One of the most valuable lessons I learned in my work as an advocate and consultant is to leverage my successes. I ask people I worked with to assist me by making a warm introduction in which they vouch for me. People are usually happy to do so after a favorable outcome.
Dr. Ruth Gotian, a leadership and mentoring expert who studies, writes and teaches about high achievers, concurs. “I have learned that successful people surround themselves with other successful people. Most are extremely gracious and willing to open their circle to other high achievers if they trust you.” To gain that acceptance, Gotian explains, you must prove your worth. Give more than you receive and demonstrate repeatedly that you are trustworthy and able to produce top-level work with which they would want to be associated. It is this philosophy that led her to work with Nobel laureates, astronauts, and Olympic champions.
Andy Lopata, author and podcast host on professional relationships strategies, suggests, “Make it easy for them, be specific and directive by telling them exactly who you want to meet, whether by department or job title (such as Head of Procurement). When your client likes and trusts you, you need to ask. If you wait for the introduction to be offered, you could be waiting a very long time. They have other things occupying their minds.”
After I testified before The Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands about the lack of hearing access at the US National Park Service, Don Murphy, Deputy Director of the National Park Service in Washington, DC, requested a meeting. We started the process of overhauling disability access at the national parks.
Don left to become the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center president and CEO before we finished the project. However, Jonathan Jarvis, who became the US National Park Service director, asked me to assist in writing the NPS Accessibility Guidelines. The NPS acknowledged my contribution on page 76.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center‘s former president and CEO was John Pepper, who left to become the chairman of the Walt Disney Company’s board. Don introduced me to John to see whether he could help me determine why induction loops were available only at some Disneyland ticket windows. As a result, according to WDW Communications, “Induction loops are also available at ticket booths or Guest Relations offices at Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland. Tokyo Disney Resort is owned and operated by the Oriental Land Company” and does not have induction loops. I learned long ago that sometimes I need to go to the top to resolve an issue, and John rectified the problem.
Afterward, I asked John if he could assist me with a similar issue at Apple, since my daughter could not hear at the Genius Bar, and one of Disney’s board members at the time was Steve Jobs. John said he would see what he could do. Shortly after that, Matt Hayes, the senior development officer for retail development, and Sally Ashurst, the director of store operations in England, arranged to meet with me at Apple’s SoHo location in New York City to discuss this concern.
Apple US was unaware that Apple UK had induction loops in its retail locations. As a result of the meeting, Apple piloted an induction loop at its SoHo branch. It is exciting that Apple recently committed to maintaining the induction loop in its original location.
The access at the National Parks, Disney, and SoHo all occurred due to my leveraging of my subcommittee testimony and asking those involved to make a warm introduction for me. Over and over again, I find that this is one of the simplest methods for resolving some complex issues.