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Letters from Vietnam (10): A lesson from the orphanage

Dr. Thomas Rose visits an orphanage in Kon Tum, Vietnam

Letters from Vietnam – Part 10

Or should it be: Lessons from Vietnam?

And here is my final Letter from Vietnam, which I am actually writing while having a stop-over in buzzing Bangkok. But the thoughts I want to share with you still originate from Vietnam. All happened in a town called Kon Tum, where I visited an orphanage.

The orphanage is home to about 200 children. Not all are actual orphans, some have been placed here by families who are not able to support them. Some families are too poor to shelter and feed an additional child, some families are in severe trouble because of drug and alcohol abuse.

As I was walking through the individual rooms I was several times “raided” by kids who were looking for some attention. Many of them liked to cuddle, which is nice but not unproblematic at the same time. We have to be very aware of the emotional impact on the children if these kind of encounters become the typical interaction with foreigners.

When I was hanging around there with kids sticking to my legs like wax it slowly dawned upon me that many of these children must have experienced a significant amount of misuse. And I was not even thinking of the most horrific kind of abuse – you can imagine what I am talking about – no, I was thinking about a specific kind of abuse that happens even in the best families and that is much more subtle to detect than the horror behind closed doors.

The number one kind of child abuse is denying them a healthy environment. In my opinion a healthy environment has three crucial ingredients. Stick with me for a while and you’ll see what these ingredients have to do with your business. The ingredients are:

  1. safety
  2. value
  3. predictability

Let’s have a look at each of them.


A safe environment means that you can always go home and independent of what you have done you will not have to fear any harm. Even if you have done something stupid you can go home and you can be sure that you will not suffer any punishment or damage. There might be some disciplinary consequences like a temporary withdrawal of some privileges but you can be sure that nothing will happen that you have to be afraid of.


A valuing environment means that you and your thoughts are always taken seriously. Nobody will ever make fun of you because you opened your mouth or come up with a new idea. People will laugh with you but never laugh at you. If at all they will smile at you and carefully listen to what you want to say. Your ideas and actions will be esteemed and the worst that will happen to you is the question: “Who sold you on that plan?”


A predictable environment is a place where you know what to expect. No (unpleasant) surprises. I wrote about predictability in my third Letter from Vietnam. It explains that under certain conditions it is crucial to be predictable. And if you buy that idea you will understand the value of a predictable environment. It means that you find shelter when you come back and you’ll never have to ask yourself: “I wonder what will happen…”

Lesson learnt

Since we have to be the change we’d like to see in this world it is our duty to create environments that are safe, valuing, and predictable.

  • We want to be a safe place for others to pitch camp. This will create an attractive force field around us both for our children and our customers. Always be a soft landing place for others who are reaching for your help or advise.
  • We will value the ideas of others without pre-judgement. When somebody says or does something that is not compliant with our personal philosophy we will actively listen and observe and not jump to conclusions immediately. Too often we judge something to be wrong only because it is different than the way we think or act. The world is a diverse place and only because somebody else is taking another road like you it doesn’t automatically mean they are lost. As Stephen R. Covey in his bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People wrote: “First seek to understand, and then to be understood.”
  • And finally we will make sure that people know what to expect when they approach us. When somebody asks you to do something and you accept the task you will never want them to worry whether they can rely on your promise. Imagine and create a clear picture of the person you want to be and radiate it into this world. The only surprise we impose on others is to under-promise and over-deliver.

Application of the lesson learnt to your business

Every person in a corporation is responsible for creating a healthy work environment. It doesn’t matter whether you are flipping burgers, answering the phone or make million dollar decisions from your corner office. Each of us is responsible to create a place where both customers and employees are happy to be. Here are a few final thoughts.

  • Create safety by encouraging your staff to make errors. Though be very proactive when it comes to mistakes. Make sure that your staff can approach you without fear when they’ve done something that didn’t work out. Failure is a necessary part of growth. If people are too afraid to make mistakes chances are that they will try to sweep their mistakes under the rug. If so, mistakes quickly develop into damages. It is your responsibility to avoid that by creating a safe environment.
  • Value and appreciate achievements always. Let other people know when somebody did something extraordinaire and encourage others to do the very same. Too many of us are trying to catch others with their pants down. To few are willing to publicly praise a good performance of somebody else. If you don’t create a valuing and appreciative environment your employees (and your customers) might be willing to find it somewhere else.
  • Finally make sure that people know what to expect when they call you or enter your office. Always show one and the same face to all. You don’t have to be available at all times but when somebody is asking for your help, advise or support always make sure that they didn’t come in vain. It’s all up to you: If you want to be a jerk, act like a jerk. If you want to be a paragon, act like a paragon.

