The Wisdom of Gratefulness


It is at this time of year that many of us take time to think about what we have, what we don’t have, what successes we’ve enjoyed and what failures we’ve endured.  Some of us look at it all and complain that we’re just not there yet (wherever “there” is) and others of us see it all as part of a journey that should be savored at each step.  My wife is one of the latter and she teaches me daily about this.  I tend to be one of the former at times and I need this push in the right direction.

What she has taught me most is that life is to be lived in the moment and not to constantly look at what could or should happen.  She is always pointing me in the direction of being grateful for everything, even the bad stuff.  Someone once told me that everything is the way it needs to be for everything to be the way it is.  Now that sounds a little odd but if you think about it, it makes sense.  If things were different in one way, how many things in your life would be way off?

I guess what I am getting at is that we should be grateful for everything, even getting stuck in traffic, the flat tires, crab grass, and leaky faucets in our lives.  How many times has something bad led to something good?  How many times have you looked back on your life and considered how many negative experiences pointed the way to a positive one?

As hard as it sometimes is for me to say, when I get a chance to really reflect, I am grateful for everything. I am thankful I have the opportunity to get stuck in traffic, I am grateful that I have running water that causes the leaky faucet, and I am grateful for what I have …and… what I don’t have (remember the old adage to be careful for what you wish for because you may not be ready for whatever it is).

Are you grateful?  Do you see the blessing in not having it all or are you a complainer about what life hasn’t offered you?  Those with the former attitude, like my wife, walk through life with a joy that brings more blessings daily…and I am blessed with her to lead me in my journey…even though she gives me a to-do list that I need to find a way to be grateful for.

Take this Thanksgiving and really think about what you have and don’t have, your successes and failures, and find the blessings in all of them.  We are graced with so much and the journey is worth the price of admission if we stop to enjoy it.



Tony the Cab Driver



Okay, this may not seem like such a big deal but take a look at this picture.  This is a text message from Tony my cab driver at Checker Cab in Palo Alto, California.  You might be thinking, so what, but how many times has a cab driver texted you to let you know that they might be late?  Think about it…I know this is a first for me.

Why is this worth a blog post?  Well, this simple thing stood out as different than most run-of-the-mill cab service, and standing out is worth something.  And this wasn’t all, Tony turned out to be remarkable. He was extremely courteous, had an extremely clean car, was always early (me and my colleague used his service several times since he was awesome) and made sure we were taken care of (he had his brother pick us up when he was not available).  On top of that, he gave us his phone number and said to call him if we ever come back and he will pick us up at the airport.  That’s no big deal, however, he then told us to be sure to let him know what flight we’re on so he can track it and be there when it lands.  WOW!!!!  I don’t even need to call when I land, he’ll just be there.  Simple, simple, simple…I don’t have to lift a finger.  Tony, you’re the best.

Think about your business.  Are you different?  Are you treating each customer like they’re your only ones?  Are you looking for ways to make working with you simpler and simpler?

Tony is a cab driver who gets it when it comes to customer service.  If you look around at your business and find that you really aren’t getting it….call Checker Cab in Palo Alto and ask for Tony, he’ll explain it to you.


This is our final look at the key words that we’ve discovered at the foundation of redefining customers as guests or clients.  So far, we’ve looked at welcome and honor and today we’re going to look at protection.

When someone is invited into our house, we certainly want to welcome them and honor them with undue respect and treatment; however, we often don’t think about the steps we often take without thinking to protect them.  Think about it, when someone comes as an overnight guest in your home, don’t you let them know about the weird things in your house?  Maybe you have a faucet that drips and might make a little noise in the night so you let them know, or maybe your hot water is really hot and you want to warn them to be careful.  We all do these kinds of things so that our guests are free from harm.

What about the people who patronize our businesses?  What are some things that we should do to protect them?  Do you have a policy that is in fine print and you never mention it because it might hurt a sale?  Do you know of a possible issue they might have yet you conveniently keep silent about it until after the sale?  This is the antithesis of protection.  It lacks integrity and suggests selfish motivations.

Look, our customers are why we exist in business and we must consider how all of our decisions might hurt them…not us…them.  When someone visits your home, it’s not about you, it’s about them.  Why are customers any different?

Does your business have policies and procedures that are there to protect the company but are not necessarily in the best interests of the customer?  Take a look at these things and think hard about whether you are protecting your customers or potentially putting them in jeopardy.  What can be changed, what can be adjusted?

Customers’ best interests should be your company’s interests….first.  Protecting them is the duty of service.  We can smile and charm all we want, but if we are not protecting them from danger, we are missing the real point.  What is your business doing to protect your clients?  What needs to be reviewed?  What policies are really solely for you and not for them?  What decisions are in process that have not been looked at from the perspective of the customer’s best interests?

If you want to serve well surely you must welcome and honor your customers, but most of all, you must protect them from the dangers of failure and financial harm by putting their interests first.



We’ve been looking at words that define the difference between customer and guest or client.  Last week we looked at welcome.  This week, let’s look at honor.

The definition of guest we determined had to do with welcoming people to a friendly place where they are being invited to be honored.  I think we’d all agree that a guest should be welcomed but what is this thing about honoring them?  How do we honor guests?

Honor is about high respect and holding people in high esteem.  It is what we do when we give out medals and salute in the military.  I think of it like putting people on a pedestal and making them most important.  And when I think about guests in my home, that’s precisely what I do.  I do things for them that I don’t do for myself.  I make it as comfortable as possible.  I make sure I am quiet if they are staying in my house.  I make sure unsightly things are put away and that rooms, counters, the kitchen, etc. are cleaner than normal.

Isn’t this what respect is all about?  Holding someone in such high regard that you do for them more than you might do for yourself.

What does this mean to your business?  How can you make honor part of your service, part of making people guests rather than customers?

How about placing them on a pedestal and doing more for them than you would for yourself?  How about making things clean, easy, showing undue courtesy, and making the experience comfortable?  This would truly be an experience that honors people and sends a message that you want them to leave happy and to return again.  Isn’t that what every business person wants, happy, returning customers?

So, here is the question for you…what will you do to honor your customers?  What steps will you take to make their experience clean, easy, courteous and comfortable?