personal story Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
favorite places

Thoughts About My Favorite Places Take Flight Like Birds

Recently, Beth and I were sitting on our balcony at our Beach Condo in Galveston, Texas talking about where our favorite places are on the planet. Beth pulled out her phone and thought people may like to know where my favorite places are to go in the world. This is a question people do ask us because we travel a lot. On one airline alone, I have flown over 2.3 million miles.

Beth videotaped me answering the question. “Where is my favorite place in the world?”  Below is the video of the conversation I had with Beth.  I think people might find it interesting. Consider this as part of my G.A.I.N.S. exchange as I share my “interests” with you.

The things you enjoy doing and the places you enjoy going can help you connect with others because people are more willing to spend time with those who share their interests. Knowing other people’s interests makes it easier for you to help them in some way. Therefore, let them know your interests as well. If you and your contact share many of the same interests, it will strengthen your relationship. 

Where are my favorite places in the world?

You can watch the video above to learn where my ultimate favorite place in the world is located. You might be surprised by my answer. Here are a few other favorite places on our list:

  • Galveston: Relaxing at our beach condo. Now and then, the local birds take flight, rise up, and soar above our heads.
  • India: We have a lot of members in India and I enjoy visiting with them.
  • Necker Island: We enjoy spending time with Richard Branson on his private island.
  • Paris: We enjoyed the two months we spent in France for our 25th wedding anniversary.
  • South Africa: We did an amazing safari together at Camp Jabulani.
  • Sydney Australia: Beth loves Sydney. It is one of her favorite places, but not her number one place. Can you guess where Beth’s ultimate favorite place is? Listen to the video for her answer.
  • The Great Barrier Reef: We explored it from a small ship.

COVID-19 has changed our travel life. We look forward to the days when we can travel the world again. Visiting these favorite places we mentioned, and also exploring new places we have never been to before. By sharing this video, we know we will receive many invitations to go visit and revisit many places all across the world.

Therefore, I suggest that you add this question about your favorite places when discussing your “interests” as part of your G.A.I.N.S. exchange. Download a copy of the GAINS exchange profile form. People will get to know you better when you share your favorite places in the world during your one-to-one meetings. Please share below in the comments your favorite places in the world too.

life

You Are Not the Dumbest Thing You’ve Done in Life

If you ever feel like you’ve done a bonehead thing in business or life, this story might make you feel better.

The most memorable television interview I ever did in my life was my first “live” interview — which was very nearly my last live interview.

It was early 1995, and my first major book was hitting the shelves coast to coast. A cable station had invited me to talk about it on the Fairfield County Exchange morning show in Connecticut, right across the border from New York.

My publicist called me before the show and said, “Don’t forget that this is live. Completely live. Whatever you say will go on the air (this was long before the notorious Janet Jackson disaster – now everything is tape delayed). She also added that “They want you to do something visual for the show.”

I thought, This is networking, not lion taming. What can I do that’s visual? Run up and down the aisles handing out business cards? So I thought I’d put together a “tool box” with “networking tools” inside — badges, cardholders, and the like. Kind of goofy, but it was visual.

Somehow it didn’t feel like it was enough. So while the New York area Executive Director for BNI, was driving me to the show, I came up with an idea. “Lance,” I said, “what do you think about a magic trick?” I am an amateur magician, and I have a trick where I hide some flash cotton in my hand. I wave my hand, and a flame briefly flares up out of it. I happened to have it with me and I said, “Here’s what I’ll do. We get to the end of the interview, the interviewer holds up my book, and I say to her, ‘Careful! That’s hot!’ And then I take it from her, and whoosh! Flames shoot out of it.”

“Yeah, that’s good!” said Lance.

A little while later, I was sitting in the green room at the studio. It was a large cable station, and the show was a big, 90-minute show with 10 guests or more. I was sitting there with Lance and a bunch of other people, watching the show on a monitor, waiting to be called, when this guy dressed like a Native American walked by. Then another guy walked by dressed like a cop. Then another guy, dressed like a cowboy.

Someone joked, “Gee, it looks like the Village People!” Everyone laughed and we all agreed that wasn’t likely. Then I heard the on-air announcer say,

“Next on the Fairfield County Exchange”

The Village People!

life

life

and (long-pause with less excitement)

Dr. Ivan Misner to talk about networking.