And now go and BE the change you want to see in this world. For the children of Kon Tum I wish that they will soon enter a better place.

Children from the orphanage in Kon Tum, Vietnam

Children from the orphanage in Kon Tum, Vietnam

It was my pleasure to share with you some of my thoughts that were inspired by my trip through Vietnam with you, most valued reader. I thank all who replied and wrote personal notes to me. You kept me going and I am very much looking forward to meeting you face-to-face in due course.

Tạm biệt,
Herzlichst,  Ihr Dr. Thomas Rose

Letters from Vietnam (8): Stay away from the elephants

Stay away from the elephants (if you are not stronger than they are)

Letters from Vietnam – Part 8

Or should it be: Lessons from Vietnam?

Are you stronger than an elephant? Or stronger than a heavy truck? If not I suggest you follow the Vietnamese philosophy of easy traffic.

A common occurrence on an ordinary day

An old woman uses a crosswalk in order to get from one side of the road to the other. Before she has even set one foot on the zebra crossing a 30 ton heavy truck breaks and comes to halt in a safe distance. From the other direction a bus had approached and this bus comes to a standstill, too, so the old lady can now safely cross the road. The truck is laden with groceries that are urgently expected in a supermarket a few kilometres away. The bus is full with people who are on the way to their next appointments. Behind the truck as well as behind the bus all traffic comes to halt. Dozens of vehicles and people freeze in order to let one little lady cross a street. The vehicles and the cargo must be worth millions and the time is ticking away for all the busy people.

All for one little lady.

Have a guess in what country such scenarios usually happen. Here’s a hint: It is NOT Vietnam. This description sounds rather like what we experience in the Western world – in the so called civilised or developed countries. In my homeland, which is Germany, you can observe scenarios like that everyday and everywhere.

With which single word would you describe the above scenario? In Germany we call it “Rücksichtnahme” which in English (according to my favourite online dictionary translates to consideration, thoughtfulness, attention or considerateness.

I think all these translations don’t hit the bull’s eye and are somehow misleading. Keep on reading and I’ll tell you why.

To my opinion, what really happens here is that the drivers are taking care or looking after someone who is smaller or weaker than they are. That is a beautiful task to do. For the kids among you: In the hilarious movie Hook this thought has been augustly uttered by Peter Banning when he took out his sword and tried to figure out who would be the new Pan:

Now I want you to take care of everything that’s smaller than you.

To me, this is one of the noblest things one can do. In my list of values looking after the small has a high ranking in priority.

And now let us take a leap to Vietnam

Crossing a street in Vietnam is an adventure for the timid and a piece of cake for the brave. If you want to cross a street in Vietnam and keep standing at the sidewalk waiting for the traffic to come to halt you will die. Literally! I mean it. You will die. One day you will die of starvation. Because nobody will stop for you to cross the road except if you are willing to boldly take action. Not even traffic lights will guarantee that the traffic comes to halt for you.

And as every journey starts with the first step crossing a street in Vietnam is no difference. You start crossing a street by setting foot on the very same. Then slowly but continuously move forward – in short, be predictable. And as by a miracle the traffic will flow around you. Lots of honking still, but not the slightest physical encounter with the millions of motorbikes dashing along.

Does this mean that “Rücksichtnahme” is not a virtue in Vietnam? I wouldn’t say so. In fact, Vietnamese people are very considerate and caring, helpful and generous. But when it comes to traffic “Rücksichtnahme” simply doesn’t rank high in the commuters’ list of priorities.

And here is the difference between German and Vietnamese traffic philosophy.

In Germany we care for the weaker. In Vietnam they beware of the stronger.

Personally I would still rank the German way higher than the Vietnamese way – but that is just me. If I tell Vietnamese people about this thought – especially when it comes to traffic – they usually shake their head and reply that the German behaviour doesn’t make sense, it is inacceptable and causes too much of trouble. “Nobody would ever get to work on time!”

Staying away from the stronger is a good way to stay out of uncontrollable trouble. And interestingly you do this by applying consideration, thoughtfulness, attention and considerateness.

Does this ring a bell?

Truck on muddy Ho Chi Minh Trail

A safe distance from the bigger ones is a good idea to stay out of uncontrollable trouble when riding along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Lesson learnt

It doesn’t matter whether you are timid or brave. You need to pay attention and be considerate in both ways of life.

