As I was returning to work today after a wonderful lunch with Earl, I daydreamed for a moment about work and how I’m doing. I consider myself to be pretty successful career-wise, and as I embark on this new challenge of my job it makes me re-evaluate my skills and basic business know how. I owe a good chunk of my basic skills to my folks.
For one thing, I’m a really, really, really good typist. Not to sound wildly cocky, but I’ve come across maybe a handful of people that can type faster and more accurately than myself. That’s my Mom’s fault. When I was six or seven, the little geek in me became very intrigued by her Royal manual typewriter. I would type away, banging on the keys with my fingers and hope for the best. My Mom said that if I’m going to play with her typewriter, I was going to do it the right way, and pretty much taught me to use the correct fingers while I was typing. The first time I used an electric typewriter in fifth grade, I flew along and astounded those around me. Teachers trusted me, in my elementary school years no less, to type their ditto masters, because I could do it quickly and without errors, because if you made a mistake on the ditto master, you had to scrap it and start over. To this day I can type along while chatting with Earl and not miss a beat. I owe that ability to my Mom.
Another business skill I think I’m pretty good at is my telephone etiquette. Again, that’s my Mom’s fault. My Mom was a telphone operator for good ol’ Ma Bell in the mid 1960s and to this day has a telephone voice and manner that rivals few. She taught my sister and me to speak politely to the operator when she asked for our phone number when we dialed long distance (Yes, we had a party line where you had to give your phone number so they knew who to bill). She taught us to speak directly into the phone and to listen carefully and respond kindly, in a pleasant voice, because the person on the other end of the line couldn’t see you. While I’ve waivered from time to time while in a heated discussion (especially in my previous job), I like to think that I maintain that manner to this day.
My Dad had his hand in my business upbringing as well. My father’s side of the family owns a hardware/lumber store and contracting business. I worked there in my teen years, and before I was an official employee, I often tagged along in the summer to hang out with everyone. My Dad taught me that when you’re part of a company, it’s never “I”, it’s always “we”. “What can WE do for you today.” “PVC pipe? WE have four different sizes to choose from.” “OUR contractors are the best in the business.” When you’re dealing with the public, you are a representative of the whole “we”. The customer is not dealing with me, he’s dealing with US. A team, while they may disagree amongst themselves, are united when dealing with a potential customer. I firmly believe that those that succeed in business think in the “we”, not the “me”.
Since high school, I’ve accumulated many skills that has put me where I am today. I still continue to learn on a daily basis, from those I work with and those I love. But I like to think that Mom and Dad laid a pretty good foundation.