Time magazine just hired me to write a piece about workplace trends among young people. One of the things I wrote about was how much people value the opportunity to volunteer for non-profit organizations through their company. And one of the best examples of this is Salesforce.com.
So I called the publicist there and set up an interview with the CEO, Marc Benioff. I also scheduled a Time magazine photographer to take photos of Salesforce.com’s volunteer program in action.
But Marc skipped out on the interview. And, even though he was missing in action, the publicist went ahead with the photo. After about five phone calls I realized that Marc had disappeared and I was stuck with a photo from a company that I couldn’t get a quote from: useless.
So for my first thing I’ve ever written for Time magazine, I was going to miss my deadline. Everyone can be their best selves in the best circumstance. But in bad circumstances, it’s very hard to be your best self. We learn how pulled together we are by watching what we do when things go badly.
I screamed at the publicist. At first I screamed at him for letting the photo happen when he knew he would miss my deadline with the interview. At one point he told me he believed Marc was having a personal problem and I said, “Well it had better be a death in the family.” Yep. I said that. Nice, huh?
Finally, in a huff, I told the publicist I was not using Salesforce.com in the piece I was writing. I was very pissed off and I wanted to punish everyone for messing up my article. But to be honest, I didn’t have another photo lined up. And I was pretty much screwing myself.
Then I got the voicemail from Marc Benioff. He knew that I was angry, that I took his company out of the article, and that he missed my deadline. Still, he left me a message. He told me he was really sorry, and then, instead of leaving a message which would be of no use to me, he left me a long message giving me every quote I could need for my story about Salesforce.com and volunteering.
This was super smart of him, but most people wouldn’t do it. Most people would accept that they were pulled out of the story, most people would be too scared to call a journalist who has been screaming on the phone, and most people would not have the poise and composure to basically interview themselves on voicemail and do a good job. I liked seeing the difference between what a regular person would do and what a star performer does.
So I wrote my article (with Salesforce.com), got it in almost on time, and then someone came to my door with flowers. From Marc. A big arrangement with poppies and bergamot and cabbage. Cabbage! Isn’t that interesting? When I saw it I got giddy. I’m a girl who loves getting flowers.
He sent a card that said he was sorry and what can he do to make it up to me. Apologizing was not difficult for Marc. It seems that for him it doesn’t matter who is right or not. He just wants to have a good relationship. He’s a good influence on me: As soon as I finish writing this, I’m going to call the publicist and apologize for being rude.
No one has ever sent me flowers to get into an article before, but you know what? It’s really smart. Some places I write for would fire me in a second for accepting flowers in exchange for an article. But my blog is different. So I’m gonna tell you that flowers can sway me. If you want me to write about you on my blog, send me flowers. And no carnations. This is not prom.