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Garys Condition

Morgan McArthur, DVM for Vetscript

7 February 1999


Gary’s got an incurable condition and I don’t feel one bit sorry for him.

It’s a communicable disease.

Gary works at the retail counter at a nice bakery in my neighborhood. I popped in the other day and the moment I came through the door I knew that there was something different about this guy. I made my diagnosis as I watched him work with other customers:

Infectious Enthusiasm.

It’s one thing to hear heaps of preaching about customer service. But it’s another thing to be in the presence of a skilled practitioner. Gary is good. Look at him over there – smiling, engaging the customers, making them feel special, acknowledging those waiting in the queue in a way that invites them to be patient. He’s dynamic. He’s professional. He’s fun to watch.

I like going into his shop. Not only to buy bread but to experience Gary.

There is a chapter in Tom Peters’ book The Circle of Innovation about becoming a connoisseur of talent. He cites examples of companies who hire for attitude and train for skill. Peters says that people’s attitude – who they are – basically doesn’t change. But what they know can be altered by classroom and on-the-job training.

Think about that one. You can shape how your business projects itself to your customers based on the attitude you hire for - just like a cattle breeder who selects cattle based on both disposition and production quality. If you’ve ever worked around spooky, bad-tempered cows you know that’s not a bad approach.

If you’ve dealt with spooky, bad-tempered _______________ (fill in the blank: receptionists, sales reps, vet nurses, veterinarians, etc.) you know that a good disposition is a big deal.

So do your customers.

Gary has been around for a while. He’s done time working in the corporate world and says that this is the first frontline retail position he’s ever had. The bakery trained him to know about dough but his infectious positive attitude is all Gary’s. He says that some of his customers are taken aback by his exuberance.

I say what’s the worst that can happen? They’ll remember him? I do.

An uncommonly good attitude is a trait that you can select for.

It’s also an infectious disease. Catch The Fever.

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