Walking the Talk

To me, one of the most important things is someone’s authenticity. Whether that someone is an individual or a business, I like to know that what they are saying and the actions they are taking are congruent. It’s called “walking your talk”.

It’s natural, we like and trust people who do what they say they are going to do. And this trust is the cornerstone of business and personal success. It becomes part of your brand, who you are and what you’re known for. This applies equally to multi-million dollar corporations as to the co-worker, solopreneur, or friend sitting next to you.

One of the things that impressed me most about Olivia on my recent cruise is the fact that they walk their talk from the top down in a very visible way. It wasn’t so much the “things” the staff did as much as “who” they were. What I mean is that I felt each person I encountered was being authentic and showing up with their unique personalities. They live the company philosophy which I found on the “jobs” section of their website. It states:

‘At Olivia, our philosophy for our guests is to “feel free” and for our employees is to “be me.” ‘

What a novel concept — wanting your employees to actually be themselves instead of some “one size fits all” conformity approach!

Someone at Olivia “gets it” that being authentic, consistent, and building trust is far more attractive to potential customers and guests than hard selling is.

Let me give you some examples of what really tipped my “impressive meter” based on my experience.

The leaders of the company (founder Judy Dlugacz and CEO Amy Errett) were visible and interested in having every single guest have their best vacation experience ever. For instance they:

  • Welcomed each and every guest as they boarded the ship. Now, how many other companies have you dealt with that care THAT much about being accessible to and concerned with their customer’s experience? They had me hooked from the get go.
  • Welcomed everyone aboard as a group at the sail-away party
  • Attended all the major events during the week
  • Were visible “out and about” on the ship
  • Had several Q&A and similar presentations on the past, present, and future of Olivia.
  • Greeted and thanked everyone aboard as they disembarked at the end of the trip

Sure there was plenty of marketing and branding going on at least daily. One woman I ate dinner with said, “They are a marketing machine!” But here’s the catch, it was authentic and expectations were clearly stated (for example: attend such and such presentation for its full duration and win a chance at a 2 for 1 vacation). Nobody minds watching marketing in action if it is authentic, occasional, and not overdone. I am the first to sniff out a sales pitch, but never did I feel like I was being “sold to” on this vacation. And, if I wasn’t in the mood to listen to a presentation, I didn’t have to attend it, plain and simple.

  • As a whole the staff did what they said they were going to do. That means they were on time, available at guest services during the hours listed, and willing and able to help with a myriad of questions, concerns or problems. And, if they didn’t know the answer they didn’t shrug and say “not my job”; they referred you to the person who could actually answer your question.
  • The entertainers reflected and enhanced the overall experience even though each had their own unique style. Other than the “surprise” guest opener on the final night, each performer lived up to expectations of the crowd. The hooting and hollering made that fairly clear. And, when the crowd wasn’t happy with something, did Olivia hide in a corner pondering the situation? Heck no, they marched right out on stage and lovingly challenged the crowd to stretch a little and open their minds and hearts to new ways of thinking. It takes courage and class to acknowledge when there is a proverbial elephant in the room.
  • The partners they carefully chose (Holland America and its staff) reflected the Olivia standard of excellence and both entities operated seamlessly and mostly transparent to guests.
  • Got a complaint? Suggestion? Request? The company genuinely wants to hear it – in person, online, and via their comprehensive satisfaction survey. Return guests could see past feedback come to fruition.

The old mantra of “just be yourself” is truly the best advice there is, professionally and personally. If you’re not true to yourself, what are you left with?

Take a moment today and answer these questions:

  • Where are you showing up as 100% authentic?
  • Where do you compromise who you are (maybe just ever so slightly) to fit in or please another?
  • How do you feel when you are authentic?
  • How do you feel when you compromise because you think you “should” or “have to”?

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