The Last Lecture

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The Last Lecture Chapter 50 Summary & Analysis

When Randy was 12 and his sister Tammy was 14, their parents brought them to Disney World and figured the kids were old enough to roam the park themselves. They picked a spot to meet in 90 minutes, and Randy and Tammy went off on their own, deciding that their first order of business would be to buy a present to thank their parents for the trip. They went into a store and found a ceramic salt-and-pepper shaker, paid for the gift, and went looking for the next attraction. Randy accidentally dropped the shaker, shattering it, and when an Adult Guest saw this, they suggested that Randy and Tammy take it back to the store. Randy said that it was his fault it broke, but the adult guest urged them to try anyway.
Showing gratitude was important to Randy, even as a kid. When his and Tammy’s salt-and-pepper shaker (a gift for their parents) shatters, Randy is unsure what to do until a passerby advises them to simply return to the store and ask for a new one. Here, Randy takes a guest’s feedback (he has said previously to be open to advice), and he decides to be proactive about fixing the situation.
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Randy and Tammy took the broken salt-and-pepper-shaker back to the store, told the truth, and the employees decided to replace it. Randy was in shock, and he and Tammy left the store totally giddy. They gave the present to their parents, told them the story, and Randy’s mom and dad were especially impressed by Disney’s customer service. This impressive customer service, Randy claims, has earned Disney more than $100,000 from his family.
By simply telling the truth and asking for a replacement, Tammy and Randy’s positive behavior earns them a new salt-and-pepper shaker, and they were able to give it to their parents. At the same time, Disney earns four valuable life-long customers in the process. Positivity, it seems, is a two-way street.
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When Randy later works at Disney, he tells them this story. He says that Disney made his family feel so good that Randy’s parents incorporated trips to Disney into their volunteer work, hauling hundreds of English-as-a-second-language students on bus to Disney World. Randy then asks the Disney executives if, today, their policies would allow the workers to replace the salt-and-pepper shaker, and the executives squirm at the questions because the answer is “Probably not.” Randy’s message is: “There is more than one way to measure profits and losses. On every level, institutions can and should have a heart.” Randy’s mom still has that $100,000 salt-and-pepper-shaker.
The Disney employees turn the obstacle of a customer having broken a souvenir into an opportunity to show loyalty to their customers. This positive interaction, in turn, makes Randy’s family have a positive attitude toward Disney, which leads them to make Disney’s theme parks an important part of their ability to share joy through their lives.
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