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Famous car guy David E. Davis, Jr. once said, "The problem with General Motors is that nowhere in the United States is there a 14-year-old boy with tears in his eyes saying, 'Please, Dad, buy a Lumina.'" This says it all. For your business, charity, and you, personally, to be successful today you must differentiate, do something special, and inspire people!

We know that vanilla just doesn't work anymore, and unfortunately, the masses now believe that to get attention you must become the loudest, most-obnoxious, most-classless voice out there. We all think it's now proper to be outrageous, watch couples throwing plates in restaurants, and follow whatever activist screams the loudest.

But this week I want to help us follow the advice of class and grace leaders, true influencers who substantially differentiate themselves and their organizations so smoothly that many times you never notice their cool factor. A short list for the week:

1. Say what you mean, and do what you say, regardless of how inconvenient or painful. The loudmouths and people in authority out there have a tremendous problem keeping their word. [Secret: because no one makes them].

2. If you have to, speak of what you have done, not what great accomplishments you are planning. Talk is cheap and is totally discounted today by anyone who matters. Yoda said it best, "Do or do not, there is no try." In our companies, every teammate, top to bottom, stands up before the entire company once a quarter with one slide of what their targets are for the upcoming quarter, but more importantly with a second slide of what they told us last quarter and the objective-quantifiable results. [Tip: This process helps the C-Players resign before the next quarter without you having to release them].

3. When customers/clients walk into your office or shop, shock the hell out of them with the receptionist jumping to their feet, shaking hands and greeting them with a warm welcome. Lead them to the coffee and snack bar, and before their appointment let them relax with peaceful background music and a soothing lavender fragrance. [Hint: olfactory senses are the most powerful memory makers]. Thank you to cool-guy-receptionist Justin for teaching me.

4. When you and your team make a mistake, blow away your customer with your aggressive follow up to fix the problem and turn this disadvantage into an advantage. The extra phone call next week stating, "We just wanted to double check," seals their loyalty to the company for eternity. [Market Research: Ritz Carlton claims that the average hotel guest rates them a 4 out of 5, but if they screw something up during the stay and then blow them away with the fix and hospitality, the guest scores them repeatedly 5/5 and increases their frequency of stays].

5. Implement a mandatory phone/email/messaging etiquette program and separate your team from nearly everyone on the planet. When a customer says, "Thank you," everyone says, "My pleasure." Read the great many books on proper systems/voicemails/emails/messaging management, decide what works in your business and then put it in stone - zero excuses! For example, our organizations must return all voicemails (internal or external) by the end of the day if received before Noon, and before tomorrow Noon if received in the afternoon. [Tip: I would many times make the call driving to my son's lacrosse game, "John, hey I just wanted to call you to let you know I received your message, and I wasn't able to get that answer today, but wanted to let you know I will get it to you tomorrow." John would say, "Oh...okay, thanks so much for calling." In 30-seconds you have forever differentiated yourself from the masses and secured John as a client for life].

6. Look sharp. It has nothing to do with money. Don't dress like a slob, but instead make a statement that you have a little style, you care about yourself, and you respect the people with whom you are working or socializing. As we taught you in earlier Posts, drive a car with a little style, and buy it after the early depreciation so you spend even less than your neighbor with the Lumina. Your lawn looks amazing, you stay healthy and strong, your office has character, and people don't look past you like another one of the sheep. [Secret: Have your kids bounce out of their chairs and give a firm handshake and look the adults in the eyes during the next introduction, and everyone will be baffled by how you are doing this].

7. Greatly separate yourself by applying our many Posts stressing leadership-by-example. Don't voice loud opinions about how others have failed us until you commit to greatness yourself. Don't tell your employees what to do, but instead show them and do it with them. Clean the office kitchen, go to Office Depot and pick up the supplies, go on sales calls regularly with the rookies, beat everyone to the office every day, take responsibility for every mistake in the organization, play third base on the company softball team, the list is endless [Hint: the best part is that your competitor leaders are not doing any of this - I guarantee it!].

8. Finally, focus every day on being that class and grace leader we frequently discuss. Be the leader you always wanted to be. While your competitor is beating their chest, screaming and doing something outrageous, stay focused on the prize. Actions, not words. Productivity, not nonsense activity. Build your resume of accomplishments which gives you the confidence to stay the course for quality and character. [Truth: Give your spouse and kids someone to truly look up to - they know the truth].

Well, I hope I don't sound like your grandfather, but the culture of today's reality TV and social media provides us an incredible opportunity! It has never been easier to differentiate your business or yourself on the climb up the success ladder. So many out there are just phoning it in, and when they do finally get motivated, so many times it's about all the wrong things. Don't buy the Lumina, and don't study international politics from movie actors. Think these things through! Have a great week!

"We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does." - USAFA, 1956

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