MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode Ten – “Back To Work”

MY CANCER ADVENTURE
Episode Ten
“Back To Work”

I am so very grateful and thrilled to have recovered enough to resume my speaking work. Still, I’m not allowed to lift more than 10 pounds for another couple of weeks (glad the ukulele ain’t heavy). And no solo long-distance travel for another couple of weeks.

I am reflecting on some of the key points that made my “cancer adventure” as easy and successful as possible. Unquestionably, the single most important factor was the support and partnership of my wife. We worked as a team, increasing efficiency, providing continual emotional support and comic relief!

Some of these points might be important to you, too …

1. Got the PSA test yearly – caught the cancer early.
2. Listened to my primary care physician and saw a urologist.
3. “Bit the bullet” and had the biopsy.
4. Got the diagnosis and began extensive research.
5. Told our network of friends and family that we needed to get the best, most professional second opinion.
6. Thanks to my sister’s friend’s cousin, we connected with a top oncologist and surgeon at Dana-Farber. The best!
7. Received lots of generous input from cancer survivors; prayers and emotional support from friends, colleagues, strangers …
8. Decided on treatment based on our research and the meetings at Dana-Farber.
9. Didn’t wait, scheduled the surgery.
10. Shared the experience by writing an ongoing blog.
11. Determined to be the best patient possible – cheerful, kind, appreciative.
12. Determined to be the best husband possible – cheerful, kind, appreciative.
13. Again – best hospital, best surgeon.
14. Great experience at the hospital – treat people the way you’d want to be treated.
15. Keep positive, hopeful attitude, keep complaints and crabbiness to a minimum. Maintain sense of humor.
16. Following orders – from doctor and Lynne.
17. Writing a daily gratitude journal.
18. Ice cream.

Much love.

MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode Nine – “Surgery/Recovery”

MY CANCER ADVENTURE
Episode Nine
“Surgery/Recovery”

“I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”
— Martha Washington (1732 – 1802)

Lynne and I left Sheffield early on Wednesday, July 18 for my pre-op meeting and exam at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Due to rush hour traffic, and my bad parking decision, we were 30 minutes late. But when we checked in, instead of judgment for our tardiness, we were pleasantly greeted, as we experienced the first in an ongoing series of absolutely exemplary “customer service” experiences. Kindness and comfort were liberally offered by each and every person who served us.

This service standard, while not universally practiced — should be!

My intention was to be an excellent patient – not a passive pushover, but to behave as pleasantly, cheerfully and appreciative as possible under the circumstances. I strongly believed that this approach would impact EVERYTHING for the better … and I am quite sure that I was correct.

After the exam, Lynne and I drove to the Holiday Inn on Beacon Street, Brookline, hoping for early check-in. We were in luck.

Walking to Cooledge Corner, we had a lovely lunch followed by a movie at the Cooledge Corner Theater. We liked the movie (Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love ) but we LOVED the beautiful art-deco theater. Then, back to the hotel to rest for a couple of hours and another light meal at a nearby Japanese restaurant. I enjoyed the last day with my prostate gland and hopefully, my last day with cancer.

Up ridiculously early on Thursday, July 19, for a cab ride to the hospital, 5:30 check-in. My name was called, we signed some papers, and off we went to pre-op. As I was being prepped, we met with a series of nurses, anesthesiologists, and a representative of my surgeon, Dr. Jerome Richie. I can’t overstate how friendly and helpful each and everyone was. I was in a pretty good mood, partially due to the drugs … partially by choice. I actually had fun talking and joking with my caregivers. Lynne was right by my side, which was the primary reason for my feelings of peace and security.

When the time came, I said goodbye to Lynne, and was wheeled to the OR (which was really chilly … but I didn’t care, I was delightfully sedated). A little small talk with the OR personnel, and I was out.

The next thing I remember was being in recovery, Lynne was there … and my prostate wasn’t. I was feeling no pain. Eventually I was brought to my room – a beautiful, large PRIVATE room! A huge stroke of luck.

I’ll spare you the details of the next few days. Suffice it to say that the surgery was successful, one bundle of nerves was spared and my chances of being cancer-free are very, very favorable. And, I can’t say enough good things about the staff at Brigham and Women’s and Dr. Jerome Richie. We made excellent choices.

Now it is July 30, and I am recovering nicely. I’m walking, drinking lots of water and doing those Kegel exercises. I am feeling mostly OK – the “worst” is clearly over. I’m planning on giving my first post-surgery lecture on August 7.

A daily focus on gratitude and appreciation is extremely helpful, especially so when dealing with adversity and challenges. So, despite the numerous discomforts and inconveniences … we caught the cancer early enough, which is something to feel grateful about every day.

I am most thankful for the love and support from my many friends and colleagues. The biggest thanks is to my wife Lynne, for sharing the experience … doing all the work … and for loving me! I am fortunate!

Much love.

SOME “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” TRIGGERS IN CUSTOMER SERVICE, AND ELSEWHERE

SOME “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” TRIGGERS

IN CUSTOMER SERVICE, AND ELSEWHERE

More simple wisdom from Jerry Posner

If you’ve ever attended my workshops or talks, you’ve probably heard of “The Butterfly Effect” (By the way, I do not recommend the movie).

In short:  “The Butterfly Effect” refers to the notion that small, seemingly insignificant changes in one part of the world (the flutter of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil) can affect or influence conditions far away (tornado in Texas).  Or … as the cliché goes, little things can make a big difference!

If indeed, a butterfly flutter can set off a tsunami, then I’d like to know which butterfly, where and when?  And what happens if we capture that particular butterfly and bring it to the Bellagio in Vegas?  Will the entire universe be changed forever, as so many science fiction stories and films strongly suggest?

