Creating the A+ Life September 2007

In my last newsletter, I asked you to think about the coincidences in your life.

Some of you wrote to tell me of happy coincidences that brought you friendships. Did you discover anything surprising? Are there people in your life who wouldn't be there unless a number of circumstances lined up just right?

Big events, big changes
If you missed my August newsletter, thanks for noticing. That's the first issue I've missed since I started Crystallizations in February 2004. When you read this month's main article, I think you'll understand.

By necessity, I'm updating my address book. If you would like me to have your phone number and address, please drop me an email with your contact info. Thanks!

"Doomed are the hotheads! Unhappy are they who lose their cool and are too proud to say, I'm sorry." --Robert Schuller

I lost my cool a couple of weeks ago. When I teach customer service classes, my most frequently repeated statement is that you always have control over how you react in any given situation. I still believe that, but I have learned that there are times when control is much more difficult.

Let me give you a little background. Early in the morning on Saturday, July 14, while I slept in my bedroom and my son, his girlfriend, and my grandson slept upstairs, someone came in through the window in my garage and entered my home and collected all the notebook computers, digital cameras, several cell phones, including my new Samsung Blackjack, three purses, and a few other items. We discovered the burglary at approximately 6 AM. The intruder was in my house between 2:30 and 4 AM. We, thankfully, slept through the whole event.

I was faced with a huge loss. I had backed up files to be safe in the case of a hard drive crash on another computer (also stolen). It never occurred to me to back up somewhere off site to protect in the case of theft or fire. (I've definitely learned that lesson, so I'm now evaluating online backup storage.)

By Tuesday, I had spent over fifteen hours, reporting to the police and insurance company, canceling credit card accounts, putting holds on ATM cards, and then closing and reopening checking accounts. In nearly every situation, I encountered very nice people who were willing to help, but the wait times on voice mail systems and in my bank branch were frustrating and time consuming.

At a breaking point

I walked into the store where I had purchased my new phone just two months ago. I signed in on the wait list. It took an hour for my name to make it to the top. During that time, sales representatives had twice served people who were there to make a bill payment, reducing the customers to those who needed more extensive service. As I waited, I started worrying about whether the store would take my temporary ATM card. My stress increased. Without understanding what was happening to me, I found myself tearing up.

Finally, the customer who had preceded me was finished and it was my turn. The representative turned to the person who came in right after I did and started to serve her. I blew. I picked up the sign-in sheet and yelled "Are you all even using this?" I was loud enough that everyone in the store stopped what they were doing. The service rep was apologetic; she thought the woman was the next name on the list. I explained to the rep that my phone had been stolen and I needed to replace it. I wanted to purchase the same phone. The rep explained that since I had signed a new contract and hadn't purchased the insurance on the phone (who knew that phone companies offered insurance?), I would have to pay full price. I was astonished and I felt tears forming. Wouldn't they want to find some way to help me? She started to explain the policy and I interrupted her and said, "Just give me the SIMM chip." To her credit, she didn't even charge me for the chip, but I think it may have been a case of her wanting to get a crazy woman out of the store quickly.

I can't blame her. I sat in my car and sobbed for some time. I didn't want to become the person I had just been. I am not mean. I do not take my bad temper out on other people. But I felt so powerless.

We are all stressed

You don't have to be a victim of a crime to feel this way. We are all so stressed, trying to make ends meet, or trying to make more to reach a particular lifestyle. Our political system has added to this feeling of weakness. We are constantly reminded that there is an "us" and a "them." "They" are out to get "us." If it weren't for "them", "we" would have more resources. We have a whole country of stressed-out, angry victims.

When we are stressed, our more primal instincts take over. It's harder to get the emotions under control and face each situation individually. Even in situations like this, we still have a choice in how we react. We can try to make things right by apologizing. That doesn't mean an apology with a "but..." attached to it. It means a full-hearted, "I was wrong for acting that way" apology.

I can decide to become a victim of this crime. Or I can find the lesson to be learned. I choose to find the lesson. (More on one of the lessons I've learned in the next section.)

So excuse me. I need to visit my cell phone store and make a sincere apology to a particular customer service representative.

Last month, I asked when Independence Day celebrations became common. Andrea Hall was the first to answer and reminded me that the Fourth didn't become an official paid holiday for Federal employees until 1941.

This month: We all know that the last few months are the hottest months in San Antonio. But what is the hottest time of the day? The person with the first correct answer will receive a $25 gift certificate from Entree's Catering.

Big Changes
One of the lessons learned through my recovery from the burglary, in addition to having information backed up online, was that customer service is a rare commodity. As a direct result of what I went through in the days right after the break-in, I'm putting together a special training package.

The new training package is called CHERISH Your Customers and is available in a 3 hour and 6 hour format. For those business owners who recognize how vital this subject is to the life of their companies, I can put together a custom-designed package of several sessions over several weeks.

You'll be seeing some new marketing materials in the next few months. Please pass the word to anyone you know who might benefit from training that will entertain, enlighten, and energize their employees to be customer-friendly.

Thoughts from the Universe

You can sign up for the daily "Thoughts from the Universe" and even order "The Secret" from this site. Be sure and check out Mike's contest for a trip to Hawaii.

business joy
I'm recruiting!
Wednesday, December 5, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, from 7 AM, the City of San Antonio and Bexar County are holding the 7th Annual Small, Minority and Women Business Owners Conference. I am in charge of volunteers and need a ton of people to help with registration, work in the exhibit hall, provide directions to conference attendees, etc.

Please save the date and contact me if you are interested in helping. I ask for 2 hour shifts and hope you will spend the rest of the day at the conference.

Upcoming Events
Small Business Training September Events More info...
Goodbye Luncheon for Joe Krier 11:30 AM, Fri., 9/28 More info...
Small Business Conference 7 AM, Wed, 12/5 More info...
Make a positive choice!
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