Last week I spoke on "The Element of Surprise" at a monthly lunch held in Houston's Energy Corridor. Here I provide a transcript of the talk in three parts.
The Surprise of Service
You’ve heard of Twitter before, the web service that allows you to send out 140-character messages to followers in an instant. People like Peter Shankman, author and entrepreneur, have over 100,000 followers, so when they tweet lots of people get the message. Well, it was August 2011 and Shankman had just finished up a tiring business trip. As he was in the airport readying for his return trip, he hankered for a steak from one of his favorite establishments, Morton’s Steakhouse. That hankering resulted in this tweet: "Hey @mortons - can you meet me at the newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks. :)"
Of course, he didn’t expect anything to come of it. It was just a fun way of saying what sounded really good in the moment. But someone at Morton’s, a restaurant chain that prides itself on its customer service, got hold of the tweet. They contacted the Morton’s nearest to Newark’s Liberty airport, figured out what flight Shankman was on, and met him at the gate. What was in the bag from the tuxedo-clad delivery man? A 24-ounce Morton’s porterhouse, shrimp, potatoes, bread, napkins and silverware.
To say the least, Shankman was shocked. He had just been surprised by some pretty great service. This was his follow up tweet: "Oh. My. God. I don't believe it. @mortons showed up at EWR WITH A PORTERHOUSE!"
I think my response wouldn’t have been much different. Being served when you expect to be served is one thing. Being served when you don’t expect it is a whole different experience.[i] The Shankman story is a great example of the second surprise I want to suggest this Christmas: the gift of surprising service.
What is it that people would not expect you to do this Christmas? Let’s consider the home front. Would others expect you to clean up the house? Would others expect you to volunteer to help with the Christmas decorations? Would others expect you to bring a great dish to the holiday gathering? Some of these things you may normally do. But what could you do that would be a surprise? You don’t have to make a big deal about it. In fact, it’s best if you don’t. Just surprise someone by serving them, and chances are you will bring a good bit of unexpected Christmas cheer.
[i] Yosult Usigan, “Peter Shankman Tweets @Morton’s Steakhouse to Bring Him a Porterhouse, Wish Granted,” CBSNews, August 29, 2011.
John likes to help people wrestle with the big questions of life in his work with Search Ministries. He served as a pastor in Houston for 16 years, earned his doctorate at Biola University, and is a contributing author of Reasons to Believe: Thoughtful Responses to Life’s Toughest Questions.