Peak Your Profits: Be persistent to get what you want

Jeff Blackman extrapolates a frustrating airport experience to business practices


Article Highlights

  • Spend no time with non-decision makers. (It’s a waste of time, especially if you expect them to make a decision.)

United flight 512 lands in Boston at 3:26 p.m. Not good news, especially when my connection to Hyannis takes off in only 16 minutes.

I bolt off the flight at 3:32 p.m. in Logan’s C terminal, spot a United customer service rep, and ask, “Where’s Cape Air?”

He says, “Oh, that’s easy. Walk to the end of C. Leave the building. Head to the curb. Wait for the bus, that’ll take you to the A terminal.”

I exclaim, “Wait for the bus?”

He asks, “What time is your flight?”

My response, “3:42. Why?”

He confidently proclaims, “It’ll take you about 15 minutes to get there? You’ll never make it!”

I run for the curbside. Luckily, an airport shuttle bus pulls up. I hop on, grab my cell phone, call Cape Air, explain my predicament and request they hold the plane.

The Cape Air agent says, “You’re kidding.” I reply, “No, I’m serious. I really need your help. Please call the gate and ask them to wait.” He says, “Hang on, I’ll be right back.”

A minute later, he says, “Okay, if you can get there within the next five minutes, they’ll wait.”

I thank him. At 3:45 p.m., I jump off the bus, run into terminal A and streak for the escalator. At the top, I quickly scan the gates and spot Cape Air’s counter. As I’m running toward the counter, the Cape Air agent yells, “Mr. Blackman, we’ve been expecting you.”

I gratefully respond, “Thanks so much for your help Lynn. How do I get to the plane?” He says, “Sorry sir, it left.”

Surprised, I say, “But I thought you were expecting me?!”

He says, “Well we were, but we had to leave. That’s our policy.”

I ask, “When you say leave, do you mean leave the gate or leave the ground?”

He says, “Oh, the plane is still here, but it pulled away from the gate. So we can’t board you now.”

I politely say, “Lynn, I really need your help. How can you get me on that plane?”

He sternly replies, “I can’t. There’s nothing I can do.”

I turn to Cindy, his counter compatriot. “Cindy, you look like the right person for this opportunity. Who can you talk to that’ll give us a ‘yes’ decision?”

Lynn says, “What do you mean?”

I answer, “I need Cindy to find somebody to say ‘yes’ to me. And I’m confident she will.”

Lynn folds his arms and sighs, “Hmmph!”

Cindy views my request as a challenge. Because now I’ve empowered her to rise to the occasion. To seize the moment. To grab for glory. To get me out of Boston!

Cindy grabs the phone and shouts, “ALAN...”

I ask, “Who’s Alan?” Lynn says, “The pilot!”

Cindy continues, “Alan. Mr. Blackman is here! Will you wait for him?” She then looks at me and asks, “Mr. Blackman, what do you weigh?” I answer, “How much do you want me to weigh?”

She says, “Oh, forget it. Alan will wait for you. Run! Run!”

I fly down the stairs, shove open the tarmac door and run to board a twin prop with Alan and four passengers.

Phew! I made it. But for the next 30 minutes, I served drinks and peanuts!

Bonus points or winning ways:

1. Be politely persistent. (Don’t let bureaucracy win.)

2. Stay calm. (Yelling and screaming to get what you want, doesn’t work.)

3. Be in control. (If you’re not, somebody else will be in control.)

4. Never feel like a victim. (“Why me?” whining doesn’t serve you well. Make this a time for hope, not helplessness.)

5. Ask questions that get you closer to your goal. (Politely probe together to determine what positive steps can be taken.)

6. Spend no time with non-decision makers. (It’s a waste of time, especially if you expect them to make a decision.)

7. Find people who can say “yes” or can significantly influence another decision-maker to say “yes.” (Seek influential champions or internal advocates, who can empathize, support or promote your cause.)

8. Create a team. (It’s amazing what two or more dedicated people can accomplish. Let others know, you need their help.)

9. Help another person achieve. (Folks love to win. Let them be a positive contributor to your combined or mutual victory.)

10. When you get the decision you want, get outta there. Fast! (Be grateful. Say thank you. Smile. Then split.)

Jeff Blackman is a speaker, author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer who lives part-time on Marco Island. His clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” Send an e-mail to or go to to subscribe to his free e-letter.

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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