Influenced at 80.

A few days ago I found myself rolling out of town on a 4 lane highway. With 8 hours of driving ahead of me that would require some form of “entertainment” I was taking my time with any activity. Playing with seat comfort, dusting the dashboard… typically benign activity that was embellished to pass the time away.

At one point during the excursion, the 4 lanes turned to 6 to accommodate metropolitan traffic loads. Right about then, a new, large American sedan passed me. As it did, I noticed the rear quarter panel was waffling as the turbulent air passed over it’s surface.

Unfortunately, my idle mind noticed this and created a reaction which was one that questioned the overall quality of the product. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as American as Bruce Springsteen. I really want our goods to be world class, but often there is a drive for quality that supersedes any prejudice towards origin of production.

I couldn’t help but take that little emotive reaction and file it deep in the folds of my cerebral matter. When enough of those stack up in there, they begin to formulate an influential opinion. It might be a series of small details, or one big one, but I propose it’s a collection of all our opinions regarding something that motivate decisions. As was the case with this scenario, I am not conducting research for a new car, but this insight is filed and will be reviewed when the time comes.


(Tiffany money clip I received as a gift for my 40th birthday from my mom… that was 8 years ago and I still have the felt pouch, a unnecessary but valued plus.)

The same is true for other aspects of our lives. When choosing a plumber, do you go with one that has a rusty old truck or one that might not be new, but is always clean? Would you choose a dentist that has cracked vinyl patient chairs, or one that seems to embrace the latest technology? If you ask for a quote for a new pantry will a hand drawn sketch be more impressive then a 3D rendering created while you watch?

Although this may seem like an opinion based on appearance, it isn’t. My point is we should be working with people or service providers that have thought through the entire process to insure all the needs are met, and that they are serious about their business and are professional. It’s applicable when we are on both the giving and receiving end or all our actions and transitions. Both of my brothers are in sales and one once said “it’s a dog eat dog world out there and my shorts are made of milk bones.”

As fate would have it, right behind the Detroit Thunder on the road that day was a Bavarian version. This one looked like handling the speed limit was something it could do in reverse. I’m sure there are price point differences, but still, the same reaction is applicable but in a favorable fashion. We retain the good and the bad. The favorable is equally influential. We tend to remember and return to rewarding experiences. This is the secret to the success of Starbuck’s. Think back on your family vacations, what immediately comes to mind are the highlights. Looking for shells at sunrise on Captiva, not the bumper to bumper traffic as you dance around Atlanta.

I think the lesson here is even the smallest details make a difference. Whether it’s waffling quarter panels or the solidity of a Motorola Razr… all things influence our opinions, even if it’s something we pass at 80 mph.


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