says if, in spite of being gracious to the person serving her, she’s treated rudely. “I’m sorry you dislike your job so much.” Sometimes she needs to repeat this because the comment surprises the perpetrator. Often this bit of understanding turns around a surly attitude.


On to R C-F who writes: “I keep thinking of instances when courtesy makes a difference in this world especially when it comes to service, interactions and community. Courtesy, thoughtfulness, awareness of the needs of others, reaching out even when it makes you look and/or feel foolish, all those are essential to the survival of our culture, or so it seems to me.


“Just recently I was at a Starbucks and got a shrug and “we don’t have that” to a query about a mix of regular and decaf. I sympathized, asked about the equipment and how business was and suddenly, I had a mixed espresso coffee that was delicious.


“And when I went back to the counter to tell the man that the coffee was wonderful, he was at first suspicious, then broke into a marvelous grin. Nice. Nice for both of us.


“Helping people who are working in a store, helping to pick up a mass of cans that a customer in a hurry knocks over, helping report broken glass or excellent service to a manager–all these things take time, may be frustratingly treated lightly, but I think they are always worth it.”


When you’re the customer, what techniques do you use that turn around an inappropriate attitude? Or do you stay silent and vote with your feet and never return?

Withholding Thanks

Saturday, February 28th, 2009


Why do you think bosses, clients, customers or patients don’t thank?

Five of the participants in the previous virtual focus group that covered The Service of Thanks, share their opinions about the people who don’t thank, be they bosses, clients, or patients—and some note just why they think this might be.


Joan Marbit, CLTC, [certified in long term care], insurance broker–“As a storeowner for 17 years and former manager of a retail shop, I find that a kind word buys you millions because it reinforces an employee’s feelings of self-worth and makes for a happy environment. I always complimented someone who designed a handsome display or our messenger for coordinating deliveries efficiently. It’s the decent thing to do.


“However, I’ve known people in retail businesses that never pay their employees a compliment. I had a miserable boss in a different industry who would only tell his employees what they did wrong and he was mean about it. Occasionally, he’d show some appreciation with a check.


“Why are these people this way? I don’t really know, though I would guess that some people are unhappy and aren’t up to being nice.”


Lucrezia, activist–“Such a statement fails to ring true. Thanking others reflects appreciation of sensitivities and a positive outlook.  No profession has a monopoly on surly behavior. The boss, who thanks, when appropriate, usually gets greater output than a dictatorial grouch.  A doctor is more likely to bend over backwards for a cooperative and grateful patient, even if the condition is terminal.  A ‘thank you’ needs not be vocal.  It may show up at any time – such as an unexpected helping hand, return of a long forgotten favor, or a surprise box with goodies.  A fine dental surgeon and his staff receive a yearly subscription to a favorite magazine from a happy patient who got his smile (and health) back because of their Herculean efforts. 


“Before anyone reading this visualizes a bleary-eyed sentimentalist, note that rudeness or intimidation activates swift retaliation here. Lucrezia has no patience for bad manners and did not earn this moniker for her sweet disposition!


Thomas Yip, fulltime MBA student, Baruch College—“I think the main reason that people often don’t show their appreciation is their emphasis on monetary rewards. Perhaps they expect the best possible service, which they paid for, but when service providers aren’t emotionally satisfied, I feel they won’t be inclined to go above and beyond at work.”


Tom Williams, Partner, Hale-Williams Interior Design –“It is unforgivable for a boss not to show respect to his or her employees by withholding a ‘Thank you.’”


A McG., retired editor, associate in a major department store’s fine china department and hospital volunteer—“Bad manners. Good manners make the other person feel good.


“No breeding. First class people don’t cheat their employees-or try to manipulate them–and they don’t withhold appreciation.”


Why do you think that some people never thank for service?

The Service of Thanks

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

How important to you is getting a “thank you” from a client, a customer, a patient a boss?


In the first part of this virtual focus group, we asked a public relations executive, insurance broker, activist, MBA student, partner in an interior design firm, advertising agency owner and retired editor the impact hearing “thank you” has on them and on service. Note how often references to manners cropped up.


In the second part, we will ask the focus group why they think that bosses, clients, customers, patients and others don’t thank.


Kathryn Kempf, senior vice president, healthcare division of Rosica Strategic Public Relations—“I have noted a strong correlation between personal courtesy and professional achievement.  Clients who treat vendors respectfully and express appreciation for work done well seem to do well in their careers.  I think some companies’ cultures foster this. Personally, receiving a ‘thanks, you’re the best!’ from a client really makes MY day and has always inspired me.”