 

I panicked. “Lance,” I said, “I’m gonna die here!”

I thought, better juice things up a notch. Make a bigger flame. So, I stuffed some more flash cotton into my palm.

The Village People went on. I watched them on the monitor. They were great! They were fun! They were hysterical! They did “Y-M-C-A,” shaping the letters with their bodies, of course. They were visual! The audience roared, screamed, jumped up and down.

I thought, I’m going on after them? Are you kidding me, I’m going to bomb, I’d better use a little more of that flash cotton.

The Village People kept the audience jumping and screaming for more. The show fell behind schedule. I knew my interview was going to be rushed. I was up next. I had the cold sweats.

The producer came over and said, “Get ready, we’re going to have to rush you on and mic you up.”

“Okay,” I said. I took another pinch of flash cotton (just for good measure) and followed him out of the room.

As the Village People came offstage to a rowdy standing ovation, I was seated in a chair in front of the cameras, half-facing the host and hostess. I was holding a copy of my book and I wanted to prepare them for what I was going to do. I said to the hostess, seated immediately to my right, “Hey, listen, when we get to the end of the interview, would you hold this up? Then I’ll say — ”

At that moment, the director, who could hear us through her headset, walked over to us and said, “No, no, no, I don’t want her holding the book up. We have a JPG of the cover, and we’ll show it in another shot.”

As soon as the director walked away, the hostess turned to me and saw that I was panicked and said, “I’m the host, I’ll decide. What do you want to do?” I started to explain the trick. As I got to the same point in the first attempt to explain, the director came back and said, “I told you, I don’t want her holding the book up! Okay, we’re on LIVE in five, four, three —”

The hostess whispered to me, “Just go ahead and do whatever you’re going to do. I’ll follow along.”

So we did the interview. I thought it was kind of a lame interview with the toolbox thing, especially following the Village People, but I knew we’d have a great ending.

As we finished up, she said, right on cue, “I have here a copy of Dr. Misner’s book.” She held it up. The director scowled.

I said, “Careful! That’s hot!” I reached over, took the book from her, and opened it up. And WHOOOOSH! a gigantic flame shot up. Huge, I mean really big. A much bigger flame than I expected and the book caught on fire.

The hostess screamed, “AAAAHHHH!” and she jumped into the lap of her co-host, waving her arms and hollering. The director was holding her head, yelling “Cut! Go to commercial!” The cameramen were blinded by the flash and came out from behind their cameras. I stomped on the book, trying to put out the fire. The audience laughed hysterically. Apparently I made quite an impression – just not the one I was hoping for!

The hostess, still sitting in her co-host’s lap, said, “Oh, thank God I didn’t swear on live television!” Her co-host looked off-camera, snapped his fingers, and yelled, “Wardrobe! new pants for her, please!”

I looked over at Lance who was just off stage. He put two thumbs up and said, “Now, that was visual! But we should go now.”

In most places around the world, I may be considered an expert on networking, but in Connecticut, I think I’m considered an arsonist. So, no matter how embarrassed you may feel by some stupid thing you’ve done in life – just think of this story and you won’t feel so bad.

Business Networking Diversity

Business Networking Diversity

I believe that it is important to build a diverse network of professional contacts that include people with different interests and backgrounds.  The only thing that they should have in common with you is that they should be really good at what they do.  Create a personal network like that, and you’ll have a network that can help you succeed at anything.

It is human nature to build friendships with people that are like us.  The problem with surrounding ourselves with similar people is that they also tend to have similar contacts and know the same people as us.  When networking, it may be difficult to make connections with new people or companies with whom we desire to do business. In running a large business networking organization for over the past three decades, I often speak to people who tell me they want to network exclusively business professionals who have similar clients.  Although it is good to include these people in your personal network, networking with them exclusively would be a tremendous mistake. When it comes to business networking diversity, you never know who people know.  One of the important keys to being successful at building a powerful personal network is diversity.

