The Secret to Good Business? Connections, Connections, Connections

Today I come to you from 34,000 ft. up in the air. Although I have a nice view of the fluffy white pillows of clouds, all I can think about is a story I recently heard.

I attended my very first National Speakers Association conference in Orlando, Florida (hence why I’m up in the air)—I’m going through the process of applying for my CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) designation, and attendance at a national conference is on the list of prerequisites.

As a professional speaker on a mission to consistently improve myself at my craft, the conference was an incredible experience and I’m already looking forward to the 2018 version in Dallas.

The 4-day event exposed me to a dizzying array of speakers, trainers, and facilitators—all at the very top of their profession and all keen to share their perspective, experience, and expertise.

Although I could (and probably will) write several blogs about my time at the conference, I really want to share this story I mentioned earlier in hopes it resonates with you as much as it did with me.

As I share this story I want you to think about the relationships that exist in your workplace. What are they based on? Do they make people smile, or cringe? How can they be improved?

Now that you have your assignment, let’s get to the lesson…

Patrick Henry gave his audience a master class in knitting personal stories into meaningful content— always a priority for the professional speaker. Here is what he shared:

At one point in his life he felt he was destined to be the next Garth Brooks (something that didn’t actually happen) and moved to Nashville. He decided to get a job as a server in a restaurant, and ended up at the Green Hills Grille— one of the most popular eateries in Nashville in the late 1990’s, with a line out the door for 80% of its opening hours.

When he first started at the restaurant he and his fellow new hires were introduced to the general manager. This GM stated that he only wanted to say three words to them.

Can you guess what they were? Well, I’ll give you a hint…

It was not, “Don’t be late.”

And it was not, “Don’t drop dishes.”

You may be surprised to hear that it was:

Remember their names.”

He explained that the success of a good restaurant didn’t start with good food; it started with an emotional connection to the customers and the people that worked there.

(Of course, the food and the service were good. After all, you don’t get lines out the door if those things are lacking.)

The GMs three words perhaps didn’t quite hit home until Patrick met one particular person. A customer.

Mrs. Stevens was an older lady who came into the restaurant at exactly the same time (4pm), sat at exactly the same table, in exactly the same chair, and ordered exactly the same thing (a hot fudge brownie with ice cream on the side and a decaf black coffee).

Every day.

So it wasn’t hard to believe that everyone got to know Mrs. Stevens.

Since 4pm was not the busiest time for the restaurant, the staff had the opportunity to stop by and ask how she was doing and how her day was going.

One day, Patrick spotted her on her way into the restaurant and quickly put in her regular order to the kitchen, poured a hot cup of decaf black coffee, and placed it on her table so that it was waiting for her when she arrived.

He later stopped by to check on her and commented, “You know Mrs. Stevens, you must love that hot fudge brownie. You come here ever day and have the exact same thing!”

Mrs. Stevens paused, put her fork down, and looked him straight in the eyes.

“I don’t come here for the hot fudge brownie,” she said. “I come here for you, Patrick. And Stevie over there, and Judy, and Carly…”

Pointing to every single member of the staff at the Green Hills Grille, she added, “You are who I come for.”

Humbled, Patrick asked, “But, why?”

“Because you all make me feel so special,” she replied.

The GMs words echoed in the back of Patrick’s head.

It’s fact: the source of everything good comes down to relationships and how we treat each other.

Do you remember the “assignment” I gave you before I shared Patrick’s story?

What are your workplace relationships like?

Who are your Mrs. Stevens’ and what are you doing to make them feel special, unique, and valued?

When you care enough to know what’s important to the people you work with and for, you create an emotional connection, and that is far more important to each one of us than a hot fudge brownie, ice cream, and a decaf black coffee.

Although that does go great with a side of good human interaction.