My holiday gift to you: The Secret of Happiness (A Holiday Message)

December 27, 2006          Comments (3)

Today, in honor of this season of giving and joy, I have a special gift for you. It comes not in a light blue box with a fancy ribbon, but in the unadorned text of the message you’re about to read.

It reveals one of the great secrets of marketing, of life, of how to connect with people, and, most of all, how to experience unsurpassed joy any time you wish.

This is my holiday gift to you, a true story that will hopefully touch your heart.

This story is about a father of a disabled child, named Shaya.

This story was originally reported in New York newspapers. It was so touching, it spread like wildfire across the internet, and many began to question, “Did this really happen, or is it just another urban legend?”

Yes, This Story Really Is True.

Well, that’s the amazing part of this story. It is true. In fact, because of all the buzz, a web site called “” investigated and has reported that, yes, the story is indeed true. It has also been confirmed by a highly respected Rabbi and author, Paysach Krohn of Brooklyn, who says that he personally knows the participants and that every word of the story is true as originally reported.

As I said, the story is about Shaya, a learning disabled boy in Brooklyn.

On weekends, Shaya and his dad like to go for walks. As they do, they like to stop and watch the neighborhood boys play baseball.

On this one Sunday afternoon, as they approached the ball field, Shaya looked up at his father and asked, “Dad, do you think they would let me play?”

Now, this gave Dad a dilemma. He knows his son is learning disabled, very uncoordinated, and has never played baseball before.

But Dad also knows that the neighborhood boys have always treated Shaya with kindness. And he feels that if he, his father, doesn’t speak up for Shaya, who will?

So he walked over to one of the boys and asked, “What do you think about letting Shaya in the game?”

The boy didn’t know what to say, and looked around to his teammates for guidance. Not getting any, he took matters into his own hands. He said, “Well, we’re about to start the eighth inning, and we’re losing by six runs. I don’t think we’re going to win this game, so what’s the difference? Get him a glove and he can play behind second base, in short center field,” which Shaya did with a big smile on his face.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya’s team rallied and scored three runs. But they were still losing by three.

In the bottom of the ninth, they rallied again. They had three runners on base, two out, and it was Shaya’s turn to bat.

Dad wondered, will they even let him bat? But without hesitation, one of the boys shouted, “Shaya, you’re up!” and he was handed a bat.

But as he stood at home plate, it was obvious to all that Shaya didn’t even know how to hold the bat, let alone hit with it.

So the pitcher moved in a couple of feet and lobbed the ball very softly so Shaya could at least make contact.

Shaya swung and missed by a wide margin. Before the second pitch, one of Shaya’s teammates called out, “Hold on, let me help him. Let me show him how to bat.”

This boy came and stood behind Shaya, and put his arms around him so the two boys were now holding the bat together.

The pitcher moved in a couple more feet and again lobbed the ball as softly as he could.

The two boys swung the bat together and managed to tap a soft grounder right back toward the pitcher. Shaya’s teammates yelled, “Run, Shaya! Run to first!” And he took off for first.

But the pitcher pounced on the ball in an instant and could easily have thrown Shaya out at first, ending the game.

Instead, the pitcher took the ball and, with obvious intention, threw it on a high arc way over the first baseman’s head, all the way into the outfield.

Shaya was safe at first. The first baseman turned him toward second and said, “Run, Shaya, run to second!”

But by then, the right fielder had chased down the ball and he, too, could have easily thrown Shaya out, at second.

But he understood what the pitcher had done.

So he threw the ball not just over second base, but way over the third baseman’s head, so far that nobody was going to retrieve that ball.

As Shaya chugged into second base, the opposing shortstop ran towards him, turned him towards third base and shouted, “Run, Shaya, run to third!”

Of course, by now the three runners who had been on base had scored. The game was tied, Shaya represented the winning run, and his teammates were screaming with excitement.

As Shaya rounded third base, every boy from his team and several from the team on the field were all running behind him, cheering him home.

And as he put his foot on home plate, both teams gathered around him, lifted him on their shoulders and cheered him as the hero of the game. He had just hit a home run and won the game.

