Pay Attention – What Confident People Do So Well!


Business, like life, is about how you make people feel. 

It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.

Danny Meyer, founder Shake Shack



This past month has seen a shake-up in various aspects of my routine. And, hey, I’m not happy about it!


Julio, who has serviced my Highlander for more than a decade, quit the dealership and told no one where he’s going.

Rocky, a server of eight years at my fav pizza joint, has moved back to Texas.

And then there’s Pam who retired from the art store where for almost twenty years I had framed all my menus (yes, I collect menus and frame my favs which I have hanging in my dining room).


I don’t mean to sound grumpy, BUT – in the last four weeks I’ve realized how many people make my life run smoothly and I take them for granted. I couldn’t tell you much about any of their private lives although I know that Julio believes in ghosts, Pam adores her goddaughter and Rocky had dreams of becoming a screenwriter.


Each has given me exceptional service for many years – in small ways that added up to me not having to worry about the little details of my life.


Why do I miss this trio?


Because they knew me.

They knew my name.

They knew what I liked and needed within their sphere of expertise.

They gave my slice of impersonal Los Angeles a neighborhood feel by making business personal and not transactional.


Over the years I did thank each one for the care of their service – and I’m glad I did as chances are our paths will not cross again.


For all the books I’ve read on customer service and business management these three people reminded me each time I went to them what real customer service looks like and sounds like.


And they made it look so simple.


What did they do?


·       They remembered my name.

·       They remembered what I did for a living and how I love pizza, my car and menus.

·       They engaged in easy-going conversation without being inappropriately intrusive.

·       They laughed.

·       They knew their job and each did their job with care.

·       They wanted me to be satisfied.

·       They weren’t perfect – but they were darn good at what they did.


Walt Bettinger, CEO of Schwab, tells the story of how in business school he failed just one exam – his final. The main question on the test was actually simple: what is the name of the person who cleans the building that houses our classroom?


Bettinger had seen the woman who cleaned the building innumerable times and it never occurred to him to ask her name.




Her name was “Dottie.”


Bettinger now knows the name of every “Dottie” who works near him.


Michael Strahan of New York Giants and “Good Morning America” fame was asked in a Harvard Business Review interview how he “pushed people to better performance.” Here’s what he said:

Make everybody feel empowered. I had to learn this as an athlete. So when I played, before every game I would walk through the locker room and go from the equipment manager to the coaches, doctors, and trainers to the players and touch each person on the shoulder or give a pound or a hug. With Brandon Jacobs, a big running back and a rowdy guy, I would get in his face and yell; with Eli Manning, I would just put my hand out and say, “Go have fun.” You’ve got to know your people; there are different ways to motivate. . .When I walk into the Good Morning America offices, I speak to the security guys and the cameramen just like I speak to my cohosts. Nobody gets preferential treatment, because we are all here to do one thing: make the show successful. Without those people, I can’t do what I do. We all need one another.


True that!


And yet, for some, this is not an obvious concept to grasp.


Recently Aiden came to me for coaching because he wants to become an inspirational leader. A noble goal though “inspirational” can mean a range of behavior.


He told me that at team meetings his boss gives seemingly impromptu pep talks that bring some to tears. Aiden wants to be able to bring people to tears. (No, I’m not going to make what is so obvious a joke!)


When I asked what he’s already doing to inspire his team he paused for a long while and then said, “I thank them when they do a good job.”


When I asked how he thanks them, he said it’s usually with an email because he’s busy and he knows they’re busy so it’s easy.


When I suggested he switch to offering a personal “thank you” either face-to-face or via a quick call he gave me a puzzled look and told me he’d feel “funny” doing that because he’d feel self-conscious.


Oh, how we complicate our lives with the weird things we tell ourselves!


The truth is – people who recognize people inspire them to continue doing what they are doing well.


The truth is – people who pay attention and notice and let others know they see them reassure and inspire others.


Julio, Pam and Rocky were not managers. They didn’t head-up sensitive, costly projects. Within the purview of their own responsibilities, though, they did what each of us needs to do more of –

They paid attention.

They paid attention to what I needed and through it all each made me feel valued.


My life, like yours, is complicated. Into my complicated life they injected simplicity by paying attention.


They inspired me to pay more consistent attention to the people in my life.


Smart people – Effective people – Strategic people – Confident people

know how to pay attention

and then use what they gleaned from paying attention to provide standout service.


Years ago, I was privileged to have some business dealings with Fay Vincent who was an entertainment lawyer, securities regulator and sports executive who served as the eighth Commissioner of Major League Baseball.


In our last call he uttered a phrase that stuck with me. He said that what he most enjoys is:

To look into the faces of the people I manage and to realize they are this company’s most important resource. 


Fay Vincent’s stayed focused on the great truth that the people he managed, his customers internal and external, were his and the company’s greatest resource.

He was a man who paid attention.


What do you see when you look into the faces of your customers? 

Your colleagues?

How does what you see influence the way you do business?



Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

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