There’s an interesting feature on NPR these days, about once a week, called “This I Believe”. It’s a modern take on a broadcast feature from the 1950′s started by Edward R. Murrow. This weeks essay features Craig Newmark, the founder of Craig’s List. A couple of things really resonated with me regarding Mr. Newmark’s essay.
Craig Newmark has consistently refused to sell his website, even though it is estimated that it would fetch tens of millions of dollars. He enjoys the community he has built and he doesnt’ want to turn it over to someone else whose motives might be very different from his own. Instead of being the CEO directing a staff who manages a huge domain in cyberspace, he spends his days in customer service. It’s what he really enjoys.
As our business grows, I find that I am constantly being drawn away from what I enjoy most-talking to customers about solving their problems. I like to think that thirty-some years in the special events business has given me some unique insights into subjects like taping down cables and choosing the correct microphone stand. Answering the phone and responding to customers’ email inquiries is the only way to know if the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years is of any real value to anyone else. Using what we learn from our customers can then be incorporated into our websites and the information is available whenever anyone needs it.
The other observation in Craig Newmark’s “This I Believe” is his continuing affirmation that most people are honest and have good intentions. I have to make decisions every day regarding whether or not it is a good idea to extend credit to a new customer. Our experience with customers defaulting on their obligations is amazing. Everyone pays their bills. The default rate is less the 1/10 of 1% and this number has been consistent for years. Having our decisions about credit constantly reaffirmed makes us feel really good about the customers who want to work with us.
I doubt if I’ll ever get around to recording a “This I Believe” essay of my own, but it is good to know I share some beliefs with a cyberhero like Craig Newmark.
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