These boys gave Shaya the thrill of his life. Of course, they gave him something even more precious – their acceptance.

The Secret of Happiness…

Obviously, these boys had either been taught, or perhaps had discovered on their own, the greatest secret of human happiness.

And that is…

We experience our moments of purest joy at precisely those moments when we are causing it in others.

It is a truism of life—whatever we give out comes back to us, multiplied. Which brings me back to the beginning of this message…

If you want to experience some genuine joy, all you need do is take a few moments to spread some around.

So maybe it’s time to call an old friend who needs calling, to forgive what needs forgiving, to let a family member hear some healing words, to write that note that needs writing, to smile an accepting smile at the next disabled person you encounter, or perhaps to just relax in the moment with someone older who’d love your undivided attention for a few minutes, as all living things thrive on attention.

Of course, you may ask, what does all this have to do with effective marketing, the usual subject of my blog?

Nothing, really.

And everything.

As Malcolm Forbes was fond of saying, “In all thy getting, get understanding.”

It’s vital for all of us to understand that our prospects and customers are people, too . . . and people like to connect with others who are unafraid of showing a little humanity, of taking some time now and then to share a laugh, feel some warmth, express some sympathy, appreciation and gratitude, do a favor, help a charity, be a friend.

Whatever your product, however impressive your expertise, people will never care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Every now and then, toss a few pebbles of caring into your pond of contacts. Those ripples of friendship will spread and unfailingly return to you in waves of appreciation and loyalty.

Finally, I thank you for being such a loyal reader and let’s make 2007 our best year yet!

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What is wrong with this sign? (And win $10.00 if you know where it is!)

December 19, 2006          Comments (5)

I see this sign every morning walking to work and I always snicker.

It doesn’t make sense and it should be fixed.

Why would I want to eat at the busiest breakfast place in all of New York City?

Who even awarded them with the title of ‘busiest place’ in NYC? And what were they before being the ‘busiest and best breakfast place in NYC’?

Do you want to eat at the busiest breakfast spot in all of NYC?

I don’t.

Is the door constantly opening or is the door always open because there is a line outside the door?

Are my eggs going to be cooked in 5 seconds or 35 minutes?

Is my toast going to be burnt or just be bread?

Is my waitress going to be insanely stressed or do I tell my order to a robot?

“Listen, I don’t really care what you order just say it NOW! Say it quick and let’s go. Move it or lose it hunny. Look at how many people are in here. Just look. Look at the line out the door. It’s a circus. Oh boy, 86 on the bacon. Now what do you want? Or else I need to go to the next table. Let’s go. Quick!”

I’m kind of intimidated just thinking about it.

That’s terrible marketing. Why should I care if it’s the busiest place in NYC?

This is another great example of the ego-centric nature of most marketing. The sign is about the owner, not about the prospect.

Here’s how I’d make the sign:

Voted by our loyal customers as their favorite breakfast spot in NYC with their wallets each and every morning! Don’t believe us? If you aren’t satisfied, breakfast is on us!

(Notice it’s not self-proclaimed and the confidence they (should) have in their product.)

I won’t even start with their claim of being the “best” breakfast place in NYC.

And the irony of it all; I’ve never seen a line of people waiting to be seated.

Check please.

Want to win $10.00? Be the first person to comment telling me what restaurant window this sign is in. If you are right, then I’ll simply email you asking for your address and mail you a check for $10.00. Don’t believe me? Try me!

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Ohhh, now you are going to be nice to me?!

December 13, 2006          Comments (3)

It turns out that being a good doorman and building a great business aren’t so different after all.

A doorman knows everything about our lives. In fact, probably a little too much.

A good doorman actually takes an interest in his customers. He cares about you (his customer). And it’s so easy for him to care because he can see what’s going on in your life.

Think about it. He knows:

What you are doing and where you are going.
Your work hours better than anyone.

Your favorite food and how often you eat it.
If you exercise.

When you go shopping and what you are ordering via mail.
Your friends and family and how often you hang out with them.

