Lest we forget …

April 5, 2009

 

Lest we Forget …

Mike Monsoor, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for jumping on a grenade in Iraq, giving his life to save his fellow Seals. 

During Mike Monsoor’s funeral in San Diego , as his coffin was being moved from the hearse to the grave site at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery , SEAL’s were lined up on both sides of the pallbearers route forming  a column of two’s, with the coffin moving up the center.  As Mike’s coffin passed, each SEAL, having removed his gold Trident from his uniform, slapped it down embedding the Trident in the wooden coffin.  By the time the coffin arrived graveside, it looked as though it had a gold inlay from all the Tridents pinned to it. This was a fitting send-off for this warrior hero.

Mike’s story was emailed to me by a friend from my law enforcement days.  He is now serving in Iraq, training Iraqi police.  He sent it because he wanted to know why this story was not on the front page of every newspaper in America.  Those who serve in harm’s way … like Mike Monsoor, sometimes get called to move beyond service and, in a split second,  make the ultimate sacrifice.  Mike answered that call and deserves our highest recognition and gratitude for doing so.  I, in no way want to diminish the huge act of heroism of Mike Monsoor.  I do want to recognize that there are many like Mike Monsoor who risk their lives every day so that we may enjoy the peace and the freedoms that we do.  They serve in the military, in law enforcement and other public safety services.

Long before I was in law enforcement, police officers began receiving “shoot, don’t shoot” training.  The cop must decide in a split second whether the target presented is a threat and whether or not to eliminate the threat with deadly force.  Because you never shoot to wound, in a split second you must decide whether to take the life of another.  As you probably suspect, when I a police officer in San Rafael I had to know that I could make this “shoot, don’t shoot” decision quickly.  As you would imagine, I already knew that, if need be, I could take a life to stop the imminent threat of serious harm to another or to me.  Now here’s the part you probably don’t know.  When every cop, fireman or soldier serving you puts on that uniform, each has already decided to put his or her self in harm’s way for this way of life that we enjoy; for you, for their families, and for the colleagues with whom they serve.  Just last week Oakland P.D. Officers Mark Dunakin, John Hege, Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai were laid to rest after put themselves in harm’s way to protect.  This week we lost three more in Pittsburgh.

You might wonder why I decided to include this story about a Navy Petty Officer in this blog of observations about balance, business and life.  The answer is simple.  I took Mike Monsoor, his fellow warriors, every police officer, sheriff’s deputy and fire fighter for granted.  I did it every day … and I’m betting that if you haven’t served, you did too.  It’s time I stopped taking them for granted and said “thank you.”  Neither Petty Officer Moonsoor, nor Officers Dunakin, Hege, Romans and Sakai will ever know what I’m about to say.  But I know that others who are there, protecting us and our way of life will. 

To those in uniform who serve: Thank you for serving; thank you for protecting me, the freedoms I enjoy, and the American way of life.  Thank you for keeping me, my kids and grandkids safe and out of harm’s way.  Above all, thank you for already having made the decision that, if called upon, you too are prepared to step in harm’s way. 

One last thing for the rest of you who are reading this … the next time you see a cop or firefighter doing his or her job, if you make eye contact, try smiling, try lifting your hand off the wheel as though you’re waving to a friend, maybe even mouth the words, “thank you.”  And in the airport, if a service member is travelling to or from their duty station, at the very least, a look at his or her name tag; and then a “thanks for serving Petty Officer Monsoor” would be a nice gesture.  It may be your  last opportunity to show your gratitude.

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 http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/m/moonsor.htm

The Moving Funeral of Petty Officer Mike Monsoor-Truth!

Summary of the eRumor:  
The eRumor describes the funeral of Navy petty officer Mike Monsoor, who lost is own life in Iraq to save the lives of other Navy SEALs.  At his funeral in San Diego, California, SEALs lined up on both sides of the route of the pallbearers and loudly slapped gold tridents from their uniforms on the wooden casket as a tribute to their fallen comrade.
The Truth:  
The story is true and, despite the comment about not being reported by the media, was given coverage by several news outlets across the U.S. including Fox news.Monsoor was killed in Iraq in 2006 and was awarded the Medal of Honor in April.  His funeral took place in July, 2008 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.Other Navy SEALs lined the procession and placed the tridents from their uniforms on the casket.  The trident is a U.S. Navy special warfare badge worn by SEALs.  It represents the three aspects of SEAL special operations, sea, air, and land.

He died after throwing himself on a grenade to prevent it from killing others whom he had been assigned to protect on a rooftop.

 

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to bring balance back to their lives and take their business to the next level.  Find out more about Mike and his business at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com 

 

Copyright © 2009-2010 by Michael Stockwell

All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, or digital, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system or search, without permission in writing from the author.  