Joan Marbit, CLTC, [certified in long term care], insurance broker– “I know what it is to be a boss, an employee, and to be both appreciated and not.


“I sell insurance. My colleagues tell me about what happens when they deliver a policy and check to a mother with three children whose husband has died suddenly. You’re the only person showing up at the house with money–this broker doesn’t need to be thanked. A broker can’t take away grief and mourning, but can see relief and thanks in a person’s eyes. The mother knows her children will be able to go to college even without her husband’s income.


“I’ve been told, ‘Thank God you nagged me…I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t pushed me.’ A thank you in my line of work is a referral—tell a friend!


“I thank my doctor, but a doctor is usually happy doing his/her job and I’m not sure a doctor needs to be thanked for saving your or a family member’s life.


“Do you think that someone like Gandhi does good deeds to be thanked?”


Lucrezia, activist—“A thank you for a job well done is always welcome and highly appropriate.  Most people who have the slightest bit of sensitivity, along with the desire to see continued good work, would cheerfully offer thanks, or similar words of encouragement and pleasure. What if the work is marginal, or worse, poor? If one has contracted for a service and the job is incredibly bad, how is this handled?  This becomes touchier when there are sensitivities involved (knowledge that efforts were made, but fall far short of desired result).  A variety of reactions come to mind. Yours?”

Thomas Yip, fulltime MBA student, Baruch College
—“I love to help people and it is an especially rewarding experience when you find out that people appreciate your help. I express my gratitude when I feel that someone has been of great help to me as well. I think it never hurts to show your appreciation when you mean it! I personally love to see signs of appreciation, and it definitely motivates me to help other people (or the same person) in the future as well.

“I feel that monetary compensation satisfies material needs, but signs of appreciation satisfy emotional needs. It is especially important in the service industry where work is repetitive and often mundane, and it certainly adversely affects anyone’s work performance if one’s emotional needs aren’t satisfied. With that said, I feel that expectations of gratitude make you feel miserable in general, especially when your expectations go unmet sometimes. Personally that makes any signs of gratitude even more special, because I would love to be appreciated for a job well done, but I try not to expect anything in return when I help someone.”


Tom Williams  Partner  Hale-Williams Interior Design—“Of course I expect a thank you from my clients, and I don’t think it is inappropriate to expect that type of recognition–As a courtesy from one human being to another; not as servant to master. It is an expression of respect for my professional acumen as well as appreciation for a job well done. I don’t go out looking for a thank you when I work and I expect to be paid for my services, but payment is not a thank you.


“It goes to the heart of client and project management.  Simple good manners and mutual respect go hand in hand with my approach to clients and how I treat them and how I expect to be treated.  In over 35 years in my profession I can’t think of a time when a client didn’t thank me for my attention.  Anyone who doesn’t know how to say thank-you probably wouldn’t be a client with whom I would work: Once again, simple good manners.  It must be my Southern upbringing.  I learned at an early age to say ‘Yes, ma’am’ and ‘Yes, sir’ and always to say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you.’  I continue to expect the same in return.”    


Hank Goldman, Goldman Advertising– “It’s VERY difficult to answer your questions because each and every case is just SO different! In some cases the pay is great, so…. who cares for THANKS!


“If work is done ‘pro-bono,’ thanks would be nice, but not expected. And (obviously) there is an infinite amount of grey area in-between.”


A McG., retired editor, associate in a major department store’s fine china department and hospital volunteer–“The customer is boss. I encouraged a man in his 20s, who was looking for a wedding gift, to buy a charming porcelain coffee pot that fit his budget that I knew would please any bride. 


“The young man returned to the fine china department one night. He first shyly approached the manager who brought him over to me. I was with a customer so he waited quietly at the counter until I was finished. The only reason for his visit was to thank me and to tell me that the bride loved the gift.


“My boss thanked me without saying those words. The department manager told me he’d hide behind the pillar so he could hear me talk with customers, because he found the conversations hilarious. I’d sit the bride and groom at a table so they could see what their favorite patterns felt and looked like, from the right perspective. We’d play house!


“At the magazine, one of the top editors always thanked and when asking me to do something, would say, ‘Can you do me a favor?’ Her request was obviously not a favor, it was my job. I loved that she recognized me as a human being.


“Good manners-it’s that simple. Please and thank you–worth more than $100.”



How does being thanked affect you?





Rewards For Top Performers

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

The Associated Press [February 3], in a story about junkets for bailed out banks, quoted a spokesperson for one, “Recognition events are still part of our culture. It’s really important that our team members are still valued and recognized.” This company cancelled its planned celebration.

