Dog Walker, Sanitizer Lady, and the Sweeper

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

You might be wondering about this very odd headline and might even feel I have lost it after writing continuously for the last 14 months. I assure you I have not lost it yet but there is an insight that I would like to get across.

Let me start with the example of the Sanitizer Lady who we met on our Alaska cruise in 2013. Her role on the cruise “Norwegian Pearl” was the following. She had to spray hand sanitizer on every visitor who enters the dining area. That is, it. She had to just spray hand sanitizer for several hours every day. This was to be done day after day, month after month and so on. Most people would think of it as one of the most boring jobs (if not the most), but this is not how Anne saw it.

While others were going about just doing their work, Anne changed the way this was done and turned it into an experience. She had a smile on her face, her eyes would light up and she would say “Washy Washy, Wishy Wishy” to everyone who would enter the dining area. The best part was that she did not fake it and people could see the genuineness and warmth in her greetings. She managed to strike a chord and conversation with many while most others were just doing it like a job (most had a smile, but it was nothing special). Here comes the best part.

On the second last day of the cruise, the entire crew including the Captain, Senior Members of the Team to the last crew member comes on stage (in the cruise theatre room) and thank the tourists for being a part of their journey. While the Captain and some of the Senior Executives speak, most smile, bow or wave at you and pass. The audience claps at the Captain including all the team as they pass. When Anne (who was a very junior team member) was passing by, everyone in the crowd stood up for her and gave her a standing ovation. They clapped and clapped for literally minutes and the crew could not help but let her be on stage (for a longer period of time) till people sat down. Clearly, she was the most popular crew member (out of 1200+ crew members) of the ship and she had managed to touch the hearts of every passenger. I was not surprised at the standing ovation she received. She was simply the Best in what she did. I am pretty sure with this approach and attitude; she would have gone places in her career.

Now coming to another example of the Sweeper in the Headline. In our first office building Dheeraj Heritage in Santacruz, we used to come out of the office when our office was being cleaned in the morning. At the same time, a building sweeper used to broom the floor outside every office. We could all observe that most of the times her broom did not even touch the floor. I used to always feel frustrated (yes you could call this OCD) seeing the way she was doing it. I felt like telling her but then my colleagues held me back every time. I felt she was doing a disservice to herself by not doing her work properly. More than the floor she was impacting her own self.

There is no price on the joy of doing something well. Being the best at what you do allows you to Experience the Joy and to delight people. This is itself a big reward for doing something in an exemplary way. I even told my colleagues that even if not the best, I would do the job sincerely, learn and then master the art of sweeping. I am sure there are outstanding folks (sweepers) who have mastered the craft, some of whom will go on to build a cleaning solutions company.

Finally, the Dog Walker. I have been walking my pet Fudge for the last 14 months. I see many Dog Walkers taking dogs for a walk. One observation and a conversation with them and you can figure out who is serious about the profession and who is just doing it to earn some extra money. Most are not even serious about it and seem to think it is easy and quick money. The smart ones have even hired college kids to walk dogs, but you can see their quality as extremely sub optimal. Most of the time they are on their phone and just do not pay attention to what their dog is doing. They do not just seem to care as it is some quick thing they have to do. Very few love, what they do and you can see in the way they interact with dogs, their knowledge and more importantly their wisdom about pets. In a year or so, I have personally learned so much about walking dogs not just by reading but by speaking with other dog walkers, and other owners. I can see how big this industry is even in India (In the US, it is a huge one).

The point that I was making with the above examples is this – Being the Best at whatever you do is a Mindset. Just like being a Dog Walker does not make you the Best One, so does being a financial professional does not make you the Best Financial Professional or a Real Financial Professional. Apply this to any Profession. There are Doctors and There are the Best Ones. There are Lawyers, then there are the Best Ones. There are Athletes and then there are the Best Ones. You can apply this to every area of life, and you will realize that this is a Mindset at the end of the day.

The moral of these examples is – Just do not be a Financial Professional. Be the Best One. Be the Best in whatever you do and delight your prospects, clients, team, vendors, and this world. This in itself is a Big Differentiator and a Source of Competitive Advantage that will take you places.