Who you are seeing and who you shouldn’t be seeing.

His job is to make your life as easy as possible by helping you solve little problems. Whether it’s holding packages, letting workers up to your apartment, holding doors open for you or whatever the case may be.

If he’s a superstar, he’ll take the time to learn about you, making sure to establish that emotional connection. He’ll go out of his way to greet you in the morning. He’ll run to open the door for you.

He’ll go that extra mile.

He acknowledges you and shows his appreciation and leaves you with a lasting impression as you take on the day.

My doormen have it all wrong. They think the world is owed to them. They are extremely unfriendly and don’t even open the doors. They think tips are just coming to them.

And what does one unhappy tenant do. They go and tell 10 other people. And they also find out if people are having the same issue. (In my case, yes.)

In fact, a good doorman is sincere 365 days a year 24/7 since the day you chose to move in. Sure, we all have our bad moments. You make it up next time, though. You might even apologize. We are all forgiving.

But, all of the sudden my doormen are being extra nice.

When a doorman just expects tips just because he’s a doorman and is being extra nice and it’s holiday time people sense that in .1 seconds. If he really cared about serving people and wanted to make a difference, people would sense that too.

They really would. And they’d appreciate it. And guess what? They’d tell 10 other people how much they love the doorman.

One of my doormen is nice and the rest, usually, seem to almost go out of there way to not acknowledge anyone.

Their job is simple: Open the door for people.

Anyone could be a doorman. What you do after that is what separates you from 99% of the other doormen.

So what am I going to do?

Well, last year I gave all of my doormen very generous tips. I was told that doormen can make your life a lot easier or harder.

Besides one guy, all of my doormen are never nice or go out of their way for me.

There is also this one porter who always runs to the door in the mornings, greets me by my name and always makes that extra effort. Since day one he has been sincere, genuine and customer serving.

This year I’m going to give him the biggest tip. He earns it. He wants it. And more importantly, he’s a super nice guy. His intentions are always to serve the customer (me).

And, I’m going to reward him by giving him my business (or, highest tip).

All I want from my other doormen is some effort. After all, what am I tipping them for? Show some effort. Give me the, “Good morning Adam! I hope you have a wonderful day!” That’s all I want. Is that so hard?

For some odd reason going that extra mile is too hard for most people.

To all my chairmen that read this. Yes, chairmen. Not doormen.

Good morning. I hope you enjoyed this post and have a wonderful day!

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The Free Prize Inside the Box…

December 6, 2006          Comments (4)

The free prize is the way smokers can pack cigarettes against the side of the package before they smoke them.

The free prize is the experience of service at the Ritz-Carlton, when what you paid for was a good night’s sleep.

The free prize is the change-counting machines at Commerce and Greenpoint Bank, when what you needed was a checking account.

The free prize is the way you girls feel after having a rough day of hair, nails, and of course, tanning.

The free prize is the way people stare at you while you’re cruising down Ocean Drive, in a Murcielago.

The free prize is the warm, fuzzy feeling you get inside after the first sip of your $5 Double Latte Mocha Frapa Guru Gilby.

The free prize is the way you get to blast your favorite song in the car, after downloading it or buying it.

The free prize is the way you and your friends feel at a club, drinking a $37.99 bottle of Grey Goose for $250.

The free prize is thinking you already lost weight, right after eating the first healthy meal for your new diet.

The free prize is how you appear when you put on a clean, crisp, freshly laundered shirt.

The free prize is the diesel thunk that the relays make when you turn on the Mark Levinson amplifier.

The free prize is the way you feel when you’re walking in the street, with your $1000 designer bag.

The free prize of living in NYC is getting to see all of the beautiful girls that miraculously afford to live in your building making $20,000 per year.

The free prize is the way your feet feel after putting on your UGG’s.

The free prize is how you get to pose in the mirror thinking you are on your way to being the next Arnold, after a gut wrenching 15 minute workout at the gym.

The free prize is the container that Method dish soap comes in.

Actually, the free prize inside is why we buy or use your product/service.

Now, give me my free prize!

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