While ducks quack and eagles fly

Last week’s column, entitled “Superwoman at the SONA”, ended with an introduction of a story that is being passed around through email. It is entitled “Why do ducks quack and eagles fly?” Due to the column’s length, we were not able to place it.

The previous column talked about why VAT on oil should not be scrapped or even reduced, while it may be a populist thing especially for those running in the next presidential election. Even as the elimination of the vat does give temporary relief, it does not give solution to the real picture. We now see other countries removing subsidies on gasoline and other oil related products. Once the world consumes less, prices will drop. Oil prices were mainly driven by the speculative market. Now that the market noticed a global change in lifestyle that reduced consumption due to its surging prices, we expect market players to eventually unwind their long positions on oil as they will anticipate prices to drop. The market is always forward looking.

I have been saying that oil and other commodities are going to drop. So far, it has breached the 120 level and heading down towards the 100 maybe by this year or next year. We hope that the windwall gain on VAT on oil will flow towards the development of more mass transport systems, maybe giving more incentives to conversion to more efficient and environmentally friendly engines or fuels for taxis, jeepneys, and buses.

I know a lot of people have their own concerns with this current administration. But if one were to look at problems in a different way, they will see opportunities that arise from these problems. Sometimes these are not even our problems. Instead, we become overly concerned about the country’s problems that it then affects our total outlook in life and even in our negosyo. The old saying goes, if there is “blood in the streets”, that is the best time to buy assets from stocks to real estate”.

Let me share with you the story, which has something to do with Go Negosyo’s advocacy on having the right mindset and attitude to succeed in life.

Why do ducks quack and eagles fly?

Years ago, my friend, Harvey Mackay, told me a wonderful story about a cab driver that proved this point. He was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey. He handed my friend a laminated card and said: “I’m Wally, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d like you to read my mission statement.”  Taken aback, Harvey read the card. It said: Wally’s Mission Statement: “To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.”

This blew Harvey away, especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean!

As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.” My friend said jokingly, “No, I’d prefer a soft drink.”  Wally smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice.” Almost stuttering, Harvey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke.”  Handing him his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.”

As they were pulling away, Wally handed my friend another laminated card. “These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.”

And as if that weren’t enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him. Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he’d be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.

“Tell me, Wally,” my amazed friend asked the driver, “have you always served customers like this?”

Wally smiled into the rearview mirror. “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day. He had just written a book called You’ll See It When You Believe It. Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, ‘Stop complaining! Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.'”

“That hit me right between the eyes,” said Wally. “Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.”

“I take it that has paid off for you,” Harvey said. “It sure has,” Wally replied. “My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I’ll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don’t sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can’t pick them up myself, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action.”

Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab. I’ve probably told that story to more than fifty cab drivers over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it. Whenever I go to their cities, I give them a call. The rest of the drivers quacked like ducks and told me all the reasons they couldn’t do any of what I was suggesting.

Wally the Cab Driver made a different choice… He decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles.

No one can make you serve customers well. You make the choice. That’s because great service is a choice.

I hope that this story will serve as a motivation, not only for our Go Negosyo advocates, but also for people to look at things differently and make a choice to succeed in spite of everyday problems in life.