Thank You for Your Business

Thank You for Your Business

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“Thank you for your business.”

It’s probably the No. 1 ice breaker Mike Bloomberg uses when he greets clients for the first time.

It’s disarmingly straightforward and unusually effective.

It’s a simple tactic any leader could adopt to make an impact.

Like many CEOs, Mike meets a lot of people, often on short notice. Sometimes they are visiting the office and other times at events or dinners.

Like anyone, he’s evolved greetings that work for him.

What I like about the phrase is how it immediately conveys an element of gratitude and places the emphasis on the person he’s meeting.

It also grounds the conversation and keeps it focused on the business at hand.

The most valuable thing a CEO can get from these types of interactions is feedback. General chit chat about the weather or sporting events doesn’t help much.

I was reminded of this verbal phrase by John Kirk, a former Bloomberg colleague who spent 17 years at the company in sales. (I spent 32 years at Bloomberg before leaving two years ago.)

John shared a story about how Jeff Cohen, then head of New York sales, asked him to escort Mike to visit JPMorgan. This was just before Mike was elected mayor of New York City.

They walked the trading floor so Mike could shake hands with the sales people and traders who use the terminals on a daily basis.

Not surprisingly, the visit was one of the more memorable events of John’s career. It’s not every day that you take the founder and CEO out on a client visit.

But when I asked John what Mike told the traders, he said: He thanked them for their business.

It’s notable how memorable THAT line was even a quarter century later.

The origin story of the phrase I had heard was that Mike bought a car once and a few months later he got a call from the dealership to see if everything was ok and “thank him for his business.”

He thought it was great customer service and a way to elicit feedback.

I don’t know if that story is apocryphal, but it captures the spirit behind the idea.

One of the things many leaders underestimate is the impact even brief meetings have on employees, investors, customers, and other stakeholders.

How a CEO dresses, speaks and generally carries themselves are all noticed.

A brief meeting is never just a brief meeting.

It’s an opportunity to make a point about what matters to you and by extension what matters to the company.

(Part of a series of lessons I learned from three decades at Bloomberg LP.)


IT TAKES TIME: Harry Stebbings, one of the top business podcasters, with a reminder that everything – including his 20VC podcast — takes time to take off.

THE NEW MARKETING: If you post online a lot you attract people who want to sell you things. I’m old fashion so I don’t really understand or endorse some of the modern sales pitches which sport a surprising amount of cuss words.

PEBBLING: I just learned about pebbling and I am all about this. Traders on Wall Street have their own version of this that is more competitive. You score points if you are first telling someone, but points are removed if you are late.

CHURCH MATH: Holding up a calculus book doesn’t make you a mathematician.

VANDALISM: It’s possible to “destroy” a $1,700 Citibike in New York with a $1 black marker by scratching out the bar code. That makes it impossible to scan the bike and renders it useless. It’s sad how often it happens.

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