Every once in a while, I read something that stops me in my tracks. That happened to me last week.
My friend John Spence sent me an article (Entrepreneur) that I forwarded to my colleagues and printed out to take home.
The author tells the story of Ann Miura-Ko. Ann picked up a job an administrative assistant for a dean at Yale. She asked her father, a rocket scientist at NASA, for advice.
He told her to be “world-class” in her new job.
That’s pretty mundane stuff, but he immediately suggested she think about how she could be world-class in her new job. This inspired Miura-Ko to change her approach. She created crisp copies that could not be discerned from the original document; she printed labels for her files rather than write them freehand; and, when she was tasked with bringing doughnuts to the office, she chose the freshest available.
Her goal? To make everything a “delight moment” for her colleagues. A few years passed, and one day the dean asked Miura-Ko to give his friend Lewis a tour around the engineering school. Remembering her father’s words, Miura-Ko gave a great tour and developed a good rapport with the gentleman she was showing around.
In the end, he was so impressed that he asked if she would like to come to California for a tour of his company. That was when she learned that “Lewis” was Lewis “Lew” Platt, CEO of Hewlett Packard (HP).
Miura-Ko jumped at the opportunity to visit HP, and when she returned to campus, Lew sent her two pictures. The first one was of herself sitting next to Lew. The second picture was of Bill Gates sitting exactly where she had sat. This image left a lasting impression on Miura-Ko, and Platt became a key figure in her professional development.
Today, Ann Miura-Ko is “the most powerful woman in startups,” according to Forbes. She has played a key role in helping to shatter the glass ceiling for women in her industry.
Please read the rest of the article. There’s good stuff in there.
(Here’s a pic of a ceiling inside the Bureau of Engraving and Printing gift shop. You can find world-class everywhere. The ceiling was so beautiful, I had to stop and take a photo.)
What a beautiful concept. Whatever the task, try to be world-class.
Write world-class emails.
Hold world-class meetings.
Be a world-class boss.
Be a world-class employee.
Be a world-class father. Or sibling. Or child. Or spouse.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not world-class in anything. But since reading this article, I’ve made a conscious effort to try harder.
The opportunities are endless. But it starts with a choice.
(And if you want to watch a fun movie that hits on this topic, watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix)