Last week, I had the privilege of delivering a presentation to 650 of the most important people on the planet: fire fighters, 911 dispatchers, paramedics, and law enforcement officials. These dedicated folks are on the front lines keeping all of us safe and I am eternally grateful for their service. But you don't have to be a first responder to protect and serve others. In my book You Unstuck, I profile San Antonio-based Rackspace, a web-hosting company famous for what they call "fanatical support." Rackers - as employees refer to themselves - don’t just talk about fanatical support, they live it. In the aftermath of Katrina as hurricane victims were streaming out of New Orleans, Rackspace Chairman Graham Weston offered the city an old department store he owned for temporary housing. Tapped out, the Mayor accepted the offer, but cautioned Weston that he would have to manage the location entirely on his own.
And that's exactly what happened. In a closely knit company like Rackspace, word travels fast. Within hours, dozens of Rackers showed up to convert the store into a shelter that could house 2,500 people. The volunteers set up cots, outfitted a cafeteria, created a children’s play area (several, actually, to accommodate kids of different ages) and built men’s and women’s showers. Rackers also put their technical know-how to work and established a communications center with cable television, phones and computers so the residents could watch the news and stay in touch with friends and family throughout the sad unfolding of this great American tragedy.
While still working their regular shifts, Rackers did double-duty to greet buses of newly arriving refugees, serve food, comfort kids and listen to the stories of frightened and homeless victims. Interestingly, what the Rackers remember most is not that they were able to serve others - which they most certainly did - but the gift the company did by giving them the opportunity to serve.
- Ask yourself what you can do to go beyond the bounds of service that your company routinely offers others.
- Think about what gives you the greatest sense of purpose at work. Now think about some ways you can step it up even more.
- The next time you or your family calls upon the services of the police, fire, 911, or paramedics, be grateful that these folks are fighting the good fight for us! And be sure to say thanks!!