Sean’s Journal: I spent most of the morning on I-80; mentally planning my trip as I drove along. I managed to cross southern Wyoming, which we both know can be a tedious trip. I should probably have been counting the windmills. Here’s the event of the day. I made a pit stop. As I was sitting on a bench relaxing, a big rig pulls up. The driver got out, came over, and sat down. We chatted—cool guy; obsessed with the name of his trucking company, Pride Transport. It’s a family business started about 40 years ago by Jeff England. I learned that the England family and the companies they have built are legendary in the transportation industry with a history dating back to the early 20th Century. Their success is a source of pride for Utahns. There is a deep commitment to customer service excellence that inspired the founders to choose the company’s name. I asked the driver if it is “for real” or just a slogan and what this “pride” commitment means to him. He replied, “Young man, you want to know about Pride? Step up and look inside the cab of my truck.” Dad, Vince, I have never seen a shinier, cleaner truck in my life. The driver told me of the expectations his management has for how he takes care of his equipment and cargo and the customers themselves. They are serious about taking pride in their work and I was inspired.
Dad, I’m on I-80 near Kimball, Nebraska. There’s a campground just ahead where I plan to spend the night. I’ll text you when I’ve got my camp set up. After studying my map, I realized that I’m almost due south of Rapid City, South Dakota, and Mount Rushmore. I can’t pass that by. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to take a detour north via Highway 385 and pay a visit to those four famous presidents. Then, I’ll head east again through the Badlands and connect with I-90 and eventually head south and then east again along whichever Interstate or highway I feel inspired to take.
Vince’s Response: About that Pride truck driver, you won’t believe this, but in 1987 not long after Pride Transport was established here in Utah, my thirteen-year-old son and I were traveling across an eight-state region of the Midwest doing research on a book I was preparing to publish entitled Customer Astonishment. We pulled into a truck stop on I-80 and met the driver of a Pride truck who proclaimed his commitment to the company and its customers. I’m not kidding. These days, Pride trucks must cross Nebraska on I-80 by the hundreds and thousands. Call this déjà vu or whatever you’d like. Just like you, my son and I encountered a Pride truck nearly 31 years ago. The experience was providential to me considering the book I was writing. The Pride driver invited my son and me to take a closer look at his truck. We walked around its perimeter and then went back to the cab. He opened the door. I stepped up and looked in and then he asked my son to climb up and sit in his seat as he said, “Take a look at the floor. You could set your lunch on it and not worry. Next to my wife and kids, my country, and God, there’s nothing more important to me than the impression my truck gives to our customers.”
Sean, I’ve been on a journey very similar to the one you’re on now. The truth of things often becomes more certain when two or more of us have witnessed the same things. By the way, as you would imagine, I’m a big advocate of taking pride in your work. As a consultant, I’ve helped many organizations make the journey to world-class customer service. Sean, you’re already getting some input about your career decisions in terms of what kind of work people learn to love and what motivates them to do their best. And, BTW, sounds like a great plan to make that detour to Rushmore. You’ll be glad you did. Marie and I have been there. I’ll tell you more after you’ve been there. Have a good evening and a great Day 3. –Vince
Bookends: (1) Learn to love the work you do. (2) Take pride in your work and in the excellent service you provide to others.