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Back-Stories, Lessons, Ali, and Hymie

by Randall Craig on July 12, 2013

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Networking, Social Media

Tagged as: , ,

Perhaps you know an Ali or a Hymie.

Ali is just finishing his degree in biology. Hymie is 92, and sits on a stool in a restaurant all day, watching people come and go. Both Ali and Hymie share two things: a back-story and a lesson.

Each summer for the last three years, my wife and I have stayed at the same hotel while visiting the Montreal Jazz Festival. Each time Ali was at the desk checking us in with a smile. Each time asking us a question or two.  Not only did he know his job, he knew that his job was far more than just checking customers in. After three years, we finally asked him about his background, and learned about his studies and aspirations.

Hymie and Randall at Goody's DinerHymie, it turns out wasn’t just a customer: he founded the restaurant, Goody’s, some 60 years ago, and today it is run by the 3rd generation of his family. He doesn’t “sit”, he runs the restaurant , surveying a dynasty, making sure that all is up to his standards. He’s a fascinating person, filled with history, pride – and a sense of humour.

If you are active blogging, tweeting, or posting on Facebook or LinkedIn, you probably appreciate others’ comments, likes, and shares. What we often don’t appreciate, however, is that each person who is reading your post also has a back-story, and they also have a lesson, if only we are open to it – or ask for it.  To be relevant – online and off – we must find a way to tap into these.

This week’s action plan: It’s easier in the real world than online, but this week, look for your Ali or Hymie, and take a few moments to engage them on their terms, not yours.

Postscript: In a previous post, Who is your Mahamood?, I covered another experience that made me think about lasting impressions and the impact we can have on the lives of people you meet.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
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Randall has been advising on Digital Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of eight books, including Digital Transformation for Associations, the Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business, and Social Media for Business. He speaks and advises on Digital Transformation, Digital Trust, and Social Media. More at

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