Posted by on Feb 16, 2012 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Life Lessons | 0 comments

TriumphEarly in my career, I was asked to conduct a pilot. A consultant recommended that my bank experiment with outbound telemarketing and I was selected to lead the effort.

Neither the bank nor I had any experience in selling bank products by phone and management was skeptical that we could make a venture like this profitable.  Consequently, I was given just three months to demonstrate it could work.

By the end of our test period, we discovered that selling bank products by phone was actually a good idea.  But because outbound telephone solicitation had such low conversion rates, and also proved quite expensive, I suggested we begin promoting a toll-free number and sell to people who were already attracted to our products and promotions.

The idea of building a direct response center was entirely new in our industry at that time, and we were immediately successful.  In rapid succession, we made virtually every bank product available through our center and drove amazing – and profitable – business.

The bank, of course, was thrilled by all we accomplished, and did something extraordinary to reward it.  They sent me on a week-long trip to Switzerland!

This was my first trip to Europe and it was all exquisitely planned.  Along with 29 other managers also being feted, we stayed in a historic hotel, skied in the Alps, traveled into Germany’s Black Forest, feasted on gourmet meals and experienced authentic Swiss culture.  It was a trip of a life-time!

If you’ve already jumped to the conclusion that this was the greatest recognition I’ve ever received, you’ll be surprised by what I have to share with you.  As wonderful as this trip was, all the indulgences of our seven days there don’t hold a candle to a gesture that cost nothing – but affected me so deeply it inspired me to perform at even higher levels when I returned to work.

Here’s the greatest and most powerful recognition I’ve ever received.

On the last night of the trip, we had a farewell dinner.  When our sumptuous meals were complete and the party seemed to be winding down, our head of Retail Banking stood up to address us.  In the moment, I expected him to wish us safe travels home.   Instead, he took time to thank all 30 of us individually.  One by one, he described what achievements had earned each person this trip.  Speaking from his heart, he told intimate details about how hard people had worked in order to excel as they did.

When it was my turn, he fixed his gaze on me and told me directly that what I had accomplished was “extraordinary.”  With me in the spotlight, he expressed how very grateful he was for my accepting the pilot assignment and how proud he was of himself for originally hiring me.

Nothing has ever moved me as much as this did because I could feel it was genuine.  More than anything, he assured me that he truly understood all I had given of myself to make the new enterprise successful.  And that alone made all my efforts worthwhile.

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