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Epic Moments

By Jim Mikula President/CEO

How would you define an Epic Moment? One of my most memorable experiences was in a very small restaurant in Tokyo. I yearned to see the “real” Japan and one of my local associates referred me to a family restaurant that was off the beaten track where I might get that experience.

My hosts were surprised to see a foreign businessman walk through their door and treated me with a reverence that was startling. The owners did not speak English, but their son, who was studying it, was thrilled to translate (with coaching from Mom and Dad on what to say). And, then came dinner…they introduced me to a way of cooking and serving fish that I had never seen before. It was so delicious that I can still, literally, remember the taste.

During most of my career I worked in luxury hotels including ten years in Asia. At the time, the luxury hospitality industry was exploding and there was a huge focus on creating the classic, five-star level in guest services. Those of us who grew up in luxury hospitality in that era were always thinking was about reaching perfection in guest service. While perfection is clearly an unachievable goal, I enjoyed the pursuit. To that end, I still study service excellence.

A few years ago, I met Dan Heath, a NY Times Best Selling author and sought after keynote speaker. After our conversation, I walked away thinking that what is most important about guest or customer satisfaction is to deliver great service at the right time – a time that is meaningful to the guest/customer.

Dan and his brother, Chip, authored “The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact.” They defined four components with EPIC as an acronym: E for Elevation, P for Pride, I for Insight, and C for Connection. The book has many real-life stories that range from hotels to hospitals to John Deere’s new employee orientation to a school that has one of the highest percentages of graduates going to college for students from disadvantaged families.

The book defines “Elevations” as experiences that rise above the routine. These experiences generate feelings of being engaged, joyful, surprised, and motivated. At the Japanese restaurant so many years ago, I felt so surprised by their respectful treatment of me that it was almost overwhelming. Now I must be creative in finding ways to provide Elevations for my staff, Chamber members and the community at large.

“Pride” is about commemorating people’s achievements. This past week Christie Bourquin, Executive VP of the Chamber, had her 14th anniversary with us. Of course, we celebrated her personally, but more importantly, her skills and talents are being recognized with new areas of responsibility.

“Insight” drives new realizations and, potentially, transformations. This element includes self-insight which calls for stretching and placing oneself in situations that might involve the risk of failure. This makes me wonder about the all the untapped talent of Chamber members and how we uncover their insights to drive ways the Chamber can improve.

It is the times of meaningful “Connection” that bind us together. The son of the elderly Japanese restaurant owners connected with me and became the link that connected me to his parents. I have not forgotten the bond we felt that evening. I think about this important element weekly. With nearly 800 Chamber members, how do we create meaningful connections with them? This is a challenge especially because in today’s fast paced and internet-charged world, it is hard to get someone’s attention and equally hard to hold it.

So, what have been the Epic Moments of your life? And, whether you are a business owner, a service provider or a volunteer helping out at your church, how can you create an Epic Moment for someone else?

At the Chamber, we will be contemplating, designing and actively seeking to be more EPIC!

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