Podcast: How a House Fire and Burned Body Led to Profound Resilience

Don Keller and Betsy Keyes embody the definition of “resilience.” In 2010, a Denver house fire that destroyed their home also burned Don over 40 percent of his body. Working together, they came to a new understanding of resilience that transformed them and inspires others. This is their story.

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How to Earn Epic Customer Loyalty from a Total Stranger

There is a company I’ve never purchased anything from, yet I sing their praises to everyone I know. How did they earn such loyalty when I’ve never been a customer? They did something totally unexpected.

Colorado 2013 Black Forest Wildfire story

After the fire, (are you tired of hearing about this wildfire yet?) volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse gathered up the pieces to see what we could save. There wasn’t much left – mostly metal, melted glass and ash encrusted ceramic dishes.

Among them were coffee cups my Mom had given me which she bought at Goodwill. They were nested together in a metal mixing bowl at the bottom of a cupboard. Everything had to come crashing down from above when the timbers fell. And the heat was so intense it warped my cast iron skillet. Yet these little pinecone cups survived intact.

So my Mom cleaned them up, took a picture and sent it to the company whose name was printed on the bottom of the cups. She told them about the fire, how their cups had survived and how we all thought it was quite a miracle.

Weeks later, a package arrived on the doorstep at Mom and Dad’s house. Inside was a note from the Customer Service Manager saying how sorry they were for the loss and hoped their gift would replace a few of the items we needed.

Along with the note was a four-piece place setting of plates, bowls and cups identical to the one’s we’d lost. There was also a gift certificate for $50.00 and a Wild Wings catalog.

Wow! How very kind.

customer service training story by Laura Benjamin

Little do they know I now share this story at every customer service training program I do around the US. Money can’t buy that kind of PR. They deserve every bit of it.

When folks are under stress and struggling with circumstances beyond their control, an act of kindness goes a long way to form good feelings about a company. Don’t underestimate the impact of the small things you do for customers, guests and complete strangers.

The memory will last a lifetime.

P.S. Please share this article so the people at Wild Wings get the credit they certainly didn’t ask for, but definitely deserve.

How to Simplify Life and Clear the Clutter

What would you take if you had only minutes to get out of your house? Next to people, pets and important papers, how would you decide what you couldn’t live without?

Laura Benjamin's cat

(Photo: Snickers cat hiding out under clothes that are no longer)

A reader said, “Recently, I began to realize that my possessions mean nothing to me — and am considering getting rid of all of them. Furniture, tools, musical instruments, books — even (sadly) pets. Everything I’ve been keeping…holding on to.

After this extended period of unemployment/underemployment, I learned something that people have said — that I’VE said — but it’s become viscerally clear: Nothing matters but the love of those around you. And self respect.

It really took losing things I thought important…a job…income…connections with coworkers, colleagues and the community-at-large…and realizing I didn’t need other things that clutter my life.

This is life’s importance at the most genetic/fundamental levels. And you have to lose, strip, give away everything to understand it, I think. Perhaps during your loss (home), you’ve experienced something similar.”

When all that’s left is what matters most, you get clear on priorities.

HOW TO SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE

You don’t need to get rid of everything to simplify life or place value on what’s most important. That’s one heckuva way to get more closet space!

But you can, gradually….

  • Make a list of what you’d hate to live without
  • Try to fit your most important things in one suitcase (people and pets excluded!)
  • Put a red sticky dot on things to give away
  • Hire a professional organizer
  • Dedicate a shelf in your garage for potential cast-off’s
  • Write down what’s in each room of your house (this will create an inventory and clarify what is excess)
  • Schedule a junk hauling guy and work to meet that pickup deadline
  • Ask your adult kids what they’d like to have and give it to them now
  • Select one item each day to get rid of – no free passes allowed!

“It’s in the act of deciding what to remove that you place value on what’s left behind.” – Coco Chanel

Question: Are you in the act of deciding what to remove? Please share your tips in the comments.

Related Article:

7 Things You Can Learn About Habits and Goals