Twenty-nine of the letters were easy.
The CEO needed to congratulate 30 employees for receiving national recognition, serving in leadership roles at the national or international level, and similar achievements that strengthened the organization’s brand.
My job was to do some research—fact check titles, addresses, and bosses who needed to be cc’ed, and find out how long the recipients had been with the organization, any other noteworthy awards or areas of service, and whether or not they had any previous interactions with the CEO that should be mentioned—and draft short letters in the CEO’s voice.
The first 29 letters took about five hours.
The thirtieth took nearly three hours: one hour per paragraph.
Information was hard to track down and verify. The recipient’s assistant insisted that one thing was correct, but that didn’t align with something else. His website gave one date, but an official document from the organization gave another.
It was an exercise in frustration. I began to regret personalizing each letter when a generic template would do the job in minutes.
A few weeks later, I arrived early at a video shoot that involved the CEO and this employee. The employee said he couldn’t wait to meet the CEO and shake his hand.
It was if the CEO actually knew him—one employee out of 6,000! He had taken the letter home and showed it to his wife, and she agreed that this CEO was outstanding—he really cared about people!
"I was offered a job in another state last week," he said. "But I'm staying put."
I learned my lesson: an organization’s brand truly is its people, and going the extra mile pays off.
--Ann Kellett, Ph.D.
Ann Kellett Editing