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Published:September 11th, 2007 11:27 EST
It Takes More Than Nice to Succeed

It Takes More Than Nice to Succeed

By Terry Sumerlin (Mentor/Columnist)

We sometimes hear people say they’re afraid of flying. Actually, I'm more afraid of taxicab rides. It’s not the ride, itself, that scares me. I’m always concerned with the drivers knowing where they’re going.

Recently, after speaking in Fort Worth, Texas I needed to go to the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. So, I asked the bellhop to call a cab. "Would you prefer a nice Town Car?" he asked. I said "sure," and he proceeded to call someone he recommended.

Shortly, a beautiful new Town Car pulled up in front of the hotel. Impressive! As I got in I was even more impressed. It still had the new smell. Really nice! I got an uneasy feeling, however, when the driver got behind the wheel with his Map Quest page from the bellhop still in hand. Like the headless horseman, he took off in every direction.

I learned long ago there are certain people that you really don't want to say "oops." On a list of such folks surgeons and barbers would have to be near the top – along with cab drivers.

When the gentleman got off the freeway and did a turn around I figured he might be a bit confused. A short while later when he took the wrong exit ramp, and "oops-ed," I knew we had a problem. It was at that point he confessed he couldn’t get me there. “What do you want me to do?” he asked.

Not knowing what else to say, I suggested he take me back to the hotel and let me start over with another driver. Then I thought, surely he’s not so lost he can’t get us back. Thankfully, he wasn’t. And, the second ride was much more successful.

Every time I tell this story to friends, after they get through laughing at the oddity of the situation (After all, how often does a cab driver just give up?), they want to know if the guy charged me for the ride. Actually, he said nothing about fare. However, I tipped him $10. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. It merely proves something I learned from Zig Ziglar: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

The poor cab driver had only been on the job a week. Apparently, he had just been making runs from the hotel to the airport. He was obviously confused but, also, very embarrassed and very apologetic. I felt very badly for him. He tried his best, he failed and then he admitted his mistake. What more could he do?

Well, I guess he could get more training. But, he seemed to know he needed that without having to be told. I’m more concerned, on the other hand, with those we see every day who need more training and don’t know it and don’t care. Or, with the companies who train as little as possible because they figure their employees will eventually leave anyway and will take their training elsewhere. It makes you wonder how their customers feel about the company's employees who are untrained but stay.

Beyond what we’ve just noticed from this incident regarding those who care and those who don’t, the situation also points out another significant lesson: Though a product or service may look and smell so new, sometimes the well-worn, old standard serves us best with the least amount of aggravation.

The man driving the yellow minivan said he’d been driving for 20 years. “You can’t name a place in Dallas or Fort Worth I can’t find,” he said proudly. Shortly, he found the front door of the Center and never once hesitated.

By the way, as did the first driver the second one also cared. But, he also knew what he was doing. That’s a combination that’s mighty hard to beat – anytime, anywhere.

BARBER-OSOPHY: Success generally comes to those who care - and know what they're doing.

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