Instead, might time off with pay be an appropriate thank you? To those who must meet hard deadlines and strict sales targets, such a symbol of thanks might appear disingenuous–who has time to take time off?


Any ideas for appropriate ways for a company to thank and recognize top performers for jobs well done?  Is having a job thanks enough? Will companies need to change their culture?

The Served Are Also Obliged

Friday, December 26th, 2008

We are again grateful to Seneca, a writer and international banker, who shares his thoughts in this seasonal post with year ’round ramifications.

We so often have legitimate gripes about the bad service and shoddy treatment we receive from everyone from waiters to doctors to civil servants that we forget that we the served also are obliged to those who serve us.

In the spirit of this blog and the season, I don’t think it hurts to remind one and all that those who serve us often have difficult, unrewarding, stressful, and even dangerous jobs, and when they do them well and cheerfully, we should be grateful and express our gratitude not only in material ways but with genuine sincere thanks.

So often we believe it is our right to receive good, even outstanding service. It is not. While the relationship between the served and the server can be contractual, usually it is not. Even so, an implied contractual relationship does exist. 

Yes, a contract is a cold, unyielding kind of thing. You do this, and I pay you. It doesn’t call for the server to smile or do an extra unspecified chore, but then, it also doesn’t call for the served to smile and say thank you either. Unfortunately many of us take our contractual obligations literally and believe that we are entitled to what we receive. We take that smile or little extra for granted, and forget (if we ever knew so in the first place) to be grateful.

 I admit to being someone that over tips, but in proportion to the quality of the service rendered me, and I have even been known to leave no tip at all when service has been really bad. However, occasionally I have dined with those who have strong views about how little should be left for a waiter or given to a cab driver. When I have, I have often felt compelled to add a few dollars surreptitiously to the tip to make sure the server is fairly treated, and I regret to write this annoys me deeply. It also makes me dread the next occasion when I will be compelled to dine with them again.


The following little story is for them. On Christmas Eve, my wife and I spontaneously decided to have pizza for lunch at a local pizzeria we know. The staff there, however, doesn’t know us from Adam. The pizza was massive, topped with this and that, absolutely delicious, and genuinely Neapolitan. The bill, including an imported beer, a soft drink and tax, came to just over $17.00 for the two of us, the best eating value I’ve had in years. We told the waitress, who was terrific, what we thought of the meal, and as we were leaving a young man at a nearby table, who I had heard speaking to a friend in a Neapolitan dialect, said that he hoped that we had enjoyed our lunch. We said we had indeed, and I wished him Merry Christmas in Italian. He was startled, and we exchanged a few more words. The next we knew, as we were going out the door, he yelled after us, “Wait! Please wait,” and he handed us a bottle of spumante as a Christmas present! It always pays to show gratitude. And we have told everyone about our wonderful experience.


A Thanksgiving Story

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Matt Mecs is a smart, successful, generous and giving person. He is juggling a million things right now yet he volunteered to write a guest post to celebrate Thanksgiving. We are thankful to him.

Like many other people who suddenly find themselves out of work (some estimates say it could rise up to 10% of the population), I find myself having to vigorously ‘network’ which I find quite distasteful.  It just seems phony that five minutes after meeting someone, you ask what he or she does and offhandedly ask, “oh by the way, do you mind forwarding on my resume?” 


Then you have to walk that fine line between being persistent and nagging to make sure it actually gets done.  Few things are more degrading than being a supplicant…

However, it has to be done, and I find myself pleasantly surprised by how helpful relative strangers can be.  Perhaps it is because they are doing so with no sense of obligation, but because they want to help.  There was one woman at a top company who met with me once, and it was a total waste of her time since I was unqualified.  However, I wrote her a thank you note afterwards, (apparently a dying practice), and we parted on very pleasant terms.

This was a few months ago.  After getting laid off, I reached out to her yet again, and asked her if she would not mind keeping her eyes open for me. My motivation was to cover all my angles, as opposed to actually expecting anything of it.  She wrote me back 10 minutes later, stating 6 companies that she had forwarded my resume to.

I don’t expect anything to come of this, but that is not the point.  She is just so sweet and nice to do this, and I feel enormously grateful to her.  I wrote her a 2nd thank you note for all her trouble, and said that I hope one day I can help her out in some way.  This is not out of any sense of debt, but because it gives me great pleasure to help someone who helped me. 

I am too cynical to tie this generic story specifically to Thanksgiving, and besides that, this is a feeling that can happen any time of the year. 

It is truly a warm, human, feeling to help someone, and such a pleasant surprise to be helped.

Happy Thanksgiving all!


Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Clicky Web Analytics