Canadian Rental Service

At Your Service: Take it in stride

By Russ Dantu   

Features Business Intelligence

“It’s easy to get in your own head with negative thoughts when it comes to business.”

I recently spoke to a government group in Regina, Sask. Leaders from many municipalities were there and they asked me to do an opening keynote on networking and then a breakout session the next morning on presentation skills.

I was told this was a very tough audience who rarely laughed or even stayed once the speaker started. They had brought in magicians, comedians and even a Juno Award-winning group to perform. Each had most of the audience leave during their respective performances.

To top it off, my opening keynote was after dinner. The cash bar was open an hour before dinner and people were indulging. When I learned what the main course was, I had a big “uh oh” moment. They were serving turkey and all the trimming for dinner.

This truly was a recipe for disaster. All most people want to do after a few drinks and a turkey dinner is loosen their pants and fall asleep on the couch. I really had my work cut out for me and in the back of my mind were thoughts of me being added to the long list of failing performances.


I told the executive director that I would keep it very light and interactive, which was exactly what she wanted. She warned me again to not be surprised if most people got up and walked out.

I took this as a challenge. I’ve dealt with the toughest of crowds before. After all, I couldn’t let myself get discouraged by my upcoming presentation.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of getting into our own heads with negative thoughts when it comes to business. But it sets us up for failure before we have even started the work, which brings me to the points of this newsletter:

  1. Always keep an open mind. Just because others may have failed to achieve what they set out to do, does not mean you will.
  2. Believe in yourself and your team. You’ve been leading the charge or been in your field for a decent amount of time that you know what you are doing and you know how effective your team is as well.
  3. Do your homework. I made sure I did interviews before speaking at this event to find out as much about this group as possible to help me cater to their specific needs.
  4. Give your potential new customer the benefit of the doubt. Maybe others had failed because they slacked off with their preparedness, customer service efforts or they simply weren’t a good fit. Just because they had a bad experience, doesn’t mean you will.
  5.  Be at your best. This should be how we are anyway but sometimes we need to step it up even a bit more to really impress a new customer. The trickle down effects can be very beneficial.

Both of my sessions were extremely well-received and no one left the room which put a big smile on my face. The executive director and their president were both very happy as well.

Admittedly, I did get a bit worried with all of the negative thoughts that kept entering my mind but I was determined to not be like the others. I was determined to succeed and I was determined to make my customer happy, which is what we should always strive to do.

As for the turkey, who eats turkey in early September? Save that for Christmas, which brings me to my last points:  take some time off to re-energize, thank your team for all they do and reward them if you are able to, and remember to spend some precious time with family.

Merry Christmas and season’s greetings to you all! 

Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer service for over 15 years. Visit 

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