Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In life it is the small stuff that allows you to win or lose

In life, it is
the small stuff that allows you to win or lose

During my workshops I sometimes ask the audience, how many
of you have been bitten by an alligator?

I have never had anyone raise their hand.

I then ask how many of you have ever been bitten by a dog. Many hands go up.

Then I say, “You see, in life it is the small stuff that
gets to you”

It is, don’t you agree?
It’s having a business card that people find interesting and they will
keep. It is smiling when a client makes a purchase and saying thank you for
shopping in this store. It is taking the client to the exact spot the product
is instead of saying it is in aisle 6.

Yes, those little actions, those small advantages, the tiny
changes and corrections you do in your daily business life are the ones that
deliver humongous results.

And they are behaviors so easy to adopt and apply on a
regular basis.

Let me give you a recent example from the world of sports.

Two weekends ago, in Indianapolis, a rookie driver was
leading on the last lap of an 800 lap race.
His name is J.R. Hildebrand and had he won, he would have been the first
rookie driver to win the world’s greatest car race since the legendary, never
forgotten, Formula one driver, Graham Hill, won it in 1966. And even though
Graham Hill was a “rookie” at Indianapolis, at that particular point in his
career, he had already chalked up a few races, such as the Formula One
Championship and the fabulous Grand Prix of Monaco three times.

Hildebrand, the rookie in Indianapolis is practically a kid
having graduated in 2006 from Redwood High School in Larkspur California with
an A average by the way.

This young man had perfectly handled 799 of the 800 turns it
takes to finish the Indy 500 and then, on the last lap, disaster struck. In
reality, it was not a huge mistake, it was only a small miscalculation that
allowed his car to hit the wall with great force, and didn’t stop him at all,
it just slowed him down a bit, just a bit, and the momentum coming out of the
wall was carrying him toward the finish line, mind you, still in first place.

There were over 300,000 screaming fans on the stands, at
this time screaming louder than at any time during the race and I bet that
millions of fans watching it on television and on the internet from the comfort
of their homes, were screaming too. And, in front of everyone, the second place
car driven by Dan Weldon, barely swept past the kid and crossed the finish line
a breath ahead of him.

Let’s analyze this: five hundred miles of relentless racing
and the winner is determined by a second or two and one less mistake.

I have no doubt that J.R. will recover and will use this
experience as a learning experience and having gone through it so early in his
career, will give him an advantage in the future. You just can’t buy such a
valuable lesson, although a very painful one.

At the awards banquet, he was given a check for $1,064,895
as a reward for coming in second in the world’s greatest race. Not bad for a day’s work.

Then, the first place trophy and check was presented to Dan
Weldon who went to the podium and graciously thanked his family, his team, his
friends and his fans for the support that they have given him.

The check he accepted was for $2,567,255

What is the big lesson here?

The small mistake that H.R made on the last turn actually
cost him $1,502,360 in earnings, the difference between first and second place.

Some of you saw the last game between the Chicago Bulls and
the Miami Heat. With three minutes left in the game, Miami was losing by 12.
Everyone thought they were out of it; they were going to lose the game. And
then what happened?

They went on an 18 to 3 run and won the game and the Eastern
Championship and went on to the finals.

Out of 48 minutes, the last 3 made the difference between
winning and losing. Often the difference is one second or even a fraction of a

In the first game of the finals, the Miami Heat be the
Dallas Mavericks 92 to 84, they played as a team and trounced the

The second game, they had the game won with seven minutes
left, and what happened? The Miami Heat got cocky, they thought they had it
won. They gave the game away and lost 95 to 83.
Dallas simply never gave up. After
the game Chris Bush pronounced wise words: “ For a split second I played bad
defense” and Dallas wins by 2.

The third game will be played on Sunday, a day before this
article is published. No one can predict who will win but I can tell you this,
this third game will really define the character of both teams. Can Miami come
back after a demoralizing , stunning loss? Can Dallas do it again? We will see.

So there is a big money difference between first and second.
Does it mean that the winner is twice or three times as good as the runner up?

Of course not, he is only one little tiny bit better and
that one tiny little bit better is all he or she needs to make two, three, four
and sometimes more in winnings.

A company leading an industry is not two or three times
better than the ones in second, third or fourth place. They are a couple of
small details better, the ones that make the difference. One follow up call, one birthday card sent,
an extra thank you or smile, small stuff.

Winning and losing in life is determined by milliseconds, inches,
ounces, or one more smile and we must understand that you haven’t won until the
game ends and you have not lost until you give up. The Heat knew that in Chicago, the Dallas
Mavericks know it now.

Will you live or will you die? The ultimate decision

Will you live or will you die: the ultimate decision

Before I go into this week’s theme, I want to thank first my editors at
the Puerto Rico Daily Sun for allowing me to disclose the telephone of Jose
Toro ( I erroneously gave his last name as Torres) the taxi driver that called me
after I had given him a fifty dollar bill instead of a twenty. He text messaged me thanking me for the article
and telling me that he had numerous calls from San Juan as well as from other
towns in Puerto Rico.

