The Extra Mile

You know that friend of yours who everyone wants to be around? That’s my friend Johnny. Not only is his warm and laid-back personality magnetic, but he is consistently surprising me with those little extra steps he takes. Its often that "extra mile" that can make a difference between huge success and middling achievement, and a recent anecdote from Johnny’s work life illustrates this perfectly. (by the way, if you haven’t yet bought the StartupNation book and read about the Sloans traveling 200 extra miles for their first business idea, you have to go pick it up!)

Johnny is 20 and is interning at a company that buys the DVD distribution rights to older movies and TV shows. He was initially assigned typical intern work, the sort of mind-numbing stuff that apes have the mental capacity, but lack the cognitive abilities, to perform. Nonetheless, he always delivers beyond expectations – if they’re expecting a one-page document, he shows up with a six-slide PowerPoint.

Johnny’s most recent task was to perform research into radio shows that would be a good cross-fit for some of his company’s DVDs. So he started calling around, and with his characteristic tenacity, ended up talking to the assistant to a producer/writer for a major radio show. Asked for his position, he said he was an "intern", and was promptly shut down.

No matter. Johnny called back the next day and told the same person that he "worked with the VP of Marketing" at his company. And like that, he’s in. After a friendly half-hour conversation with this woman, he is put through to the producer himself.

By the time Johnny had gotten off the phone, he’d negotiated a killer deal for his company. In exchange for some rock and roll memorabilia that the radio show host can give away, he will be promoting a particular DVD over the air for several months. You can be sure that Johnny’s company was impressed by his tenacity and willingness to go the extra mile.

Are there any instances you know of or are personally proud of that involve going the extra mile? Let me hear about them.

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