In an effort to allow you to get to know Jeff better, we sat down with him and asked him ten questions:
Q: What’s your favorite quote?
That’s too easy. I’ve actually got two…
The first is from the comedienne Joan Rivers, “When you make somebody laugh, you grant them a short vacation.” That’s why I always try to put a smile on the faces of the people I meet.
The second is from guru Sathya Sai Baba, “Love all, serve all, help ever, hurt never.” Great advice to live by!
Q: What advice would you have for someone just starting out their career?
There’s always someone to replace you, always someone who is going to do it better, always someone that got it easier than you. So make the best of what you have and live in the moment. Be the best you, always. Do everything you want to do but are too scared to do. Stop being so self conscious, stop worrying about what other people think because when you’re that older person that hears kids saying, “Damn that’s crazy how they were our age once, I don’t want to get old, that must suck!” you will look at them fully content with yourself knowing that you lived life to the fullest and that you’ll have no regrets.
Make sure you love for you and not other people. And, when you love, love with all your heart and hold nothing back.
Q: Have you found deeper powers within yourself during a challenging time?
Most definitely. I believe most of us here on the planet have know idea of our true abilities. We let others, as well as our fears define us. When times are really challenging, you need to summon everything you’ve got to look inside yourself for the answers you need. Strangely enough, after a good nights sleep, your subconscious will provide you with the answers, if you just ask.
Q: Is it a choice or an obligation to help someone in need?
It’s our obligation as a member of the human race to help anyone in need. Whenever there’s a disaster or other obvious need that arises, I have this almost compelling desire to go there to assist. No matter if it was the Katrina disaster in the US or most recently the Syrian Refugees in Europe. The fact of the matter is that I have to stop myself and ask, “How could I help? Or, would my presence just be a burden on those suffering.” Based on the answer I come up with to those questions, I usually find it would be better to send financial resources to the great relief organizations such as Rotary International, The Red Cross.
Q: What’s the most heroic thing you’ve seen someone else do?
Wow! That’s a difficult question to answer. There are so many acts that I would consider heroism that I witness every day. I’m not talking about rescuing someone from a burning building. I’m talking about acts of kindness. Talking to a homeless person, not just ignoring them like they didn’t exist. Helping someone who is obviously struggling because of a disability. I think that if we all practiced small acts of heroism, each and every day, the world would be so much better off.
Q: In what ways have you been a trailblazer?
Well, I wish I could say I did it singlehandedly, but that wouldn’t be true at all. I have been fortunate enough to have exceptional people standing with me to help spread the word of how to provide exceptional customer service and build loyalty for 20 years. I recall a program we provided in a partnership with the United States Department of State for Russian Bakers. When we first started, there was no direct translation from Customer Service that the translators could use. It was truly a “foreign concept” to these bakery owners. Fast forward ten years, and the discussion changed from having to define customer service, to one of fine tuning existing programs that they already had in place.
Q: What made Abraham Lincoln a great American president?
Abraham Lincoln not only appreciated, but stood behind his conviction that all lives matter. This is a principle that was engraved into me by my parents. Black, white, yellow, green or purple, each and every person has great worth. The only time I can recall my father ever becoming angry with a customer at the dry cleaners they owned, was when a man came up to the counter and demanded that, “That [n-word] didn’t press my pants correctly!” (The person my father employed as a presser was African-American) I thought my father was going to physically pick the man up and throw him out on the street. I learned a couple of things that afternoon, as a five or six-year old boy; #1 You can’t tolerate any kind of racism or bigotry of any kind — and you need to stand up and stop it if you see it being practiced. #2 I heard the “F-word” for the first time.
Q: Which Super Hero would you most like to meet?
Hmmm, probably Superman or Batman & Robin. Superman, because he can fly, resist bullets, and has a mean gaze. Batman & Robin because I recall the back story and how Bruce Wayne suffered a tragic loss as a young boy, yet picked himself up and then was willing to help Robin out when he was in need. Also Batman has a bunch of cool gadgets. I absolutely love gadgets!
Q: What do you do to stay informed?
Each morning, I read nine to twelve online newspapers. Only a couple are US newspapers. We, in the US, have a tendency to be very narcissistic, presuming that the world revolves around us. The fact is that there are a lot of news stories that get missed with that point of view.
I’m also convinced that journalism, I mean REAL journalism, is pretty much dead and buried. Now, anyone with a computer can “report” the news, without any fact checking or accountability for that matter. What’s worse, people presume that because something is online, it must be true — without any basis in fact other than the words on their screen.
Q: What do you see as the greatest threat to the “American way of life?”
I am appalled at how quickly the congress has give up our rights under the guise of the Patriot Act or National Security. What disturbs me even more is how the average American citizen doesn’t give it a second thought. If you’ve taken an airplane in the last 14 years, you have an idea of what I mean. Those people at the security checkpoint can send you down a black hole if they want to.
Q: You’ve met a lot of famous people over the years, who impressed you the most?
Another tough question. I am impressed with everyone I meet — some good, and some bad. As for the famous, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Bill Clinton bubbled with charm and charisma! I had a man-crush on both.
Former CBS Evening News Editor Dan Rather was probably the greatest gentleman I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. If you look up “Gentleman” in the dictionary, his picture should be there. I really enjoyed my time with him. He’s the nicest, kindest, most humble human being. Plus, he’s one hell of a great journalist and reporter!