Giving Thanks

Greetings. Another Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and another chance to pause, if only for a weekend, to think about all of the people who have made a difference in my life during the past year. Needless to say, friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, and customers are high on my list this year and every year. You are the anchors in so many parts of my work and my personal, social, and civic life. You are the folks I count on for support, encouragement, good humor, thoughtful conversations, new opportunities to learn, grow, and make a difference, as well as great suggestions for the best books, articles, and blogs to read, the most compelling movies, plays, and concerts to attend, the coolest new restaurants to check out, and the best places to visit across town and around the globe. And you were particularly important to me during the second half of this year while I was recovering and re-energizing after my hiking accident in Canada. But I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank a lot of strangers for making this year so meaningful. New neighbors I met while taking our dog Vincent for a walk. New customers who welcomed me into their organizations to exchange ideas and spark fresh thinking together about the power of innovation. New nonprofit organizations that gave me the opportunity to volunteer and play a very small role in their important efforts to change the trajectory for kids and adults in our community. New students who shared their energy and curiosity in the classes I taught at the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, and a wide range of corporations.

Walking-with-Vincent-225x300

I was truly blessed this year to have lots of awesome people enter my life and stretch my understanding and sense of possibilities.

And, of course, another giant thank you to some wonderful strangers who came to my rescue in the Rockies at the beginning of June and whose kindness and skill turned a difficult situation into new friendships and a wonderful affirmation of humanity at its best. I’m delighted to report that I am back on two feet again and will never again taking walking for granted.

Friends + Strangers = Greater Success

Friends and strangers. Just the right combination to help us learn, grow, innovate, and try our best to make a difference in the things that matter most.

Cheers!

More Lessons From Summer Camp

Greetings.  It's the last week of July and once again our daughter Carly has just finished four fun-filled weeks at summer camp in the mountains of Pennsylvania. This was her second summer at camp and she approached her return with a sense of great joy and anticipation–in marked contrast to last year when she felt slightly more than a bit of trepidation at the thought of going to a strange place so far from home.  And, as someone who never went to camp, I must admit, that there seems to be something magic about summer camp for a lot of kids.

Last year I wrote some wonderful customer service lessons from Carly's camp, and this year two more powerful ideas stuck in my mind.  The first was our arrival when all of the counselors and the director lined the road through camp greeting returning campers with cheers of "Welcome Home."  The notion that this place was each camper's home away from home was an exciting and comforting start to the customer experience.

The second idea was embodied in the simple white T-shirt each camper received as they were about to leave.  A T-shirt that would serve as a perfect canvas for collecting messages of affection from new and old friends.  On the front it said "Camp Harlam" and on the back it said:  "Where Friends Become Family." The notion that this was a place where each camper would build the closest of relationships with bunkmates from many places and counselors from half way around the world.

The feeling that I belong and that I have built compelling relationships that really matter.  

Isn't that what every customer longs for?  A simple formula mastered by the finest summer camps.  And that can be understood and mastered by all of our companies and organizations.

Welcome-home

We win in business and in life when we understand the real power of coming home.  And when we really dare to make customers a part of our family.

Cheers!