Friday, February 20, 2015

Just Make The Call

James A. Ryder
I didn't spend a lot of time in corporate America.  A year as a dispatcher with a propane company on a salary 30% less than I'd made in Vietnam, followed by a year as a Marketing Rep with Southern Bell, a long defunct AT&T regional company.  My year with Southern Bell was spent in training, selling, and fighting mindless corporate bureaucracy.
Since I was leading my group in sales, terminating me wasn't an option my supervisors wanted to choose.  They did something infinitely better, from my point of view.  Tom Cassidy,  who had hired me, took me to lunch and over apple pie and coffee said, "Bert, you're doing great...I knew you would." Then without pausing he said, "But, I don't think you're very happy with us, and I have an idea that you'd fit right in at Ryder Truck Rental."  He was right on both counts, and  thanks to a great recommendation from Tom to Ryder's Vice President of Personnel, within a month I was Ryder's One Way Dealer Manager in Birmingham, Alabama.  

Altogether I spent twelve years with Ryder.  I worked in three districts and reported to five district managers during my time with the company, but I always knew I was working for Jim Ryder, the founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board.  It's not often you get to work for a legend, but I had the good fortune of doing just that.  I could tell Jim Ryder stories for a long time, but that isn't my point with this post.  For my purpose here, I'm only going to tell only one.

In 1974, each Ryder District was a profit center managed by a District Manager.  I was the Rental Manager in Jacksonville, Florida.  The workday was about done and a couple of us were in the DM's office rehashing the day, when his secretary stuck her head in the door and said, "Excuse me, John.  I wouldn't interrupt but Mr. Ryder is on the line for you."

John smiled at us and said, "He probably want's to tell me what a good a job I'm doing."  We started to leave, but he motioned us back to our chairs as he hit the speaker phone button.  "Good afternoon, Jim.  To what do I owe this pleasure?"

Jim's soft baritone rolled into the office, "Hi John.  I just wanted to tell you about a phone conversation I just had with one of your fuel island attendants."

Jim went on to tell John Ridenour that John Stephens, the fuel island attendant, had told him how he felt he had been cheated out of $767.00 in overtime pay and that every effort he had made to discuss the situation with his office manager and district manager had failed to resolve the matter to his satisfaction.  When he finished relating the conversation he'd had with the unhappy employee, he paused then said, "Would you like to know what I did John?"

All casualness had vanished from John's voice when he said, "Yes Sir, I sure would."

Jim chuckled and said, "It's simple John, I gave him the money.  You see, when any Ryder employee is so concerned about a situation in his district that he  calls me, I always give him what he wants.  Always.  Then you know what I do John?"

"No sir, I don't know."

"Whatever I give the employee, I simply charge back to the District Manager's bonus, because it's something they should have handled in the first place."

There was a bit more to the conversation, but it's not relevant to this story.  What matters is what Jim told John.  When someone reaches the point where they feel they must call the Chairman of the Board, he or she will get everything they ask for.  And my point is, there is a way for you to contact the Chairman of Your Board and it is as simple as a phone call.  Here's how it works.

In 1992, Julia Cameron wrote a book called The Artist's Way.  The book
describes a simple procedure that Julia calls the Morning Pages.  I think of them as a way to bypass the District Manager and go directly to the Chairman of the Board, and I'm not the only one who thinks that way.  The book has never been out of print in the 22 years since it was published and it has sold over four million copies.  

Is there something in your life you're having an issue with, that you'd like to talk to someone about or that you want resolved.  Try the Morning Pages.

Check the link above - you will find 745 customer reviews that will tell you a lot more about the practice than I did.   When you're convinced, buy the book and begin writing your morning pages - It's just like placing a call to the Chairman of the Board.


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