Here’s a tip for the timid: Get rid of your timidity without losing your softness. Timidity gets you nowhere. And for the brave: Always be considerate when you take these bold steps in your life. A bold elephant can easily crash a mouse, even if it didn’t mean to.

And just before I enter my flight from Da Nang to the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, let me give you the …

Application of the lesson learnt to your business

Firstly, understand the difference between controllable and uncontrollable trouble. I’ve written about the joy of finding controllable trouble in my last post. Uncontrollable trouble is something you want to avoid.

Secondly, make it a virtue for your business always to look after someone who is smaller than you. You can only win. At the same time stay away from the elephants (as beautiful as they are).

It is a wonderful thing when you look after someone weaker or smaller than you. But never blindly expect this behaviour from the people around you. Some are so obsessed with their way that they have only little understanding for the agenda of other people.

In short:

If you want to dance with an elephant, expect it to lead.

Tạm biệt,
Herzlichst,  Ihr Dr. Thomas Rose

Letters from Vietnam (7): When I travel…

Rice Cutting in the Central Highlands of Vietnam

Letters from Vietnam – Part 7

Or should it be: Lessons from Vietnam?

Travel teaches toleration

Somebody once said “Life is a book. And if you don’t travel you only read one page.”

This is wonderfully true.

Travelling is not about getting from point A to point B. It is about being on the way. It is about sucking the marrow out of life. It is about finding the balance between experiencing and learning as much as you possibly can and letting go. Travelling is not holiday. It’s a journey. And if you do it right it has many destinations.

Let me share some of my travel experiences that may seem as a flipside of a pleasant journey.

When I travel …

When I travel

  • I get dirty.
  • I get an upset tummy.
  • I catch a cold.
  • I get a sunburn.
  • I get eaten by insects.
  • I get ants in my pants.
  • I get lost in the alleys.
  • I get stalked by street hawkers.
  • I fall for scams.
  • I’m asked for my name a million times.
  • I find hairs in the bathroom that don’t belong to me.
  • My eyes hurt from the air pollution.
  • And – as everybody else – I suffer from the three undeniable truths about travelling.

Am I looking for those experiences? Definitely NOT! I am not striving for such experiences, but I am tolerating them. Such experiences are ultimately the only way to make the most of my journeys. Only by tolerating a list of negatives I can create a list of positives, that btw. is much longer than the one above.

Lesson learnt

It’s an old cliche that we can’t have light without shadow, that there is no mountain high with out a valley low, and that we can’t enjoy a jungle without being carried away by tiny nasty creatures.

I feel a bit sorry for this cliche. It has been beaten up and misused by many motivational speakers. But still, there is an undeniable and deep truth in it:

You can’t have one without the other.

My personal favourite of this cliche is the following: It doesn’t matter what decisions you make, you will always have to pay a price. If you don’t want to pay, you’re not getting anything. So many people try to cheat their way through life. But I am convinced, in the end, it doesn’t work. Nothing is for free. And even if your decision is to spend the rest of your life on the sofa – you will have to pay the price.

I have a personal theory about the prices we have to pay in life. I strongly believe that the sum of the prices we have to pay in life is a constant. It is one given quantity that is pre-defined for each our lives.

There are two ways to pay your debts

One way is to make many payments during the course of life. The other way is to pay everything at once, usually at the end of your life. Which one do you prefer?

Let me shorty explain the difference between these two kinds of payments. The iterative payments I call toleration, the one payment in the end I call regret. Which one do you prefer?

If we opt for the first way of paying we make a lot of decisions and take bold action towards life. We take responsibility for what we do and what happens to us, we act accordingly, we pay the price (like learning a lesson, taking a course, overcoming fear, trying something new, …) and we move on. In other words we accept the flipsides of life as the currency to create a good one.

If we prefer the second way of payment, i.e. if we pay one big price at the end, then we were obviously too afraid to have made some keen decisions when we still had the time to do so. This is regret. You know that regret shows its ugly face to you when you ask yourself questions like: “I only wish I had…”

I don’t think that this is a state of life that we should ever experience. It’s the toughest and saddest thing of all to realise that time is running out and that it is now to late to get dirty.

So, once again: Which one do you prefer?

Application of the lesson learnt to your business

Don’t waste an opportunity.

Life is full of opportunities. If you waste an opportunity you are effectively wasting life.

