One of the things that I will harp on again and again here at The Idea Business is the idea of realizing what we are communicating by what we say and do. For instance, I bought 2 suits the other day while in Italy. One I bought from a nice Italian label called Abital and the other from a nice American label called Brooks Brothers. The Italian suit was placed inside a zipper-fronted bag of sturdy plastic…the high quality kind of plastic that doesn’t tear. It had the logo and name of the brand on the front of the bag. The other suit was placed in what amounts to a navy blue trash bag with Brooks Brothers written on it just above their logo. I’m not sure I would have noticed this less than stellar packaging had I not just purchased another garment that received much better attention. The first thought that popped into my mind was this, “They just put my suit in a trash bag…what that says to me is that these people believe that they are selling garbage, not high end garments.” Let’s THINK about these things, my friends.
I started that rant primarily because I wanted to share another story with you about things we communicate with words and actions. The other night, I had the amazing privelage of being a part of a small group listening to and interacting with Ambassador Ibrahima Cheikh Diong of Senegal. Just FYI, Diong spent a few years of his childhood in China going to school, was educated at university in the States, had a successful career at Booz as a consultant before moving to the World Bank to oversee the continent of Africa, and finally returned home to help get things done in Senegal. His title is Director General of International Cooperation. He is also now president of Senegal Airlines, a government ran airline just getting ready to take-off. This man is busy, no way around it.
So, after an inspiring 90 minutes, when he handed out business cards and said, “Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I’ll do whatever I can to help,” I was wondering when he would have time to do that. But, I did have a question for him. One of the things he’s trying to do is identify talented men and women during his travels throughout the world, and recruit them to lay aside their career aspirations (quest for more money, stature, etc) for a few years to put their business savvy to use in a developing country in Africa. My question simply is, “what skills makes someone useful in that situation?” He had said previously, that Africa needs men and women who know how to get things done and can teach others to do so, but I wanted to have him flesh that out a little bit. So, today at 1:49pm, I emailed him this question. I thought I’d hear back in a couple of weeks…but at 1:54pm, my inbox blinked with a new message which read:
Dear Monsieur S (I changed my name here to protect the innocent!)
Thanks for your email and glad you enjoyed my talk.
Am currently on the road in the Gulf states, namely Dubai but I will get back to you when am back in Senegal next week.
Ladies and Gentlemen…5 minutes! Lesson to take away, when you say you’ll do something, you communicate a promise. When you do or do not follow through on that, you communicate that you are either honest or a liar…plain and simple. And when you follow through in 5 minutes, it shows that you are committed to excellence. Let’s THINK about what we are communicating.