First, a story that turned me into a puddle of tears this morning. I love stories of people going above and beyond to serve others. It’s something I try to embody in my work and I love seeing others not only take notice, but share their stories.
What you didn’t know is that beneath my son’s Yadi t-shirt there’s a central line and a feeding tube. You didn’t know that the unusual form and function of his little body mean that he dehydrates easily, but also that drinking too much water could ultimately land us in the hospital, and for whatever reason, against most logic, right now milk is the thing he tolerates best.
As has been discussed in endless numbers of places, NBC doesn’t do this for its prime time Olympics coverage. It doesn’t emphasize the sport, or even the athletes’ struggles to excel in their sport. Rather, it emphasizes the athletes’ individual struggles with themselves. The point isn’t how to be good at sport X. The point is to overcome the disadvantages of injury or poverty or gender or race or whatever. The competition is moral, not physical.
This makes a lot of sense and I see it the longer I watch the Primetime Olympics coverage especially. I also can’t tell you how many times I heard the entire story, complete with security video of Ryan Lochte and the other three swimmers last night. Every time the official NBC program changed, we were given the entire story. Again.
The Olympics are treated closer to the Real Athletes of America more than Olympians competing in their chosen sports for medals. The sports are secondary to the drama.
This is absolutely worth the read. It’s about dogs, love, loss and Pokémon Go. It was a beautiful story. I saw a lot of myself in the author. I recently worked from home for a week and, if I wasn’t married, would not have left the house. I am a hermit at heart and I’ve also fallen in love with Pokémon Go and had wonderful experiences playing it.
The world is filled with real people, just like you. I talk to people everyday in all moods. I get the happy people excited to learn. I get the frustrated people who need a little help. I get the pissed off people who want to scream at me because I’m the poor sucker who took their call.
Working in tech support makes you the target of anger and frustration. We listen to a lot of it. We take it and try not to internalize it. We’re people. We’re real. We’re sitting at desks in sterile, soulless rooms taking calls and emails from frustrated customers.
We’re doing our best to help you and be nice about it. We’re real people, just like you. The Internet is full of those real people. They answer phone calls and emails. They read scathing words and insults hurled at them. They wait patiently through the profanity-riddled diatribes that take a 5 minute fix into a 45 minute call like I had yesterday.
We’re all people. It’s hard to remember when it’s a name in a chat box or an anonymous voice across a phone line. We’re the other person at the end of your email.
The video below animates Derek Sivers’ post Real and it’s a good reminder that we’re real people behind the technology.
Writing a book is hard. Putting words together and having another set of professional eyes fix them is painful.
My book is a collection of essays and it was covered in red once I got it back from the editor. And I’m thankful it was. I know I don’t write perfectly. I have no clue what to do with semi colons. Commas confound me. I spell well but my grammar is a mess.
My little book had gone from Markdown file to Word Document to Scrivener file. Now it’s a book. I can see it on my Kindle. I can send it to friends to get their reaction.
I learned how to make a book. How to write it. How to get it edited. Made those edits. How to format it. Now it’s real.
Now I’m learning how to sell it. How to price it. How to tell people about it. How to let is loose into the world. It’s all a great experiment.
A terrifying experiment. It’s the first time in years I’ve made a thing that I’ve put out into the world. It’s not a blog post. The living beast that slowly gets bigger and longer with the passing of time.
A book is a thing. Even if it gets updated or expanded upon. It’s still a snapshot of time. When those words existed in that order in a finite way.
And it’s almost done. Beyond the Reboot will be out soon once I made the last changes based on feedback I got from my wonderful friends who were gracious enough to look at it and tell me what I had long gone blind to.
Beyond the Reboot is about being a better technician. It won’t tell you what tools to use or how to fix problems. Those are skills that are easy to learn and have already been covered to death elsewhere.
Beyond the Reboot is a book about the human side of technical support. It remembers the Customer in Customer Service. It’s a reminder that we’re all here to serve the people behind the machines. The machines are coming for our jobs. We don’t need to give them any help. We need to help people.
And I think this little book will. And I hope you do too.
It’s available today.
I’m always a sucker for advice pieces, especially when they are directed from adults to children. Unsolicited Advice for My Three Sons, In No Particular Order is full of greats bits of advice but one stuck out to me more than the rest.
Names are a door handle to a person; that small little effort opens them up.
This is great advice, and something I use as much as I can, especially when talking to people over the phone. I work in a help desk environment and people feel dehumanized by the entire process so it’s nice to converse using each others names and not just a caller/callee relationship.
We’re both people and it’s important to remember that. We have feelings and we are working towards the same outcome. But it’s important for life too.
I try to take note of anyone with a name tag and thank them using their name. It’s fun to see the surprise in their face when I use their name when they didn’t give it to me.
I had the same feeling one day and I asked a customer when I worked in retail how he knew my name, he motioned to my name tag and winked. I had totally forgotten I had my name on my chest.
Today I have tried to live up to my own ideal of trying harder and caring about other people’s problems.
I received a call from someone working for the local state government. He was frustrated because he had been trying to access a database hosted at the Food and Drug Administration. He’s been unable to access it for over two weeks.
I had no idea what this database was or know anything about it. But I was determined to help him where others had passed him off. So I asked him for his email address and his ticket number.
While he was on the line, I searched for the site in question on the FDA’s Intranet and found it. But it had no contact information for support.
I told him I would contact the technician assigned to his ticket and find out who he could call for support.
He was very appreciative and we hung up.
Now the real work began. I could have ignored him and gone about my day. After all, it’s not my job to support everything the FDA does. But I was determined to help. So I did as I said.
I emailed the technician assigned to his ticket and asked for a better contact number since the site in question had no support information.
The tech got back to me quickly with the proper phone number and call tree options to press to get support directly.
I thanked him and sent the information back to the guy working in the state government. I hope he gets what he needs. The rest is out of my hands, but I did my best to give him an avenue for support. Now it’s up to the technicians on the other side to fulfill his request.
As an experiment, I recorded today’s post using Anchor. It’s slightly different from the written text but the message remains the same.
It’s embedded below. Or you can listen to the file directly.