Leadership Lessons from Cindy Hom: Celebrate Success

I graduated from Ohio University in the summer of 2008 which was just a few months after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Despite having a degree in a cutting-edge field, I really struggled to find full-time employment. After applying to hundreds of jobs, I was hired by a medical care management company called American Health Holding (AHH) as a Technology Support Analyst.

I had a difficult start at AHH. Even though I had obtained my degree from OU, I was unprepared for the workforce and lacked some of the key technical skills required for my entry-level position. Since I was making minimal contributions to the team, I struggled to establish meaningful relationships with my peers. My confidence was shot to the point where I wondered if I even had a future in technology.

I attempted to make up for my lack of experience by having a strong work ethic and positive attitude. I was able to leverage the customer service skills (and patience) gained while working for my family’s retail store in high school to provide a solid experience for my internal customers at AHH. I may not have been able to have been the fastest to find a solution but I always tried to convey a sense of empathy and urgency. I finally felt like I was finding my place within the organization.

I received a call from our Vice President of Sales (Cindy Hom) about 6 months after joining the company. Her laptop hard drive died while she was on the road. I tried to resolve the issue remotely but was unable to fix the equipment. I quickly configured a replacement laptop for her and overnighted the workstation to her hotel. I didn’t think much of the situation at the time. I was just doing my job

AHH was family owned business. It started with just a few people in the 90s and grew to over 450 employees by the time I joined the organization in 2008. Our CEO (Michael Reidelbach) made an effort to get to know each and every one of the 450 team members. There are only so many hours in the day and I hadn’t had a chance to meet Michael and a majority of the other Executives despite working at the organization for a few months.

This all changed when I received a random email from Cindy. She was so impressed with laptop replacement process that she felt compelled to email Michael and the rest of the Executive Team. Michael and the other members of the senior leadership team replied to the thread to thank me for getting Cindy back up and running. The email probably only took Cindy a few minutes to write but the gesture meant the world to me. As I mentioned earlier, just a few months I had been wondering whether or not I belonged in the field. I finally realized that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

I often try to remind myself of the email that Cindy sent. The simple act of letting someone know that you appreciate them and their efforts has a lasting effect. What might seem insignificant to you might mean the world to someone else. Take a little extra time and be more like Cindy.

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