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Mount Creative Writers

"Öwe used to do business with a handshakeÖ"

Alexandra Tyminski
MSM Class of 2015

(10/2014) I have to say that writing this article has been a challenge for me. There were a lot of different things I wanted to express, but I wasnít quite sure how to do it. I realized though that another challenge for me when I began writing this article were all of my distractions. I was drinking coffee, listening to some music, and every now and then checking the little device sitting on my deskómy phone. I kept checking my phone thinking that some magical message might pop up, my mom would call, or even an invitation to go somewhere fun might appear. When I recognized how much my phone was controlling my ability to focus, I turned it off and put it in my desk. I thought to myself, is this was the world is coming to? Are we attached to technology in a way that is irreversible?

I laughed to myself and started to type with a big smirk on my face. Mike Hillman, the man that runs this paper, has always struck me as someone with a lot of great, fun quirkiness and an immense amount of knowledge. When I asked Mike in an email if I could do an internship with him, he said to me, "Yes, Iíd love to have you as an intern!"

When you think of an internship, you think of a fancy suit, a desk, a formal interview, and maybe even the nerves that come with a new job. I wasnít sure what to expect when I asked Mike for a marketing internship. In all honesty, I was eager to find out what type of tasks Mike would have for me knowing his upbeat and spunky personality. However, I didnít know what he would expect from me.

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How does this all connect, my constant craving to check my phone and Mike Hillman? I will explain. I first arrived at Mikeís farm this summer on August 14, when I met his wife and petted all of his furry animals. We sat down at his desk where his computers were and he said, "I want to show you something."

In my head, I thought, oh no what is this? Am I going to struggle with this internship? For some reason, I did get nervous in that moment.

"Okay okay, watch this," he said.

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"I got a phone call this morning from one of our oldest customers. He fired us. After 20 years, he fired us. He said he didnít know us anymore. I think I know why. We used to do business with a handshake, face-to faceónow itís a phone call and a fax, get back to ya later, probably with another fax. Well folks, some things got to change. Thatís why we are going to set out our little face-to face-chat with every customer we have."  [Click here to watch the video]

"But, Ben, thatís got to be over 200 cities."

"I donít care."

"If youíre the kind of business that still believes personal service deserves a lot more than lip service, Welcome to Unitedóthatís how weíve been doing business for over 60 years."

"Ben, where are you going?"

"To visit that old friend that fired us this morning."

"United, come fly the friendly skies."

This was the video that Mike showed me. It was a United Airlines commercial from 1993. Do you see why this is important? This is the question that Mike asked me and now I want to ask you.

In business marketing class, we learn about customer relationship management, CRM. One thing I learned was the importance of understanding a customerís needs and how to manage good relationships with them. This video helps point me to this question, but how? How do we maintain good relationships with our customers? Maybe you arenít a business owner, but you could look at this commercial and say, how do we maintain good relationships with the people we know and love?

As a business major, I see that businesses have definitely lost touch with this, but so have people. I couldnít go fifteen minutes without checking my phone while writing my article. I am finding that I am checking my phone during meals and seeing that technology is telling me how long my attention span should be, when I should be half tuned in to what my friends are saying, and how much time I should spend checking social media. Iím by no means saying that technology is bad, but it can allow us to lose touch with others, just like the United Airlines commercial shows us.

After watching this video, Mike challenged me to meet with advertisers to thank them for their support of our paper. He then challenged me to take my optimistic attitude and try to find new businesses that might want to advertise with us. He looked me in the eyes and said, "Are you sensitive?"

"Not reallyÖÖ" I said with a shaky voice.

I thought to myself, well, Iím not sensitive anymore, Mike! I knew that him asking me that would mean that my second challenge was going to be my biggest. However, it wouldnít be impossible.

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The time came when I had to meet with my first advertisers. I met Mike and we ventured out so he could show me the ropes. We stopped into some businesses that might be interested in advertising and this is where I felt challenged. Some people didnít look as interested, whereas others could tell that this was my first time doing this type of advertising.

"You have to learn to accept no," said Mike.

"Okay," I said.

"You can visit this business, and that might be good," Mike kept saying.

"Okay," I said.

"This will be good practice for marketing experience," he spoke again.

"Okay," I murmured.

"Can you say anything else other than okay?" he asked.

"No," I said giggling. This comment from Mike made me laugh and feel more comfortable to tell him how I really felt.

"Iím really nervous, Mike. Itís good nerves though, but I am nervous meeting with these different people and learning to accept no."

"No, no, thatís good. Donít worry, it will be fine! You just have to let them know you are doing an internship and with practice it will become easier to you," Mike said.

When we finished meeting with new potential advertisers and current advertisers, I was driving back to Mount St. Maryís and couldnít stop smiling. I realized that my internship was like one with a fancy suit, a desk, and nerves except these were all different. My desk is the compilation of the towns I will be visiting. It is so much bigger than any desk I could have ever imagined. My fancy suit is my personality. I donít dress up my personality, but I put it on even brighter than any other day. Iím excited to show off not my ruffles on my skirt, but rather the quality of our paper to advertisers. My nerves arenít because I question whether I can do the job, but because I know that this experience is going to prepare me for the real world in a way that nothing ever has.

This leaves me with my last few thoughts for my article that I wanted to share with you when I first started writing. I see now that the United Airlines commercial was speaking about something we donít think about every day: the importance of human face-to-face relationships.

It doesnít matter whether it is your customer or your best friend, these face-to-face personal connections are so importance in a world where technology replaces those connections.

My last thoughts are actually thank-yous. I want to thank United Airlines for developing a commercial that creatively connects our public minds to the importance of relationships. The greatest memories Iíve ever had are the encounters I have had with old friends, new friends, family, co-workers, customers, bosses, and even the homeless. In my internship, I will be pushed to accept no when trying to make connections, but this is okay. The current customers will be happy and pleased to see my joyful face pop in to say hello. I want to thank them for supporting our paper. It brings me the most happiness seeing those support a high-quality paper with a mission of serving its town.

The last person Iíd like to thank is Mike Hillman. I want to thank you for an opportunity that is not only teaching me how to run a paper, but also teaching me about myself. Iím seeing that Iím not as sensitive as I thought. Iím understanding that marketing begins with being genuine and that any business that focuses on personal customer-relationship management is one that I want to be a part of. You have taught me a lot in only a short time, but with every new day, I look forward to sitting at my desk with my big smile and giant bag of nerves. Thank you for infusing your passion of a high-quality paper in me. And thank you to United Airlines for creating a commercial that inspired both me and Mike Hillman to reach out our hands and show our faces to those who contribute to our newspaper. For many businesses, technology might be its best friend. To me, personal connections are better for business. Technology, I canít let you win. Please meet your greatest enemy: me.

Read other articles by Alexandra Tyminski