I was starting a business and needed a desk. My good friend Bob had an old desk with wear marks and unsteady legs. My friend thought I most likely would not want his beat up old desk but would sell it to me for fifty dollars. I walk out of his house that day less a fifty dollar bill and with a desk in the back of my truck.
Light brown with numerous scratch marks and dozens of black stains in the drawers, the desk obviously saw many hours of use. A few days later after placing the desk in my office, my friend Bob stopped by. He was concerned because he felt my desk should be something more polished. I turned to Bob and said “our customers don’t care what type of desk I have in my office. Our customers care about the price and quality of our products.”
I did touch up the desk to make it neat and clean, but maintained its rustic look. Having owned and operated various businesses, I knew it was more important to focus on the customer than on the furniture in my office. Besides, we had just begun our business and our sales where not even fifty dollars a month.
The business grew from monthly sales of less than fifty dollars to more than fifty dollars every five minutes, changing our financial position dramatically. During this period I became more aware of how old the desk appeared.
Sitting in my office one day I studied every ding, dent, cut, and stain on the old desk. I wondered why I liked the old wooden desk. Suddenly, I came to the realization that the desk symbolized two important things to me.
The wear and marks on the desk symbolized the hard work involved in growing the business. It further reminded me of something equally important, the customer. All of our customers where contacted by phone and visited at their place of business. They didn’t care what size desk I sat behind, they where more interested in the value I brought to them in the products and services I sold.
I kept the desk as a reminder it’s not the size of the desk that matters, but the hard work and integrity of the person behind it. The old desk was a constant symbol of this simple truth.