One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my many years in business is the value of writing a handwritten note to someone. In my case, it’s likely a note to a customer who’s recently used my services, but there have certainly been times when I felt that a deserving individual should hear in writing about how his efforts made me feel.
The reason I like to send that personal handwritten note is because I know that it will be remembered for a long time to come. And for a young person entering the workforce, that note has importance because nobody else is taking the time to write that interviewer or potential business partner or potential investor a note.
I learned my lesson from my first client Pat Riley. Pat had truly taught me from Day One in business to never wait to for a thanks for a job well done; if you know in your heart you did something well, move on to the next one and just be proud of yourself. Pat used to call this “Staying one step ahead of the Posse.” But in our 2nd or 3rd year of business together, I recall getting a card in the mail from Pat. It was totally unexpected and it was real brief: “Thanks so much for your hard efforts on my behalf. Now get back to work.” It really summed up who Pat was as a great leader of people. And today I was reminded of that while watch the 2021 NBA Hall of Fame Induction of famed Broadcaster Mike Breen.
In his acceptance speech ( https://youtu.be/66Vtvm7m8FM ), Mike shared an important life story about Pat Riley–the same Pat Riley who had helped to define MY life. Mike was a first year broadcaster for the NY Knicks and Pat was the Knicks’ Head Coach. They were on their first road trip of the year and Mike hadn’t yet had the chance to meet Coach Riley. But as Mike was on the elevator at the team hotel in Atlanta and the doors were closing, here comes Pat Riley around the corner holding up his hand to hold the elevator. Mike’s chance to spend alone time with this legendary coach. As Mike reaches for the “door open” button, in a panic he hits the “door close” button and he watches as the door closes on Pat’s face.
As that season continued, Mike Breen kept a working relationship with Coach Riley but the elevator story never came up and there was no social banter. Mike was certain that Pat didn’t even know his name. Then a week after the season ends, Mike receives a handwritten note in the mail to his home from Pat Riley–thanking him for his professionalism that season. As Mike shares in his speech “can you just imagine what that does for a young broadcaster’s confidence?”
The story came full circle 20 years later when Mike was announcing a Miami Heat game for ABC and Pat was now the President of the Miami Heat. Pat came up to Mike after the game and told him how proud he was of him. Again Mike in his speech today: “someone like me does not dream about moments like that–but you never, ever forget them.”
Be the one who makes someone’s dreams come true. You don’t have to be Pat Riley to do that.