Monthly Archives: September 2011

Believe to Achieve

Believe to Achieve

An Art of the Question Blog

What Do I Believe?

 “It is not a dream. It is my reality.” – Roger Bannister

 Someone once said, “whether you believe you can or you can’t – you’re right!” Well, Roger Bannister believed that he could.

 No one had ever run a four-minute mile – it was considered impossible for a human being. But Roger Bannister believed that he could break the “impossible” barrier. So, on March 6, 1954 at Oxford University, he set out to break the record. In the first 2 laps, he was ahead of pace, but three-fourths of the way into the race, he fell behind the pace needed to break the record. Things looked grim. But 300 yards from finish line, he went into his kick. The crowd was on their feet, cheering him on. He collapsed in a heap as he crossed the line. 3:59.4 seconds.

 His record was broken 46 days later.   

 That’s amazing! Once one person broke the “impossible” barrier, others followed quickly. In fact, a four-minute mile is now the standard for professional runners. The mile record has been lowered by 17 seconds! It wasn’t impossible after all!

 How about you? What “impossible” barrier are you facing?

 According to Ken Blanchard, the The ABC’s of Personal Power are:

  1. A ctivating Event
  2. B elief System
  3. C onsequence arising from actions based on the event and belief

Let’s focus on the Belief System. Where do beliefs come from?

 1)    Our environment – this is where “Dreamstealers” are especially dangerous. You know who they are. How many times have you heard, “You can’t do that! You’re crazy!” Don’t listen to them – move forward with living out your dream!

2)    Knowledge of Others – reading about, watching or hearing about the success of others can be very empowering. “What one man can do, another can do.”

3)    Past Successes – If you succeed at one thing, it is much easier to succeed at other things. Past successes are key events that help change the paradigm of “I can’t”.

4)    See it as though it had already happened – Athletes do this all the time – they focus on every part of their performance before they actually perform. They see every move, feel every sensation. The practical impact of this is that they have a “Past Success” – not in reality yet, but in their vision.  Dr. Benjamin Bloom of the University of Chicago did a study of 100 extraordinarily gifted athletes. Surprisingly, he found that they didn’t start out by distinguishing themselves as super-athletes. Their success was an outgrowth of careful attention, direction and encouragement by others. Their belief that they could excel came before the proof of athletic success.

5)    There is power in vision, especially when it is written down. Start a DreamBook. Write down your goals, dreams and aspirations. Write them down, and focus on them every day, several times a day. Print them on cards and put them in a place where you will see them often. On the bathroom mirror, on the steering wheel of your car, on your computer. And think about this dynamic principle:

 Attitude > Potential > Action > Results > Belief  > Greater Potential

Imagine the possibilities…


His Name Is Bill

His Name is Bill


An Art of the Question Blog


What will my customers remember about me?


His name is …well, let’s just call him Bill. He is the President of an airline, and boy, did he step in it not too long ago.  It seems a couple from Orlando missed a concert in Atlanta due to a delayed flight on one of Bill’s planes.  They wrote an email complaint to the executive team, including Bill, the president.

The Chicago Tribune reported that our man Bill emailed a response to a member of his customer service team (let’s call him Pete) regarding the complaint.  Here is the email:

“Please respond, Pete, but we owe him nothing as far as I’m concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.”

Bad, right?  Well, it gets worse.  He accidentally copied the customer! And of course, it got into the blogosphere. So now, the mess has hit the fan. You see, he is trying to go public with a stock offering to raise $300M. But his company’s customer service issues are so bad that when they filed the paperwork with the SEC to get permission, they had to show their customer service reputation as a risk to the business!

How would you like to invest in THAT company?

And then, there is the other end of the spectrum. 

Her name is Zaz.

Like most of us, she loves her mom.  And she wanted to do something to show her mom how much she loved her. The perfect gift…the perfect gift… what to get mom for the perfect gift?

Aha! Shoes! What could be better?

So Zaz ordered the shoes.  And not from just anywhere.  She ordered them from the world famous She ordered just the right shoes that she knew her mom would love, and looked forward to giving them to her. But then she discovered she had ordered the wrong size.

So she called Zappos and arranged to return the shoes. But sadly, unexpectedly, her mom passed away before Zaz could give them to her.  

The good folks at Zappos called to follow up on the return. Zaz explained what had happened, and shared that she just hadn’t had the heart to do the return. They told her not to worry about a thing. They arranged to send a UPS pickup for the shoes.

The next day, UPS showed up to get the shoes. A great customer service story, right? A company doing the right thing for a valued customer. It would have been an extraordinary story if it had stopped right there. But it didn’t.

