Event 1: Years ago, my consulting firm was based in Manhattan with a fantastic penthouse view of all of Soho. Clients loved coming to visit just to hang out on our terrace.
This particular day, a client was visiting and we both decided to share a car that I had called to go to the airport. She was traveling for business, and I was meeting my wife and son at JFK to go on vacation. They were taking a car from Brooklyn and we were to meet at the airport.
The client is not in a good mood. She’s late and needs us to rush.
Then the dispatcher calls our driver. One of their other cars has a flat, and it’s on our way… Can we stop and pick up the stranded passengers? My client grumps: “Gzeesh, this will make me even more late.” I don’t want to piss her off, but I can’t tell the driver to ignore those stranded passengers… That just wouldn’t be right.
We pull up to the car with the flat…
Hey, wait… That looks like… It is!…
The stranded passengers were my wife and son.
Can you imagine what would have happened if I told the driver that we were too rushed to stop?
Event 2: Around that time, I took a train to Princeton, New Jersey for a client meeting at Lenox China headquarters. A company driver met me at the station, but said we’d have to wait for another train passenger who was arriving shortly.
OK. I can wait. Five minutes. Ten. Twenty. “Driver, now I’m going to be late for my meeting!” He says, “Just another few minutes.”
By the time the other passenger arrives and gets in the car with me, I’m fuming; worried about how upset my client will be about my tardiness. But I decide to breathe deep, and not say anything. The other passenger and I make had nice small talk. The weather. His awesome leather briefcase. We exchanged pleasant goodbyes as we arrived at Lenox’s headquarters.
As my client meets me, I’m ready to apologize profusely for being so late. Instead, she asks me, “Do you know who you were riding with?” I said, “No… why?” Her excited tone let me know there was something special here.
“That was Lee Brown… The chairman of Brown-Forman!” (Which happened to own Lenox China at that time.)
The point… Be kind and caring. Always. Because, you never know!
Bill Jensen is CEO of The Jensen Group, a transformation consultancy based in Morristown, NJ. He consults with senior executives on all things people related to the future of work. His most recent book is Future Strong. www.simplerwork.com.