YKK Stories

2018-11-19 Issue 77 Fundamental Behavior 22 Take Pride In Our Appearance

February 19, 2019
Author: YKK
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Before I came to YKK, and before I even went to law school, I was a commercial real estate broker. As is typical of kids coming out of college with a degree in Foreign Affairs, two things were certain: #1) I had very few useful skills, and #2) I was completely ignorant of #1. In those days we hand compiled books highlighting prospective sites for our clients. These books would have brief descriptions of the prospective buildings and they would include maps on which I would rub little round numbers from a transfer sheet indicating the locations of those buildings. I would work on those books for hours and hours, carefully making sure the location of the numbers matched the actual location of the properties listed.

Invariably, I would have more than one of the numbers switched, or would put a property on the wrong place on the map. Sometimes the pages would be out of order or missing altogether. Every time I went over my work I would find at least one error. I would fix the error, create a new page, and re-bind the book. After a while, though, I would get frustrated or tired and would become blind to those mistakes.

One time, the client caught an error, which they showed me. I was mortified, apologized profusely, and we moved on. But I knew that error took away some level of credibility I had with that client. After I became an attorney, I made a practice of having other people review my work before it went out the door. This practice minimized my errors.

This is not about paying attention to detail. This is about its cousin, taking pride in your appearance. Taking pride in your appearance is not just about keeping your work area neat and clean, dressing appropriately, and shaving your head regularly. It also includes how diligently you work to keep typos out of your emails, presentations, and other such work. Your written work is an extension of you, and sloppy writing and error filled presentations take away from the image of competency you want to project.

Every email, letter, and presentation you send out reflects on you, and on YKK. The errors may be purely unintentional, may be very small, and may not have any bearing on the substance of the communication, but the reader will see them and will pause over them, even if just for a few seconds. They will be distracted from the good message you intended to give. They may be wonderful and understanding and non-judgmental people, but the error will chip away at your credibility, even if just a little bit. They may not notice when your work was perfect, but I promise you they will notice the error you did not see.

So please take a second look at that email before you send it. Please review that presentation one more time. Even better, please ask your colleague to take a look at it before you send it off to confirm this is the image you want to project.


Jim Reed
YKK Corporation of America