A diverse personal network enables you to increase the possibility of including connectors or “linchpins” in your network.  Linchpins are people who in some way cross over between two or more clusters or groups of individuals; this allows them to link groups of people together easily.  The best way to increase the number of possible connections in your network is to develop a diverse network. The strongest networking groups I have seen over the years are generally the groups that are diverse.  I believe that one of the problems in understanding this concept is a somewhat built-in bias that many people have about networking with individuals that are outside their normal frame of reference.  Let me share a story:

An incredible voice, an incredible connection from networking diversity.

Patti, a BNI Director, arrived a little early to a BNI meeting that met in a private meeting room and noticed an older gentleman setting up coffee mugs in preparation for the meeting.  She struck up a conversation with the man while waiting for the BNI members to arrive.  In talking to him, she was really taken by the amazing tenor of his voice.  She mentioned to him that he had an incredible voice and asked what he did before this.  The gentleman informed her that he used to be a commentator for CNN!  He went on to share with Patti that in his later years, he wanted to work in a less hectic job as well as live closer to his daughter.  He decided to take on the job of managing these private meeting rooms because it gave him an opportunity to be close to his family while having a less hectic career later in life.

Later during the meeting, one of the BNI members, Don, mentioned in his featured presentation that his goal is to host a radio talk show someday. He was looking for some contacts that could help him pursue this dream.  After the meeting, Patti asked Don… “Do you see that guy over there (pointing to the ex-CNN commentator)?  Have you seen him before?”  “Yea,” said Don, “he’s the guy who sets up the coffee for our meeting.”  Patti said to Don, “Did you know that he used to be a broadcaster for CNN?”  Don said, “I had no idea!!!”  Patti suggested that Don introduce himself. Don had seen the man on many occasions but had not struck up a conversation with him because he felt that they had little, if anything, in common.  The truth is when it comes to networking – not having a lot in common with someone may mean that they can be a connector for you to a whole world of people that you might not otherwise be able to meet. This resulted in creating an incredible connection for Don in the broadcasting industry. Don now hosts a local radio talk show.

Diversity in your network is the smart thing and the right thing to do.

working from home

Seven Tips for Working From Home

In the early 1980s, I spent one of several evenings in the home of an entrepreneurial couple who lived in the foothills of Los Angeles.  This couple would regularly invite people over to their home to talk.  Talk about what?  Everything.  Life, relationships, business, and most of all – the future.  It was an informal mastermind group of people who loved good wine, forward-thinking, and great conversation.  One night after an interesting discussion among that night’s guests, the husband invited me into his office (but not working from home back then) and showed me a fairly large rectangular hard-plastic box.  It was a box with a very small, 5” screen on it.  He turned it on and it lit up with bright yellow monochromatic characters that flashed on the screen.  He said – “It’s an Osborne!”   “An Osborne what?” I asked.  “An Osborne computer,” he said.

By today’s standards, this precursor to the personal computer wasn’t much to look at.   The least expensive mobile phones on the market today have infinitely more computing power than that big box on his desk.  Nevertheless, I was impressed.  More importantly, I remember the words he said next:  “This kind of technology will change the world and the way people do business in it,”  Clearly, I could see how computers would enhance the business but, I still didn’t understand what he meant.  He explained that this type of technology “will allow people to do business anywhere – even at home!”   This was a prophetic comment if ever there was one.

Working From Home Tips

working from home

Working from home has become more common, and sometimes like today – more necessary. So, if you’re working from home these days, here are some things to consider:

  1. Establish a dedicated area as your workspace.  It could be a room or just a table.  But that is your workspace.
  2. Focus.  Don’t get distracted.  Your home is now your office.  Treat your workspace like your office.  Structure your day like you would in an office.
  3. Use the technology that is at your fingertips.
    1. Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting or any other platform that allows you to talk to people online.
    2. Here’s a crazy idea – talk to people using that 21st Century version of what Alexander Graham Bell invented – your telephone.
  4. That technology is great – but stay OFF social media unless it is directly work-related.
  5. Plan your day.  Schedule your work on your calendar, hour by hour.  This will help you stay focused and on track.
  6. Communicate your expectations and ground rules with anyone else that may be at home with you (toddlers and younger are an exception).
  7. Take breaks away from your “workspace” and go back to your workspace immediately after your break time is over.