Same with your business. There are hundreds of opportunities. They usually come disguised as problems. And this is exactly what you should looking for: Problems. Most of all look for problems of your clients. If they have a problem you can be the problem solver. Customers are willing to pay huge amounts of money for someone who takes care of their problems. If you are an employee then become a trouble-shooter and don’t be a trouble-maker.

When companies hire they have only one question in mind: “Is the candidate sitting in front of me solving my problems or adding to my problems?” All other questions circle around exactly this one. Assessment centres, questionnaires, interviews, evaluations, checking your profile on Facebook – the only question why hiring companies are doing this is to find out to which group you belong: Creator of problems or solver of problems.

Which one do you prefer?

And now go and find some trouble. Look out for problems. If you find a problem don’t complain but act on it. It is the ultimate way of living a better life and creating a better business. And if you are a good problem solver clients will be more than happy to come back to you over and over again (and hand you heaps of money).

Tạm biệt,
Herzlichst,  Ihr Dr. Thomas Rose

If you want something do be done quickly give it to a busy man.

Letters from Vietnam (5): Plan as you like – life will tweak your nose

Anti-theft system to secure my belongings when I travel.

Letters from Vietnam – Part 5

Or should it be: Lessons from Vietnam?

Plan for the worst, expect the best

Or as Benjamin Frankling once put it:

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

When you go on a journey to Indochina you need to prepare. Be it vaccination, travel documents like flight tickets and visas, or planing your route and making a list of the places and things you want to see. One major concern of travel preparation is all the stuff that goes into your backpack. Over the course of my trips I managed to travel more and more lightly, and still I feel that I am carrying too much. Many things that I carry with me I have never worn or used. Especially my first-aid kit is literally untouched and unchanged since my trip to India in 2009. I need a plaster once in a while or some iodine, but thanks to my guardian angel nothing serious has ever happened to me. Well, I broke a rip once when I was thrown off by a camel. But even this misfortune could have ended much worse. So you won’t hear me complaining.

I daresay that there is a parallel between my first-aid kit and our lives: The things that we dread the most rarely happen in real life. They only happen in our imagination. We often expect the worst and prepare for the best, i.e. we worry too much and we prepare too little. I suggest we turn that around: Let’s prepare for the worst and expect the best. The worst that can happen to us is that we are over-prepared. In business that is rarely a bad thing and when you travel you simply add a little weight to you load.

Prepare as you like, however, there will be situations that you didn’t have in mind when you planned your journey. Life will come and tweak your nose because for the open-minded it is full of surprises and wonders. After all, isn’t life what happens when you are planning something else?

How I secure my backpack when I am not in the hotel

When my luggage is in the hotel while I am running around exploring the area, then I want my belongings to be safe from theft. One thing is for sure though: I will hardly be able to fully protect my belongings against the determined burglar. The only thing I can provide for is that it takes as long as possible for the snatcher to get hold of my possessions. At least I make sure that he will have to use some tools to seize my property.

The way I do it when I travel is by use of a Kensington security slot. I am always carrying a small netbook on my journeys and before I attach the Kensington lock to my computer I first fix the lock to something heavy or something fixed on a wall. I then thread the cable through a couple of loops of my backpack. Next I store the netbook deep in my backpack and close the backpack as tight as possible. And if I don’t forget I even check my zippers! 😉

And then life tweaked my nose

I did so when I was in Duong Dong the other day. I had checked into a hotel but the room we agreed on wasn’t ready, so the owner assigned me another room. When I was ready to explore the island of Phu Quoc the next morning I secured my backpack using the technique described above before I left. Since I couldn’t attach the sling to something fixedly mounted on the wall I threaded the cable through a heavy chair standing nearby. At the reception the owner told me that she is going to prepare the other room and that I shouldn’t worry. Everything would be fine.

When I was coming back a couple of hours later I opened the door to my new hotel room and was very much surprised to see my backpack standing next to the bed – still tightly fixed to that heavy chair. The lady of the house, who weighs hardly more than 45kg, had carried both pieces over a tiny staircase from the fourth to the first floor. When my surprise settled I had to laugh: My well planned and crafty security measures have been completely futile.

Lesson of the day

Life happens when you’re planning something else, right?

We can plan as much as we like, life will tweak our noses. There will always be happenings and occurrences that we couldn’t have thought of in our wildest dreams. Does this mean we should prepare less? I don’t think so. Instead draw your lessons from what happened. After all, school’s never out.

