There have been many times, however, in hindsight that someone’s advice, had it been taken, should have been a bright light moment for me. Perhaps it was timing (and/or immaturity) that prevented those wise words to soak in, but somehow Tuesday was different.
Maybe it was the two tacos, burrito, and quesadilla that I had for lunch prior to this work meeting that provided the perfect amount of clarity I needed. The fact that said lunch was provided for free by my employer could’ve helped too. Never underestimate the power of free food.
I do know that I am a visual learner, so when you plan on teaching me something, bring props or pictures to spell out your lesson, and apparently money helps too. It sounds ridiculous, but by holding a twenty-dollar bill during our company meeting, the words that were spoken to me translated immediately.
We have monthly Lunch & Learn meetings at PRIER, and Tuesday’s topic was our company’s mission statement. Sounds boring, right? Sorry, Nick (President of PRIER Products), it does. That meeting was anything but boring. As he began to recite the first line of the mission statement, he paused and asked us to fill in the blank. With as much excitement that could be mustered, someone gave the correct response, and to their surprise, was handed $20.
Nick continued to go through the mission asking the group what each section meant to the company. By the end of it, about half of the group had acquired a twenty-dollar bill, so he went around to make sure everyone had one and then asked us to hold them up.
“How much is this worth?” he asked.
If you were shown a twenty-dollar bill and asked what it is was worth, how many different answers could you come up with? This is not a trick question, by the way. Everyone knows it’s worth exactly $20.
“How do you know it’s worth $20?”
Because it says $20 on it? Because the government says that’s what it’s worth (laughable, I know).
“What if I crinkle it up in my hand? What if I step on it? What if I tear it in half? It’s still twenty dollars, isn’t it?”
As he rips a twenty right down the center a few people can be heard, clearly in distress, saying things like, “OH NO!! WHY WOULD HE DO THAT?” and “WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM?” but my mind was wondering, what is this really about? Is he going to ask us all to rip the twenty-dollar bills in half that he just gave us?? Please don’t make me do that, Nick.
“This twenty-dollar bill represents you and it represents me. Each one of us is worth the same. We are equals in this company - no matter how many times we’ve been torn in half, stepped on, or crumpled up in life…and I know that because my God tells us so.”
Hold up. That’s a big statement – and so is our mission, which directly states that all of our business’ objectives are considered a failure, first and foremost, if we don’t operate under the will of God. Which means that each of us has the responsibility to treat others as we wish to be treated, or as some call it, the Golden Rule.
He goes on to explain that PRIER’s mission is what has fueled our success from meager earnings back in the early days to where we are now – a leading manufacturer in our industry, growing steadily each year. Our mission statement is not just a paragraph written to fill space on our website, it’s what separates us from the pack, and continues to propel us forward.
I know that Nick’s words aren’t necessarily profound, but what makes his words special is that we are hearing it at work. Never in my professional career have I been told by leadership that we are all equals and that we operate under the will of God. This is a brave way to do business, and in my experience, strong opinions and positions taken on ethics are avoided at all costs in work environments.
If he didn’t already have everyone’s attention yet, he sure does now. We came into this meeting with very low expectations, hoping we could get through it quickly and head back to work. Now we all are $20 richer and that much wiser, and it all happened in just a few minutes.
At the conclusion of Nick’s demonstration, a robust round of applause erupts from the group and there are more smiles in the room than ever before. It was the pep talk we needed – at the height of busy season – but more than that, it was the message that must be communicated to ensure that when we do get back to our work, we know exactly why we’re doing it.