We once went to Portland to shoot an animated commercial.
We went to Will Vinton’s Claymation studio.
One of the best stop-frame animation companies in the world.
When we got out at Portland airport, we got a cab into town.
I asked the cab driver how her day had been so far.
She said, “Better than some people’s, I guess.”
I asked her what she meant.
She said, “Half hour ago I picked up a guy at the airport who asked me to take him to a hotel I never heard of.
He said it was the biggest hotel in Portland.
They were holding a huge conference and he was due to give the main speech there in a half hour.
I said, how can it be the biggest hotel if I never heard of it?
He said, how can a cab driver not know the biggest hotel in Portland?
I said, I been driving a cab ten years and I never heard of it.
So he got out his cell phone called his office.
And he says he’s in Portland and the cab driver doesn’t know the hotel. So give him the goddam address for the stupid cab driver.
And you know what?
Turns out the hotel was in Portland alright.
But it was in Portland Maine, not Portland Oregon.
This Portland’s on the West coast.
That Portland’s on the East coast.
I guess his secretary booked him tickets to the wrong Portland.
I never seen no one so angry.
Yelling because this is the most important speech of his career, and everyone has flown in from all over the US to listen to him.
And they’re waiting for him to deliver his speech.
And he’s the only one who ain’t there.
So, like I said, I’m having a better day than some I guess.”
For me, was that was a great lesson in priorities.
That guy had decided the most important thing was the speech.
But he also decided nothing else was even worth bothering with.
If you don’t get the small stuff right, the big stuff doesn’t happen.
One time, our agency was trying to get on the pitch list for National Express.
We had a chemistry meeting with the client scheduled for 10.30am.
The account man decided to impress them.
He went to Victoria coach station to get the 8.30am National Express coach.
He’d take it as far as Golders Green, then get the tube back to work.
He’d be back at the office in time for the meeting.
He’d debrief the client on what he’d learned.
He’d tell them about the whole National Express experience.
Booking the tickets, waiting for the bus, the service on board, the level of comfort, the journey itself, on-board facilities, etc.
And he’d tell them what were the main issues he felt needed addressing.
He felt he’d have a lot more credibility, having just been on one of their coaches.
So at 10.30 the client turned up for the meeting.
In fact everyone turned up except the account man.
Around 11am he called in from his mobile phone.
He was still on the bus and he couldn’t get off.
He assumed all National Express buses stopped at Golders Green.
So he hadn’t checked the one he got on.
It didn’t stop at Golders Green.
In fact, it didn’t stop until Birmingham.
So he wouldn’t be at the meeting after all.
The small stuff didn’t happen, so the big stuff didn’t happen.