08/11/20 | Customer Experience



As a young boy, I spent about as much time at my grandparents’ home a quarter mile away as I did at my own. We lived in the country and a rural highway separated our houses. Sometimes, I stayed with my granddaddy after sundown and had to walk home in the dark. As a six-year old with an imagination as big as Texas, it was very scary. I remember asking my granddaddy to drive me home in his truck. But he had a bigger lesson in mind.

“You are a big boy now and the road home during the daytime is no different than the road home at night. You like looking at the stars and they like looking at you. They are always up there for you, even if the clouds cover them sometimes. The fields on both sides of the highway from here to your house have lots of your dad’s cows and you know they’re not going to let anything happen to you.” These were all words of encouragement that let me know he cared about me.

But he also taught me to whistle through my teeth. “I am going to teach you how to call Pal just exactly like I do,” he told me. Pal was my grandparent’s half German Shepard-half collie dog who slept on their open-air side porch. All the grandchildren loved Pal; some of us had watched her kill a rattlesnake in my grandparents’ backyard. I spent hours perfecting that shrill whistle that could be heard for a mile. One night, walking home after dark scared half to death, I gave it a try. Sure enough, within minutes I felt Pal’s furry body brush against my leg. I was never scared after that.

Customers and employees today are sometimes scared to tell us what they think. Ask a customer, “How was your meal?” and you are more likely to get “fine,” than the whole truth. Ask employees for their best ideas, and you might get safe answers if you get answers at all. But there is a tool for changing all of that. Courageous Cultures by Karin Hurt and David Dye is a brand-new book full of “how to whistle” ideas and “don’t forget the stars and cows” encouragement. It is written for all of us who are sometimes fearful of walking home in the dark.

We all admire people whose influence lies in their ability to effectively speak up and influence without starting a war or engaging in a career-limiting incident. It is a capacity important to the success of any organization. Without employee candor, leaders can make dreadful mistakes. Without honest customer feedback, organizations also make errors that adversely impact their reputation and bottom line. Order your copy of Courageous Cultures today and start speaking up. By the way, when you walk home in the dark without fear, you will be amazed at the cool sounds you will hear.