On a day to day basis I find myself often needing to speak with various Presidents, CEO's, Deans, and a plethora of other people whose titles make me feel self-conscious, nervous and awkward at times. Some I feel comfortable enough with to address by first name (Board members included) and then there are others whom I've hung up on when shocked to learn I had their direct line. (Anyone wanna prank call the owner of a shitty NFL team?)
Last week was my organization's annual Awards event where I get to talk to everyone. I even ate a moon pie with a brilliant Philadelphia mathematician. But the highlight of the evening was when I got to speak with the President of a particular zoo Mike and I frequent. This gentlemen is on our Board so therefore I feel comfortable addressing him by his first name and he knows me. Would he recognize me in jeans and a hoodie at the mall? I doubt it. But as far as work is concerned I trust he knows who I am.
Anyway, Mike and I had just gone to the zoo five days prior to this event so I decided I would tell this man what a great time we had and how although we love the entire zoo, we spend the majority of our time with Louis, our favorite eight year old gorilla. I may have went on just a touch too long about how great Louis is, but I think I caught myself in time. V. asked me to make sure I call next time I plan on attending and he'd see what he can do about getting us some time with Louis' keeper. I thanked him and told him to enjoy himself and that was that.
Naturally, afterwards I was embarrassed. But I reminded myself that he does know me and if I ran a zoo, I'd like to hear if someone had a great visit.
Today, seven days after the event, I received a package from the zoo. A personal note from V. saying what a great job I did at the awards event and how he hopes I plan on visiting the zoo again soon and in the meantime, he has enclosed a small gift for me. My gift was a 14" x 10" framed photo of Louis sitting in his play yard.
V's thoughtfulness made my day for so many reasons! Not only do I have a great photo of Louis, but little old me, the Assistant, got some recognition, and a place I love to visit gave back to me. The fact that this important man went to work the next day and actually remembered our conversation and took the time to say thank you really makes me feel quite special.