Expectations: Ready, Set, Exceed!

There are a few business authors that I follow for a few years already. One of them is Victor Cheng, whom I found when he publicly shared videos from his workshop on how to succeed in a Management Consulting case study interview. That was five years ago.

Even though I’m not working on improving my case-study interviewing skills since then, I kept reading his newsletter. Over time, as his audience grew older, Victor started writing about generally applicable business and career topics.

He knows how to get readers’ attention (title of an article I particularly liked: “Why I Screamed Like a Mad Man Last Week”) and always has a good story to illustrate his point (a few weeks ago he opened his post by explaining how he struggled to assemble a basketball hoop for his daughters).

I always wanted to tell him that I really enjoy reading his articles. A few weeks ago, I finally found the time and courage and sent that email (with a little question on top of the positive comments I had).

Apparently, over time Victor gained popularity, because I received an auto-reply email from him, stating that due to the overwhelming amount of emails he receives every day, he’s able to respond only to 25% of them (and that it can still take up to 90 days to receive the reply).

While a little bit disappointed at that moment, I understood. Actually – Victor’s value increased in my eyes. So many emails – and of course, a single person definitely has only a limited email-answering capacity!

My expectations were set.

To my surprise, only two days later I received an email from Lys, Victor’s personal assistant. Lys said that Victor was very busy with client work. But that she writes me on his behalf, because for Victor it’s important that his readers get their questions answered. And Lys answered my question perfectly.

Wow. I was amazed! Not only did I get a reply (even though I calculated with 75% chance I won’t get any) but I have received it in 2 days instead of 90!

I was impressed by the way Victor treats his readers.

What I took away from this is that if I didn’t receive that auto-reply email on the first day, I would not feel impressed at all.

It seems to me that often we try to make everyone around us happy by promising them all they ask for (or even more) – even though we know at that very moment that we won’t be able to deliver.

Maybe it’s a lot better to do it the other way around.

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