Some lessons on business from traveling

I am fortunate enough to be able to work from Florida for a couple days due to July 4th, leaving me with a nice 9-day visit back home. While traveling, I observed a couple of interesting things about business, opportunities, and life. Check them out…

First, while waiting in Phoenix at the Southwest Airlines gate to board my plane, the guy guarding the boarding door was about to do his usual thing, preparing for boarding the plane, when he did something that made everyone look up. He said

“Do you guys want me to give you all the boarding information in a song?”

Not sure if he was serious at first, people began nodding. So he started – and sang an entire song to the tune of Edwin McCain’s I’ll Be. The guy actually had a really good voice and gave us all the usual information, but in a really exciting and new way. In the end, everyone applauded and had a smile on their face. This is a great way to do business. I hope that guy gets a raise because he took what is usually a very boring experience and added life to it. Even his coworkers from the booth were smiling and enjoying themselves.

On the other hand, I went out to eat this afternoon with a pretty large group of 13 people to Clarks. While I usually like the place, today the waiter sucked – he was overall unfriendly, rude, and short with us. So what if a few people ordered water? That doesn’t mean “refills” should be given by slinging one pitcher of each drink on each side of a very long table. I noticed the not-so-great service but wasn’t going to say anything. However, it was bad enough for several girls at my table to be unhappy about it. Because of this, I simply asked for his name, and informed the manager that I love the restaurant, but was receiving bad service due to a rude waiter. I hope this guy gets a one-on-one meeting with the manager and either begins to improve or get replaced by someone like singing-airplane-gate-guy. And it really is in the waiter’s best interest – better service results in better tips.

What’s the point? That a little personality and effort go a long way in creating a good impression and making happy customers.

And last but not least: airplane rides are great for networking. After briefly meeting a young couple while listening to singing-airplane-gate-guy, we ended up sitting next to each other on the plane. I had a great conversation with the guy. I taught him Sudoku, talked to him about Jacksonville, discussed web design and business ideas. He told me about his own business and how he created a simple website for himself using a free online tool. After a simple conversation, without seeing any of my resume or previous design work, this guy says:

“I really wish I hadn’t already signed a contract for my new website, I would hire you right now. But if you want to do any search engine optimization contract work, that would be great.”

Why would he say this after such a short conversation with no evidence of my abilities? I think it has to do with a few things. Just like above, having a personality and engaging in conversation almost always are good things. More important than resumes or portfolios, people just like to know that they can simply talk to you and trust you as a person.

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  1. Lewis Harriott said,

    July 20, 2006 @ 7:41 am

    Hi! Just want to say what a nice site.

  2. Iverson Jacoby said,

    July 21, 2006 @ 6:32 am

    Super color scheme, I like it! Keep up the good work. Thanks for sharing this wonderful site with us.

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