Application of the lesson learnt to your business

There are three keys to a successful business:

  1. Preparation
  2. Preparation
  3. Preparation

Prepare for your next meeting, prepare for your customer, and prepare for your employees, colleagues and associates. Prepare your speech, your presentation, your document and your spreadsheet.

But most of all: Prepare for the unexpected. That sounds like a contradiction, but it isn’t. More often than not you should have a “Plan B”. Ask yourself: What is the worst thing that can happen? And then be surprised that most of the things we fear never come to life at all.

And finally: If Plan B fails, I suggest you run through the alphabet.

Tạm biệt,
Herzlichst,  Ihr Dr. Thomas Rose

Letters from Vietnam (3): You are a nuisance

Traffic Madness in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

Letters from Vietnam – Part 3

Or should it be: Lessons from Vietnam?

How to be a part of where you are

Today I will head back from the Island Phú Quốc to Hồ Chí Minh City (Saigon); from the serenity of calm and untouched beaches right into the centre of traffic madness. Saigon currently has approximately 7 – 10 million inhabitants and at least 3 million motorbikes. Since cars are mostly unaffordable for the locals and because it is said that Saigon’s streets are too narrow for cars, Saigon is rightly called ‘City of the Motorbikes’.

In most of the travel literature you are advised not to take part in the traffic driving a scooter yourself. If you want a close motorbike experience at all you should hire a motorbike taxi, put on one of the helmets provided (which are nothing more than mere eggshells) and let the taxi driver do the work.

I highly contradict. Driving a motorbike yourself through these jam-packed streets is the ultimate experience of being part of Saigon (and every where else in Vietnam). In my humble opinion you haven’t been in Saigon if you haven’t been in its traffic as an active driver. If you are there, be there. Be a part of your surroundings, do what works for the locals, don’t do stupid things. And, no, self-driving in Saigon is not stupid. As my friend Carsten at amberwiz always uses to say:

If it is stupid and it works, it ain’t stupid.

There are a lot of things to say about this traffic madness, a lot of things we can learn from it, and hence a lot of insights we can apply for our business. I will frequently come back to the traffic in Saigon to give you a hopefully useful perspective for your business.

Let’s start with an experience that I made myself when I first started driving around on my own. I got honked at quite a lot in the beginning. For a reason. Because in that crazy jumble I was the nuisance.

But since this letter from Vietnam is addressed to you this means…

You are a nuisance

Most people say that traffic in Saigon is chaos. Wrong. Very wrong. Here’s your first lesson:

Only because a system is different it’s not necessarily chaotic.

There is a system in Saigon’s traffic, but it is highly different from what we know from the West. When the traffic lights turn red nobody stops immediately. They keep on driving until the traffic density in the center of the crossing forbids to inject more motorists into it. When the traffic lights turn green, on the other hand, it is very wise not to speed into the crossing blindly. The traffic will still be dripping in for quite a while from the side roads.

After I observed the traffic at major street crossings for quite a while I associated the traffic with two or more fluids flowing into and through each other. Although there are heavy accidents on the highways in Vietnam (full speed frontal collisions) I have rarely seen two motorbikes touching each other here. And if it happens, drivers apology and don’t make a big fuzz about it.

Now it was time for me to be one of the droplets and to jump right into it. Got a bike, put on the eggshell, started driving, and became THE nuisance of Saigon immediately.

If we start doing something we disturb others

As soon we start doing something that interacts with this world we run into the danger of being a disturbance for others. That’s just the way it is. Unless you are sitting on a lonely beach (and even there you’ll squeeze and annoy jiggers) you are always interacting with your environment, i.e. other people.

The reason why I was such a fault in an otherwise perfectly running system was, that I wasn’t used to it. I was an inexperienced tourist trying to survive traffic. I braked where I shouldn’t and I accelerated when I mustn’t. In short: due to my inexperience and lack of certainty I was unpredictable for the system.

So here is the…

Lesson learnt

Be predictable.

Unless you want to surprise your surroundings (which obviously can be a good thing under certain circumstances) be predictable. If you want others to follow you instead of being confused by you, always let them know what you are going to do.

This becomes very evident when you try to make a left turn on a major intersection here in Vietnam. Don’t stop. Don’t try to speed through a gap. Instead slowly, but continuously forward into the direction you want to go. The others will know where you’re heading and find a way around you. But this only works if they exactly know where you are in the next second.

