Volume 16, Issue 1 - January/February 2014

Customer Service
tips for quality service


Be Funny and Make Money
by Carl Tompkins


CONSIDERING THAT WE WILL spend 110,000 hours of our life at work during an average career, we would be foolish to not enjoy the journey. Reinforcing this point, I’ll never forget my first day at work at Oregon Glass early in my career; the date was September 20, 1977. I showed up to work at 7:45 a.m., met many of the employees, completed my necessary paperwork and then met up with my boss, Gene Miller, at 10 a.m. My first day at work from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. was spent at the Dandelion Pub in Portland, Ore., with Gene. After six hours of my telling every story and life experience possible by a then 24-year-old man, Gene asked, “Well Carl, what did you think of your first day at work?” Having had more than my share of ale at that point of the day, I responded, “It has been a little different than what I expected Gene. My dad taught me to work first and play second and I think you’ve shown me just the opposite.” Gene grinned and said, “Great, you’ve learned the most valuable lesson in working for me: If we cannot have fun at what we do for a living, we’re going to find something else to do!”

While I do not endorse spending six hours at the pub to get your job done in this day and age, I do endorse Gene’s notion that people must enjoy their careers.

How to Be Funny:

A. Choice of job: First and most important, seek your dream within your job selection. Most people chase money within their career and, when it’s too late, learn that never can enough be attained. It’s only when you do what you enjoy for a living that you have any shot at fulfillment.

B. Be the best: No one enters a race hoping for a red ribbon! Committing to be the best at what you love to do sets the stage for learning and doing what it takes to win the blue ribbon. People love stars—be one.

C. Live a winning attitude: I’ve written as much about the power of choice as any other subject and this word comes well into play when living a winning attitude. A winning attitude is based on choice and this is a specific skill attracts people. There are many bumps in the road of business and they are best countered with a winning attitude that makes the discovery of solutions much easier and the journey less jarring.

D. Live to serve: Putting others interest ahead of your own is always the best way to serve. When this is done through a regular, genuine effort, people respond well. Nothing will separate you from another in business quicker than when your self-interest is all that matters and is demonstrated through pride, boasting and selfishness. While it may sound counterintuitive, serving others ahead of yourself helps you out more than you’ll ever know. First off, you’ll quit thinking about yourself and all of your own aches and pains because you’ll be concentrating on other people and, secondly, having many people appreciative of your attitude and efforts is the best way to earn their support in business. I’ve always taught, “Let money be a byproduct of great service.”

E. Brighten the day: Through the service you provide, make it your mandate to leave everyone better off than they were prior to your encounter. No matter the situation, there is always something positive and memorable that you can provide people. It can be something as simple as a smile, a sincere thank you, taking an extra action to assist them beyond the norm of business, getting them to laugh over a story or to provide encouragement.

Now knowing how to “be funny,” I conclude with how to “make money.” Little has to be written here because the hardest part has already been defined within the teaching points of “Be Funny.” Making money is a byproduct of being funny because you’ve associated a number of valuable skills toward relationship building and that goes a long way in determining where people desire to spend their money. What does need to be added on to the “making money” side of this equation is that your products and services must be reliable; they must perform as promised. Absent the factor of reliability, great relationships can only provide the temporary patience by customers. Companies having long term reputations of being unreliable have no hope of making money. Run a tight ship providing reliable products and services at a fair price and you’ll have the making money side of the equation solved. Do remember that “Being Funny” comes ahead of “Making Money.” If you’re going backwards in the race of business success, you merely have these two slogans reversed!

Carl Tompkins is the global marketing resources manager for Sika Corp. in Madison Heights, Mich., and the author of Winning at Business. He is based in Spokane, Wash.

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