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Making People Feel Special

Do you make people feel special? Your employees? Your family? Your friends? Leaders do!

Last week my daughter’s boyfriend surprised her. They live in the Tampa area, but he scheduled a trip to Dallas months ago to see one of her favorite bands Saturday night. Jae and Jeff are both in their 40s, but Jeff knows Jae lives life to the fullest. She has her own company in the medical field and he told her to not be on call this weekend. Part of Jeff’s surprise was having them drive to our house on Thursday night when they got in and spend the weekend with us, as well as going to the concert.

It was an amazing weekend. For those of you who have adult children you know what I mean. It is always great to spend time with them. Jae knows many of our friends and has done a mission trip with, and even vacationed with many of the people she saw over the weekend.

Sunday morning my vice president and I took an early morning flight to attend one of Glass Doctor employee’s mom’s funerals. When we arrived at the visitation on Sunday afternoon our employee was so surprised.  As we met the members of his family, as well as his father, they understood how much we value and appreciate this employee. His mom died unexpectantly, and his parents were married 59 years and he told us about the magic of their marriage–a marriage we all want.

One of the most touching stories I learned was about the lady who passed away. Although her death was sudden and unexpected, over the years she had written a letter to all of her children expressing her thoughts and love for them. Wow. There is a lesson we all need to do today!  She wrote one of those letters 13 years ago. Let’s not wait until we are on death’s door to express our love for our families.

Sunday night we drove to Cleveland for dinner with our Cleveland franchisee. Our franchisee hired his daughter seven years ago and she also joined us for dinner, and she has taken that franchise to new levels.  As leaders we need to understand the brilliance our kids have. In most cases they have watched, and now appreciate, the work ethic we exhibited. When they join us in our businesses they finally understand “why” we have done what we do, and they quickly learn when they, too, are part of our business.

Last year our franchisee nominated his technician for Glass Doctor’s Technician of the Year.  What he wrote about this person was heartwarming.  When I presented that award, I could see the appreciation that employee had for his employer.

Another lesson for leaders. Do our employees know how much we appreciate them?

A surprise for a loved one . . . letters from a mom to her children . . . a national award nomination.  Every week we see examples for us as leaders. We simply need to make sure we recognize the leadership lessons are there every day of our lives.

Family Priorities

I wonder how many of you are workaholics . . . or have described yourself as one during your life. I hate to admit it, but some of us have even used that term as badge of honor.

Probably scary to think about, isn’t it? Many of us spend little time with our kids when they’re growing up, so we can spend our time providing for them. When we look back we ask ourselves, “What was wrong with me? I missed some of my kid’s best moments in life.”  Perhaps you, like me, justified it as “I am doing this for my family.”

It’s amazing the wisdom one gets when their age begins with a “6”. Life’s priorities come more into focus.

Last weekend, Mary Kay and I started the Memorial Day weekend with a trip to Cleveland. In the span of a few days we saw all three kids and eight of nine grandkids. We celebrated our oldest grandson’s high school graduation, as well as our five year old grandson’s birthday. We had a chance to see one of our best friends in Cleveland – a relationship that goes back thirty – eight years when we started working together.

As we flew home Sunday night MK asked me, “What was your favorite event of the entire weekend?” I had a hard time answering that because it was all so good. Every day started with our five and six year old grandsons jumping in bed with us to wake us up at 6 a.m. (That’s the rule, nothing before 6 a.m. because a few years ago I experienced our oldest grandson saying, “Grandpa, it says 3 . . .1 . . 3 on the clock”.)

The reason the weekend was so good was because giving the grandkids and kids “time” has finally become a priority in my life – even though we are over a thousand miles away. I learned this from my forty year old son, who is a stay-at-home dad. That was their decision when Andy and Sarah got married. Sarah is a very successful mechanical engineer with a bright future.  Andy has repeatedly threatened to write a book about parenthood entitled, “It’s Not That Hard”.  The body of the book would be a single page with the words, “Spend time with your kids”.

If you saw the hat LeBron James wore when the Cavs beat the Celtics Sunday night, it might strike a chord. The hat read, “THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL”. It really describes what parenthood . . . and leadership . . . is all about. You should give your family and employees the attention they deserve from you.

At our grandson’s graduation there were three student speakers. They were much better than the speakers I remember at my Class of ’72 graduation. One of the speakers cited a quote from David McCullough Jr, “Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb the mountain so you can see the world – not so the world can see you.”

I had no clue who McCullough is, so I went to google and found out he was an English teacher for 24 years and the son on a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough Sr. McCullough Jr. gave a commencement speech in 2012 that went viral with over 2 million views on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lfxYhtf8o4.

It’s fitting we watch this video today, regardless of when you graduated or if you have a 2018 graduate in your home. Perhaps it will remind you of what is really important in life as we continue to grow as great leaders and parents.