Saturday, February 4, 2012

Turning Problems Into Opportunities

We’ve finally reached the end of the NFL football season with this weekend’s Super Bowl. There will be tons of food eaten and tons of money spent this weekend as people attend Super Bowl watching parties or go to their favorite neighborhood sports bar. Companies will also spend millions on commercials to get their products noticed.  

Today, I’d like to tell a story about a person who invented a new snack product that all of us enjoy. The year was 1853. The location was Saratoga Springs resort in upstate New York; a favorite place of the wealthy. A Native American cook named George Crum at one of the restaurants was working hard but couldn’t please everyone.  A patron ordered a plate of French-fried potatoes but didn’t like how thick and soft they were so he sent them back and ask for George to make them to his liking.

Are you ever thrown into situations like George? Maybe at work, you follow procedure and do everything the way it should be done but there is one person you just can’t please no matter what you do. Maybe at home; you go out of your way to fix a meal just for your kids but one picky eater always finds something to complain about.

What are some ideas on how we should respond? How should we respond to tough days? How should we respond to people that you just can’t please? If you are like me, you get ticked off. Sometimes I wish I could hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete on my day. Customer service gurus will say something like look on the favorable side of happenings or possibilities like to be cheerful and hopeful. Don't worry, be happy and be content with whatever the circumstances. They will say something like think about it: bad days can help you think up new ways to create better days for someone else.  Remain optimistic. If someone is complaining, don’t take it personal. Go ahead and try to meet their demand. 

The customer service gurus have some good ideas but like the cook named George in today’s story, most people are going to be ticked off. On this night in 1853, George Crum sliced a new batch of potatoes. He sliced them as thin as possible, fried them until they were hard and crunchy, and topped them off with a heaping of salt. George was thinking the patron would complain even more and then ask for the fluffy soft fries again but amazingly the patron loved them and a new snack was born.

The industry that George Crum launched in 1853 continues to grow and prosper today. Potato chips have become America’s favorite snack and the U.S. potato chip industry employees over 50,000 people. 

George showed us how a problem can become an opportunity. After launching the potato chips industry, he opened his own restaurant catering to wealthy clients including William Vanderbilt, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, and Henry Hilton.

And now you know today’s lesson. The next time you crunch into a potato chip and enjoy the delicious taste of one of the world’s most famous snacks, remember George Crum and how he handled a difficult customer with a touch of humor and by just trying to please them the best he knew how. 

Thanks for reading this blog. I'd like to invite you to take a look at my other blogs at the links below:

This Day With God
Step Ahead

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