August 20, 2010 at 1:59 pm #108756
There were about 30 people competing for a $25,000 scholarship for a school MBA school in Australia. Each of the 30 candidates had the opportunity to present to a panel of ten executives how they wanted to improve the world. After two full days of screening, the panel were split on two candidates; a woman with a 4.00 GPA from an Ivy League school and a man who overcame a learning disability. The female candidate wanted to rid the world of AIDS and the man wanted to make a significant contribution to the world.
After negotiations neither of the executives would budge on his/her choice. All ten of the executives decided to have dinner at the hotel, were the candidates were staying, to try to sway just one vote to have a finalist selected the next day. While they were having dinner, one of the executives asked a waiter to assist them in their impasse. The executive told the waiter “I am sure that you have met or seen all of the candidates, which one would you select for the award?” The waiter responded “Actually, I have met only one of the candidates. His name is Tom Spaulding. He sat right over there and when I took his order he introduced himself, told me a few things about himself, and the reason he was here. A true gentleman and one of the nicest persons I have ever met.” With that information the executive changed his vote and the man who overcame a learning disability won the award.
Morale of the story: You can use networks to get you to places but if you treat people with dignity and respect a person who hardly knows you can provide you the same benefit. The benefit is two-fold.
This is a true story from a leadership/networking book by Tom Spaulding.
Title: “It’s Just Not Who You Know”
August 20, 2010 at 2:28 pm #108770
The moral I got from the story was that people respond to human decency above all else. But what is the line between making business connections and just pretending to be nice so that you can use someone? It would be sad if we became a society where everybody was just manipulating each other all the time.
August 20, 2010 at 2:45 pm #108768
True, there can be a dark side to being nice (pretending to be nice) to get something in return but in the context of the story told, a simple genuine relationship mattered more and produced a favorable outcome without the expectation. Like everything in life there are pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, self-interest or service to others. I took the positive meaning, as you pointed out, towards human decency, respect, and dignity. If people continually manipulate others and continually pretend to be nice, in the end it catches up to that person and people will see who they really are and stand for.
August 20, 2010 at 2:56 pm #108766
I’d add to Danielle’s comment and argue that the moral of the story is not just decency… it’s about engagement, being actively interested/involved in the world around us. Empathy helps one to put oneself in others’ shoes, so that when we do anything, from asking for data to implementing a program to ordering dinner, we consider the people we interact with.
Empathy with those people brings up questions: Do we provide a clear benefit if we cause someone to incur cost on our behalf? If we ask people to provide information, do we provide them some signs of that information at work (or access to the aggregate information gathered)? If we ask people to put their trust in us, do we find ways to communicate to them what we’ve achieved? When we hire contractors, do we seek their input, or just hand them marching orders, cutting us off from creative ideas they may be able to offer from work with other clients?
August 20, 2010 at 10:15 pm #108764
I’ve been taking an online program from Keith Ferrazzi’s company–he’s the guy who wrote “Never Eat Lunch Alone,” and “Who’s Got Your Back?” Kind of a king of networking, yes? But: One of the things that’s changed since I started the class is that I am much more aware of who I can help, what *I* have to offer other people. And that that should always be paramount. It changes the chemistry–and the connection–when it isn’t about manipulating you to get you to like me, but simply asking, “How could I be of service?”
August 24, 2010 at 3:50 pm #108762
Jay S. Daughtry, ChatterBachsParticipant
Fascinating! Living a life of consistency means treating all with respect and kindness, not just executives and leaders and the famous (those who seemingly have something to offer you), but those who are often overlooked- store clerks, janitorial staff, security guards, etc. The only thing I would have liked better about this story is if Tom Spaulding had taken the time to ask the waiter about his life.
August 24, 2010 at 4:12 pm #108760
Yes, I have heard of Keith Ferrazzi, he is known as one of the world’s most connected individuals. A master at developing meaningful relationships in networking. It depends who you ask and what they believe in but I agree with your statement about service to others. There is more value in developing meaningful relationships than using people to get things that fulfill individual wants.
August 31, 2010 at 1:24 am #108758
This is the inspiring story of the week. Yes, I know its only Monday, so the moral of the story, is…match this!
In our business, relationships are everything. Without relationships (authentic ones), you have no business.
I think in reference to Andrew’s question to the group this morning about the status of the Gov Loop
Movement and the relationship to this article, I would ask the group. How much has Gov Loop built a
meaningful relationship with the world in which we all find ourselves navigating through?
True Story, good story.. thanks for bringing it up.
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