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Well, the results of my last blog are in … I was contacted by many of you who were pleased that I was able to effect the termination of the CEO of that dastardly organization I mentioned in my last writing.  (Would that I were that influential !!)  My sister-in-law, Viki, noted that the CEO “really got his comeuppance.”  I couldn’t help but think that his leaving with a $23 Million golden parachute was a pretty cushy comeuppance. 

One terrific result of the last edition is it allowed me to reconnect with many friends and colleagues who I had not talked with for as much as 25 years.  It’s amazing how disconnected we get from people we care about, or those who were an important part of our lives for a significant period of time.  I heard from one friend, Barb, who I’ve known for every day of my 55+ years.  Another, Jerry, retired from SRPD and now lives in Napa and is working as a security consultant for a software company he affectionately refers to as “Lo-jack for laptops.” (Absolute Software Corp.)  Hey Jerry, why hasn’t everybody heard of “Lo-jack for Laptops?”  It’s a catchy phrase capitalizing on a bit of alliteration; everyone should know instantly what the product is about.  Come to think of it, maybe everyone does know about it and I’m the only one that’s clueless!

We all know about the elevator pitch right? … the essence of your business articulated in 15 to 20 seconds, purportedly the time it takes to ride the elevator to your destination.  In grad school, UC Irvine had very slow elevators, resulting in much longer pitches.  (You know the pitch where you’re sorry you asked and you wished that your office was on the 2nd floor; or that you had taken the stairs!)  I think Absolute Software Corp. now holds the world record for the shortest elevator pitch.  I tried to say it and time myself at the same time.  My tongue and eyes don’t work well at the same time (I stumbled and couldn’t even focus on the stop watch) but I think it was under two seconds.  As we move to smaller, lighter more portable technology, I’m thinking that Lo-jack for Laptops is a product whose time has arrived. 

So this begs the question.  Do you have your “elevator pitch” down pat?  Is it 15-20 seconds? Does it roll off your tongue without even having to think about it?  Do most or all of your employees know it? 

If the answer is “No” to any of the above questions, please put it near the top of your Things to Do list.  Those of you who are my consulting clients (yes … you know who you are) expect that I will be asking about this during our next conversation.

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to bring balance back to their lives and take their business to the next level.  Find out more about Mike and his business at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com

 

Copyright © 2009-2010 by Michael Stockwell

All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, or digital, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system or search, without permission in writing from the author.

It won’t be often that you find me whining about something that happened to me.  Fortunately for you, today is no exception.  However, I will share that the last 6 days have been less than stellar in terms of things going right.  So you don’t think this is going to end up as simply a litany of complaints or simply a “bitch session,” know that the ultimate lesson here has to  do with customer service and its ultimate effect on customer retention.

That I’m writing this entry while in Panama is germane because the last 6 days has been all about moving from Hawaii back to the mainland.  In the course of preparing for the move Johanna (for those of you who don’t know Johanna, she has been my indispensible “right hand” for almost two years.) and I completed the packing and shipping of everything.  Johanna obtained quotes and we went with the “low bid” relocation company.  That’s another story not for today.  But the relocation company neglected to tell us that we needed a lien holder’s authorization to ship the car from Hawaii to California.

When I learned of this early last Friday morning, I got right on the phone and took care of it with my vehicle lessor, GMAC … or so I thought.  I was assured that I would receive the necessary authorization Friday night or, at the very latest, Monday.  Monday noon arrived and passed with no authorization.  My next call to GMAC provided yet more reinforcement of the importance of customer service in retention of good and faithful customers.  This time I was told that they could not provide the requisite authorization because I failed to provide the required proof of Shipboard Insurance coverage.   I won’t bore you with the myriad reasons I presented to this poor Philippina why GMAC was going to be responsible for my car not make its shipboard debut.  Instead I’ll tell you that she apologized and said the she could do nothing to resolve the matter. 

Of course, being my mother’s son I insisted on talking with her supervisor, who she insisted was also powerless.  So on the way to her supervisor I got routed to Muzac hell … for 20 minutes!  Needless to say I was not happy.   But then I met Alyson Kitaoka, my angel at AAA Hawaii.  I explained to her my dilemma and she smiled and said “No problem Mr. Stockwell (hey that’s my Dad’s name … not me!) I’ll take care of this in 5 minutes.  Sure enough, within 5 minutes Alyson had faxed a copy of the pertinent page from my policy along with instructions to please issue the lien holder’s authorization to GMAC and copied me.  Problem solved!  … Not so fast buster; GMAC wanted one more crack at providing lousy customer service.

