Inspiring Peak Performance, Every Time!

Steve LyonsIt’s 15 years ago this week that PK and I held the hands of Steve Lyons as he passed away in Kuala Lumpur from cancer. I recall the most powerful and inspiring habit Steve had. It defined him. And stays with me today. Do you do this? If not- start now!

You don’t remember what someone said, or what they did, but you always remember the way they made you feel. And Steve Lyons was an absolutely master at making you feel incredible. Steve made you feel everything and anything was possible- was within your grasp. He lifted your spirits, ambition, drive. He made your heart beat faster. All who were touched by Steve know exactly what I mean.

Here’s what Steve would do that was so inspiring. So simple. So powerful. Steve, quite simply:

Gave us all a fine reputation to live up to.

“Hey- meet my good friend Chris. He is the best client service person in our company.”

“Sam- the thing about you, you are the most organized and efficient person I know.”

“Francis- I just love the way you listen to anyone and everyone. You are an awesome listener. World class. Teach me how you do it.”

“Hey everyone- I want to introduce George from our Manila office. George is the best writer I have ever worked with. You can learn from him.”

In almost every case, Steve made these huge claims about people who were pretty young and raw- on the way up. The impact though- was massive. Shoulders lifted. Pride swelled. “WOW! If Steve really feels that about me, then I must have some talent. I am going to work really, really hard at that skill and become brilliant at it. I CAN do it. Steve said I can.”

He always picked on skills where we did shine, and had big potential. And away we’d go and work hard at it, and- what a coincidence- we’d end up fricken brilliant at whatever Steve had said we were brilliant at.

There was an 11 year old I knew. He was learning the habit of daily homework, of focus and discipline. I was speaking on the phone to his Grandmother, knowing he was in earshot while watching sport on TV. “The thing about that boy is that he is so organized, and a self-starter. I am so impressed with the way he sets about doing his homework. And we don’t even need to tell him to do it.” A few moments later the call ended. I walked into the dining room. There he sat- at the table, TV off. Pencil, rubber, ruler neatly lined up, his spelling revision in front of him, looking up at me, a spark in his eye and a massive, proud grin on his face.

I am tearing now just thinking of it.

You see – our darling friend Steve Lyons gave us fine reputations to live up to. It made us feel kings and queens of the world. It worked then. And it works now. Give it a go. Whomever you bestow this gift on will explode with growth- and will always remember how amazing you made them feel.

Love you Steve. Always did. Always will.

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29 Responses to Inspiring Peak Performance, Every Time!

  1. Jen March 22, 2017 at 10:21 am #

    Thanks Chris. Great advice at a perfect time.

    • Chris Savage March 22, 2017 at 10:35 am #

      Thanks Jenny!

  2. Craig Badings March 22, 2017 at 11:38 am #

    Inspirational Chris. The ability to bring out the best in others is a gift and energising for the giver and the receiver.

    • Chris Savage March 22, 2017 at 6:05 pm #

      Thanks Craig!

  3. Eileen Lim March 22, 2017 at 3:29 pm #

    Has it been 15 years? It was like it yesterday – those huge eyes staring at me over a way-too-expensive lunch at the Mandarin Grill. He liked to live big and make everyone around him see themselves as heroes. We miss you Steve. And Chris: thank you for remembering.

    • Chris Savage March 22, 2017 at 6:06 pm #

      Thanks Eileen!! Yes- those huge eyes!! Chris

  4. Caren March 22, 2017 at 5:31 pm #

    Thanks Chris. Made me tear up! Very true – I started my first publishing business because the MD I worked for perhaps saw something in me. He came into my office one day and asked me what I was working on and what our profit would be on the project. I told him what it was and that the profit would be ZAR14 000. He looked at me and said: “You really should be working for yourself. Take the profit and start your own business. You can use our offices for 2 weeks and after that you’re on your own. I know you’ll make a success of it.” So at the age of 28 I started my first business and have been eternally grateful for him kicking me out the nest. 🙂

    • Chris Savage March 22, 2017 at 6:06 pm #

      Thanks Caren. Great story! Amazing story in fact! Chris

  5. Mary Devereux March 22, 2017 at 10:38 pm #

    Lovely piece Chris – thank you for expressing what we all feel. My memories of Steve are from our time at Ogilvy. His warm heart – penchant for big marker pens! Bless him.