Working from home can be productive, I know.  I’ve done it off and on for more than 35 years.  The trick is that you have to have a plan and work that plan… even when your work is also your home.

student loan

How My $5,000 Student Loan Became a Multi-Million Dollar Business

Before I tell this story, let me say up front – I used the student loan in this story to pay tuition.  That said, let me tell you how that led to a multi-million dollar company.

Most people know me as the Founder of BNI.  However, I actually started a property management company three years before I started BNI.

My $5,000 Student Loan

I was recently going through my old files and ran across the paperwork for an old student loan that I took out during graduate school.  It was 1982, and I had applied to USC for a doctoral degree.  I really wanted to do my Ph.D. there, but I also had to figure out how I would pay for it if I was accepted.  Several years earlier, I had been accepted to Occidental College for my bachelor’s degree.  I was offered a 50% scholarship to go there. However, I couldn’t afford the other 50% (nor could my family).

Therefore, I went to a community college and then a state college, because that’s what I could afford (by the way, they were great schools).  Although I didn’t know how I could pay for the doctoral program at USC, I didn’t care. That was my big goal. Therefore, I applied and I was accepted.  I received a couple of small scholarships. However, I still had to pay the lion’s share of my tuition myself.

At the time, I had a full-time job in Los Angeles. However, I wasn’t making enough money to cover living expenses and the doctoral program.  So, I took another job. Working as many hours as I could so I could save up enough money to pay for that semester’s tuition.  I discovered that one semester at USC cost me more than my entire bachelor’s degree!  But that was my vision, and that’s what I worked towards.

I worked the two jobs AND I applied for a student loan of $5,000 to help pay for a semester at the university of my dreams. Having no idea if I’d get the loan, I applied. I worked to make the money in case I didn’t get the loan, however.

Well, a few months later (right before I was to start at USC), I was approved for the loan!  The thing is, I had also saved $5,000 from my extra work to pay much of the tuition in case I was not approved.  So, I had $5,000 in cash and $5,000 available as a student loan.  What should I do?  Should I use my $5,000 cash to pay for school, or should I take the low-interest loan for school???

Well, I knew I couldn’t keep working long hours for the next several years. Therefore, I decided to take the low-interest loan and use the $5,000 in cash that I had earned and applied it as a down payment on a condominium.  And that’s where my journey began in the investment property business.  You see, I flipped that condo a few years later for a larger house.  I then flipped that house a few years later for another larger house, which I then flipped for another two homes.  Eventually, I flipped those two homes to pay about 50% of a commercial property that I was building in Texas!

The original loan allowed me to take my $5,000 in cash and turn into a $1.8 million dollar commercial property. Of course, my wife and I made other cash investments over the years. We turned this little company I started into a multi-million dollar business with nine commercial properties and dozens of tenants.  All of this happened because I got a $5,000 student loan. I worked really, really hard to earn money and invest it – not blow it on things that wouldn’t matter decades later.

This is a story about the use of leverage and the commitment to discipline. 

Leveraging your money and using discipline can lead to incredible success.  I used leverage and discipline later to help build the BNI business.

By the way, I paid off all my student loans including interest years ago.  It was a proud day for me.  However, four weeks later, I got a letter from another university that read: “Congratulations Dr. Misner, your daughter has been accepted to our school.  You can go to this portal to make the tuition payments on her behalf.”

This time around, I didn’t need student loans.

Emotionally Charged Connection

My ECC: Emotionally Charged Connection

In my book, “Avoiding the Networking Disconnect”, I talk about my ECC: Emotionally Charged Connection. We all have an ECC. It was something that happened to you generally as a child that lays the groundwork for who you are as a person. It can be positive or it can be negative.

Many people are not conscious of their Emotionally Charged Connection, yet it’s the reason we get up in the morning and do the things we do every day.  It’s driven by the heart, not the checkbook or the head–there’s a big difference.  Once you become conscious of this connection, you are able to understand and more effectively apply it.

Gladstone High School

My ECC resulted in my desire to help others to succeed. I cannot make you successful. I always lost when I ran for student council. As a freshman at Gladstone High School, Mr. Romero, my freshman high school history teacher, picked me for the student council. “Oh no, not Ivan. Anybody but Ivan”.   I do not know what he saw in me but I am going to do whatever I need to do to make him proud. He saw something and helped me to succeed. I’m doing the same thing now. I had a handful of teachers that saw something in me and supported me. We all have something like this that helped guide a chapter in our life that will influence our future.

