Someone once said,
“People will forget what you say; people will forget what you do; but people will NEVER forget how you made them feel.”
I recently read this quote, and it really hit home for me. I give speeches to thousands of people every year. I travel to different schools across the country speaking to students. I give lectures at national conferences to banquet rooms full of retailers. I write guest columns for different magazines and newspapers. I put a great deal of time and effort into every one of these things. I take great care in crafting my speeches, trying to tailor them to the specific audience or event. My goal each time is to make sure that my listeners or readers walk away with at least one valuable nugget of information.
I take pride in many of the things I’m involved in. One of the biggest, of course, is my company, Zimmerman Advertising. I hope the legacy of Zimmerman and of the work we do will live on long after I’m no longer chairman. I’m also honored to lend my name to the Zimmerman Advertising Program at University of South Florida. It is my hope that my involvement with this program will have an impact on the lives of countless students. My wife and I started a foundation whose mission is education. We donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to various educational programs throughout the country each year through our foundation. My goal is to somehow make a difference in the lives of the people these charities help.
However, when I really stop and think about it, I realize that no matter how hard I try, most people will forget what I say in these speeches. And no matter how hard I try, most of the people that I have come into contact with will one day forget about me. But I was reminded the other day that, just as the above quote says, people will NEVER forget how you make them feel.
I was recently approached by a very successful businessman. He told me that I spoke at his college when he was a freshman. At the time, he was just starting out in his college career and wasn’t sure what direction his life was going to take. Something I said that day in my speech resonated with him; it gave him the inspiration and the courage he needed to start his own business. And now, years later, he runs his own successful company.
Shouldn’t we all look for the good in everyone…for a way to inspire others? Too many times we’re too critical of what somebody doesn’t do well instead of focusing on what they do well. It’s amazing how the girl at the deli stands taller when you tell her how perfectly she makes your favorite sandwich. It’s amazing how your coworker’s attitude improves when you tell him you heard he knocked it out of the park on a recent presentation. It’s amazing how much confidence the store manager at your local retailer gains when you tell him what excellent customer service he always provides. When you’re able to tell people what they do right instead of what they do wrong, they will feel better about themselves, have more confidence and ultimately do more things right.
And in the end, isn’t that a win-win for everybody?