Why common courtesy should be more common: four truths about saying thank you

Posted on August 8, 2019 by Di Gillett
Article image: Common courtesy thank you

In the dynamic, fast-paced world of business, sometimes common courtesy is not so common.

As veracious readers of daily news, be it about business, the economy or the geopolitical tensions between the US and China, on occasion it can be refreshing to read a piece that is pause for reflection.

In Thank You, Kindly, a recent article by Sally Susman, Executive Vice President & Chief Corporate Affairs Officer with Pfizer, published in WWD Beauty Inc, the author says:

“I’ve worked closely with nine chief executive officers at three Fortune 100 companies. Each of these high-achieving bosses had the prerequisite qualities of intelligence, diligence and integrity. But one had something unique. One taught me a profound lesson… I learned the power of expressing gratitude.” [1]

Reflecting on what she learned from Leonard A. Lauder, Chairman Emeritus of Estee Lauder, who she describes as an “elegant and thoughtful man”, Susman says Lauder educated her about everything from art and culture to commerce. However, it was a memorable meeting with one unnamed powerful magazine editor who barely acknowledged their presence, where Lauder demonstrated why “being gracious and kind is always in style.” He still wrote a thank you note.

If you subscribe to the magazine, Susman’s anecdotes in the article are an enjoyable read. From her time at Estee Lauder, she took up the practice of writing thank you notes (pen on paper), a ritual she has since continued (as well as the use of night cream).

Here are Sally Susman’s four truths about writing thank you notes, which I’ve summarised below:

  1. Be specific – be clear what your note is about
  2. Take time to reflect – speed doesn’t necessarily convey sincerity
  3. Make it matter – clarifying a point will have more impact than simply expressing your gratitude
  4. It’s never too late – if you realise you should have thanked someone, don’t hesitate to thank them now

Who would you like to thank?

1. WWD Beauty Inc Volume 214, No. 33 June 28, 2019

Change is not without risk

Posted on January 30, 2019 by Di Gillett
Article image: Change is not without risk

Having just celebrated Australia Day, and being married to an Australia Day Ambassador whose parents landed at Station Pier in Melbourne in the late 1940s, I am reminded that being brave, adventurous and taking risks is a common thread across business and our community. Be it pursuing safety or opportunity in a new country, embarking upon a business transformation to remain relevant in an increasingly digital landscape, or female executives pushing through the glass ceiling as they pursue a seat at the Boardroom table – bold decisions are not for the faint-hearted and change is not without risk.

Applying that same lens to the domestic Retail sector as we look to the various retail formats and categories in the domestic market, the landscape is littered with those who are thriving and those who are struggling:

  • Our Department Stores are under increasing pressure to raise the bar on their customer experience, while reducing their physical store footprint and growing their online store capability
  • Grocery is under pressure from dynamic international competitors, while managing the risks around the race to the bottom on price-led strategies
  • Specialty Apparel, Footwear and Accessories are competing against a raft of pressures including rising household expenses impacting discretionary spend, high operating costs and customers who are no-longer brand loyal (who are also spoiled for choice)
  • Consumer Electronics continues to battle price deflation and increasing competition from Amazon

In Australia in 2018 we said goodbye to a number of retailers including: Diana Ferrari, Doughnut Time, John Cootes Furniture, Laura Ashley, Maggie T, Marcs, Max Brenner, Metalicus, Mountain Designs, Payless Shoes, Pumpkin Patch, Roger David, Shoes of Prey, Sumo Salad and Zumbo Patisserie. We also said farewell to AVON, Esprit, GAP and Toys ‘R’ Us from our shores girt by sea.

Yet today consumers are wearing more and more athleisure-wear, personal training studios are popping-up on every corner, crowds flocked to the Australian Open in January and spent money at the extended venues along Melbourne’s Yarra River. Discerning customers continue to queue in our capital cities to shop luxury brands and the reception desks of corporate Australia are forever signing proof of delivery screens for their employees’ latest online purchases. Clearly there are businesses doing something right despite the negative press around consumer confidence in the face of Australia’s political turmoil, the impact of the slow-down of the Chinese economy and the snowball effect of Brexit.

Whether it be climate change, the political environment, a business model or diversity and inclusion just to name a few, we should welcome each challenge as an opportunity and be prepared to take a risk. For without risk, there will be no reward.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “Those who never change their minds, never change anything.”