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BY Joel Junker

Connecting with Others During the Holidays

Last week I traveled to El Paso , TX and Manhattan, KS to meet with JMO candidates enrolled in the Cameron-Brooks Development and Preparation Program (DPP), as well as other JMOs considering a business career.  I do not get to travel much, though I enjoy it.  One of the things I enjoy most about traveling is the various people I meet and get to know.  I am not referring to the JMOs in this instance, though I  find that thoroughly rewarding as well.  In this case I mean other travelers, hotel staff, and shuttle bus drivers. 

When I first started traveling for Cameron-Brooks, I found it lonely.  Then I started a competition with myself.  How many people can I help in a day?  I figured when I put less focus on myself, I would enjoy my travels more.  It doesn’t take much to earn a point.  It can be simple.  During this past trip, I wrote a letter to the General Manager of the Radisson Hotel in El Paso praising Ricardo and Marcus on their outstanding customer service in helping me set up my meeting room.  These two young men had no incentive to help.  The room had been set the way I had requested,  until I decided to change it before the meeting began.  With a lot of energy, a smile, and calling me Mr. Junker, they delivered more banquet chairs, brought a pitcher of water, and unearthed a door stop – from where I have no idea.  What could I do for them?  At most of these hotels, employees get a pay raise, bonus, or a day off when a customer writes a letter like this.  These guys deserve it.  Before I started my competition, I probably would have gone on about my business without taking time to give back to Marcus and Ricardo.

As I was walking to my flight in the El Paso airport , I saw an older gentleman whose bag of Christmas presents had ripped allowing all of the presents to fall on the floor.  This was late Friday afternoon, and the airport was crowded.  People walked by ignoring his plight, while the gentleman stood tying his bag back together.  When I reached him, there was one present left on the floor and I simply handed it to him. 

Finally, when I pulled out of the airport parking area to make a turn onto the highway there was an old mini-van with it’s emergency lights flashing, sitting at the intersection.  I pulled up behind the mini-van, and the older lady who was driving waved me to pass.  I had an hour and half drive ahead of me and I wanted to get home after being gone for a week. I pulled ahead, got ready to make the turn, and then thought , “How many other people like me will drive by leaving her in the middle of the road, instead of stopping and helping her move out of the way?”  In my head, I could hear one of my Notre Dame ROTC Instructors saying, “If not you, who?”  So I reluctantly pulled over and ran back.  There were three young children in the van along with the lady, and she told me she had no transmission fluid left.  I got behind the van and pushed her across the intersection and out of the way.  She reached her hand out and grabbed mine and said, “Thank you.”  That made it worth it.  So did driving by my favorite wine store in Austin on the way home and rewarding myself with a nice bottle of wine.

I do not share this with you to insinuate that I am a good person or to look for compliments, but rather to show that taking the  focus off myself and puting it on helping others, changed my attitude.  It helped me connect with other people whom I previously would have passed by and barely noticed.  This change has made my travels more enjoyable.  During the Holiday Season, many of you will travel or simply be busy with all of the tasks that come with this time of year.  It is easy to get self-absorbed when we are so busy.  When this happens, look for ways to help, and if that doesn’t motivate you, play a game with yourself and set a nice a reward for a certain number of points. 

 Joel Junker