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  • kenpasternak

"Make Someone's Day"

My MG 100 Coaches colleague Howard Prager has recently published his excellent book, “Make Someone’s Day,” which I highly endorse. Being kind and thoughtful towards others creates an impactful moment for that person and can also lead to an increase in our own sense of well-being.

In my recently published book of short stories, “Exploding Turkeys and Spare Trousers, Adventures in global business,” I recount meeting a well-known British comedian, Ronnie Corbett, at a Buckingham Palace reception (I know!). I reminded him about the significant impact he made on aspiring bankers by making a series of videos in the 1970’s with John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) that explained financial accounting in an easy to follow and entertaining way. His reply to me was, “Thank you, you’ve made my day!”

During the late 1970’s I was a young banker at Citibank in New York City. Each Fall we submitted requests to get on our CEO’s calendar for him to host senior level meetings the following year.

I was delighted when our CEO, Walter Wriston, a true heavyweight in banking and finance, agreed to meet with one of my key prospects, the CEO of a major department store chain.

I sent Wriston the required one-page briefing memorandum for the lunch that he was hosting in his private dining room on the top floor of our building. It included background about the CEO and his company, what we wanted to accomplish, and what specific inputs he could make. Walt, as everyone called him, followed the script with practiced aplomb, adding his signature charm and wit.

Afterward, I prepared and sent Wriston my internal call report of the meeting and a thank you note for his signature, that would be sent to our guest.

In those days everything was done on typewriters with carbon paper copies - the original to the client if a letter, or to the Bank’s official files if a memo; one copy for my desk files; and one copy that circulated through the inboxes of my colleagues in the department.

On my copy of the thank you note Wriston wrote by hand, “Great job, Ken!” Only three words and I was over-the-moon. More than forty years later I still recall my feeling of elation and pride.

Leaders who wish to create a positive working atmosphere would do well to remember that compliments, if truly deserved and timely delivered, have an impact for longer than one might imagine.

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