It all started on the #7 bus.
Last week I experienced two people in vastly different situations yet both doing extraordinary work.
Taking the same bus around the same times a lot lets you recognize the drivers. Years ago I flew so much I recognized some American Airlines flight attendants.
But that's another story.
The driver laughed and smiled as I got on the bus. She did this with just about every other customer too. Mind you, the #7 through downtown at rush hour is a packed bus. Making every person feel welcome she:
- Said thank you or be safe as people got off at their stops
- Took cards from disabled riders and swiped them through the turnstile so they wouldn't have to stretch
- Reminded riders with bikes to put their helmets on before they took their bikes off the racks
- Pulled over and waited if she saw regular riders waiting to cross the street and catch her bus
Speaking at an event hosted by a corporate VP last week I noticed many of the same traits as she:
- Walked up to and made eye contact with a firm handshake for everyone she talked to
- Smiled and nodded as they spoke, listening far more than speaking
- Offered a kind word about everyone with compliments and validation for those present and not
- Made follow up notes which, I know from experience, she will keep
What do the bus driver and the vp have in common?
They Love Interacting with People
Malcolm Gladwell would call them outliers. They –
- Take Everything Head On – Bad traffic? Projector not working? No bus pass? Lunch late? Every snafu these two face – I've watched them before – they face head on and deal with in the moment
- Stay Focused – Driving a bus is serious business. Managing a large entity is too. These people are pleasant but focused and use the broken record technique – doing the same thing again and again – to stay after their goals
- Let It Slide – Despite their best efforts not everyone enjoys interacting with them. Some people just choose to have a bad day. They don't strive to make everyone happy: they strive to serve everyone well regardless of whether they are
- Deliver the Goods – Its an art form to drive a bus through downtown traffic. Its a heady responsibility to manage the expectations of a large organization. These two people deliver the goods consistently and with aplomb. They get the job done
These two remarkable women with very different roles make interacting with them fun even while consistently getting their work done.
Seems to me if you can get both results that makes you an outlier.
And put your helmet on.