By Mark Rheaume
As the cover story in [the February 2016 issue of] BOTTOM LINE so clearly shows, there is no shortage of issues that can keep mailers up at night. The comments and insights in the article, representing the experiences and views of very knowledgeable people in our industry, offer a great opportunity for us all to learn.
But when viewed as a whole, they may be somewhat daunting. I’d like to caution you not to be overwhelmed, and encourage you to take time to process this information. Yes, there are numerous concerns for those in the mailing industry. But there are also positive steps we can take to overcome the challenges before us.
Remember, each interviewee for the cover article was asked to relate what his or her industry-related concerns and difficulties are—not to speak about the most positive or rewarding facets of the mailing industry—so it is understandable that their responses would relate the challenges those in the industry face.
Like any industry, there are positives and negatives in the mailing industry—rewards and difficulties, opportunities and challenges. One important issue—both a challenge and an opportunity—that I see for all of us, and for our industry as a whole, is that we spend too little time evaluating our attitude as leaders and investing in our professional education and development.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
It is easy to get caught up in the enormity of some of the issues presented. It is easier yet to feel that you are just a small part of a huge industry and cannot make a difference. Do not give into these feelings! I believe that you can and do make a difference every day. You are not “sweeping sand in the desert” as one colleague once stated. Rather, you are leading an organization comprised of people who provide vital services to your customer partners. Attitude is what makes the difference as we face the daily challenges our industry poses.
Stop feeling sorry for yourself! No matter what you do professionally, you will face challenges and tough issues. You are not “special” just because you are in the mailing industry. In fact, I believe that although the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) regulations we all deal with are complex, and at times onerous, perhaps they should be embraced for being so. After all, their complexity provides a reason for our customer partners to need us!
There are industries that are far more regulated and must deal on a daily basis with far more intense and stressful situations. I am happy to report that in over 30 years in mailing, I have never tripped on an atom particle! Generally our industry does not involve life and death decisions, for which I am also thankful. Again, attitude—keeping in mind what you are doing, what it means to your customer, and how what you do affects your customers’ success—makes a huge difference.
Dale Carnegie stated, “It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” When I first got into the mail and distribution industry I wondered who I had angered! I admit it, I walked around for a few days thinking there must be some mistake and feeling like I had been sentenced to some horrific professional graveyard. No one wants to end up in the mail room!
WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY
Then I discovered a secret. My attitude would get me through this and there was a world of opportunity waiting for me. The organization was waiting for someone to actually take an interest in this vital function and discover the potential savings available. I became that person because I changed my attitude! It was the best career move of my life.
I worked diligently to learn about mail, I discovered “real green dollars” just sitting there waiting to be captured as savings. The opportunities were endless and the best thing about them is that they never expired. I could prioritize and move from one to the other, realizing the savings from each. Others were involved in prioritizing, but they looked to me as the “subject matter expert”—and I was new to the mail!
Abraham Lincoln stated it a bit differently when he said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” Rather than giving into the “mailing slump” as some called it (seeing just the thorns), I decided to embrace the challenge. I challenge you to do the same.
Actively learn and invest in yourself professionally. This is a serious issue facing our industry today. People stop learning and participating in industry programs and associations because they are “content” with where they are and what they know. But associations such as Epicomm and the programs they offer connect us as an industry and allow us to grow as professionals.
They teach us to expect the best from our organizations, vendor partners, customer partners and from ourselves! They facilitate the exchange of information between industry leaders and they provide access to information from industry vendors and their experts. Take advantage of this and spend time on yourself. Commit to being the best you can be professionally and that will carry through to your personal life, too.
EXPECT THE BEST
Attitude is where it starts. Expect the best. Demand more from your vendors, staff, organizations, and your peers—be sure you provide the same in return. This requires a dedication to learning and acquiring knowledge. Work on developing internal partners who can support your efforts and focus on making them successful. Put the feelings of self-pity in the past.
Make no mistake about it, this is not easy. Our industry is difficult and there are days when we all allow thoughts like “this is so hard” or “poor me” to creep into our minds. Do not give in to these negative and destructive thoughts. Instead, dedicate your efforts to having a great attitude. No more barriers.
Adopt a philosophy of “The answer is ‘yes.’ What is the question?” Stay away from the people who have a problem for every answer! Your attitude will get you recognition and make your challenges less daunting.
We all face demands from our organizations and from both our internal and external customer partners. Aligning yourself with the right internal partners and choosing a positive attitude will change your career. Mailing professionals have to use words like “guarantee” every day, but we rarely control every phase of the larger process so we must honor that guarantee through our alignment with others. It is our job to acquire tools that provide both control and visibility for the organization.
This is again where a positive attitude comes into play. Embrace learning and share knowledge. There should be no secrets; information is most powerful when it is shared. Professional development and industry involvement are areas we too often forget. Get involved with your association, make use of all it has to offer—especially when it comes to educational opportunities—and give back by volunteering your expertise and enthusiasm. This will allow you to meet and learn from those who have been through it before.
Finally, choose strong vendor partners who will support you and actively work to bring you knowledge and understanding of industry best practices. People are drawn to others with positive attitudes.
In 2016, make it a priority to develop your attitude and participate in an industry that, for all its warts, is rewarding and exciting! Some of its problems and issues may sometimes keep you up at night, but possessing the right knowledge and the right attitude will make each morning dawn with promise and opportunity.
Mark Rheaume is the National Postal Affairs Director & Partnership Liaison Officer at AccuZIP, Inc. (www.accuzip.com), Atascadero, Calif. Reach him at email@example.com. A national software company. AccuZIP has provided feature rich solutions to manage Contact Data Quality, Address Hygiene, USPS Postal Presorting and Compliance and Mail Tracking and Reporting for over two decades. Its solutions are used by many industry verticals to streamline, standardize and simplify processes associated with data entry, data management and multi-channel communications.
About AccuZIP, Inc.
AccuZIP, Inc., a national software company based in Atascadero, CA, provides feature rich solutions to manage Contact Data Quality, Address Hygiene, USPS Postal Presorting and Compliance and Mail Tracking and Reporting. Our solutions are designed to be utilized across many industry verticals to streamline, standardize and simplify processes associated with data entry, data management and multi-channel communications. AccuZIP products and services make it easier for businesses to get their message out to the right people at the right location when they need to most. Now in our third decade of doing business, the company has built an outstanding reputation for value, service and innovation. For more information visit www.accuzip.com .
AccuZIP, Inc. Media Contact:
1-800-233-0555 Ext. 07