A good ice hockey player doesn’t shoot the puck to the place you are, but to the place you will be in the next second. Same with the traffic here. The “enemy” (i.e. the other drivers) don’t drive to where you are, they are driving towards the spot you will not be in the next second. This often gave me the feeling that they were aiming at me. But they don’t. They don’t aim at me, they aim at the position where I am currently in because it will be empty in the next second.

Uncomfortable as it feels, it’s kinda smart, right?

Application of the lesson learnt to your business

If you are part of a team and if you want to work with the team, let them know what you’re doing. Tell others about your plans so that they can support you and are not accidentally blocking your way. If you tell others what you are doing you are not blocking their development, too.

But be aware that you can be a nuisance when you first start doing things you are not used to so far. It doesn’t matter whether you try to run a marathon, start your new business, or give your first public speech – you will always feel uncomfortable. You will often have the feeling that others are shooting at you. But usually they don’t. They are simply following their own idea of a worthy course.

Time for me to get packed, move on and leave Phú Quốc behind me. I will drive to the Dương Đông airport by motorbike taxi, me and my backpack sitting behind the driver (much cheaper and faster than a regular taxi).

And when I am back in Saigon, driving a motorbike myself again, I will try to ease at the insight, that from the 3 million motorbikes in Saigon one million is right behind me, wondering where this weirdo’s heading.

Tạm biệt,
Herzlichst,  Ihr Dr. Thomas Rose

Letters from Vietnam (1): You will always get what you asked for!

Letters from Vietnam – Part 1

Or should it be: Lessons from Vietnam?

Observe, don’t judge

I am currently on a trip through Vietnam. Obviously the people here live very different lives from us westerners – be it behaviour, beliefs, lifestyle, traffic, philosophy… you name it! Although I travel to Asia quite a lot, many of my observations are new to me. Observing without judging is an ongoing challenge for everyone who is interested in personal growth, leadership skills, and self-responsibility. If you are willing to watch first and draw your conclusions second you will never be short of opportunities to become a better ‘you’.

Letters and Lessons from Vietnam

In the next couple of weeks I’ll write some articles about occurrences that happened to me or next to me. In each post I will tell you a little story and I will then draw one ore more conclusions that you can hopefully apply in your everyday business. May be you want to share your conclusions and learnings, too. Feel free to comment on this blog.

Be precise, don’t assume

And here is my first story for you.

I arrived in Ho-Chi-Minh-City (Saigon) a couple of days ago. I had made a two-night online reservation for a hotel from Germany already, because after a long flight I don’t like to run around for room-hunting with my backpack in a city that is unknown to me. The hotel was ok, but the rooms didn’t have individual safes and the hotel was not very clean. You can find pictures of the bedlinen on facebook. During my city strolls through Saigon I past the hotel Tuong Hung. I asked the owner to show me a room and I was very pleased to see, that the wardrobes had safes in them. We agreed on the price and the next day I moved in.

After I had taken over the room I was rather bewildered that in this room the wardrobe was not equipped with a safe – to have a safe of my own was one of the reasons why I moved to this hotel!

So I went to the owner and asked for clarification. She was very understanding and apologised and said I should go for a walk and when I will have returned everything would be to my full satisfaction.

So I went to visit the Palace of Reunification and came back after a couple of hours. In the lobby the owner’s daughter cheerfully smiled at me and nodded to let me know that everything was taken care of. She said to me: “You wanted a locker?” – “Yes, please.” I replied. Then she jumped behind the counter and reappeared with a safe in her hands, that she affectionately handed over to me.

I kid you not. It was a safe that is usually fixed to a wall inside a wardrobe now unrigged in my baffled hands. After my first confusion I had to laugh because the staff had perfectly fulfilled my demands.

Who’s stupid?

Lesson learnt: You will always get what you asked for!

They had perfectly fulfilled my request. I asked for a safe, they gave me a safe. What I really wanted – obviously! obviously? – was a room equipped with a fixed safe that can not be carried away by a hamster (or a drunken tourist for that matter, who is looking for sponsorship of his travel funds). But I didn’t say that and hence I have no right to complain.

Application of the lesson learnt to your business

Be very clear in your communication. If what you want is important for you, then make sure that everyone who is engaged with the delivery has an exact understanding of the demands. If you don’t get what you (thought you) asked for, then consult your service providers, suppliers or employees and let them explain what they understood. Their understanding certainly differed from yours.

As you see, once again, to be a good communicator you need to be a good thinker and a good listener, too.

Tạm biệt,
Herzlichst,  Ihr Dr. Thomas Rose