Your “why”–the Emotionally Charged Connection you have with your work–is the most important thing you can figure out about your business. If you don’t know why you do what you do, you’ll never fulfill your professional dreams.

Mr. Romero

Ivan’s Why

There has probably been someone in your life—a coach, grandparent, teacher, aunt, or spiritual mentor—who’s made a difference for you. It may have been when you were young (it generally is) Or it may have been recently. It may have been a positive experience, or it may have been very negative. Either way, it is your “why” for what you are passionate about.

I’ve certainly had people who have made a significant difference in my life. One of those people was my freshman high school teacher, Mr. Romero, at Gladstone High School in southern California. Mr. Romero taught history, and that class was the one that selected the student council representative for the freshmen. I had run for student council numerous times in junior high school and was soundly defeated each time. The elections weren’t even remotely close. In fact, I came in dead last every time. Each election was a humiliating experience that left an indelible impression on me. So, by the time high school rolled around, I had no intention of running for student council again. Ever!

Welcome to Gladstone High School

The first week of freshman history class, our teacher, Mr. Romero, asked all the students, “Because we pick the freshman student council representative from this year’s history class, are there any volunteers for the position? Who would like to do it?” Nobody volunteered. Finally one of the prettiest, most popular girls in the class said, “Oh, Mr. Romero, you know, I would do it, but I’m just so busy! I don’t have the time to do something like that.”

Mr. Romero replied, “That’s OK, you don’t have to do it. But if no one’s interested in volunteering, as the teacher, I get to pick. Are you OK with that?”

The students came back with cheers: “Yeah, yeah, yeah—you go ahead and pick!” So the teacher looked around the class, paused his gaze at me, and, looking me straight in the eyes, he said, “Ivan, I’ll bet you would love to do this, wouldn’t you?”

I replied, “Well, um, well, yeah, I kind of would, Mr. Romero.” My momentary elation was immediately squashed when the entire class, almost in unison, moaned, “Oh, no. Not Ivan!” Even the too-busy popular girl stood up and said, “No, no, Mr. Romero. You know what—I’m actually not that busy. If you’re going to pick Ivan, I can do it after all!” Of course, while she was saying all this, I was thinking, Hello. You all see me sitting here, right?” But I couldn’t actually open my mouth to speak. I just sat there, quiet and embarrassed, holding my breath. Have you ever had a moment like this? When you felt so small you just wanted to slip underneath the carpet? That was how I felt at that moment.

It’s important to put this experience in context. Today, I’m an author, speaker, and fairly successful businessman with franchises on every populated continent of the world. But remember, this was happening to me as a young thirteen-year-old boy. I lacked confidence, I felt like I didn’t fit in at all, and I couldn’t get a chance to prove myself at something I really wanted to do. Just imagine, for a moment, how humiliating this was for me. I didn’t have the advantage of peeking into the future to know where I would end up. I have to tell you, it was a raw, exposed moment.

Somehow, Mr. Romero understood that, and he gave the ever-popular girl a withering look and said, “No, you had your chance to volunteer, and you didn’t take it. So I’m empowered to pick a representative, and I pick Ivan. He’s the student representative! Now, open your books and turn to chapter two.”

Student Council

Despite the grumbles rolling through the classroom, Mr. Romero’s decision was final. I was the Student Council Representative. My teacher believed that I could do a good job. I took a deep breath in and knew I would work hard—really hard—to prove him right. When the year-end Student Council elections came around for the following year, I decided to do something I had vowed to never do again: I ran for Student Council. That same class who loudly protested my appointment voted me in for another year, by a landslide! As a matter of fact, I won every election in high school after that—Student Council, Activities Director, Student Body President—every single one. It all started with Mr. Romero seeing something in me that I had not been able to see in myself. His giving me that chance allowed me to prove myself. This infused confidence in me, and that made a huge difference in my life. I gained leadership skills and learned responsibility by being involved in those school projects that I had to take from the beginning to the end. Mr. Romero positively influenced my life by giving me the opportunity to succeed. He didn’t do the hard work for me, but he opened the door for me. He gave me a chance to excel, to succeed, and to show what I was capable of doing.

