This post is an excerpt from the forthcoming book, "150 Times Around the World," by Dr Jac Fitzenz. Its a culmination of his life's travels around the world and a compelling window into his vast journeys. Take a seat and come along for the experience of a lifetime as you join Dr Jac on his travels. Click here if you'd like to be notified when "150 Times Around the World" is available for purchase.



After getting my act together I called the man who invited me, and we set up a time that afternoon, Thursday, for a meeting at his office in a bank. When I arrived, he said he had a meeting with management the next morning and wanted to talk about how HR could play a more important role in the bank.

Ask a Friend. I told him the key is to think of the bank, not of HR. What is happening in the bank that he might support with HR services? He said the major topic at this time was how to draw more people to become depositors and borrowers. He didn’t see how he could do anything about that. I asked him how management was planning to attract new customers. He said the chairman had heard about a bank that tasked each employee with bringing in one new customer a month. When queried about how this could happen, he said the chairman had a motto: “Ask a Friend.” He thought his employees would have no problem asking a friend or neighbor to become a customer. I thought this was extremely naïve of the chairman.

This is a common problem for HR. An executive goes to an outside meeting, reads something, or talks to a friend, and comes back with an incomplete, often impractical idea. He drops it on HR without further ceremony and expects a positive response and outcome. Often he has only a cursory grasp of the idea and no sense of the conditions under which the great idea allegedly worked elsewhere. It sounded like this was one of those.

Many bank employees who work in administrative positions have no idea how to “sell” the bank to a prospective customer. That’s why they are in non-customer facing jobs. This idea was doomed. If the chairman persisted, he had to be convinced that his people would need training. That is where HR could help. My man understood and asked if I could help him with that.

Of course, the answer was yes. I spent the next two hours, pro bono, outlining a couple of different approaches, the sessions, the time commitment of everyone involved, and a rough cost estimate. When we finished, he seemed very happy. I wasn’t so comfortable. This man didn’t have a sales personality.

I asked him about his experience at the bank, he told me he started in the bank nearly twenty years before, right out of high school. He came in as a teller and eventually advanced to position of loan officer. While he enjoyed dealing with prospective borrowers, he was not effective in bringing in new customers. When it became clear that he was misplaced, they moved him to human resources. In those days it was common to take a loyal but ineffective employee and bury him or her in an administrative function.

Before leaving I gave him a short course on how to sell the necessity for training to the chairman. When we finished, he seemed to believe that he could make the sale. I wished him well. He said he would call me the next afternoon.