How you do anything means everything.
Most business books could be simply described as thick bumper stickers. Why? Because despite their pages and pages of examples and illustrations, many of them can be reduced to one single thought. And that thought can be the theme of a 300-page book. Or it can be a bumper sticker.
Here are some standouts from my library and their bumper stickers:
- Good to Great, Jim Collins: Get the right people on the bus. Get the wrong people off the bus.
- The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt: Don’t be a bottleneck.
- The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber: Work on your business, not in your business.
- Don’t Eat The Marshmallow Yet, Joachim de Posada: Don’t eat the marshmallow yet (the power of delayed gratification).
- The Joy of Success, Susan Ford Collins: There are 10 essential skills for getting the success you want.
Of course, no one would plop down $20 – $30 for a bumper sticker. So that’s why it makes good business sense for writers to guild their lilies and convert wispy concepts to weighty volumes.
One of my favorite books is HOW by Dov Seidman. The simple bumper sticker for HOW is this: “How you do anything means everything.” In How, Seidman explains that the why and the how of what we do is often more important than what we actually do.
Two months ago I spoke at a conference in Las Vegas. The subject was my new book, All About Them. When I finished, a young woman (we’ll call her Lisa) came up and complimented me on my talk. She also told me that she and her fiancé had just moved from New York and she’d taken a job she wasn’t very happy about.
“What would you like to be doing?” I asked.
“I worked in finance in New York. I’d really like to get back into that.” She answered.
I signed my new book, handed her my business card, and asked her how else I could be helpful.
A few weeks later Lisa sent an email asking me if I knew anyone at the XYZ Bank & Trust. If so, would l introduce her? I answered yes and followed up with an introductory email to her and my good friend Bill. Bill just happens to be the CFO of XYZ.
Bill responded almost immediately. He told Lisa he’d be delighted to meet her and even suggested times he was available. Bill asked her to send her resume. And he asked for a quick explanation of the position she wanted.
Yesterday I ran into Bill at another speech I was giving.
The first thing out of his mouth was that he still hadn’t received Lisa’s resume. After that Bill told me about a second young woman interested in a job. The difference was that that prospect sent her CV and included research she had done on XYZ. Plus she sent a competitive overview and links to some articles Bill would find interesting.
Bill shrugged and said, “You know,
how you do anything means everything.”
“How.” I said. “Dov Seidman.”
“Right.” Bill added. “My favorite book since Catcher in the Rye. Maybe since A Wrinkle in Time.”
I find Dov’s bumper sticker is a great gut check for me when I deal with others. Keeping Seidman’s mantra in mind helps me be punctual, refrain from gossip, and always try to under-promise and over-deliver. “How you do anything means everything” reminds me to stay present and attentive. It also reminds me to be helpful and supportive — even when I don’t see any immediate benefit in doing so.
Needless to say, Lisa’s not going to get the job at XYZ Bank & Trust. And the next time she asks me to make a connection I am going to politely decline.