Back in Mississippi as a young lobbyist many years ago, I spent considerable effort working on a prompt pay bill that would “encourage” the state of Mississippi to pay their contractors on time. It took many months of spade work, cajoling and arm twisting, but we finally got the bill done.
On the morning of the bill signing, after a fitful night of nervous sleep, I dressed early and left the house. When I arrived at the governor’s office expecting to line up for the traditional grip-and-grin photo, I was surprised when the governor’s aide called me into a room inside the mansion where a small breakfast had been assembled. I was invited to join the governor and a couple of high-ranking staffers for a pre-ceremony breakfast, and it seemed like a good start to one of the first milestone days in my young career.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself as we proceeded into the formal room for the picture-signing ceremony, but as we walked I noticed a wry look from the governor. We took our places and a photographer snapped the photo.
As I thanked the governor and prepared to leave, he drew close and said, “Son, did you dress in the dark this morning?”
“Well, yes sir, I did,” I said. “How did you know?”
“You’re wearing two different shoes.”
He gave me a fatherly pat on the back, chuckled and disappeared into the mansion followed by his aides.
I must have shrunk about two sizes due to embarrassment. I instantly went from being a hotshot up-and-coming lobbyist to a careless youth who couldn’t even dress himself properly. Dressing in the dark, so as not to wake up Miss Barbara, I had slipped on one black wingtip and one brown wingtip. It was not a major gaffe in the grand scheme of things, but it was enough to get me called out by the most powerful politician in Mississippi state government.
It’s often the little things that separate us from our competitors – like attention to details and meticulous checking and double-checking of the process. My own personal quality control system took a hit that day because I was careless. Attention to details and a focus on the little things can not only enhance the QA/QC process at your plant, it could save you some big-time embarrassment when you least expect it.
President, National Precast Concrete Association