My main objectives in writing about him and even giving out his number
was to first of all, reward exemplary behavior and second to demonstrate that
being honest is a behavior that will always pay in the long run.

If Jose had kept the thirty extra dollars, that would have been it,
thirty dollars richer, but by calling and telling me, now thousands of people in
Puerto Rico and in every other place where people read the articles through the
paper’s web site, can learn about him and use his services any time they need
it. Everyone wants to deal with people that can be trusted.

Ok, now let’s go into the subject matter of today’s article.

Day before yesterday I was notified that a man that I knew very well,
married to a relative of mine had committed suicide. This morning I went to the funeral home to see
him in a casket and observe his whole family, very sad, crying and wondering if
there is something that they could have done.

This gentleman, let’s call him Lawrence so as to protect his identity,
was a nice guy, very successful until the recession struck, with a very nice
family, a wife and two children from his first marriage and two from his second

The youngest is a wonderful young lady seven months pregnant and a PhD
candidate graduating in a few months.

Lawrence will not be present when the child is born nor when she gets
her diploma, tainting what could have been two very proud moments in her life.
It just isn’t fair.

A few weeks ago he went to a store, purchased a gun, and hid it
somewhere in his office. When he thought
it was the right moment, I guess, his wife attending mass, he went inside his
office, turned on is computer, wrote a 3 page letter to his wife, hit print,
placed the gun in his right temple and pulled the trigger ending it all.

The youngest of his sons, that gave the eulogy, spoke about his dad and
said that those who knew him would understand that he always did things on his
own terms and that he went when he thought he had to go.

I am glad that his son, if he meant what he said, doesn’t see his
father’s action as an act of cowardice but as a brave decision. Even though it
must be very difficult to point a gun to your head and pull the trigger, it is
much more commendable to face hardship, fight for your loved ones and do the
best you can until nature takes its course.

Coincidentally, a colleague of mine and I had a coaching appointment
with a client and when I mentioned what happened, the client said, “What an act
of courage to be able to pull the trigger”.

Is it an act of courage to kill yourself or are you a coward not willing
to face your problems in life?

Lawrence was definitely a victim of this recession we are going through.
His business was losing money and he was resorting to what lots of people are
doing now a day’s which is to go into your credit cards in order to pay for
consumables and to pay other credit cards with that money. Taking from Paul to
pay Peter is a common expression used to describe this type of behavior.

He was at a point that he owed close to $50,000 only in his credit cards
plus other debts he had from his business, mortgage and personal expenses. He
also of course exhibited signs of depression that his immediate family was
beginning to notice.

Millions of persons are now going through a very hard time, not only in
Puerto Rico and the United States. Look at Spain, Greece, or Portugal. What
about Haiti and Japan having gone through horrible tragedies?

As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
There are ways, always, to solve problems. The only thing in life that doesn’t
have a solution is your eventual death and taxes although some people find the
loopholes and don’t pay much of it.

Let me tell you about a good friend of mine that called me today to tell
me that all overtime in his company had been eliminated. That means that with
his minimum pay and 90.00 a week in gas in order to drive to his job every day,
he simply doesn’t have enough to cover his expenses. Is he thinking of killing
himself? Of course not! You know what he is thinking about? He is going to ask
the company he works for to allow him to sleep in his car in the company’s
parking lot from Monday to Friday so as to save the money he has to spend in
gas. No, he can’t move closer to his job because where he lives now he pays a low
rent and besides he has no money to move. In fact, they cut his water this
morning because of non-payment and I had to loan him a hundred bucks to go and
pay it.

He of course, is always on the
lookout for a better job which eventually will come around and even though he
probably will never pay me back, I feel good that I helped a friend in a moment
of need.

Normal people face adversity and look for solutions; they don’t end
their lives because of circumstances that could change soon.

Let’s face it, suicide is a major public health problem in the United
States and in Puerto Rico. In the US, more than 32,000 persons die every year
or the equivalent of 80 suicides per day. In Puerto Rico I don’t have reliable
figures but I can tell you that neither the

US nor Puerto Rico are among the countries leading the world in this
horrible statistic. Suicide is a major world problem. Besides these 80
successful attempts in the US, there are 1,500 unsuccessful ones every day in
the 18 to 65 year age group.

Actually, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the United
Suicide occurs in persons of all ages and
backgrounds, but certain groups of people are at increased risk for suicide
attempts. Males are more likely than females to commit suicide, although,
attempts are more common among females. In other words, females try to do it
more often but they are not as successful as males in carrying it out. A family
history (genetic), altered levels of neurotransmitters in the brain,
severe anxiety or depression, symptoms which
may include moderate alcohol abuse, insomnia, severe agitation, loss of
interest in activities they used to enjoy (anhedonia), hopelessness, and
persistent thoughts about the possibility of something bad happening are
usually the causes of suicide. Since
suicidal behaviors are often quite impulsive, removing guns, medications,
knives, and other instruments people often use to kill themselves from the
immediate environment can allow the individual time to think more clearly and
perhaps choose a more rational way of coping with their pain.

