Some of you may have heard of Tim Sanders. He was the Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo! from 2001–2003, before that he ran an in-house think-tank for Yahoo! Lately he’s been serving as the Leadership Coach there, while also hitting the leadership conference tour, and authoring a couple books along the way. His two main messages appear to be learning to love (in business), and learning how to be likeable. Conference attendees say his message is life-changing.
His first book, Love Is the Killer App, was a slender 214-page tome—that started out much larger. He cut 140,000 words from the first draft (my kind of guy … write long, cut short!), and the nut of his first book is: “become a lovecat.” In a dog-eat-dog world, Sanders says, be a cat.
A few years ago Sanders began telling the story of a manager whose life was changed by hearing his lovecat message over the radio. Below I’ve reproduced an email Sanders sent out prior to the publication of his first book. Some of you may have heard this story. I hadn’t, and when my wife pointed it out to me, I had to share it here.
“[T]he quality information in the world and the real knowledge in the world exists in the pages of books, not magazines, newspapers or Web sites. And, fundamentally, … the diet for a business person–or an intelligent person–should be 80 per cent books and 20 per cent others. And … if they fix their diet they understand cause and effect in a more profound way.” —Tim Sanders
Many of you joined this newsletter group after hearing me speak at a conference or company meeting. Many of you have heard the X-Box story before, yet many on this list have not. Sometimes a story comes along in your life that cannot wait for the pages of my next book. This is one of them. Please forward this story to anyone you know that needs to hear it.
In my book I advocate that managers and supervisors take time to tell their people why they admire them and how they feel about them. I think it is cruel that we tell everybody they are mediocre these days. It is a function of a weak economy and rising layoffs.
In a radio interview earlier this year in Seattle, I talked about how some people were managing their people over email and instant messenger—never seeing them face-to-face. After the show, I received an email from a young manager named Steve at a software company who admitted he had not seen his reports face-to-face in over six months. This was unusual because they worked in the same building, on the same floor.
In his email, he told me that he would personally visit all six of his people and tell them one great thing about their work. A month later I received another email from him with the subject line “X-Box story.” Like he promised, Steve went to all six of his people and told them why he appreciated them, and one thing they do wonderfully. One of his software engineers, Lenny, came in the next day and presented him with a badly wrapped (but well intended) gift: an X-Box gaming console.
Steve wondered how Lenny could afford such an extravagant gift, given his pay cuts over the last year. He asked Lenny, “where did you get the money for such a great gift?”
Lenny looked him straight in the eye and said “I sold my nine millimeter pistol, boss.”
This got the attention and focus of Steve, I bet it would get your attention too!
Lenny continued, “You never asked, so I never told you. I moved here from Denver last year after my mom died. She was my best and only friend. I never made friends here, either at work or in my apartment building. After three months I got totally depressed. I went to a pawnshop and bought a beautiful chrome-plated pistol and a handful of bullets. I started a routine every night after work of eating a bowl of ramen, listening to Nirvana and getting the gun out. It took almost a month to get the courage to put the bullets in the gun. It took another couple of months to get used to the feeling of the barrel of the gun on the top of my teeth. For the last few weeks I was putting ever so slight pressure on the trigger and I was getting so close Steve, so close. Then last week you freaked me out. You came into my cubicle, put your arm around me and told me you appreciated me because I turn in all of my projects early and that helps you sleep at night. Remember? You also said that I have a great sense of humor over email and that you are glad I came into your life.
“That night I went home and ate ramen and listened to Nirvana and when I got the gun out it scared me silly for the first time. All I could think about was what you said, that you were glad I came into your life.
“The next day I went back to the pawnshop and sold the gun. I remembered that you wanted the X Box game worse than anything, but with a new baby at home you could not afford it. So, for my life, you get this game. Thanks, boss.”
Sometimes people just need people. They need encouragement. You have no idea how lonely and sad some people might be. Love them everywhere, not just at home but at work or wherever you find them. Love is the killer app, never forget it.
Sometimes people outside the church mainstream have a lot to say about the core tenants of our gospel—without ever preaching a single text.
- Props to: Naveen Bachwani’s blog: Uncommon Wisdom, “The XBox Story”
- January Magazine: Interview | Tim Sanders
- Fast Company: Love Is the Killer App
- Tim Sanders Official Website
- Love Is the Killer App: The Tim Sanders Newsletter Group
[tags]BlogRodent, business, Tim-Sanders, Love-is-the-Killer-App, The-Likeability-Factor, sermon-illustration, anecdote, love, compassion, leadership, management, relationships[/tags]