Sunday 14 September 2008

Just do it

I always loved that slogan that Nike shared with the world: Just do it. This says it all.

I want to share something with you today. It is the story about a guy I met; a young man that was in trouble. He got retrenched. Yes, it is a sad story and something the world is experiencing a lot more of in these darker times. He called me up because he had a friend who knew me and he asked if I would help him. I was more than happy. He seemed like a friendly, gentle soul and from the homework I did his colleagues all liked him. So, I found out what positions were available back in our office and I set the ball in motion.

I spoke with this young man a couple of times afterwards and we e-mailed each other a few times too. I also spoke to my colleagues at work and asked them to please interview him and to give him their attention.

A week goes by and I have not heard from our young man or from my colleagues. I first go and ask my work friends what the deal is and they tell me that are interviewing other candidates too for the position we are exploring. I call our young friend up and I tell him that my friends at work are looking at other candidates and that he needs to turn up his seriousness and intensity. I tell him to “Just do it.” I tell him that he needs to be direct and honest. I tell him that he needs to look them in the eyes and say, “I want this job. I need this job. I can do it. I will not let you down. I am going to exceed your expectations.” I told him to stay on them like a hawk. I told him to persist. And suddenly, our story takes a turn. Our young fiend says to me that he will not do this. He then tells me, “If they want me they will call me.” And then he also went on to say that what I suggested was not his style. Style? What has style got to with this? This is about substance.

I went back to my partners and asked them why they never hired this young man. And they laughed. They told me that he wasn’t hungry. Perhaps that is why he was amongst those who got retrenched in the first place. I still can’t get those words out of my head: “If they want me they will call me.” What?

Go and get what you want! Of course, the question that I ponder now is how spoilt was this guy? How much did he really need the job? How much did he really want the job? And to think, when I gently told him, proactively, that he should be honest and direct with them he got funny with me. And to this day he never even said thank you to me for trying to help him.

Show some conviction, man. Show that you are hungry. Look them in the eyes and say, “I can do it!” Show some passion. Show you are serious. Of course, the question is: are you hungry? And of course they looked at other people. You never displayed any seriousness. You never made any real effort in their eyes. And eyes are what this is about – eye contact. E-mail gets you nowhere in life. When will we ever learn?

Everything in life is about communications. “How” we express it as opposed to “what” we actually say.

Communications is the most fundamental thing in the world. If we can't communicate then it doesn't matter how many ideas we have, or how clever we are. Nothing matters if one can't engage others. The real challenge in life is not about what you say, but rather, about how you say it. Communications are vital to one's well being and we all need to think about how to communicate effectively. E-mail, for example, is efficient, but not effective.

The other day I went to the toilet at work (yes, I have to go now and then) and it always amazes me when I am standing there doing my thing and someone walks in and goes “I need to talk to you urgently”. I just have to laugh. Please, if you want someone to take you seriously then go and see them - don't try and talk to them when you bump them in the bathroom. The other day some guy bumps in the mall and says, “Ronnie, I really need to talk to you”. So I said “Sure - no problem - give me a call on Monday and let's chat or set up a meeting”. And he said, “Can't I talk to you now?” “I am in a hurry - I am on my way to meet someone.” He looked and me funny and mumbled something. And then he says to me “Why can't we talk now?” So, I called the police. Seriously, I said to him “We never planned on meeting now - you just happened to bump into me. I am in a hurry. I have to go.” He said he would call me on Monday. Guess what? I never heard from him. The usual story - you never hear from them. And in short, their basic problem is that they have no idea how to communicate. If something was so important or so urgent then he would have called me ages ago. Was this guy walking around the mall for the past year hoping to bump into me?

Today’s message was about communications, and about getting things done. I hope I did this effectively.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker