The Power of the Personal Interview

While working on a project recently, I was reminded of how often I put Shackleton lessons to use in my daily life.

When Endurance sailed from London on August 1, 1914, Shackleton remained behind to tie up loose ends. The Boss arrived in Buenos Aires six weeks after Endurance and found the ship's departure plans were tied up in red tape. Shackleton sliced through the problem by going to see the Argentinian officials in person.

From Shackleton's Way...

[Shackleton] "biographer wrote humorously that Shackleton, who had successfully charmed 'cold-blooded businessmen' in England into parting with their money, had little trouble dealing with the more agreeable Argentine officials: 'All doors opened, all wheels ran smoothly, everything was done, done quickly, and with an air of Castilian grace.'"

In 2004, when I was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of ovarian cancer, I needed my CT scans transferred from one hospital to another. Despite a number of phone calls, the scans were never sent. Late on a Friday afternoon, my new doctor's office called to say the chemo treatments would have to be postponed if they didn't get the scans. Thinking of Shackleton and the Argentinian port officials, I grabbed my cane and headed to the first hospital.

Most of the staff had left for the weekend but thanks to a couple of determined security officers, I eventually left with the scans and the chemo treatments started on time. And here I am talking about it 17 years later. Thanks, Sir Ernest!

Most of the time we're not dealing with life-threatening situations but when you really need to get something accomplished, there's nothing more powerful than showing up in person.


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