While I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia this week there was an enterprising young man painting Vans and Converse in a little room the hotel manager gave him to ply his craft. Given that a good job is $300 to 400 a month there, people try any work just to eat. So I’m chattering with the boy, ironically named Con, about what he can paint…”well…anything”, came the reply!
Rule of engagement
How does one recognize the place of humble abundance from which we come, but not ascribe to the world of pure charity donation which is simply wrong?
In our travels in rural Asia and Africa: whether taxi or vendor, negotiate like the devil, agree to the new price…then pay them their original asking price. Works every time…
The massive smiles are priceless.
The importance of followup
Kids, One must always take a moment to sincerely thank someone for their time and effort. Always. The 15 minutes it takes does wonders for your own self worth as well as the other persons view of you. Zedo instilled this in me, it takes little time, and SHOCKINGLY very few people of all ages do this!?! (It used to be standard operating procedure). Here are the rules of engagement:
1. If possible, hand write. It shows greater effort and care. This is less important than historically. Email is fine today.
2. GET THE SPELLING OF THE NAMES CORRECT. NOTHING BUGS PEOPLE MORE THAN SLOPPINESS. Next time, As you leave a meeting (assuming they didn’t give you a business card), ask for their details.
3. Be sincere and always reference something from the meeting that stood out AND WILL MAKE THEM REMEMBER THEIR CONVERSATION WITH YOU AND SHOW WHAT THEY SAID MATTERED.
4. Do these thank you notes right away. Each day further away makes it seem like they were less important than whatever else you had going on.
5. You will QUICKLY get so good at crafting these notes you will mentally write them in the elevator on the way out, reducing the pain of doing it.
6. No one likes doing them, but those that do shine extra light on themselves, show greater maturity and just generally are sharper and more considerate.
8. JUST DO IT.
9. PROOF READ IT TWICE, AND USE GRAMMARLY
Here’s an example:
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with (me,us) today. It was an (inspiring, thoughtful, sad) day that you vividly brought to life.
One of the more interesting insights you provided was about the kid who escaped…or the kid who was shunned…or the kid who cut his ears off…
Again, it was a wonderful meeting, very insightful and one we won’t soon forget. We will send you a copy of the (video, paper, smoke signals) we create for school about our day.
With gratitude and warm regards,
Nicholas and Alexander Balog
Now, in the amount of time it took me to write this character defining skill, (the time it took from ordering my eggs… to getting them), you could have completed the note and elevated yourself in the eyes of you audience. Few things have greater upside versus the effort required. Today, tomorrow, and in life. JUST DO IT.
P.S. Zedo got his first job out of college at Merck, in a very tough post war job market, by writing a spectacular thank you note for an interview, FOR WHICH HE DID NOT INITIALLY GET THE JOB! He wrote, in essence, “I really wanted the job I interviewed for and should they not accept, or you are unhappy with his performance, I will join that day.” BINGO!
Siem Reap. Gifts you don’t expect. Tear time.
And that right there is why we do this.
Luck: When preparation meets opportunity
Amazing interesting people are one reason we do this honestly not so easy trip. In school, in preparation for Africa that begins in a week (We will be very sad to leave Asia), we asked the English teacher to give reading selections on topics relevant to Africa. Since we are going to spend some time in Uganda, one book she offered as a choice was a book about kids stolen by Joseph Kony, the head of the LRA, the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army, who kidnapped and brainwashed 13 and 14 year old boys into his rebel army. Heavy stuff. Both boys chose that book and have been writing short vignettes about hope and hopelessness.
Thought for the days
“Never look down on anyone unless you are helping them up.” Source unknown
Annika writing assignment: My Awful Day
My Awful Day in Bangkok
I went to the Grand Palace in Bangkok and I went to see the reclining Buddha. It was so hot that it felt as if I was going to melt. It was so crowded. It smelled so bad I was going to croak. You had to wear pants. Everyone stroked my hair. You had to take your shoes off. I was so thirsty and hungry. It wasn’t that interesting for me.
Life paradox: The older I get, and the less time I have, the further I can see.
Anthony Bourdain on Myanmar
Worth the time