Shaken, Not Stirred: Ya just never know.

November 20, 2016
Jim Bond

Jim Bond

Shaken, Not Stirred:Ya just never know.


A blog by Jim Bond.

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Words carry power.

There have been two occasions in the past week or so, in which I have learned that words I’ve written have made a positive impact. This, as opposed to the many times in my life in which I’ve realized the negative influence of my words.

I was in a meeting with a prominent businessman and retired renowned attorney and his wife/business partner. During the meeting, he told me the importance of valuable relationships with employees.

“You taught me that” he said.

I was stunned. Upon questioning, he related some things I had written in a recent blog (Messiah, October 30, 2016). “So, those of us who deal with co-workers, clients, friends, voters, or are in any way connected to the public, perhaps should heed the words of Sir Charles Branson, especially if you’re in management:”

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of the employees, they will take care of the clients.”

And yes, most of what had so impressed him was a Richard Branson quote, but hey, I’ll take credit for it.

What has been so gratifying is the fact that a message I had related had been implemented and, consequently, through a variety of actions, had resulted in a massive increase in employee morale.

I often quote three management styles which I ran across a few years ago: Motivation by incentive – motivation by fear – motivation by attitude. The first involves money or other perks, the second is obvious and all too often the case, and the third encapsulates the idea that ‘we want this to succeed because we love the company and our boss’. The same concept applies to parenting, by the way.

The other occasion occurred on Veteran’s Day.

Que horror! I was almost out of cigarettes, so I scrambled to my local Wesco. Standing in line, I watched the natural charm of the associate at the cash register as she interacted with an elderly man (by definition, anyone older than me by three days). He was getting a bag of popcorn.

Sandy was dispensing the popcorn into a bag and pointing out that she was putting the medium popcorn in a large bag because she personally hated it when popcorn spilled out of the bag in her truck.

“It gets crumbled into smaller kernels so that you can never vacuum it out”, she related. She spoke in an elevated volume, understanding that the gentleman was hard-of-hearing.

She rang up the purchase, looked at him and smiled: “Thank you for your service”, she proclaimed with a smile, recognizing his status as a veteran.

As I stepped up to the counter, I said to Sandy, who I’ve known for a couple of decades (she was VERY young at the time) I said:

“You’re magic.”

“I got a lot of it from your video”, she responded.


Here’s the back-story.

For over many years during the 1990s and early 2000s, I wrote and directed corporate videos and commercials: training films, sales pieces, etc.

Wesco was one of the clients for whom I did a lot of work.

There was an ‘Associate Training Video’ for new employees that I put together. We went through a talent agency to select an “Associate Spokesperson”. We carefully selected a site which was a brand new location on East Apple Avenue in Muskegon. We determined to ‘shoot’ at night so that the traffic and lighting would be controllable.

We shot for, as I recall, three nights, from midnight to about 5 am.

‘How to handle an unruly, angry customer’ was one of the components. We hadn’t cast that part, figuring that we could find an actual customer stopping for a doughnut, have him/her memorize a few lines and act the part, in exchange for a large coffee-to-go.

Well, the shoot schedule was critical, as the client was paying by the hour for the production. Come time to do the ‘…unruly, angry customer’ segment and, lo and behold, nobody showed up for a ‘slushy’.

So, we’re all sitting there, doing nothing, when the cameraman uttered: “We need someone who loves to rant”.

All eyes slowly turned to me. (Imagine my surprise!).

So, I did the sequence, which was immortalized for all new Wesco Associates for a couple of years. I knew when the video was distributed to the various stores, since I would walk into a local outlet and I’d see a look of recognition, then a remark such as, “Uh oh, it’s HIM! I’m going to go ‘front and face’ in the canned soup section”, or otherwise disappear like a ‘clown sighting’ in the forest. Then they’d vanish until I left.

‘Method acting’, ‘twas.

But the point which is gratifying to me is that, sometimes you can make a difference and not realize it for years.

Thanks Sandy.

Ya just never know.

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