Friday, January 29, 2010

The Real Uncle Sam

During the war of 1812, Sam Wilson had a contract to supply meat to U.S. troops: salted beef and pork ready to ship out in barrels. To identify the barrels, Wilson assigned a worker to letter them with the initials U.S.; for "United States." That abbreviation wasn't as common as it is today, and when people asked the man doing the lettering what it meant, he joked that it really stood for Uncle Sam, the kindly meat packer's nickname.

The joke got around with amazing speed (no Internet then). Within months the phrase began to appear in political cartoons and newspaper editorials. People started referring to all government property as belonging to Uncle Sam. Soldiers starting calling themselves "Uncle Sam's boys." In no time at all, the meat packer's nickname become the country's nickname.

In early drawings, Uncle Sam appeared clean-shaven, in black. Later he wore the colors of the flag. In the Civil War, cartoonist Thomas Nast drew him gaunt and bearded like Abe Lincoln. The most famous Uncle Sam is actually a self-portrait of artist James Montgomery Flagg.

Remember it all started with an entrepreneur!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Rest of The Story in Reading, UK

So here is the rest of the story and it has a happy ending. My clients in Reading called the General Manager of the hotel and shared my experience with him. He was very apologetic and asked what he could do. Of course, a comp stay was not an option, dinner for 2 was out of the question so my client said, she just wants you to know where your problems are.

I went back to the hotel to get my luggage and drive back into London and the General Manager met me in the lobby. He didn't just meet me with a smile, but a bouquet of flowers and a box of English Chocolates. He and I had a very nice chat while I explained to him exactly how his employees had handled this situation and gave very observable feedback. He appreciated it and we exchanged business cards for follow up. So one bad night was rewarded with some personal attention, a new friend and a new client. Gotta love feedback!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chilly Weather - Chilly Service

Just when you think people get it - they let you down. I am definately not a hotel snob - I know alot of people who are in the hotel business that are ruthless when it comes to their demands, but I am not one of them. I respect each employee, treat them with respect and always try to give them the benefit of the doubt. But not today!

I checked into the Great Western House (Malmaison Reading)in Reading, UK last night. Quite a unique hotel that was once a train station. Cool look, fun bar and restaurant and a front office staff that could CARE LESS!

We checked in late so the hotel was already at capacity and we were given a handicap room - no problem. The issue was the room was on the first floor over a disco - banging music until 3:00am. Lefty and I were there together so when we realized there was only one towel, we called down for another. Let's say we had to call several times to check on the towels, but in addition there was no iron - an ironing board but no iron. When we called down to ask for the iron, we were told that we they would send someone up to 'show us' where the iron is. Well to his surprise, when he came up, guess what - no iron. There was no apology, no empathy, just a short answer of "well I'll get you one". 40 minutes later, came back with no iron, said they are 'locked up' and I have no key so 'I will get you one first thing in the morning'.

So you've figured out by now that I have had it. No sleep all night, one towel for 2 people, no iron to have a crisp shirt in the morning and a wake up call that was only in a few hours.

The next morning when we checked out, we gave the feedback to the front office manager who proceeded to argue with us and tell us that we were too demanding. Too demanding, this is called service and we still had to pay. I am not stopping here - remember I teach customer service for a living - guess who my next prospect is?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome to 2010!

We have made it through a tough year of '09 and we are all welcoming in the New Year. So let's reflect on what happened and what changes need to happen in order to make this the beginning of a great decade.

First of all let's remember that Hope is NOT a plan - it is a dream and will not come to reality without hard work and dedication. On New Years Eve I celebrated with my family in Houston and we had one of my nephews friends join us as he was on leave from the military. It was so interesting to talk to him about his positive outlook on a tough war and the future of America. He was motivated, positive and full of life - even though he was going back to fight.

Then there were others I met over the holidays who on the other hand had nothing to say but complaining. Complaints about no job, their inablity to save money, their lack of focus and their constant search for the solution.

Well the solution is right before you. It lies in your hands, your heart, your brain and your passion to make a difference.

Are you where you want to be as we enter 2010? Are you living the life you want to live right now? Are you focused on goals that will help you achieve everything you ever hoped for? What are doing for the rest of your life?

Anyone that follows me or reads my blog knows that I am all about the positive outlook on life, but I have never been one for sitting around waiting for things to happen. I believe in making things happen for myself, my family and my companies. I will never leave fate in someone elses hands.

Years ago, I met a person who tried to convince me that life was not in my hands. She preached to me that no matter what plans I made, it didn't matter. Well I don't know where that woman is today - nor do I care, but if she were around, I would share this with her.

I have had choices to make as everyone has over this past year. How do we keep our businesses running with a profit and not lay anyone off? How do I make sure I keep all of our assets safe and still invest in the future? Well HOPE was not the strategy to our success. Our success has always been built on a plan and actions to support that plan. Nothing has changed.

So for all of you that are struggling, please take this time to sit down with your closest family member or friend and begin to spell out your plan. What will you change immediately to make a difference in your life? How will these changes affect you for the future? What help do you need and where will you seek it?

This is the beginning of a brand new decade. You have choices my friends to make a difference. So let's ring it in with the most passion you can give.