I recently received a phone call from Tony Alessandra, the author of The Platinum Rule. Tony is a hall of fame professional speaker, a bestselling author, and is close friends with many of my friends. The first time we met was over the phone, when he called to let me know that I had quoted his book without his permission. Yikes. I own a publishing company -- I should know better.
A bit of history. In 2000, I wrote a book called A Gentleman's Guide to Etiquette. The book was published by Adams Media in Boston, and it was a moderate success. Since the book went out of print in 2005, I have reacquired the rights and plan to republish the book on my own next year. Anyway, in the book I mentioned "The Platinum Rule," which is a smarter take on the Golden Rule. While the Golden Rule has us treating others how we want to be treated, "The Platinum Rule" gets us past our own ego and taste and has us "do unto others as they would have you do unto them." It's a brilliant concept that works.
So, Tony calls me and says that I've made a mistake. But the way that Tony told me about it was wonderful. He started by introducing himself and saying that he needed some of my help. He was aware of my book and that it made no mention of him or his book, website, etc. He then asked me how we could best solve this error.
Now let's be clear -- I'm in the wrong here. No question. Tony had a ton of options at his disposal. He could have sent a harsh letter or had a lawyer send a harsher letter. He could have called and shouted at me. But his choice was not to cause drama and stress, but to find a winning solution. He was sure that there was a way we could fix this omission without too much trouble.
After a few minutes of discussing our options, we came to the conclusion that since the book was out of print, and that I wasn't currently promoting the book, we didn't have many options. I admitted my fault and Tony was very forgiving. That Tony was content with that was incredible -- I made a mistake and he was willing to let it go. And his great attitude made it that much easier for me to find a way to make it right. That day, I decided to re-release the book and give him the credit he deserves in the new printing. I think he'll find out about my plan when he reads this. Thanks, Tony, for being so understanding.
So, when you have an opportunity to call someone on a mistake, remember Tony's method. He didn't pound his chest and tell me how great he is -- he worked with me to find a good solution. Now I'm spending my time telling everyone how great he is. If you can do the same when you're right, you'll probably find that people will bend over backwards to do right by you.
Last updated: Aug 15, 2008
CLINT GREENLEAF is the founder and CEO of Greenleaf Book Group (GBG), an Inc. 500 company, and a leading publisher and distributor with several NY Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers. Clint (a CPA) sits on the University of Texas Libraries Board, blogs for Inc.com, is a regular guest host on Fox Business Network and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. magazine, Fox, MSBNC, Money magazine, Men's Health, Forbes and Entrepreneur. @clintgreenleaf