The Secret to Real Success (Hint: It’s Not What You Think)

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    December 17, 2019

The Secret to Real Success (Hint: It’s Not What You Think)

Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.” –Henry James

Recently on my drive home from work, I pulled into a gas station fit to be tied. After a long workday, I still had a million things on my to-do list. The gas pump would not pump, my credit card was denied and everyone in the city had decided to refill their gas tank at the same time. The innocent person behind the gas station counter stood directly in the line of fire of my pent-up angst.

Then, something unexpected happened.

The gas station employee had kind, warm eyes, a genuine smile and a calm demeanor. She asked me about my day and if she could do anything to make it better. She cracked a joke that made me laugh out loud. She solved my gas pumping and payment issues. And when she handed my credit card back to me, she wished me well.

I walked out of the store transformed. And as I drove away, it struck me.

Maybe my day had turned sour because the issues I had been dealing with all day did not have an element of compassion or kindness. That’s why, driving the rest of the way home, I vowed to remember the moment and write about it. To adopt a new mantra, built upon injecting humanity in all situations. To realize that everyone is dealing with something, and chances are good it has nothing to do with you.

This approach to a more thoughtful mindset explicitly applies to our business relations with clients, colleagues or anyone who enters our circle throughout the day. A simple commitment to kindness and thoughtfulness can be powerful in the workplace, because it removes doubt and builds trust.

It’s something we already do quite well at Wray Ward. After all, the agency’s authentic homage to a kinder culture was one of the main things that attracted me to it. While our success is rooted in a strategic rigor that leads to better performing work, it is underpinned by a philosophy that white-gloved relationships lie at the core of client and employee retention.

Take my colleague Jennifer Voorhees, for example. The group client business director says our legacy relationships with clients such as VELUX are rooted in respect and gratitude.

“I genuinely love to surprise and delight and let (my clients and team) know that I appreciate them. I feel like having these moments together builds and grows our trust.”

But we can all use a gentle reminder from time to time, as is evident from my own gas station story. I hope these small steps can help all of us end 2019 on a good note and start 2020 on the right foot.

    1. Be a great listener. There may be nothing more real than living in the moment and leaning in to really listen and engage without checking your smartphone or worrying about email for things that can wait.
    2. Buy someone coffee. This simple, impromptu gesture can engender conversations and connections — and make someone’s day.
    3. Thank everyone who provides you with something. Thanking people is free, takes little time and yields an invaluable return.
    4. Offer to help. Even if they don’t need it, the offer is invaluable to building rapport.
    5. Do something unexpected for someone. Some of the most poignant, memorable moments can stem from an unanticipated warm gesture.
    6. Tell someone they are doing a great job. You cannot do this enough.
    7. Be authentic. Let your kindness come from your heart as well as your head and make it part of your persona.

    From that single, brief exchange at the gas station, I learned a lifelong lesson about kindness — and that a caring, friendly and patient approach is always the best approach, in business and in life.

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