The Man I Am Today

Years later, I knew this was an important experience in my life, but I never realized how seminal it truly was to the man that I would become. It wasn’t until a few years ago at an Asentiv seminar that I came to realize that my entire life’s work was in fact, a reflection of what Mr. Romero did for me as a young man. We were all studying our Emotionally Charged Connections (ECCs) to understand why we do what we do,

Every book I’ve written or business I’ve started has been an attempt to give other people an opportunity to succeed, to excel, and to accomplish what they want to accomplish in life. I can’t “make” someone successful. Only they can do that. I can, however, provide the system, the process, and the opportunity for them to achieve their dreams. I have been continuously reliving what Mr. Romero did for me, and I never even knew it—until I looked deeply into my “why.”

Your “why” is the most important thing you can figure out right now. It is the reason you do the things you are passionate about. If you don’t know that, you can never come full circle to completely fulfill your dreams.

30th wedding anniversary

30th Wedding Anniversary Thoughts

Yesterday my wife, Elisabeth, and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary together in the Champagne region of France.  We just left a BNI Conference in France and wanted to take a couple of days to celebrate alone.

This gave me time to reflect on the many ways she has been such an amazing life partner and I wrote down some of the things that I’ve said about her over these many years. She is the greatest referral of my lifetime.

Here are just a few 30th wedding anniversary thoughts:

  • You bring color to my black & white world. 
  •  I make the living and you make the living worthwhile.
  •  President John Adams always depended on Abigal Adams as his advisor and confidant. You have always been my “Mrs. Adams.”
  •  It’s hard being me – without you.
  •  You are always the most beautiful woman in a room.
  •  I am a compass and you are magnetic north. I will gravitate to you wherever you are.

She is my bride of 30 years. I wish her another 30 years together.

30th wedding anniversary

 

 

"City Boy"

“City Boy” vs. “Country Boy”

Frank James De Raffele Jr. and his wife Crystal De Raffele were with us on the first couple days of our writing retreat. Frank and I saw this table and what looked like a little “step stool.” He and I set up the little piece of wood, as a “City Boy”, in the front of the table like a little step that would take you to the next step (first photo). We just couldn’t figure why anyone would step up to the top of this table. What was it for?

My Father-in-law (born in Texas) was visiting on one of the days and we asked him what it was. I just know he was thinking (oh you “city boys”) and he walked over to the table and put the “step” up on top of the table and proceeded to step over what we thought was the second step and sat down. He then moved his arms as though he was resting a rifle on the table and placed the back of one hand on what we thought was a step. He said, “that’s where your bean bag goes to hold the barrel of you ‘huntin’ rifle boys. You shoot deer from here.”

I’m pretty sure he was thinking, “Dang city folk. They wanted to step up on it and do something silly like dance on it or worse yet, give a speech.”

Sorry Dad. I’m learning.

Every Great Man

A Different Take on the Notion that “Behind Every Great Man…”

When my wife, Elisabeth and I are out together at large events, someone will inevitably  say that it’s nice to meet the woman behind the man or “behind every great man is a woman.”  Now I’m not offended by that and I don’t think she is either – however, I also don’t really agree with it.

I would change that expression to beside every great man is a woman.”  The key here is that I think that it’s much easier for someone to achieve success in business and in life when you have your life partner next to you in the journey. I sincerely doubt if I would be where I am without her and I’d like to think that she wouldn’t be where she is without me.  That makes it a partnership.  Partners walk side by side in life.

So, if you see the two of us together sometime, know that I won’t be offended if you say the traditional expression, but I’ll be very impressed if you say beside every great man is a woman.”  In fact, she’s pretty amazing in her own right so I wouldn’t even mind if you said, “beside every great woman is a man.”

Happy Valentines Day.

Every Great Man

Author Note

I totally get the issues relating to gender and life partner expressions and I’m also good with anyone putting whatever gender they want to put into this expression.  That said – I’m a man and my wife is a woman and so I am looking at this in my context – feel free to alter it to your own context.