When I was selling life insurance for Mass Mutual, some of my colleagues (never me) referred to the underwriters (the men and women rating the risk on each life insured) as the “sales prevention department.”  It seems that General Motors has their very own Sales Prevention Department right there in what GMAC calls “Customer Service.”  If you don’t believe me, call (800) 200-4622.  Serena (her name is changed here to protect her from my relatives) there at GMAC decided that she didn’t like the format in which AAA provides Proof of Insurance to a lien holder.  So she derailed the issue of the lien holder’s authorization until AAA got it right.  Never fear … I have Alyson on my side!  Alyson even apologized for what was occurring, even though she had no responsibility.  She then apologized and said that it might take longer than 5 minutes this time because underwriting had to provide a copy of the “Dec” (short for declaration page – the front page of your policy with names, dates, amounts, loss payees, etc.).  I’m sure underwriting at AAA is not a Sales Prevention Department because 20 minutes later Alyson had faxed the “Dec” page to Serena at GMAC along with a polite recommendation that GMAC issue the required letter of authorization immediately.  I guess even GMAC thought they had done enough damage at that point.  I got the letter the following day.

Since it’s possible that only people who are really close to me are reading this blog, I’ll address this learning to my two kids, Jenn and Isaac, both of whom are in responsible leadership positions at firms who recognize the importance of exceptional customer service. 

  • AAA Insurance: YES!
  •  GMAC Financing: NO! 
  • Alyson Kitaoka: Priceless J

If I can get anyone at GM or GMAC to read this please take note:  There is nothing particularly special about your car, its price or performance that makes me want to drive another one.  Your finance and leasing arm, GMAC lost a fairly good customer for you.  I wonder how often that’s occurred before?  I’m betting at least once or twice … per day.  Let’s see … two per day, at 365 days per year, at roughly $30K per car, multiplied by maybe 6 car purchases in an adult lifetime … hmmm;

·         2 incidents times 365 days = 730 lost customers

·         730 lost customers x $30,000 per car = $21,900,000 lost revenues at next customer purchase

·         6 purchases per adult lifetime x $21,900,000 lost revenues per purchase = $131,400,000

That comes out to over $131 Million in lost revenues because your Customer Service representatives are not empowered, or incented, or expected to provide customer service. 

I feel better already!

 Wait!  Hasn’t GM just asked me as a taxpayer for money to bail them out? Aren’t they supposed to figure out how to fix what’s broken before they get the money?  Okay, let’s think about this.  Hell!  I don’t have to think about this one at all.  Maybe we should just let the markets work … you know … reward excellent performance … don’t reward lousy performance?  Hmmmm. 

Dear Mr. Obama ……

 

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to bring balance back to their lives and take their business to the next level.  Find out more about Mike and his business at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com

 

Copyright © 2009-2010 by Michael Stockwell

All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, or digital, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system or search, without permission in writing from the author.

Hello world!

March 19, 2009

Hmmmm … my first blog.

Wait! I’m 55 years old … what am I doing here?!   I know what I’m doing here … experiencing writer’s block, first hand! … kidding.

I have plenty to say … REFLECTIONS will be my venue. Though it will be linked to my business site and others, please don’t expect it to simply address business topics. Life’s too short … and too rich … and too important … and filled with so many experiences, people, opportunities, expectations, disappointments and stuff that to limit my voice to just one topic would be … well, not good. And while we’re on the topic of expectations, disappointments and rules, and in my inimitable style for laying the groundwork early, let’s establish a few rules here.

  1. There are no rules
  2. I will post when I please and about what I please. This is Musings 101 and it’s for fun!
  3. If anyone takes anything I say here too seriously … shame on you!
  4. If you expect something from me on a particular schedule … shame on you!

I am here to write, to give voice to my thoughts (and electrons to my voice), to share a funny story, an interesting observation, thoughts on an event, opinions about something good, bad, happy or sad. I hope that through sharing I can plant a seed, cause you to crack a smile, disturb you, knock you back on your heels, motivate you to think about something you may not have considered, or simply give you an chance to look at something in a slightly different way. Perhaps what I write will make both of us smile. That would be good. That would be enough.

Let’s get started … shall we?

Mike Stockwell writes this blog for his clients, friends and frankly, for his own entertainment.  Mike is the founder of The Pacific Group – Business Advisory Services and works with owners and executives small and mid-size businesses in California and Hawaii, helping them to bring balance back to their lives and take their business to the next level.  Find out more about Mike and his business at: www.TPG-BAS.com and contact him at Mike@TPG-BAS.com 

 

Copyright © 2009-2010 by Michael Stockwell

All rights reserved.  No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, or digital, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system or search, without permission in writing from the author.