No matter how desperate your
situation is, look for help, tell your loved ones and friends what is going on
and you will receive help. You can even call 911 or suicide prevention numbers
and everyone will help.

Killing yourself will hurt your loved ones and
they don’t deserve that.

Honesty is still around and it pays off

Honesty is still around and it pays off.
This morning I took a cab from the Radisson Hotel in Ashford Avenue to the airport at 5.30 in the morning so as to catch a 7 am flight to Miami. Having attended the introduction of Frances Rios wonderful book, The Glue Factor in Borders and then going to dinner with the whole team, I went to bed rather late so getting up at 5 am was no fun at all.
I decided to catch a cab and a very nice driver named Jose Torres drove me to the airport. We had a great conversation, and it impressed me when he said to me “you write for the PR Daily Sun, correct.” When I said yes, he said he loved my articles.
Well, right there he was already on the way to getting a good tip after reaching our destination.
This gentleman had to reinvent himself. Like thousands of other
workers in today’s economy, he was laid off from a very well paying job around
a year and a half ago. Remember, we have been in a recession for the last 6
years, so people have been losing their jobs from six years ago to yesterday
when someone in the island, somewhere was laid off.
He decided he had to survive and through an aunt that owned an SUV
taxi that wasn’t being used because the driver she had driving the cab was
cheating her out of money, his aunt gave him the taxi to drive an earn a
He has cut back on his living style, moved to a smaller apartment,
reduced his expenses and he has been surviving until things turn around in the
future. Everything turns around; everything has a cycle so it is just a matter
of time.
When we got to the airport, it was a 15.00 fare and I took out my
wallet and gave him $20.00 and told him to keep the change. I also gave him my
million dollar business card telling him that it would bring him luck and to
keep it in case he ever wanted to get in touch with me for advice or anything
I am standing in the first class section of American Airlines
waiting for my turn to step up to the ticket counter when my cellular phone
I say “Joachim de Posada, may I help you” as I always answer my
phone and I hear a voice saying “Joachim, it is Jose the cab driver. You gave
me a$50.00 bill instead of a $20.00 so don’t worry, I will keep your change and
when you get back, call me and we will meet up so as to return it to you”.
What a pleasant surprise! This guy could have kept the money and
said nothing and instead he decides to do the right thing, call me to tell me
about the mistake.
I am choosing to write about this because now a day’s all we read
in the newspapers, hear on the radio and see on the news channels, are stories
about crime, corruption, theft, etc. and we never ever read about all the
Jose’s out there that day after day work hard doing an honest day’s work,
proving their honesty when situations such as the one that happened to me come
It is obvious that I will recommend Jose to all my friends and
even though I own my own car, whenever I have to use a taxi such as this
morning, I will give Jose a call. If my editors allow it, here is his number
787 326 8053 in case you need an honest driver to take you someplace.
In fact, today (Wednesday when I am writing this article that will
come out on Monday) I will be in my weekly segment in the Show de Fernando
which can be seen on Channel 24 in Puerto Rico and I am going to tell thousands
of television viewers about Jose.
What would have happened to Jose if he had kept the extra $30.00?
Nothing! He would simply have $30.00 extra which he would have spent in a day
or two. If he has a conscience, he would have probably felt bad about taking
the extra money but he would probably have rationalized it by thinking, “this
guy has more money that I do” or “I need the money more than he does” or “what
the hell, we are living in a world full of piranhas and I have to take
advantage of opportunities whether they are ethical or not”
Instead, he made a choice: Be honest and do the right thing.
So, what happena to Jose as a result of being honest and calling
me to report the mistake? I am writing about him in my column, I am giving out
his name and where he works as a taxi driver and I will mention it on my
segment in the television program. How much do you think is this publicity
worth to him? A lot, not only in increased business but also as a future
testament when he shows a copy of the article to his children and grandchildren
to teach them to be honest and live by principles so that our society becomes a
better society. He will prove to his family that he walks his talk.
What counts in life is not what you say, but what you do. Your
actions are the ones that determine whether you live by principles or not.
By the way, I gave a talk yesterday (Tuesday) to the executives of
Econo Supermarket, they are doing such a good job serving people all over the
island with quality items and great service, and I told them that I had
mentioned in a business I visited prior to my talk that the owner of the
business when I mentioned Econo, said that she thought the store in Altamira
was fabulous and she shopped there all the time.
Well, believe it or not, Jose told me during the ride to the
airport when I told him that I had given a talk to Econo, that he shops at the
Altamira store because of the great service they offer. In fact, he said that
if he goes to the store and asks for an item, the clerk will walk him to the
shelf and show him different brands so that he can choose the one he likes
best. Wow! That is good service. In most places the guy will say “find it on
aisle 7”.
That is customer service, and everyone reading this column should
take note that when you offer excellent service, people will talk about you and
will recommend you to other customers.
In summary, being honest, following your principles when you do
business and giving good customer service, pays off in more ways than one.