Daily Podcast: The Importance of Being Earnest

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

When I was growing up, my father constantly reminded us that his customers put food on our table– both literally and figuratively (he had a weakness for Mercedes). The man who was THE alpha in my life was no such thing in front of his customers. He was polite, attentive, deferential and charming. At the tender age of 48, I think I've mastered attentive. But I learned the general lesson well. I never forget that you, dear readers, don't have to spend your time or talents here. I work hard every day to earn your patronage. I never take it for granted, or assume I know better than you– about anything. I fully consider all your criticisms and do my level best to fix bugs as and when they're brought to my attention. I'm never too busy to answer your emails. OK, I am. But I do it anyway. Because without you, nothing. And whenever I'm at a bookstore, I introduce myself to buff book readers and discuss their literary and internet habits. I'm constantly asking car owners I meet on the street what they think of their "ownership experience." If Chrysler thinks that they're going to be a better company if 300 execs talk to one customer each per day, they deserve to go out of business. And will. It's as simple as that.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Ppellico Ppellico on May 05, 2008

    I wish all American companies well. My brothers and I own a small business that makes Biotene mouthwash and toothpaste. We have become larger in the past few years and I can see today what many businesses must be going through. First, we have horrible politicking going on. Even for our size, it stuns me to see how people become protective of their jobs and territories...at the detriment of the company. Imagine this at such a large company like Chrysler! And don't think its only the higher ups! The middle management level is FULL of I, I, Me, Me Mine! It’s hard to discipline old employees. When it comes to marketing, all hell is always breaking loose with difference of opinions. And yes, sometimes we have to seriously confront our own weaknesses everyday. We actually have to WORK at finding out what the customer needs and thinks. You have no idea how easy it is to have what we think is a totally wonderful/fail safe idea...and only to end up with a product nightmare (read failure) that reminds us to be humble and actually seek opinions and advice from our sales people and the customers. And, believe it or not...even when consulting with customers, you have to be careful because they to have an opinion that you can’t count on. They tell you one thing...then actually do another. I was reading all the LOVE from bloggers on the 2010 Taurus. Bull...when push come to buying...they will get something else. This is why I don't trust polls. And sometimes I think the US auto makers should share some of the blame with us American consumers. We are nuts. We DEMAND SUVs. We DEMAND low cost fuel. Yet it’s not our fault that Ford spends its cash from the rich years on purchasing useless European dog brands when they should have been spending it on R&D or perhaps loosing a little on high mileage small cars like the Japanese do so they have the product available when the consumer fad shifts. So, if a small company like ours suffers from the inability to turn our boat around in the water quickly and successfully...I can only imagine the task involved with huge conglomerates like Chrysler, GM and Ford. Let's hope they somehow make more good decisions these next few months than bad ones. Robert...hang in there. I don't know what I would do during the day without the wonderful and creative writing on TTAC. Paul

  • Jeff Puthuff Jeff Puthuff on May 06, 2008

    Paul, I use Biotene! Why don't you create a Customer Advisory Panel and invite users with a message printed on every tube?

  • DearS DearS on May 06, 2008

    I think being earnest like everything else is a learned behavior. Its a humbling behavior ie. it pays for itself. Its admirable, worthwhile behavior. Nothing wrong with how anyone makes a living in my book. Although I hold people responsible to the degree that I'll not feel pity when they own the corresponding consequences. Its sad how many people earn a corrupt living, its harmful to self, but hey no pain (consequences) no gain (opportunities for growth). We are works in progress, works in process.

  • Ppellico Ppellico on May 06, 2008

    factotum Great idea...I will talk to Mike and Steve in the morning. Thanks.