“Nascar” Muffler and The Wisdom of My Neighborhood

My Austin, Texas neighborhood has a Yahoo “list serve” and neighbors use it to post messages. Not long ago, a neighbor, John, started a thread about the very loud muffler on the car of the newspaper delivery guy who services our neighborhood around 6 am each morning. (Yes, some of my neighbors–myself included–still love to read our morning newspapers the old fashion way!) The post gently pointed out the fact this loud muffler could be heard blocks away. Neighbors concurred…adding funny anecdotes about how the “Nascar” sounding muffler, like clock work, unleashed “chain reactions” every morning in their homes. Soon, John posted again– writing that he was thinking of contacting our local newspaper about the loud muffler. THIS IS WHERE THE STORY GETS INTERESTING.

Several neighbors wrote posts supporting John’s idea about calling the paper. But suddenly a neighbor posted the fateful words: “And then we’ll have an UNEMPLOYED newspaper carrier.” I was on email at the time watching this thread. With that “warning” post, time seemed to stand still while our neighborhood absorbed the prospect of that unintended consequence. Then the magic began to happen.…neighbor after neighbor began to pledge “muffler repair” donations. John volunteered to oversee the collection and get it in the hands of the driver. Bottomline, in a few days nary a muffler sound!

My favorite new book is called “How: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything” by Dov Seidman. Dov teaches us that in today’s world of unprecedented transparency and increasing interconnectedness, it is no longer WHAT you do, but HOW you do what you do.

Loyalty Lesson:
Says Dov, “WHATS are commodities, easily duplicated and reversed engineered. Sustainable advantage and enduring success for organizations (and neighborhoods) and the people who work for (or live in) them, lie in the realm of HOW.” Want to stand out in your market space? Take a close look at your HOW.


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