Last weekend my co-workers and I were in for quite the surprise when $1000 cash was found among electronics that were dropped off for recycling at a community e-waste drive.
It is safe to say that 99.9 percent of the time if something valuable randomly shows up in the waste stream, locating the owner would be near impossible. However, with thanks to the integrity of Brodie Ehresman (who found the cash) and the power of good memory, this story has a happy ending.

For those of you who like a genuine feel-good story, you are in for a real treat.

As a business development manager at Advanced Technology Recycling, the e-cycling company in charge of setting up the logistics for the event, it was important to make connections and advertise the recycling opportunity to local businesses. Throughout the week leading up to the event, I found myself spending a whole afternoon jumping business to business, knocking on doors and handing out information about the event.

After a while, the people I met and the businesses I approached began to all blur together.

Then, there was Steve— the exception to the rule.

When Steve came to the event a few days after my preliminary conversation with him, I could actually recall specific details we had discussed when I first met him. Despite the dozens of faces and businesses I saw during the days leading up to the big event, Steve stood out from the rest. He is the type of person who genuinely cares about meeting other people, hearing their story, and supporting their cause. No matter how busy Steve may be, he will take the time to ask questions, and truly listen to the response.

So, when Steve dropped off boxes of electronics for recycling –one of which contained $1000 in cash stashed away in hiding – it did not take a lot of investigative work to locate the owner of the cash. (The biggest challenge, however, was trying to recall which of the dozens of surrounding businesses Steve works at. After 45 minutes of driving around, luckily were spotted his car, and returned the cash to a very happy – and pleasantly surprised – Steve.)

Even when Steve dropped off the electronics for recycling, he got out of his car and talked to me a bit about the industry, the challenges we face, and the positive impact of recycling. I know with 100 percent certainty that had Steve not taken the time to build a relationship with me, the $1000 would have never ended up coming back to him – how would we have remembered him among all of the faces?

In business, we have a choice every single day regarding the impression we leave on others. Every single conversation we chose to have (or even chose not to have) significantly impacts our relationships with others. Building connections, whether in your personal life or in the workplace, is instrumental to the foundation of being an effective businessperson and leader.

Many of you are master networkers and work every single day to build meaningful relationships with fellow professionals. Arguably, it must go beyond that – you must want to build a positive report with everyone you cross paths with. Too often do we make the mistake of only seeking to build connections with those who are prospective clients, or who may know someone among our target clientele. The truth is, everyone who crosses our path throughout the work week – the solicitor, barista or contractor – will make a decision on whether or not they will remember you, and just how you will be remembered.

As we welcome a new work week, I leave you with some challenges:

  • Seek to do the right thing. Strive for integrity. What goes around comes around.
  • Set up a business 1-on-1 with someone who you may not have initially thought to meet with. Ask questions, and take the time to truly listen.
  • We all want to make an honest living. Sometimes, it requires us to knock on doors and pick up the phone to make cold calls. Next time you end up in a conversation with a presumed solicitor, react understandingly before hastily.
  • Make a conscious effort to make a positive impression on everyone you come across- smile at passerby, thank the barista for their hard work, practice diplomacy when annoyed, and never forget the impact of a first impression.

The story on the $1000 cash find was aired on Detroit’s Fox News 2 on 9/28 and can be found here:

Blog Post by Whitney Ehresman, Business Development Manager at Advanced Technology Recycling

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