Brigadier General

What a Brigadier General Taught Me About Business

When I was a young man just starting my doctoral degree at USC, I had the opportunity to study under a retired Brigadier General from the army. In retrospect, he was one of the best professors that I had during my tenure. In that course, he told me a story that has stayed with me for many decades.

The General told me this story in the early 1980’s. He said that when he was a young first lieutenant (which was decades before that) he was stationed in Britain. As a lieutenent, he was tasked to do a “time and motion study” of a British artillery division. My professor went to the unit and carefully watched as the men prepared to fire the guns. He said he watched as they prepared the weapons to fire. When they were ready, one man marched confidently to the left and stood at attention with his hands behind his back and nodded to the artillery men. They then, proceeded to fire the guns.

The general (then a lieutenant), asked the man why he marched to the left and stood at attention before they fired the weapons? The soldier told him that was the way he was trained to do the procedure. The lieutenant asked the soldier who trained him. The soldier replied that the sergeant trained him. Consequently, the lieutenant went to the sergeant and asked him why he trained the men to march to the left and hold their hands behind their back before they motioned for the weapons to be fired? The sergeant replied that the master sergeant had trained him to do it that way. So, the lieutenant went to the master sergeant and asked him why he trained the sergeants to train the men to fire the weapons that way. The master sergeant said “that’s the way we’ve always done it in this man’s army sir.” He had no further insight as to why it was done that way.

The leaky bucket…

So, my professor (then a lieutenant), went off to produce his report regarding the process. One evening he decided to take a break and went to a local pub frequented by many military personnel. While there, he found himself sitting next to a very elderly retired sergeant major from the army.

Now you have to understand that I met the retired general in the early 1980’s and he spoke to this sergeant major when he was a very young first lieutenant. He said this retired soldier was involved in the military back in the old “cavalry” days.

My professor told the retired soldier that he was very perplexed by this artillery process and he asked him if he had any idea why the men would march to the left and hold their hands behind their back. When my professor asked his question, the old sergeant major said, “why lad… they’re holding the horses of course.”

The general, now my professor, said that it had been decades since the military had to hold the horses before the men fired the guns. Yet, there were still men holding these non-existent horses! He also had another great story about communication.

Truluck's

You Achieve What You Measure – A Truluck’s Story

Since I moved to Austin Texas, I’ve discovered a number of restaurants that I really enjoy.  One of them is Truluck’s in downtown Austin.  The first time my wife and I went to Truluck’s we couldn’t help but notice how engaged the host was when we walked up to check in for our reservation.  He was welcoming, friendly, and conversational.  It was unusual in that the host seemed more engaging than the normal friendly host you might get when you enter a good restaurant.  He was incredibly personable and it stood out to me. I took a mental note and wondered if the rest of the experience would be the same.

I sat down and the wait staff was very attentive (but not too attentive).  They were right on the spot when I needed something but they didn’t interrupt constantly.  The wine list was great (see this blog to know why that’s important to me).   Then, the meal came out.  It was phenomenal.  For me, a great meal paired with a great wine and great service are the proof of the existence of a divine being.  OK, maybe I exaggerate a little but it was really good.

My wife and I had a nice long dinner and a great experience.  When we were ready to go, the wait staff brought out the bill and a computer tablet.  The tablet had a series of survey questions on it.  The first is the screenshot on this blog.  They asked if I received a hospitable welcome from the host when I arrived!  Voila!  I now understood why the host really went out of his way to make us feel welcome.  (By the way, I scored it as “Absolutely!)”  The restaurant had about six questions in total relating to the experience during the evening and I checked each one of them at the highest possible level.

Truluck's

Trulucks measured key factors in their restaurant experience and the management got an immediate, real-time result for each of these areas.  This is a perfect example of “Achieving What You Measure.”  In their case, there was no delay in getting the results.  They could tell exactly how people felt about the experience before the customer even left the restaurant.  On one of my visits to Trulucks, I spoke to the manager, Thomas, about the survey system at the restaurant.  He said that the previous month they received a 98% positive rating from the customer surveys.  I told him that was outstanding.  I love his response.  He said, “actually, we always shoot for 100%.”

We could all learn from this type of management control system.  Well done to Trulucks.  I look forward to going back again soon.

 

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