Reach out Featured

12:41pm EDT July 18, 2002

We seem to live in a world in which me, myself, and I have become our three best friends.

We have become so self-centered that an offer of help is often viewed with suspicion. Opening a door for someone has become more of an insult than a positive gesture. Visiting a neighbor has become something of the past.

We have gone from sitting on our front porches and visiting with the people in our neighborhood to hiding in the backyard behind a giant fence. We retreat behind walls to live our lives, not even knowing our neighbors' names. In our modern world, we get more pleasure out of watching cable television than spending time with a family member.

What have we become?

We have become a world centered on self. In the dictionary, self-centered is defined as occupied or concerned only with one's own affairs; egocentric; selfish.

Maybe it's time we try to reverse this trend. Maybe it's time to reach out to others and become more focused on our community, regardless of whether it's the community at home or the community at work.

Whenever we are in a position of leadership, such as owning a business, we carry responsibility for others whether we like it or not. It is our responsibility to make the best decisions possible. Here are several steps to ensure that we are doing so:

1. Reach out to your employees. Get to know them for who they are, not just what task they perform for your company. Everyone has problems, and you can find ways to help. Even small gestures can go a long way to make someone's life a little bit better. Work with your employees as much as you can and their loyalty will pay off.

2. Reach out to your customers. The economy has slowed and cash flow has tightened up. Work with your customers as much as you can. Bending the rules once in awhile to help a loyal customer will only strengthen your relationship. If you are reaching your cash projections, and are in no immediate danger, why not try to help another business? The owner will appreciate it and become a customer for life.

3. Reach out to your vendors. Establishing a win-win relationship is the goal of everyone in business. Today you may have an upper hand in the relationship; tomorrow, that can change. It is important not to overnegotiate. Everyone needs to make a profit. Pushing your vendors up against a wall through unfair contracts and unprofitable deals will weaken your relationship in the long run. Things can quickly turn the other way, putting your company in trouble. Will a poorly treated vendor give you a break when you need it most? Probably not. It pays to be fair.

Many of us try to live by these rules but sometimes fall short. Failing once is no excuse to not try again. We must keep trying until we get it right. Doing this will ensure the success of our businesses and of those around us.

So what do you say, neighbor, shall we tear down the fences around us and reach out to others? A small gesture can go a long way. Fred Koury (fkoury@sbnnet.com) is president and CEO of SBN Magazine.