By now you know that I like to write about my hometown of Lawler, Iowa. Normally, the piece concerns a nostalgia-laden incident that happened years ago.
Today, however, you are going to hear about an event that I witnessed within the past month in the village of my youth.
My wonderful nieces arranged a terrific family reunion that was held several weeks ago composed of Old Sheridans, Young Sheridans, Married-to-Sheridans and Offspring Sheridans. We met in a city park, eating way too much food and having way too much fun. The festivities began officially on a Friday night and concluded unofficially around noon on Sunday.
It had been quite a while since we’ve been home (I still consider it home even though I’ve lived elsewhere for more than two-thirds of my life) so I looked forward to attending Sunday Mass at Mt. Carmel Catholic Church.
The service was enjoyable, although I admittedly exchanged praying for peeking around to see whom I might recognize in the congregation. Thankfully, I was sitting next to my brother, Patrick, and could discreetly whisper, “Who is that in the yellow shirt?” or “Who’s the guy with his grandson walking up to Communion?”
His answers too frequently surprised me. Some folks whom I had known in a previous lifetime–unlike me–looked older, grayer and/or balder than the last time I had seen them.
Just before dismissal the parish priest said, “I have asked John Cuvelier from the parish finance council to say a few words.”
I was delighted because I’ve gotten to know John in the past few years as he is a friend of Pat’s. In addition to being an outstanding wrestler at Iowa State University a few years back, he has become a successful entrepreneur in Lawler.
John’s message is the main focus of today’s piece. I absolutely loved his presentation which I will paraphrase. After exchanging pleasantries and laying the groundwork for his message (the need for work on a seriously damaged parking lot), he did a couple of outstanding things:
1). He assured parish members that the committee did their due diligence and got quotes from several sources. For a complete removal and replacement of the parking lot, using concrete, the total cost would be around $250,000. Now we’re talking about a small parish with a few hundred families so I knew that this number was going to go over like a lead balloon. However, that’s when John’s genius kicked in. He said, “So, we looked for an affordable alternative and found a company that can resurface using some concrete and mostly blacktop for approximately $75,000.”
I am fairly certain that I heard a ‘group-exhale.’ That figure seemed rather modest in comparison to the first one.
2). He read a quote after telling how much people could invest in the church by buying parking spaces per family for a couple hundred bucks each. This was a suggested number indicating that they would certainly welcome more and accept less from those who could not afford it. Then he read a remarkable quote about giving, “There are three types of giving: Grudge-Giving, Duty-Giving, and Thanks-Giving. We hope you choose the latter.”
Wow! I’ve never heard a better request for donations in my life.
And what a great formula for salespeople.
First: The initial quote you give someone should be higher than you anticipate they can afford: The Lamborghini.
Then come in with a Toyota Camry (or your equivalent product/service) and it will seem like a steal. You are still providing a great product but making it more affordable for the consumer. And once in awhile…you might be surprised to see the Lamborghini go out the door!
Second: When you give of your time, talent, money, caring, enthusiasm, effort or creativity–don’t do so out of bitterness or because you think it’s the thing you have to do. Rather, give it out of thankfulness that you represent a terrific product, service and company. Do so out of appreciation that you have the skills and background required to be effective. Do so with a thankful heart.
Hats off to John Cuvelier of Lawler, Iowa for a great idea that’s universal in its application. He did not hit them over the head with a sledge hammer. Rather, he tapped them lightly on the conscience with a velvet hammer. And he urged them to be thankful for it in the process.
Genius at work…absolute genius at work.
Bill Sheridan—SHERIDAN WRITES