Wednesday , June 23 2021

SA chiefs! Here's a radical idea: be nice


  • In the midst of a crisis in corporate South Africa, there are reminders that sometimes there can be a big difference.
  • Here's a small way to make a positive impact.
  • You never know what ripening can be.

Comair joined the growing number of global airlines voluntarily grounding their Boeing 737-800 Max Fleet amid concerns about security after two similar accidents in six months, including that aircraft model. Comair had one of the planes in service. Another is due for delivery next week and another six are in order. But this is a sign of concern in an industry that survives consumer confidence.

In the middle of the crisis comes a temporary tale of how a touch of humility can go a long way to softening the crisis, and perhaps one day, even saving your bacon.

No matter how important it is to think you are right now.

Ten-year-old Australian Alex Jacques recently wrote a letter to Alan Joyce, executive director of the Australian airline Qantas, informing him of his plan to start an airline. He said he is in the early preparations for "Oceania Express" and has already appointed key managerial appointments from his top group. He added that he now moves to look at poor issues such as routes, catering and aircraft types.

"Please, take me seriously," the boy wrote in the children's scene.

"I want to work for my airline, looking at how it is a school holiday, I have more time to work, but I have nothing to do (what I can think of)." Do you have any ideas on what to do? "" Seeing how you are CEO of QANTAS, I thought I would ask you. "

He continued to seek advice on how to manage emergency distances from Australia in its major markets, including the UK, showing real insights into the complexity of intercontinental flight management.

It would be very easy and reasonable for the CEO to ignore the child, perhaps sending him a Qantas rocket model and a letter from the PR department that he wished well in his future efforts.

But that's not what Joyce did.

Joyce did what the boy asked him. He treated him seriously while entertaining playfully in a way that the child could appreciate only in the years to come.

He began by calling the child as "Mr. Jacques," informing him that he is not in the habit of giving advice to competitors, but in a profoundly human moment in the corporate world suffocated by formality, process and compliance added: "I, too, was a young boy who was curious about the flight and his possibilities. "He invited the boy to a meeting to find out more about the complexity of passenger management during a 25-hour routing from the east from Australia to the UK.

It's a PR move. It's clear.

Qantas announced the correspondence in the hope of getting sublime critics like this one. But that's more than that. It's a miracle and they do not rule out the dreams of young people just because they are young.

Perhaps Alan Joyce gets 100 of these types of letters annually, and maybe his support staff will answer them all.

But this was somehow different. This was Joyce's reaction to a child who apparently has a fascination and understanding of some of the basics of air transport.

When was the last time you agreed to a meeting with someone you do not know, who simply needs help, a touch of motivation or a kind word? When the last time you even answered e-mail from someone who asked you for advice. When was the last time you came close to someone for unwanted respect and gave them a wrong conversation because you heard that they could make some motivation?

Nearly 40 years after I received a handwritten letter from Gary Pleyer, expressing his sympathy to me for my mother's death, I was looking for him in Sant'Antonio during the Nedbankovo ​​golf challenge to thank him.

He did not recall that particular letter, now in a box of treasures in the Country Cherry Hills Country Club envelope. In 1978, the player topped his golf skills, but still took time to say that he heard that my mother died and offered a few words of inspiration and comfort. He should not have done it. But he made and made a huge impact on the life of a child whose world was ruined.

So often as adults we are so caught up in our daily self-imposed and busy we do not look at things that make a fundamental difference in the lives of others. Sometimes even they can translate to benefits that we could never imagine.

Raymond Ackermann tells the story of how when he ran the "Catchers for the Greatermans Group" in the 1960s, he received a call one day from a young entrepreneur from Cape Town, Jack Goldin.

Goldin informed Ackerman from Johannesburg that he was the founder of a small grocery chain in Cape Town called Pick n Pay and was inspired by the American-style supermarket.

Akkerman himself implemented a new business model in South Africa motivated by what he saw on US trips, where grocers allowed buyers to help themselves with shelves and pay for exit. Profit margins were tight, but the volume of goods sold was high.

He presented this model in about 80 stores that he led on behalf of the retail group, which primarily made their money from selling clothes. Akerman's lawyers simply failed to do so and was instructed to increase the margins. His refusal will eventually be fired.

Ackerman agreed to meet with Goldin, and on the day of the meeting, the head of "Checkers" instructed the secretary to clean up his diary so that he could meet with the young entrepreneur at the airport itself.

"The meeting changed my life".

"The fact that I went to meet him and showed him around, meant that when Jack was ready to sell and heard that I was fired, he first approached me to buy Pick n Pay. The lesson I learned that day was never too great for your boots. I met him, and that changed, "says Ackerman.

Sometimes a nice word or some serious treatment will be paid.

Most of the time you will not feel the benefits, but someone else may pay for it.

It's worth it to go.

Bruce Whitfield is a multi-platform award-winning financial journalist and broadcaster.

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