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Delivering What We Promise

We’ve all had many people who believe in us along the way.  Think today about someone who was instrumental in your career, then thank them for their generosity.

By way of Anita Bruzzese and Robert Hruzek, today I’m sending my thanks to Vicki Oakley, a former boss I lost touch with years ago.

I had lots of enthusiasm but not much experience when she decided she’d take a chance on me as an assistant buyer.  She taught me how to merchandise the sales floor, write ad copy, schmooze with the vendors, and figure out exactly what consumers wanted.  Our dress and coat department in the basement of The Emporium in San Francisco wasn’t exactly Nordstrom.  The floors were green and yellow vinyl tile, the lights glared fluorescent and the sales ladies’ elbows were so sharp they could cut you.

When Vicki was promoted to an upstairs buying spot, she brought me along with her as an assistant.  It was in that job that she taught me one of the biggest lessons I’ve ever learned in business.

We had a particular item on ad.  The rules were that advertised merchandise had to be in store and available when the ad went public.  Two days before the ad, the vendor called us and said, “My guys made a mistake.  Those dresses won’t be there on time.”  Vicki told him to air them to the central UPS facility in San Francisco – we’d take care of the rest.

At the time, The Big E had 12 stores around the San Francisco Bay Area.  They were as far north as Santa Rosa and the southernmost store was in Salinas.  She asked me if I could meet her at UPS the morning of the ad at 5:00 a.m.  When I got there, the dresses were loaded in the back of my truck and we began an all-day journey, driving in a circular pattern to the north, then to Oakland and south, then finally to the peninsula.

I learned that day what it meant to stand by a promise made to a customer.  There’s an old cliche about ‘going the extra mile.’  Vicki showed me what integrity meant when serving people – I still live by and am grateful for the many lessons I learned under her mentorship.

And those dresses?  They sold like crazy!



4 thoughts on “Delivering What We Promise

  1. Thanks, Robert….I appreciate your kind inclusion in the rodeo!

    Posted by mkeeffer | December 8, 2008, 1:54 pm
  2. Hi mkeeffer

    How generous a mentor can be I’ve been very fortunate to experience too. Their willingness to take you under their wing is unbelievable and the only way you can ‘pay them back’ is to honour their lessons by living it 😉

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

    Posted by Karin H | December 10, 2008, 6:47 am
  3. Yes, you really get it Karin! Thanks for your comment!

    Posted by mkeeffer | December 10, 2008, 9:33 am


  1. Pingback: Middle Zone Musings » All Entries: What I Learned From the Generosity of Others - December 8, 2008

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