It does seem to me that, yes, every little teeny-tiny variable in choice, habit, and communication … has the potential to trigger destiny-shaping events.

Maybe not ALL of the time, but certainly MUCH of the time, we can choose between:

Bad moods / Good moods

Speaking with a kind tone / Speaking with a mean tone

Expressing hospitality without boundaries / Ignoring your guests

Gratitude / Pettiness

Every choice sets into motion some kind of cause/effect ripple.  How significant?  How life changing?  Only time will tell!  It’s much easier to look back in the past to see those patterns, than it is to accurately predict the final result of any action or choice in the present.

But we can certainly increase probabilities!

In business, for example – attentive, friendly, customer-centered service stacks the odds for some positive results.  This is obvious and cliché.

I was staying at the Holiday Inn in Concord, NH where I thought the treatment of their guest (me) was exemplary.  Soon after that, I stayed at another hotel where the service could have been much better.   I wrote an article about my experiences, posted it to my blog, and e-mailed it to clients and friends.  Here is an excerpt:

I checked in to the Holiday Inn, Concord NH, and was pleasantly greeted at the front desk, given a few amenities that come with my Priority Club membership (including two free snacks or beverages from the hotel store), and an envelope with my name on it.  I opened it and read a HANDWRITTEN note card welcoming me back, thanking me for my business, and reminding me that, if I had any problems or needs, to contact the manager on duty, and it was signed by her.  This impressed me.  So much so, that I’ve been reading it to my workshop and seminar attendees.

My wake-up call the next morning was made by a real person.  Pleasant voice, good tone, just right for 5:30 AM.  I liked that.  And, not only was the required USA Today at my door, but a local newspaper as well.  Nice touch.

These small things have increased my own loyalty, and helped to convert me from a satisfied customer into a raving fan and apostle.  I speak their praises in my speeches, blog about them, and mentioned them in my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn missives.

If you’d like to read the entire article, titled “A TALE OF TWO HOTELS” just scroll down.

So, some “hospitality without boundaries” from the Holiday Inn Concord NH staff “butterfly effected” some excellent positive publicity … which might earn them more guests, the praise of their parent company, and other goodies.

What can YOU do today that will “stack the odds” for some positive results for you and your company?  Identify some worthy behaviors and actions, and like the Nike ads suggest, JUST DO IT!

A Tale of Two Hotels

A TALE OF TWO HOTELS
Jerry Posner, The Posner Group
 
How important is customer loyalty to your business?  Silly question, isn’t it?
 
My friends and clients in the hospitality industry share their stories with me: business is generally down and the battle for guests is often fierce.  So, one would assume that hotel staffs would be extra attentive, extra hospitable and extra kind to their guests.  After all, attention, hospitality and kindness do not cost more to provide.
 
Pleasant phone tone, eye contact, using guests’ names, making recommendations and suggestions, quick and sincere service recovery … all small things that, combined with good product, can create a more positive emotional experience, and thus, loyalty.
 
I was recently a guest at two comparable hotels, similar facilities and price point. I have stayed at each before.
 
I checked in to the Holiday Inn, Concord NH, and was pleasantly greeted at the front desk, given a few amenities that come with my Priority Club membership (including two free snacks or beverages from the hotel store), and an envelope with my name on it.  I opened it and read a HANDWRITTEN note card welcoming me back, thanking me for my business, and reminding me that, if I had any problems or needs, to contact the manager on duty, and it was signed by her.  This impressed me.  So much so, that I’ve been reading it to my workshop and seminar attendees.
 
My wake-up call the next morning was made by a real person.  Pleasant voice, good tone, just right for 5:30 AM.  I liked that.  And, not only was the required USA Today at my door, but a local newspaper as well.  Nice touch.
 
These small things have increased my own loyalty, and helped to convert me from a satisfied customer into a raving fan and apostle.  I speak their praises in my speeches, blog about them, and mention them in my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn missives.
 
Then there is the other one.  I’ve had problems with the promised 3:00 cookies not showing up in the past, but that’s another story.  Check-in was fine.  I was given a bottle of water and a small bag of low-fat Oreos as my amenities, as well as some scratch tickets good for a complimentary breakfast.  I asked how early the restaurant opened, and was told 6:30.
 
The wake-up call was automated, and the person on the recording spoke too fast, as if she just wanted to get it over with.  I showed up at the restaurant at 6:30 on the nose.  It was dark.  At 6:40, a young lady appeared to set up the buffet.  She said, in a very tired voice, that she’ll be open as soon as she could, and left me standing there.
 
I walked around the lobby for a while.  There were people in the office, but no one at the desk.  I returned to the restaurant to hear the young lady in the back laughing with, I presume, the cook.  I stood there.  A few others guests came and went.  At 6:55 I was seated.  I ordered scrambled eggs, hash browns and bacon.  The order came, and there was enough food for two or three breakfasts piled on my plate.  Kind of wasteful, I thought.
 
I wanted to tell the front desk person about this.  After all, if I were the manager, I’d certainly want to know.  But, after standing at the front desk for a few minutes with no one there, I just went back to my room.  In fact, almost every time I interacted with the front desk, I was treated with indifference, at times bordering on rude.
 
Picky?  Petty?  Perhaps.
 
But people form opinions based on how they feel.  The Holiday Inn Concord, NH made me feel welcome, valued and cared about.
 
Here’s the kicker – I received a phone call from the GM at Concord.  He heard that I praised his front desk staff, and he wanted to thank me!
 
Some hotels, restaurants, banks, hospitals get it right.  SO right, that their customers and guests do become raving fans.  In today’s economic climate more than ever, it makes sense to be like the folks at Holiday Inn, Concord, NH.