One of the joys of writing a column is the\n\nresponse you get from readers. Many have written to say how much a\n\ncolumn has helped them deal with an issue. Some sadly write to say they\n\nwished their manager could have read this before some disaster struck.\n\nSome disagree with a point or two, but that\u2019s good because it keeps me\n\non my toes, forcing me to re think about what I\u2019ve written. All of us\n\ncan learn, even columnists.\n\n\n\n\n\nReconnection \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nOne of the best things that has come my way is a rekindling of a\n\nfriendship with an old friend, David Sheehan. I send him my columns\n\nmonthly. While we\u2019ve known each other for nearly twenty years, I\u2019ll bet\n\nwe have not been in the same room more than a dozen times. David is a\n\ngentleman\u2019s gentleman, in the global sense of being a man with vision,\n\nintegrity and principle. He is executive vice president at Multi Image\n\nGroup, a communications agency located in Boca Raton. Prior to this, he\n\nheld senior-level positions in other agencies in New York, Chicago and\n\nLos Angeles. He\u2019s the only person I know who\u2019s been nominated twice for\n\nan Academy Award; that occurred when he was chief of Paramount Pictures\n\ncorporate communications. \n\nDavid has been around the block and in those trips, he has gained\n\ninsights from his work with everyone from the basement to the\n\nboardroom. Fortunately, David has shared many of those insights with\n\nme, often in response to something I send him. I\u2019d like to share his\n\ninsights because they represent a view of management and leadership\n\nfrom a man who \u201cwalks the talk.\u201d So, David, this one\u2019s for you.\n\n\n\n\n\nConnect with your people. Every manager \u201cknows\u201d he should be\n\nlistening to his people. It\u2019s part of Leadership 101. David hit upon a\n\nnovel way to do this and it happened by chance. He and his wife, Joni,\n\nhave a "bi coastal marital status\u201d (he lives in Florida, she in Las\n\nVegas). To keep in touch, David would regularly send her cards and\n\nletters. To make certain he had available postage, he would always keep\n\nstamps in an open box on this desk. Well, David being David, he made\n\nthe stamps available to everyone, provided they pay for what they took.\n\nTake a stamp, deposit 37 cents. The unintended consequence was that\n\npeople came by for stamps, but they stayed to chat and discuss company\n\nissues. David never collected from the box, but his secretary once\n\ntotaled it \u2013 over $1,000 was in the till. But the free advice was\n\npriceless. E-mail has since replaced a need for stamps, but not the\n\nbox; it\u2019s still open.\n\n\n\n\n\nLearn from others. All good teachers are good listeners. And\n\nDavid has been listening to people for decades. Better yet, he\n\nremembers. Here are two stories that resonated with me. \n\nAn executive of a billion dollar company was leading a values based\n\nculture change. The formal presentation of the new values -- iterations\n\nof time honored standards like honesty, integrity and commitment --\n\noccurred at a meeting of senior leadership. The CEO made his intentions\n\nclear: Managers who could not abide by the values were invited to \u201cpack\n\nup and go home immediately.\u201d As David recalls, \u201cThe stern abruptness\n\nand clarity of the message seemed to get through almost instantly\u2026 The\n\nattentiveness in that room that day, and for the next three days, was\n\nabsolutely electrifying.\u201d\n\nThe other story is about a CEO who wanted to communicate a\n\ncommitment message at a gathering for employees and spouses. Prior to\n\nthe meeting, David noticed that the fellow was taping something to the\n\nbottoms of some of the chairs. But being occupied with last-minute\n\ndetails, David paid him no mind. Once the meeting began, the CEO\n\nwelcomed the audience and invited people to look under their seats.\n\nNeatly taped to 50 of the chairs was a thousand dollar bill. The CEO\n\nannounced what he had done, and, as David recalls, there were \u201cscreams\n\nof delight and enthusiastic exclamations of \u2019Yes!!!\u2019\u201d from those who\n\nhad found the bills. Of course, the room was in shambles. When order\n\nwas restored, the CEO delivered this message: He wanted his people\n\ncommitted to fulfilling their objectives with the same kind of\n\nenthusiasm they had shown in \u201cwrecking this room for a thousand\n\ndollars.\u201d If they did, everyone would be amply rewarded. Bottom line:\n\nThe CEO got the commitment he was seeking. \n\n\n\nTurn failure into opportunity. Salespeople are always getting\n\nknocked around. Only the young ones take it to heart. Throughout his\n\nlong career, David has demonstrated time and again how to turn\n\nsomething sour into a sweet deal. One of my favorite examples is this one. His company had produced\n\nmeetings for a company for several years in a row. The last meeting had\n\ngone well, but there were some glitches. Apparently the CEO was\n\nirritated, and members of David\u2019s agency were terrified they would lose\n\nthe account. Not David. He met with the CEO, listened to his\n\ncomplaints, acknowledged the miscues and then made amends in the form\n\nof a contract for the next five years. David negotiated a good deal and\n\nthe CEO trusted him to deliver for two reasons. One, he had owned up to\n\nthe problem, and two, he and his company had demonstrated good service\n\nfor years.\n\n\n\n\n\nTake care of yourself. Awhile back, David underwent major\n\nsurgery. In preparation, he began lifting weights to build up his chest\n\nmuscles. A day or so after surgery, he was back lifting dumbbells to\n\nspeed muscle recovery. David swears it accelerated his healing time and\n\nhe feels more vigorous than ever. His commitment sent me to the weight\n\nroom, where I\u2019ve been lifting (lightly) for a decade.\n\n\n\n\n\nShare the Wisdom \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThere are many more gems from David, but the purpose of a column is\n\nto cast bright light on a topic for just a moment. However, lessons\n\nthat emerge from friendships may last a lifetime, and so that\u2019s why I\n\nwanted to devote space to a man who has taught me something about what\n\nit means to live by your principles. \n\nDavid would be the first to tell you that he\u2019s no saint, but who is?\n\nBesides, the best stories come from folks who have walked on both sides\n\nof the street and know the difference. What David demonstrates to me is\n\nleadership of a most personal kind, the giving of self to others, be it\n\nadvice, examples or even a story.