The Difference Between Greatness and Not-So-Greatness

January 25, 2011

If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission, on Flickr by billsoPHOTO I received a call this afternoon from my bank, and no, something wasn’t wrong with our accounts. I hadn’t overdrawn or not paid a bill or been the victim of identify theft. Nope, our banker called to say hello. Actually, it was more like, “Hey Annie! How are you? How are things? Everything going swimmingly?”

I’m going to get all dramatic on you and pause here for a moment.

Our banker called.
For no reason.
Other than to say Hey.

Our banker called for no other reason than to say Hey.

Holy crap.

Our Story

A couple months ago Nate and I made call after call and had meeting after meeting with mortgage folks and bankers all over the metro area looking for someone that would work with us and our real estate investment goals. When we finally found a banker who actually considered it an honor to have our business (gasp), and who was willing to be creative to help us accomplish what we wanted, we were overjoyed.

Several meetings in, we felt like we finally had a banker on our team. If I asked you, “Hey, who’s your banker?” would you be able to answer with an actual name like John Smith or Jane Jones? Or would all you’d have to answer with be something generic like Bank X or Bank Y?

Before, we were squarely in the latter camp. Even with multiple accounts, a credit card or two, personal stuff, business stuff, and many years of business. All we had to answer with was “Bank X.”

Now, we have a name. We have someone on our side. And in a matter of a few weeks he earned thousands and thousands of dollars worth of our business because of what he was willing to do.

A slight edge is all it takes

A week or so into working out the financing options for our investment property, Nate and I looked at each other and wondered why the heck we still had all of our other accounts with faceless Bank X. So we switched. Not only did Mr Bankerman receive our business for the investment moola, but opened new accounts to take care of all of our personal and business banking.

All of it. As in, every.single.account. It wasn’t millions of dollars by any stretch of the imagination, but it was more than a couple hundred bucks worth of business.

On a side note, boy oh boy was it fun to walk into Bank X one Saturday morning and request cashier’s checks for the entire balances of every single one of our accounts. Wua ha ha ha haaaa. You should have seen their faces!

It’s easy to do, it’s easy not to do

Wonderful Bankerman received all of our business in the first place because he fought for us. He treated us like we were the paying customers that we were, and made us feel important. In 8 years Bank X had never made us feel that way.

My point here is, it wasn’t difficult for him to make us feel that way. It wasn’t difficult for him to earn every penny of our banking lives. Respect, kind words, a listening ear, a care for prompt and honest communication, a couple extra minutes of his time here or there.

I’m not discounting all that he has done for us, I’m just saying that nothing he did to stand out was hard to do. The things he did were easy to do, but they were also easy not to do. (That’s a quote from someone, I think?)

A few small, extra steps. That’s all it took for him to stand leaps and bounds above the competition.

That’s all it took to earn all of our business.

Decide to

In your life, in your business, are you taking the (often teeny tiny) extra step to raise above the rest? It’s not the big steps that lead to success. It’s the tiny ones, added up over time, that make the most difference.

Give yourself the edge, it’s so much easier to do than you think.

Our banker earned our business a few months ago because of the little things. He called today as an unnecessary but welcomed and appreciated and respected follow up, and will have all of our business going forward. His call was a little thing. We chatted for what felt like a good while; I looked at the phone as I hung up and it said 4:58.

Five minutes. That’s it. Wow, is the power in the little things.

Go above and beyond

Know that you can win big with a fantastic focus on the little things.

Know that you can win big with a dedication to just taking a little step further than everyone else.

Because it’s easy to do. And because you know it’s also easy for everyone else not to do.

Don’t worry about being #1 on the bestseller list or landing the biggest-of-the-big-fish account. Focus on finishing the manuscript. Focus on ways to make a difference to the medium or small accounts that deserve your business just as much, if not more.

Apply the same thing personally, if you’d like. Don’t worry about your goal to loose 100 lbs. or run 26.2 miles or read 52 books this year. Focus on eating healthy for dinner tonight. Focus on dedicating yourself to your workout tomorrow morning. Focus on getting to chapter 2 of the first book on the list.

Little things make all the difference. And compounded over time, they make a world of difference.

Your thoughts

This was my most recent experience of being on the receiving end of the slight edge. Of someone or something making a huge difference to us by simply doing the small things no one else was willing to do.

What about you, what experiences have you had? What do you think you could do in your business or your life to take the extra step, to stand out above the crowd?

Do you think the difference between great businesses – and great people – really comes down to the little things? Share your thoughts below.


Oh, and…thanks. I appreciate you. I appreciate you reading, I appreciate you commenting, and I appreciate you sending me the wonderful emails you do. I want to take the extra step for you, because you’re worth it to me.

Easy to do, easy not to do.

If there’s anything I can do to help or support you, let me know. Ok, NOW you can share your thoughts below. :)


(P.S. Email me at annie AT anniesorensen DOT com if you’d like the name and contact information of our banker. The more people I can send his way, the better. He deserves it.)

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