Not long after the UPS truck left, another truck showed up. Well, actually it was a delivery van. From the local florist. The driver knocked on the door bearing a beautiful, lush basket. Roses and white lilies.  Zaz opened the card, and to her amazement, the flowers were from Zappos.

Now that’s customer service. No, check that. That’s Extraordinary customer relations. That’s moving into the realm of insuring the customer knows you care about them  – not just about their business. That’s the kind of customer experience that helps insure the customer relationship lasts a lifetime.

We are all in the business of the customer experience. Some of us, like our sales team, work directly with the end customer. Some of us, like our administrative team, work with internal team members, who are our customers.  But in one way or another, each of us has responsibility for the customer experience.

How about you?  What do your customers experience when they deal with you?  Every day, every transaction affords the opportunity to blow it – or to shine.  Every interaction with your customer reinforces their decision to do business with you, or undermines it.

Bottom line – the Customer Experience is simply this: what is the customer’s experience with you? Every minute, every day, every interaction – what experience are you leaving with the customer? What will they remember about you?

Imagine the possibilities…

Workin’ At the Car Wash

Workin’ At the Car Wash

An Art of the Question Blog

How is my focus on my customers?

It had been raining for what seemed like weeks.  But suddenly, the sun broke through the clouds, and with the sun’s warmth, the temperature rose above freezing – barely.  And suddenly, I wanted a clean car.

I admit it.  I am a car nut. No, I don’t own a lot of flashy, rare hot rods.  But I love to drive, and I love having a car that handles great.  And I love to keep it looking good.  Due to the weather, I had allowed dirt and grime to coat my beautiful ride.

I swung into my local car wash, and was greeted by a young man who trotted out to meet me as I drove into the lot. “Hello!” he said.  “I’m Rob!  Thanks for coming by today.  What can I do to help you?”

I looked around to make sure I had pulled into the right parking lot.  “Is this the car wash?” I asked.   ‘Yes sir, it is,” came the reply.  “How can I help you today?”

“Wow!” I said.  “You really know how to make an impression!”  “Thank you,” he replied.  “We want to make sure we take good care of you.  What would you like for us to do today?”

“I would like a wash, vacuum and tire shine please.”  “Perfect,” Rob said.  “We can do a Number 3 for you today.  It’s on special, and will save you five dollars.  Say, that’s a beautiful car!”

“Thanks Rob,” I replied.  ” a number 3 sounds perfect.”  “OK,” he said.  “I will personally take care of everything.  Now, if you don’t mind, follow me.”

I followed him to the main building.  When we got to the door, he opened it and held it for me to enter the building.  “We have snacks and magazines.  Also, there is a shoe shine chair if you need to brighten those wingtips!  Relax, and we’ll have you out of here in about ten minutes or so.”

“Thanks Rob,” I said, a little overwhelmed by the amazing level of customer service.  I entered the waiting area and was greeted by a smiling cashier who took my payment and gave me a receipt.

As I sat, I noticed the waiting room was clean and neat.  The phones rang, and were answered promptly and cheerfully.   I watched through the window as the crew, under Rob’s careful gaze, began to clean my car.

When the wash was complete, Rob drove the car to another area.  I watched as he dried the car to remove any water spots. He began on the wheels, carefully cleaning each opening and lug until they were shining.  He continued with the windows and interior.  He selected a cleaner from his cart, and cleaned a spot on the carpet he had noticed.  He even used a bit of rubbing compound to remove a black smudge on one of the fenders.

I walked out to where he was working.  He greeted me, saying, “I should have you wrapped up in about five minutes.” “Thanks,” I replied. “I noticed you seem to do a very thorough job.”

“We appreciate your business!” he said. “Do you own the car wash?” I asked. “No,” he replied, “but I want to do the best job possible.  Our customers deserve that.”

“Wow,” I thought. “He actually said  ‘Our customers deserve that.'”

I tipped Rob, and drove away thinking about my experience.  Would I go back? Absolutely. Rob had set the bar high for any other car wash to compete against.  In fact, he had started me thinking about the level of diligence and customer service I offered to others.  As I thought through what had just happened, I was inspired to be better at what I do.  I had been inspired by a car wash guy

What was Rob’s secret? Well, he had three.  First, he genuinely loved what he did.  Next, he made it a point to do the very best job possible. Finally, he understood customer focus.


Was it easy?  Not at all.  His environment was not ideal.  The day I was there, the temp was in the upper 30’s.  His customers were not always nice and friendly.  Many of them were in a hurry and were downright rude.  He wasn’t making millions of dollars.  But none of that was his focus.

His focus was simple. To do the best job possible. To deliver the best customer experience he could. And to love what he did.

What if we had a similar focus?  What if we were inspired by the car wash guy?

Imagine the possibilities.

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