One thing I’ve learned from work at Sonitrol

May 21 marked my two year anniversary of working at Sonitrol.

I’ve learned a lot over the past two years, but reflecting on it all, I think the one lesson I’d like to share is this: you have to tell people when you do things for them.

For instance…

  • If your boss asks you to do something, you have to tell your boss when it’s done.
  • If your boss asks you to repeat the same process each week/month/quarter/year, you have to tell your boss each time it’s done.
  • If you finish performing a service for a customer, you have to tell the customer you did it.
  • If you send something to a customer, you have to tell them when it’s in the mail and preferably when it will arrive.
  • If you do something for free, tell the customer each and every time.
  • If you do something for an employee, tell that employees.
  • If you make a decision for the company, tell the company.

It all feels pretty straight forward when it’s written down. For me, though, you’d be surprised how easy it is to…

  • Launch a product and forget to tell former customers who might come back because of it.
  • Waive part of a charge and not inform the customer, assuming they’ll appreciate it anyway.
  • Send an email and forget to copy your boss, your employees, your customer.

That’s one of the lessons I’m learning.


The art of being meaningful

I heard an excellent quote that’s worth repeating:

“I have no doubt you’ll be successful. But will it be meaningful?”

Seth Godin quoted it to conclude one of his presentations. I don’t recall who said it first.

This hit me where I’m at today. It’s the question of doing things right vs. doing the right things.

I think it’s Stephen Covey who explains this as the difference between managers and leaders. Managers get really good at doing things right. That’s their focus, the process, making the process efficient, doing it right.

Leaders, on the other hand, get really good at doing the right things. Their job is to point the effort at the right projects, to be effective.

I’ve been stuck as a manager lately. At work in particular, I feel like I’ve gotten good at doing things right, or at least that’s been my focus.

I need to take a step back – like a lot of us, I’d imagine – and make sure I’m doing the right things.

All the achievement in the world is meaningless if it’s aimed in the wrong direction.


How I evaluated my first speech

Today I evaluated my first speech in a Toastmasters meeting.

The first time I attended Toastmasters, though, I was already evaluating. They say that’s not a good thing, that it’s not good to always be judging. But I was.

The first time I attended Toastmasters, I kept thinking, “Okay, here’s what they did right. Oh, but here’s what they did wrong.”

It might not be the best habit for relating to other people, but I think it does sort of help me. When I evaluate other people, I learn what to do and what not to do in my own speeches.

I remember that first meeting I attended. One of the biggest things that stood out to me was this: most of the speakers felt polished. They new the technique of speaking. What they lacked was a meaningful agenda… and the ability to feel real.

That’s how I evaluated my first official speech today. I started by saying I’d break this into two components: style and content (how real it felt and how meaningful the agenda was).

For me, it doesn’t matter how many um’s and ah’s you say, as long as you feel genuine. In fact, being a little spontaneous can endear me to you even more.

Beyond all that even more, though, it doesn’t matter how polished your speech is if it’s not meaningful. If it doesn’t pull on my emotions or stir my mind, there’s no point to it.

I’m sure my first official evaluation wasn’t all that great. I hope moving forward, though, I can keep these in mind with my own speeches: style and content.


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