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If it’s Old School, does that make it wrong?

Posted By Gail Rutkowski, Monday, August 15, 2016

I’m Old School…I admit it. I’ve been in this industry for many years and have been fortunate to be able to make a good living and more importantly meet some amazing people. Through the years I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my Old School mentors.

  • Nothing beats looking into the eyes of the person you are doing business with and agreeing that we will do business and treat each other with respect.
  • Data tells the story…it’s NOT the story
  • If the data says one thing and your gut says another…check again.
  • If something appears too good to be true, whether it’s pricing or a business deal, it probably is.
  • If you choose to ride the low cost train, don’t be surprised when it derails.
  • Always be honest and fair. It matters.
  • And my favorite from the recently passed J. Harwood Cochrane (courtesy of Jack Holmes): “…don’t focus on the people above you, focus on the people below you. If you do, they’ll take care of everything else.”

Mr. Cochrane passed away a short time ago at the age of 103. He left an amazing legacy of being one of the last of his generation that transformed the transportation industry by establishing trucking as a mode of long distance transportation ending the dominance of railroads. Last year, Mr. Cochrane spoke at the NASSTRAC Annual Shippers Conference, being interviewed by Jack Holmes, past president of UPS Freight. His stories and advice are as pertinent today as they were back in the day.


In this era of faster is better and computers rule it seems that we have lost the personal touch. Texts and emails don’t take the place of personal interaction and frequently are the cause of many misunderstandings. I’m sure you all have been part of back and forth emails between your colleagues who sit only steps away from you. Or, receiving texts from people and when you call them, you get their voicemail. Now, I confess that I sometimes respond to emails in the evening so I can quickly get out a response without going back and forth or wait to hear a voicemail before I pick up the phone. There are times when we need to understand the difference between urgent, but not important and what is really important, though may not appear urgent. We are instinctively trained to jump at the ding of an email or beep of a text allowing our concentration to be interrupted and our focus shifted. The Old School guys took the time to fully understand an issue before making a decision and to have an actual conversation, face to face, before making a decision. A 140 character Tweet did not make up their minds.

That’s not to say that modern technology isn’t helpful or shouldn’t be used, I’m just offering an option. In our hurry up environment, of which transportation is the most “hurried up” of all, sometimes taking a minute to slow down and focus on the person or problem in front of you is the best action you can take.


Make a promise to yourself: the next time you are in to a back and forth email or text stream, Stop! Walk to the person’s office and have a face to face conversation or if that’s not possible pick up the phone and have a conversation. I guarantee it will make a difference. By focusing entirely on the issue/person/problem, shows people you value their opinion and consider their importance. Maybe those Old School guys weren’t so slow after all.

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Comments on this post...

Terri Reid says...
Posted Friday, August 19, 2016
So true. Thanks
Permalink to this Comment }

Doug Kahl says...
Posted Friday, August 19, 2016
We need to type less (text, email) and talk more.
Permalink to this Comment }

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