One great thing about living in Los Angeles is that a surprising number of people who live here have been contestants on television game shows.
My cousin Randy once won a washer and dryer on Name That Tune. One of my colleagues at work chirped incessantly for weeks about his upcoming appearance on Jeopardy!, then suddenly went silent. Apparently he scored negative points. My favorite was a friend's grandmother who was on Love Connection. When asked to name the biggest problem she had with the men she had been meeting, she said, "They keep dying."
I personally had the great honor of appearing on Family Feud. It was one of the more humiliating experiences of my life as my brothers and I were eviscerated on national television by the Hanselman family of Apple Valley. We lasted less than 15 minutes.
The survey question I faced was, "Name something you throw out the car window when you litter." I was busy thinking, "Wait a second, I don't litter," when Mr. Hanselman slapped the buzzer, yelled "cigarette butts," and knocked me out of the competition.
Little did I know that my brief moment of celebrity would actually lead to a revelation about executive talent. It also led to an industrial-sized Osterizer that was given as a booby prize to the losers.
A year or two after the show aired I spoke on a panel at an industry convention and as often happens, several people came up to talk afterward. One guy introduced himself and told me he was the head of communications for the Game Show Network. I casually dropped that I had appeared on Family Feud.
He politely asked if I would like a DVD copy of the appearance. "Of course," I replied, just a tinge nervous at the prospect of reliving the performance.
Three days later, a package showed up in my office with five DVD copies of my family's inglorious defeat at the hands of the Hanselmans. What struck me most, however, was not the memory of the show, but the fact that this man I hardly knew had actually taken the time to collect and mail the DVDs to me.
It was a singularly impressive gesture - he followed through. I had two immediate thoughts as I admired what he had done. First, I was really touched that someone had taken the time to do this on my behalf.
Second, I was truly surprised that someone actually followed through on a casual promise.
My reaction at receiving that package stuck with me. I became diligent about following up even on my most casual verbal commitments. If I mentioned an article or photograph that I thought someone would enjoy, I made sure to send it to them as soon as I could.
Earlier this year, I was given a reminder of how powerful follow-throughs can be when I was interviewing a candidate in my office. We had a wide-ranging discussion about what kind of career she was interested in and, as with most interviews, we also talked about personal interests and passions.
As it turned out, she and I shared a mutual fascination with history and World War II and she mentioned a book she thought I would appreciate.
Five days later I received a package from Amazon with the book and a personal note from this candidate. I was moved. It was a simple, classy act of follow-through and I was impressed.
More importantly, I was ready to do whatever favor I could to help with her journey.
Don Spetner has served as CCO for Nissan North America, Sun America, and Korn/Ferry International. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.