The Gift Of Giving

the gift of giving, robert rose, the content advisory

In this weekend of American Thanksgiving, I hope you all are spending time with your families.

As I was traveling home from London recently, I had an unusual experience on an airplane. As my fellow passengers and I were waiting for the flight to take off, we heard the usual dings, dongs, and announcements. And then the pilot came walking down the aisle, introducing himself to everyone. Everyone.

When he got to the business-travel veteran in seat 3C, he made a joke about commuting 3,000 miles. When he got to the nervous woman in seat 10A, he reassured her that the flight would stabilize after we took off. When he got to the family with the crying toddler, he offered some baby talk, some comforting words, and a piece of candy.

Every member of the crew had the same attitude. They were all nicer than your average flight crew.

When the captain passed my seat on his way back to the cockpit, I stopped him and asked whether he does this on every flight and why. He said, “You know, people will hate our company or love it based on a lot of things. My crew and I play such a tiny part that it would be easy to do less. Nobody would notice. But we do what we do anyway. I’m a lot happier if my crew, my passengers, and I all have a great experience. It makes the job better.” 

His outlook put me in mind of my grandfather, who used to ask me, “What experience did you create for someone today?” He understood that when you create a positive experience for another person, you get that experience as well.

This captain and his crew were a living testament to that idea. They weren’t asking passengers to fill out a comment card. They weren’t trying to raise the company’s net-promoter score. They were simply creating the best experience they could for others, and so creating a better experience for themselves.

This lesson applies to content practitioners, especially those who work in larger companies. It may feel at times that the content we create is a drop in the ocean of the overall customer experience. No matter what we do, our company will probably get some great ratings and some not-so-great ratings, averaging out to somewhere in the middle.

Still, we always have a choice. We can do our job by the book, resigned to the notion that any experience we create has a minuscule effect. Or we can commit to creating remarkable experiences, one after the other.

What remarkable experiences have you created today?

It’s your story. Tell it well.

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