All of our fundamentals are very important to our success. But if I had to choose just a few of our fundamentals that are “critically” important to our “ultimate” success, #8, Honor Commitments would certainly be on that short list. The reason I say this is because it speaks directly to our core value TRUST. As the first sentence says, there is no better way to earn people’s trust than to be true to your word. I’m reminded of this fact every time I think about our largest customer.
CUSTOMERS KNOW BEST
The leader of this company, Keith, continually pushes Famous to be the best business partner and supplier that we can be by driving this point home. He constantly (and rightfully so) reminds us, “Do what you say you are going to do, and when you say you are going to do it.” In other words, if we commit to something, we must unequivocally do everything in our individual and collective power to make that happen. This is as much about character and integrity as anything. Keith is a strong leader with courage who is not afraid to speak the truth and say exactly what is on his mind. I respect his honesty. This directness helps make Famous better and is a good lesson for all of us as we deal internally with each other and externally with our customers and suppliers as well. Honoring our commitments must be more than a priority; it must be a way of life for all of us.
OSU in 1983
This fundamental also states that part of honoring commitments is simply being on time and meeting your promises. As I reflect back on my time at The Ohio State University in the winter quarter of 1983, this fundamental was a precursor to something very meaningful for me. One of my favorite classes I ever attended was taught by a professor, Mr. Dixon. It was a case studies marketing course where a smaller group of students spent quality time comparing various companies in the same industry, some of whom were successful, and some who were not. We were able to have great discussions about these organizations, what they did well, and how it impacted their growth and success or lack thereof. Mr. Dixon was a very cool teacher. Some students even went to his home to talk about various case studies we were learning in class. I was very passionate about doing well because it was such an enjoyable and intriguing class. I wasn’t a perfect student, but in this course, I did receive all A’s on my work. However, at the end of the quarter, when I received my grade, it was an A-. I thought it had to be a mistake, so I went to talk with Mr. Dixon about it. This class took place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 am to 10 am. I had approximately a 25-minute walk, often through the snow. He asked me what time the class started and I said 8 am. He asked me what time I usually arrived. I said, “Mostly by 8 am, but occasionally, I would be 10 15 minutes late.” He looked at me and said, “Marc when you get out in the business world and make a commitment and promise, you must honor that commitment. This means simply being on time. This sets the example and tone not only for the people you will be with, but for how you are perceived by those individuals as well.” I never forgot his words of wisdom. It’s helped me over the years. In the business world today, many things can come up (like meeting with someone internally or talking with a customer) that can set us back a few minutes. If this occurs, simply calling or texting to the next person you will be meeting and letting them know you may be running a few minutes late is more than a common courtesy. It shows you care about them personally.
By sharing these stories, I genuinely hope it will remind all of us what Keith and Mr. Dixon knows to be true. We must honor all our commitments; do what we say we are going to do, and when we say we’re going to do it. By doing this consistently, we earn one another’s trust. Thanks.