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If you’ve followed Derek Jeter’s career and watched his improbable game winning hit in his final at bat in Yankee Stadium the other night, you know that Derek treated every at bat like it was his last and that’s what made his last at bat so special.
No one worked harder, played with more passion or cared more about playing and honoring the game of baseball than Derek Jeter. Jeter’s hustle, passion, commitment and work ethic have become his caring trademark over the last twenty years.
You may never have heard of the term caring trademark before but I believe the most successful people have a caring trademark: a unique way that shows they care and causes them to stand out in their profession.
While Jeter always sprinted to first base and treated every at bat as a sacred experience, Doug Conant’s caring trademark was writing over 10,000 thank you notes to employees while he was the CEO of Campbell Soup. Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith’s caring trademark is that he visits his players in the treatment room when they are injured.
Rita Pierson, a life changing educator, had a caring trademark and it was the encouragement she gave her students and belief she had in them. Unfortunately she passed away but her legacy andcaring trademark lives on in the students she taught. She gave one of my favorite speeches ever.Watch here.
Gallagher Bassett CEO Scott Hudson’s caring trademark is that he writes a weekly personal newsletter to the more than 5,000 global employees to highlight what he cares about in work and life. Interestingly, his employees often write back to him with personal stories of their own, further promoting a culture of open communication and caring.
My friend Fitz has a caring trademark and it is writing notes on the back of his business cards and placing them in the jacket pocket of the suits he sells me at Rosenblums. Each time I buy and wear a new suit I’ll find a card and it will say something like, “I hope you are doing something positive right now” or “Your day just got a whole lot better.”
Companies have caring trademarks as well and I believe it’s one of the key ways they stand out from their competition in the marketplace.
Chick-fil-A employees say “my pleasure.” They never say “no problem.” There’s a big difference between “my pleasure” and “no problem.” Publix Super Markets trains their employees to walk with you to the aisle and spot on the shelf when you ask them where you can find a specific item. They don’t say “aisle 9, good luck dude.”
Les Schwab Tire Center employees sprint outside and greet you when you pull up to their tire center and get out of your car. Zappos provides free shipping and returns. Toms Shoes gives a pair of shoes to someone in need for each pair sold. Sephora gives free samples and allows people to try the makeup in their stores. And I believe Apple’s caring trademark is the care they have put into the design of their products and their ease of use.
When it comes to caring trademarks the list is endless. Someone could write a book about all the unique ways that great companies and people show they care. But even if a book was written I wouldn’t want you to copy someone else.
The key is to create your own caring trademark that fits you and your organization.
Maybe you love to smile and talk to people but don’t like writing hand-written notes. Perhaps your competitor’s caring trademark is to offer the cheapest price but you want your trademark to be the quality of service you provide. You may not want to sprint outside to greet someone but you would love providing memorable goodbyes. And maybe you’re not the superstar on your team like Derek Jeter but you can be the kind of teammate whose caring trademark is to cheer the superstar on.
So think about who you are and what you stand for. Identify ways you love to show you care. Decide how you want to make a difference. What do you want to be known for? Your caring trademark should be an expression of who you are, demonstrate your values in action and reflect your mission to make a difference and serve others.
When you show you care in your own unique way, you will stand out in a world where many have seemed to forget to care. When you create and share your caring trademark day after day, year after year, you will realize that caring is one of the greatest success strategies of all.