It’s all about me
By Dick Olenych, Inside Business - Hampton Roads - 5/20/2008
I’m an average Joe. No better or worse than you.
I will tell you though I’ve had a pretty…uh…interesting life. And it has given me a different view of the world then most people. And because of all of that I believe…it’s all about me.
It’s my philosophy. And it’s a philosophy that has created an environment of exceptional customer service.
Will you please give me a just a couple of sentences to make this point a bit clearer?
When I was little my parents fought a lot. We moved around from house to house, sometimes with the police not too far behind. I know a couple of times when it was just Mom and us we had to go on welfare. Other times it was just plain crazy with lots of screaming and yelling.
My parents eventually divorced and things started to get normal. That didn’t last too long because it was interrupted when my dad died. I was a sophomore in high school and we had to move yet again to another state, closer to my aunts and uncles. About a year later my mom withered away from cancer.
By my senior year in high school I was on my own. I lived in an apartment we called “The Toe”. It was short for the ghetto and it lived down to its name. It was a dump. But, remember it’s all about me.
I went to a very good college though, as a minority. I dated the Vice President of the United State’s daughter while I was there. She was nice. College was pretty crazy. I was totally out of control. I made tons of friends, though. My family still vacations with some of those friends every year.
There’s a lot of world out there and I’ve seen some of it. I’ve lived with the Samburu warriors of East Africa. They are very genuine. I have also lived in a tent in Alaska. At one time I even had a job bartending on top of Vail Mountain. Remember, it’s all about me.
I now live in a modest home…on the water. I even have a dock and a Jet Ski. I built the dock myself. I like to build things that last.
I really have a great life. I truly appreciate everything that I have. My family is wonderful. I have great kids and a beautiful loving wife of twenty-two years. She sometimes calls me Jim.
She recently battled breast cancer. It ripped my heart out to see her suffer. That is what it is because remember, it’s all about ME.
Ladies and gentlemen, life is sometimes tough. At other times it’s very generous.
We must not let the pain of our past or the fear of the future distract us from positively effecting the people around us. We owe it to ourselves, and to our organizations to attack the day without shouldering our personal burdens. I personally, know that this can sometimes be very difficult.
Please remember. That we also must not allow the tapestry of success insulate us from our moral obligation to our organizations, our people, our customers. I am no better than the man shining shoes or the roofer swinging a hammer.
In the early morning hours before daylight as I’m listening to my bride’s breathing I decide who I will be. While I remember my history I do not let it cloud the bright hopes of a new day. I also realize that my comforts do not segregate me from the compassion that others need. Everyday I decide who I will be and how I will affect those around me. Because it is, “all about me.”
As leaders we must be strong and diligent in our support of our people’s needs. Yes we also have to keep both eyes on the bottom-line especially in tough times. But greed will never consume me.
It’s not easy balancing compassion with strength, consideration with corporate policy or empathy with procedures. But we must. It is our duty - yeah, I like that word. It is our duty to others, to think of them first.
Remember we have a choice every day of who we are going to be and I choose to believe it’s all about…
Make the RIGHT decision for your organization by establishing a balanced business philosophy.
Dick Olenych is the author of Joe Sails and an owner of Spectrum Printing. He can be reached at