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My Biggest Regret (Argh!)

A few weeks ago, I attended my 25th college reunion at Notre Dame.

Billy Phelam, Me, & Mike "Sully" Sullivan

Billy Phelan, Me, & Mike "Sully" Sullivan

As I reconnected with my former classmates, I was sick to my stomach.  It wasn’t just the beer and bratwurst, although, that was a contributing factor.

I was sick over the realization that I failed to keep connected to some really incredible people who were once close friends.

Some are top executives at Nike, West Point, and Sears.  Some are world class doctors, lawyers, and writers.  Some, like Mike Golic of ESPN are former star athletes and media stars.

Now they are little more than Facebook friends.

Facebook friends are kind of like people who speak loudly on their cell phones in public places, only they’re easier to ignore.

The first Christmas after I graduated, I sent 200 cards to classmates.  Many responded, and I kept it up for a few years.  But time and distance took their toll, and eventually my card sending dwindled to a trickle.

As an adult, I’ve found that it’s much easier to rekindle old friendships than it is to make new ones.

Now, when I send a newsletter or greeting cards, I’m rewarded with kindness.  People love hearing when they’re being appreciated and not being asked for anything.

A few of my former employees call only when they need a job reference.  Each time they call, my opinion of them decreases a little.  The obligatory small talk is followed with a request.

It’s transparent and phony.

On the other hand, a few friends send notes every few years to wish me well or send a tip or share good news.  Every call increases my fondness of them.  On the rare occasions that they need something, I bend over backwards.

A business is as good as its list of loyal customers.  The same could be said for a businessperson.

Take the time to say hello without asking for anything, and you’ll find that blessing will flow in unexpected ways.

These days, I’m sending dozens of heartfelt personalized greeting cards each month to my employees expressing my appreciation and acknowledging their successes.  My tool of choice is SendOutCards.  I love that service.

The is the card sent to Gretchen

The is the card sent to Gretchen

So how good are you at keeping connected to your old friends, customers, and connections?

If you want true success, reach out often without asking for anything in return.

  1. Gerrys crevenAugust 9,10

    Dick, you are so right about staying in touch with old friends. Today, so many years later, I am still in contact with many of my old childhood friends. We get together and talk to each other in the same irreverent way, using the same words and name calling we did way back when. I offers a step back reflection of our lives during simpler times. I have a number of friends I have met over the years in business, that I still stay in contact with several times a year. There are no better friends in the world than old long time friends. I have one great friend I call several times a year and always get his voice mail. I leave him a rather crude and insulting message, giving it to him hard and straight. When he calls me back, anywhere between a few hours and a few days, he is laughing when I answer the phone. Staying in touch just for the sake of staying in touch sometimes requires a genuine effort, but it is so worth it in the end.

  2. theCommandoAugust 9,10

    I enjoyed our breakfast at the Palmer House in Chicago during your visit. Great seeing you again and catching up.

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