Going the Extra Inch

By Anita Mowery

Earlier this year, PPAI virtually hosted the annual products showcase event. As part of the educational component of this event, I was fortunate enough to take in a talk from motivational speaker, Patrick Henry. While a lot of what Henry said resonated with me, one concept that I have found myself coming back to is the idea of focusing on the details. Henry preached, “magic lies in the little things” and by focusing your attention on sometimes-overlooked elements of your relationships and objectives, you can make more of a difference than you might think. The action of focusing on these finer points comes to life as Going the Extra Inch instead of the extra mile.

With our 2021 resolutions all set, I am sure that some of you can appreciate the difference between telling yourself you’re going to lose 20 pounds versus telling yourself you’re not going to eat that extra cookie. If you set a lofty goal of losing a lot of weight, it is easy to become discouraged and unmotivated. These grandiose objectives are hard to pull off and as such, often lead to failure. On the other side of the coin, if you pass on that piece of cake or forego adding milk to your coffee in the mornings, you’re making tangible progress that will make yourself feel better and inch you closer to your goal. Inch yourself forward enough and you’ll have achieved your objective before you know it.

The same approach can be taken with client relationships. When you hop on the phone or enter your video conference and the first thing you do is talk about timeline and budget, you’re doing yourself and your client a disservice. Take time to ask questions about the person on the other end of the line, not just their business. Knowing your client or prospect’s favorite ice cream flavor, or how their daughter is doing in her soccer league, will make a much greater impact than a quick meeting that only focuses on business datapoints. People want to spend time, collaborate, and work with others who genuinely care about them. Focus on the details in each of your relationships and they will grow far more fruitful than if you’re just worrying about the bottom line.

This new focus shifted from a concept I believed in, to a practice I follow, when I was able to reconnect with a client through a personal message. My client, and friend, holds a poetry contest, Poetry Out Loud, each year. While working together, several years ago, I was fortunate enough to hear Amanda Gorman read one of her poems. As relationships can sometimes go, I had not connected with the client for some time before hearing Gorman deliver another poem, this one just a few weeks ago at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration. I reached out to my point of contact at POL and let her know how impressed I was and how proud she should be of such a young and talented artist she had helped support. A few days later she responded and said that she was thankful for my words and mentioned how meaningful the experience had been. Regardless of whether this leads to future business or just a conversation with an old friend, I believe caring enough to reach out always proves to be worth it.

The key to all of this lies in not overwhelming yourself, but instead, playing the long game. There are 63,360 inches in a mile and each one of those represents an opportunity. Focus on the little things (the inches) and exceed your client’s expectations; you can either take advantage of every inch or waste the mile.