What difference can I make? How about you?
What difference can one person really make?
This last year was quite rough for us all, and rewarding for some.
I’ve been an Account Manager in the technology and document imaging industry for 18 years. While I have received a few company awards before, being designated as a difference maker by an industry-wide publication that goes out to almost 30k professionals signified reaching new pinnacle in my career! The cherry on top came in November, when ENX Magazine shared an article that was just about me titled Coast to Coast Difference Maker Alan Schwartz Molds Career to Fit his Authentic Self.
Receiving this title has been significant to me because I have strived to make a difference every day for 18 years! I would have continued going above and beyond daily with or without this acknowledgement, like so many others who strive to make positive differences in ourselves, our families and our industries. The reason we do it is not for credit, but it feels really good to be recognized!
When word spread that I had attributed some of my success to the work I’ve done in my club of Toastmasters International, I was contacted by Stephana Johnson, CES, Public Relations Manager for District 7 to have a Facebook Live stream interview about how I came to be known a ‘Difference Maker’.
That conversation was fun, as Stephana has a delightfully warm and enthusiastic presence! I got so engaged that I got carried away and rambled a bit too much. I felt bad, and offered to redo the interview but instead ended up helping her edit our interview down to 4 pages for the magazine Voices!, Toastmaster District 7’s monthly publication.
Still, in my doubting mind, I hear myself taking my positive national attention as just dumb luck. Then, I recall the following quotation which I’ve shared with others, just about every time somebody has told me that they ‘just got lucky’:
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
When I ask myself, ‘why was I, of all people nominated?’ Then I recall how much I’ve worked to make a positive impact on others. I have made my own luck over the years by searching steadily for opportunities to be of value. I’ve been preparing myself for success.
My mentors taught me to set goals and then to take steps in order to rise to those challenges. Then, not to rest on my laurels, and to immediately set new targets once I’ve hit the old ones. To be clear, I haven’t reached every goal. There are many differences that I’ve been committed to making within my family, my company and for my clients, and thus, the industry. I’ve still got a long way to go.
I’ve spent some time getting clear on my core reasons ‘why’ I do things the way I do. I want to create a legacy of love, to grow to my full potential and to lead by example for my children. Beyond ‘what’ these differences are, the key question I’ll ask is, ‘how’ will you and I make them?
How can I make a difference for myself?
Although I’ve been trying to change and improve every day, my bad habits are plenty. I’ve been learning how to replace those with good habits, however it is much easier said than done.
I believe I can make the biggest difference in my own life by holding myself accountable to a higher standard of living. The way that I’m implementing this is by creating a more regimented daily schedule, consistent with my goals for exercise, nutrition and sleep practices.
I’ve utilized my SMARTER goals to create that list of daily best practices, and I love the feeling of following through for myself.
I am forgiving of myself when I don’t follow everything perfect, and I’m taking things one day at a time.
I’ve also just finished participating in a 13 week training course by The Pacific Institute to help me master my own mindset. Very impactful and I highly recommend it!
How about you? What difference can you make for yourself this year?
How can I make a BIGGER difference for my family?
One of my daily goals is to make a positive difference every day for my wife and two kids. What can I improve upon? To start, I often either talk too much or joke at the wrong times. You’ve probably figured out that I tend to have a comedy playing out in my head, and often insert my dry humor. That bad habit can inadvertently hurt feelings.
Another issue I am working on is my time management. I tend take on too many challenges at once because I’m a bit of a workaholic. My priorities can be skewed towards business, which can frustrate my wife and kids when they want more of my time and attention.
At the dawn of every day, I work on resetting my focus on becoming present, mindful and fun person I can be for my family. Most importantly, I end every day with my family with a hug, a kiss and a positive thought to carry us off into dreamland.
How about you? What difference can you make for your family this year?
How can I make a difference within my company?
My goal is to continue growing Coast to Coast Computer Products into what we can be.
I intend to lead many more company-wide trainings about how and why to sell a wider range of technology products and solutions to our customers.
I can see a future where all 200+ employees share my vision, however at this time less than 20% of my peers have attended my training calls to help them move into the IT space with their clients. This area, I believe, is our biggest opportunity for growth.
Our biggest obstacle for growth is the old mindset of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’. For well over 35 years, Coast to Coast has been laser beam focused being the best supplier of printing supplies. Our 2,600 5 star reviews on Google suggest we are achieving that goal.
My intentions are set on continuing to making a difference in how and what we sell by leading by an example and by making myself a resource for anyone who wants to learn. I don’t hoard knowledge. Rather, I share what I’ve learned with anyone willing to listen.
How about you? What difference can you make within your place of business?
How can I make a difference for my clients?
My hopes are that I’ll at least make someone’s day a bit brighter, every day. I honestly attempt to do this with every encounter, every day. I hope I’ve done that for you.
I hope to make you laugh and smile and make your work fun while filling your orders. Sometimes my lighthearted humor and playful business approach doesn’t land well, and I am still working on ways to improve my awareness.
While being an open book is my nature, I am also working on retraining my tendency to speak longer than is necessary. I have been a member of Toastmasters International -Professionally Speaking for a few years, and it’s working. I am seeing steady improvements in the effectiveness of my communication.
Overall, the reason I tend to ‘go on’ is because I try to squeeze as much value into a single conversation as humanly possible. Maybe that is just my ADHD tendencies, and so beyond the training of Toastmasters, I am also working on this in personal therapy.
I believe that I am getting the help that I need to be a better version of myself to bring to each of you. I remind myself at the onset of every call that this is an opportunity to make someone’s day.
How about you? What difference can you make for your customers?
What difference can I make in my industry?
Since the pandemic, the technology supply chain has become wrought with shortages and delays. There have been shortages on raw materials, fewer people manufacturing products, fewer people willing to deliver them and other hold ups at ports and shipping hubs.
OMG, I wish I could just simply wave a magic wand to get people what they want immediately every time someone orders something that is on backorder due to global supply chain issues. As you may know by now, all products containing microchips, semiconductors, or shipping from over seas have been at risk of being on a major backorder through all national distributors.
Many highly sought after items such as network switches or surveillance cameras, notebooks or docking stations, LaserJet printers or barcode scanners which have been on backorder for weeks, some for several months.
I’ve had to relay so much difficult information every day for the last couple years that giving bad news has become a new skill I’ve honed.
To truly make a difference, particularly in urgent situations where businesses are in dire need of products, I ask more questions to get to the heart of what the customer really want and need. Then, I’ll invest as much time and energy as necessary searching through all possible resources, and asking other experts, until the job gets done and my client is happy.
The key to my success here has been simply to take on these situations as my responsibility, to communicate honestly and to do everything within my power.
How about you? What difference can you make in your industry?
The truth is, in the grand scheme of things, what I do may not seem that important. I am simply responsible for myself, my family, and doing my job to the best of my ability. Many people have learned to rely on me, and I don’t take that lightly. As a ‘Difference Maker’, my commitment is to always create the best experience for my clients. There will sometimes be problems, and I can honestly say that no matter what I will help solve them with you until you are a customer for life!
Ultimately my loyal customers have earned me this title, and it is to you that I owe my biggest thanks! With all of my heart, thank you for your votes of confidence! I really appreciate all your business!
2021 has washed away and 2022 brings new opportunities to make a difference. Let’s make the most of them together!
How can we make a difference in 2022?
I hope we all have a spectacular year, and make the most of the time we are given!