    • Chris Savage March 23, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

      Mary- YES! Those big market pens! That brought a smile to my face! Chris

  6. Scott D. Seligman March 22, 2017 at 11:25 pm #

    He was one of the greats among dozens of greats at Burson-Marsteller. R.I.P., old friend.

    • Chris Savage March 23, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

      Well said, Scott. Chris

  7. Kelly March 23, 2017 at 6:47 am #

    Thank you Chris, it seems more often than note we hear comments that tear people down not build them up. With 2 young boys at home I find huge value in your words and encouraging others each and every day and reminding them of their talents and strengths picks us all up. I fully believe we are a result of the people we spend most of our time with so why not help those people become their best selves yet

    • Chris Savage March 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

      Thanks Kelly- I appreciate the story. Thank you. Chris

  8. Cindy Choo March 24, 2017 at 3:19 am #

    Hi Chris, I don’t believe I had the pleasure of meeting you. Steve was the MD at B-M when I joined and I remember him for the thick proposals he wrote. Never less than 40 pages if I remember well, in his big handwriting written with his left hand. He was always perky… like the sunshine was always there whenever he was around. Can’t believe it has been 12 years.

    • Chris Savage March 24, 2017 at 10:46 am #

      Thanks Cindy. Yes, perky he was! Chris

  9. Clare Robinson March 26, 2017 at 8:26 am #

    Great article Chris – I dare say you embody this yourself, I certainly remember the sense of pride I felt when you saw something in me and backed me all those years ago. I’ll never forget it. And here’s to you, truly the best client person but so much more than that. I salute the honest, raw and real road you are on to lift yourself and those around you…keep writing this brilliant stuff – I look forward to it dropping into my inbox every time!

    • Chris Savage April 5, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

      Wow thanks Clare- you are certainly on my Christmas card list this year!! Than you for that. Lifted my spirits this morning! Chris

  10. David Pring August 9, 2017 at 10:08 am #

    Hey Chris,

    I hope this finds you well.

    I re -read this when I was checking you Blog, thought I may have unsubscribed by mistake when I was trying to rationalize my emails. This is a great post and strikes a chord with the way I am trying to run our business. In general as owners and managers, we don’t give enough praise to our people. You only have to notice how most people “beam” and or step up when you give them some praise and a little love. It really works, but most of us are so caught up in blame, that it just does not compute.

    I hope you still find time to do the occasional post Chris your stuff is always right on the money.

    • Kelly August 15, 2017 at 8:42 am #

      I love that you have commented David as this brought a notification to my inbox. Re reading this again has once again come at a very timely manner for myself and it was just as valuable to re read now as it was back in March

      • Chris Savage August 15, 2017 at 4:47 pm #

        thanks Kelly!

      • David Pring August 15, 2017 at 7:21 pm #

        Thanks Kelly, great I could have been a prompt, by default. Lots of good stuff on this blog as you are aware.
        Best wishes

    • Chris Savage August 15, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

      Thanks David. Appreciate the feedback. I have given the blogs a break for a few months, but am about to kick right back into it! Thanks. Chris

    • Chris Savage August 16, 2017 at 9:40 pm #

      Thanks David

  11. Margot Ayer October 12, 2017 at 8:49 pm #

    I knew Steve from Burson Marsteller when he was our regional manager. I was in the Bangkok office at the time and worked with him when he came to town. Everything you say about him is so true. He always believed in me and helped me to believe in myself. Thank you for what you’ve written about him.

    • Chris Savage October 13, 2017 at 10:36 am #

      Thanks Margot. Funnily enough I got an email only last night from his brother Andy from Iowa, and we chatted via email about Steve and how much he is missed. Chris

  12. Ava May 23, 2018 at 5:46 pm #

    Love this. Thanks for sharing Chris

    • Chris Savage May 30, 2018 at 2:37 pm #

      Thanks Ava!!!

  13. Ava May 23, 2018 at 5:47 pm #

    Great piece. Thanks for sharing Chris

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