May 23 2012 05:08 PM

Congratulations! You were just selected Mailing System Technology's Industry Person of the Year! As you prepare for your interview (story to match your smashing cover photo) you will be asked, "What are the keys to your success?" What will you say?

Over thirty years ago, the Mailing and Fulfillment Service Association (MFSA - then MASA) asked 23 successful managers that question. (Thanks to C. Scott Schuh with LSC Marketing, Inc. for cleaning out his archives and sharing.) Do you think the answers would be vastly different today? Or do you subscribe to the Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr January 1949 quote, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." When asked what that really means, a proverb observed: turbulent changes do not affect reality on a deeper level - other than to cement the status quo.

What did those successful managers write in 1980? Although a variety of ways to express success, over and over again they focused on one element: people.
· "Thank people for a job well done." Gene Kane
· "Recognize achievement. I progressed from the truck driver (looking for something to do) to the president of the company (looking for something to do) - and having an exciting and enjoyable time doing so." Merlyn W. Webb
· "Blindness to office politics or worrying about what the other guy wasn't doing." Robert Moonan
· "I do not have all the answers - learn from others. Hire the best available person for any position. Best doesn't always mean smartest, or most skillful. The best person will accomplish goals by working with others on a team." Wally Bernheimer
· "Surround myself with potentially successful people, understanding their desires and frustrations, and letting them do their jobs." Bob Garlington
· "Mistake #1: trying to do everything yourself instead of training someone else - doing instead of getting work done through people." Shirley Wilkowski
· "Honesty, character, judgment: power of a great team. Success is contagious and must be shared with others: recognition." Robert Buckingham
· "Three parts to a job (used to rate at 40-40-20, and now 10-10-80):
o Knowing where to go to get what you need
o Knowing what to do with the data you get
o Knowing how to get along with people so the first two get done"
Ed Burnett
· "Hire good people and take care of them." E.W. Karkhut
· "Hire good people and give them responsibility." Mike Simon
· "Delegate to qualified people." Joe Cohen
· "Key people around me to handle all the details - I do not want to be a hero and run the whole show myself." Arthur Tucker
· "I work with and for the other employees of my company. My job as a manager is to make these people successful." Aaron Osherow
· "Concern and responsibility for other people." Bill David

My favorite contribution from these 23 managers is this poem highlighted by Bill David. I think it still holds true today.

What is Success?

Success is speaking words of praise
In cheering other people's ways.
In doing just the best you can
With every task and every plan.

It's silence when your speech would hurt,
Politeness when your neighbor's curt.
It's deafness when the scandal flows,
And sympathy with other's woes.

It's loyalty when duty calls;
It's courage when disaster falls,
It's patience when the hours are long;
It's found in laughter and in song.

It's in the silent time of prayer,
In happiness and in despair.
In all of life and nothing less,
We find the thing we call success.

- Anonymous -

Will you include people as one of your key success factors? A generic Web search just today generated over 248 million results for the key words, "people key to our success" - after 30 years, the reality is that some things have stayed the same.