It's the Holiday season...and that makes it the season of funerals. I'm not sure why, but more people die around the Holidays than any other time during the year. A friend of mine who's Mom had been ill for many months, died on Thanksgiving Day a few years ago. She believes it was her Mom's way of making sure the family remembered exactly when she died.
I've been to 4 funerals since Thanksgiving and it reinforces for me that funerals are for the living. The deceased certainly doesn't know you showed up to celebrate their life (unless you channel them later through the Long Island Medium). The timing of each one of the funerals was inconvenient because it was during the Holiday season - people have plans and are trying to get ready for Christmas, some are traveling, etc. And at each one, there were people who flew in or drove for hours to support the family of the deceased.
Most recently, my ex-partner Karen's Dad passed away. He was a Chicago fire fighter retired for many years, yet many of his former co-workers showed up and shared great stories with the family. I flew into Midway just for the afternoon viewing and flew out of O'Hare. Our retired Office Manager (now friend) and her husband who had already driven an hour and a half to get there picked me up, drove me out to the funeral home in the suburbs and then dropped me off at O'Hare - way out of their way in the scheme of their day. Another couple who are close to Karen flew in from HAWAII just for the 24 hour period of the viewing and the funeral. When I suggested to Karen that they really went above and beyond, she said, "those are the kinds of people that we gravitate to".
That comment really struck something in me because it's so true. In Design Incentives, those were the types of employees that we attracted, or that gravitated to us. Our outstanding customer service was the thing most often mentioned as the reason people worked with us and our unofficial mantra (not really appropriate for an official company tag line) was, "we give a shit". The PG version: "if it was easy, everyone would be doing it". We cared enough to do the hard stuff. Customer calls and needs something overnight and UPS has picked up for the day? An employee would drive it over to the FedEx hub on their way home from work. You catch a mistake after something is all packaged up and ready to ship? You unpack it, fix the mistake and re-pack. Customer changes the day the bid is due? You work through the weekend and drive it 3 hours to the customer on Monday morning. Even now, an ex-employee with whom I still work on a contract basis, helped me by buying a gift going to her side of the state - and then delivered it for me!
The older I get, the more grateful I am for these types of people in my life. And I'm noticing more and more the people that cannot be counted on. You make plans with them and and they cancel at the last minute; they commit to performing a task or taking on a project and then have a million excuses as to why it didn't get done; I'm over these people.
In business, it's suggested that it's beneficial to periodically fire some of your customers - those who don't pay on time, don't appreciate the value of your product or service or are not respectful to your employees. It makes sense to "un-friend" as well, and not just on Facebook. In the coming year, I'll be making an even greater effort to be the kind of friend/Service Provider/Board/Committee/Family member who gives a shit, and am not going to feel bad about purposely losing touch with those who don't. Happy New Year!