By Madelynn Coldiron
It’s not unusual for the opening speaker at KSBA’s annual conference to mix motivation and humor. Patrick Henry, this year’s opener, added musical performance to the mix. Henry kicked off the Feb. 27-March 1 event in Louisville, attended by more than 900 board members, superintendents, exhibitors and others.
Punctuating his points with song parodies that he’d written – most to the tune of instantly recognizable popular tunes – and accompanying himself on the guitar, Henry focused on service. The key to successful service, he said, is to make people feel special, a concept he says his 6-year-old daughter calls “rememberable”
“Rememberability is that intangible quality that just makes the people you serve – customers, clients or coworkers – say, ‘Wow.’ There are three mind sets for building rememberability. I believe that you can apply them in your business and I believe you can apply them in your school boards, certainly in your school system,” said Henry, a former Nashville songwriter.
• The “Cheers” mentality – as in the 80s TV series set in a bar, “where everybody knows your name.”
“It’s a powerful, powerful feeling,” he said. “The success and the productivity and the sustainability of your school board are predicated on the collegiality of its members.”
And technology offers more venues to connect with others, he added.
• The “Extra inch” mentality – don’t just go the extra mile: go the extra inch, Henry said. “The extra mile is easy to identify; it’s not always easy to do. It’s the extra inch – it’s that little bit extra that most people don’t do because they think it’s not important. Most people don’t do it because they think it’s not going to make a difference. Most people don’t do it because they think it’s not part of their job description. But races aren’t won by miles. Races are won by inches.
“What I encourage you to do as you really get into your school board service, for those of you who are new, is set some time to talk about the extra inch.”
• The “Lead the way” mentality – this is much more than just “pointing the way,” that is, being unwilling to do anything that’s not written down. “You lead the way and you can create a lifetime of results,” said Henry.
Henry draws his lessons in service from an early job as a restaurant server. “I realize that as a school board member, your responsibility is much greater than delivering a hamburger,” he said, “But what it comes down to, and regardless of the scope of your mission and the power of your decisions, is we’re all just people serving people: not numbers, not statistics.”