365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles
Day 32. April 26, 2011
Preface: Please read Part 1 of the Lassie Story first. Fans of the blog have given it a top rating, it features some great Carnegie lessons and Part 2 will make more sense.
It was 7:45 am on Monday—and I decided to call the animal hospital before they close for the day. “Hi—I’m the woman that found the sheltie—did anyone claim him yet?”
The operator responded, “No—not yet.”
“Ok, I replied. I’m going to knock on doors in the neighborhood and post signs.”
“Oh, that would be great.” said the operator.
I put on some nice clothes and set out on my mission. I wanted to be sure I looked well put together so that people would be open to hearing what I had to say and not think I was soliciting. (in other words… I put on my best pair of jeans, a nice t-shirt, my new shoes and a smile.)
I was certain I knew where the dog lived. He lives at the house where I saw him circling the car. I knocked on the door, smiled and asked the gentleman if he was missing a dog. No, he wasn’t.
I was not expecting this answer. I was rather stunned.
So I tried some other homes. I was getting one of two response—either no one was home or they weren’t missing a dog.
What was striking about this experience was how friendly and appreciative the neighbors were. They were grateful I was on a mission to find the dog’s owner. To me this was an obvious course of action—I promised the dog I’d find his owner and I fully intended to follow through. Personally, I go nuts losing anything.
After awhile I realized I needed to treat this task like a marketing campaign. I decided to strategically post my waterproof signs throughout the neighborhood. (I made the signs waterproof by sealing them in clear plastic bags.) I taped the signs on the lampposts and stop sign posts. I even went to the local gas station and gave the cashier one of my flyers.
Then as I was taping a sign on one of the most frequented light posts in the neighborhood… a woman drove up beside me. She said to me in her British accent… “you can’t post signs.”
I had a split second to react…
I turned to her and calmly said… “what would you suggest? I found a dog last night and I’m trying to find the owner.”
She gave me her business card and said I could visit the Homeowner’s Association website and post information there. Her name, of course, was the infamous, “Betty Lou”.
I have never met Betty Lou in person but I am well acquainted with her. I am certain this woman watches every move I make. She sends me postcards in the mail letting me know I have weeds in my flowerbeds and I need to remove them. She lets me know I left my trash bin outside on a day other than trash day and that I must remove the bin immediately or pay fines.
She is President of the Homeowner’s Association—and I have the privilege of paying her salary and the services she diligently provides.
I remove the sign, dejected. I start scanning my memory for a Dale Carnegie principle to get me through this. I manage to amuse myself by concluding she and her staff are very efficient. Their very existence is to make sure no one breaks rules. I can appreciate they don’t want to junk up lampposts. After all look at how pretty all the lampposts are without signs… (well, except for the lampposts that still have my signs plastered on them…)
I decide to outsmart Betty Lou. There are no rules against putting flyers on doors—I know that for a fact because I get flyers daily.
So I walk the neighborhood putting flyers under doormats, carefully positioning the flyers so that the homeowners see the dog’s photo first. There are a lot of homes with signs—“no solicitors, no flyers.” I decide the signs aren’t directed to me—I’m doing a public service. So I continue my mission.
I found a house with the fence fallen over from the storm. The owner had a door mat that said “Wipe your paws.” I can picture the sheltie living here. This must the house. I knock on the door—no answer. I left a flyer under the mat.
As I’m walking—I see a woman—and approach her with a smile. No, she hasn’t lost a dog.. but there’s a neighbor three houses away that did lose a dog!
I raced over to the house and knocked on the door with anticipation. No one answered the door. I left a flyer under the mat.
By this time it’s 11 am. I decide I’ve done enough for the day and I’m late enough for work.
Once at work, I call the Homeowner’s Association to find out where I could post information on their website. I spoke with “Patricia”. I told her the entire story about Lassie—the Easter dog I found. She was completely sympathetic.
“It even knows tricks…I’m sure someone is missing their dog,” I tell Patricia.
“Oh yes, no doubt”, she replied.
Patricia gets information on the dog just in case someone calls looking for him. At one point in the conversation I hesitate—and said, “I’m going to get in trouble with you…. You see, I posted signs on lampposts. I know I’m not supposed to… but I feel so bad for the dog and the dog’s owner. I have a dog too and if I lost my dog… I would hope someone did the same for me….”
Patricia said.. oh, don’t you worry. I would have done the same. The worst that will happen is that they remove the signs. But it will be ok.”
“Oh thank you,” I said to Patricia.
It’s evening now and I’m driving into my neighborhood. My heart sinks. ALL the waterproof signs I lovingly posted on lampposts and stop sign posts are gone. I wanted to cry. Really? Do you not have a heart Betty Lou and your minions? (Patricia is excluded from this group of course)
As I am checking my mail a neighbor drives by—and asks if I found the dog’s owner yet. I was touched he cared enough to ask and he expressed his gratitude for my mission.
After having dinner I went to the store to pick up a stuffed animal toy for the dog. Then driving over to the vet, I remembered I held the dog in my arms. He knows my scent. I decide to rub the stuffed animal on me—so that my scent is on the toy. This way, he will be comforted with a familiar scent.
I walked into the animal hospital and the same technician from the night before greeted me. She said…we have good news! We found the owner!
“Thank God!” I replied.
The technician said, “you were his guardian angel! We called the owner and he insisted the dog was home. We explained we tracked him down with the microchip in the dog and the owner admitted he was out of town until Wednesday. The dog must have escaped somehow. So the dog will remain with us until then.”
I smiled completely unaffected by the carelessness of the owner to leave a dog alone for three days. I was just relieved I was able to keep my word with the dog to reunite him with his owner.
Before leaving I told the technician, “I brought a toy for the dog.”
The technician replied, “oh, I’ll make sure the dog goes home with it!”
I handed her the little stuffed lamb I carefully selected for the sheltie.
A variety of Dale Carnegie principles were used in this story:
From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 5. Smile.
Principle 10. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
Principle 13. Begin in a friendly way.
Principle 19. Appeal to the nobler motives.
Principle 18. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
– Live in “day-tight compartments.”
– Do the very best you can.
– Put enthusiasm into your work.
I did not let the Homeowners Association prevent me from executing my plan of action. When they tried to stop me—I found creative ways to comply with the rules while still keeping focused on my goal. I was even able to convince Patricia, an employee with the Association that breaking the rules did make sense in this case.
In this story enthusiasm trumped everything. I was no longer nervous about knocking on strangers’ doors, interrupting their mornings and asking them if they lost a dog. I was able to think creatively and strategically—from waterproof signs, to observing which homes had fallen fences to posting signs at busy traffic areas.
You might ask why I didn’t just wait a day or two to see if the microchip had current contact information on the owner. I couldn’t bear to think of the owner being worried sick about his/her missing dog. I would want someone to do the same for me. I even planned for the worst—I was thinking of individuals who could adopt the dog.
If you take anything from this story—I hope it is this—approach a task with enthusiasm. When you approach a task with enthusiasm you will accomplish things you never would have imagined.