John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

Verne Harnish’s NEW BOOK; Reon Schutte Walking the Talk
October 3, 2012, 8:19 am
Filed under: Customer Service


The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time  is my good friend & mentor Verne Harnish’s latest book.  Verne is one of the smartest business thought leaders of our time.  Author of the ever popular Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, Verne along with some of the top writers and editors at Fortune magazine, share the inside story on 18 of the most unconventional decisions ever made in business – decisions that not only changed companies, but changed industries and even nations. Endorsed by several top CEOs and biz authors, these decisions should spark important ideas to transform your own companies and industries.  Here’s a link to the book site where you can download a free chapter (GE’s key decision) and read Verne’s six page Introduction. And Jim Collins’ Foreword on the most important decision all biz leaders must make is worth the price of the book alone.   It is a must read!


Walking the Talk –  There are not many people who better embody The DiJulius Group’s 10th Commandment World-Class Leadership: Walking the Talk than inspirational speaker and soft-spoken Afrikaner from South Africa, Reon Schutte.  While an elite Special Forces soldier, Reon was captured on a mission in 1990 and spent nearly 13 years as a prisoner of war in Zimbabwe’s infamously brutal Chikurubi prison.  There he came to understand universal truths that allowed him to be free, even while imprisoned.


Victim or Victor – “Through my ordeal, I learned a great deal about human nature and the human condition,” Schutte said.  “One of the many lessons I came to understand was that it doesn’t so much matter what happens to us in life that’s important; it’s what we do with what happens to us that makes the difference.  We can either sit down and be a victim, or stand up and be a victor.  We actually get to choose to be sad or happy– no matter what is going on in our lives or in what conditions we are living.  I meet so many people who are not happy or sad because of their circumstances, but despite their circumstances.”  If you think about it, that is true.  Don’t we all know people who have so much to be grateful for, but are miserable?  Likewise, don’t we know others who have had tragic setbacks or who have very little materially, yet are joyful and grateful?  In this way, Schutte walks the talk,  “One of my favorite quotes is: ‘Peace is not the absence of conflict from life, but rather the ability to cope with that conflict.’  My life is far from serene.  I have intense pain most days, I have numerous practical issues to contend with, I have many horrible experiences that lurk in my nightmares.  Yet I’m at total peace, because I choose to be.  Every day.  Every moment of every day.”  


Go show the way and, when necessary, use words – While Schutte can teach people this, he is most effective by simply being it.  In the Chikurubi prison, Schutte had many experiences that revealed how true it is that respect comes from walking the talk, from leading by example.  Schutte shares, “In that prison we were kept locked up 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  We were fed starvation rations once a day and beaten most days as well.  There were 50 of us living in a cell that was built to hold 12.   We had no toilet; there was just a hole in the corner of the room that we had no materials to use to clean.  I don’t think you can imagine what a mess that ‘toilet’ was.  It was one of the aspects of that place that I hated the most and complained about loudly.  At a certain point it dawned on me that I had one of two choices of what to do about it: either accept it and do nothing about it, or stop complaining and get up and take action.  I couldn’t order anyone, pay anyone, or force anyone to do anything, so one day I decided to take action, even if no one else did or cared.  I cleaned that mess with my bare hands, as we had no cloth or towels or even toilet paper.  When I sat back down, I felt great satisfaction.   I didn’t do it for anyone else or to impress anyone; I did it for me.  I did the same thing several times over the course of a few months.  One time, as I got up to clean it, one of the other guys in the cell stood up and said, ‘Reon, it’s my turn.’  From that point on, everyone in the cell took a turn at cleaning that mess.  It taught me that there is no greater way to lead than by an example.  If you won’t do something yourself, how can you expect others to do it?”


Set Yourself Free – DO NOT MISS Reon Schutte’s Keynote!  Reon is one of our featured keynote speakers at this year’s Secret Service Summit.  Reon will be sharing his personal life journey and the lessons learned with the attendees. 


“Reon has a fantastic message that every business person needs to hear.  You’ll emerge 90 minutes later enlightened, enthusiastic and empowered to take control of your destiny,”


-Matt Stewart, business owner and presenter

at the 2011 Secret Service Summit.





Eliminate the word “NO” from your company’s vocabulary, no one should ever be allowed to use that word. You may not always be able to say “YES”,  but offer alternatives, options,
but never allow anyone from your company to utter the word “NO”.
You will be amazed at how creative your team will get and satisfying customers.

John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

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