By Karen Axelton


This week at my son’s school was Red Ribbon Week—dedicated to teaching kids to “Say No” to drugs. Every day, there’s a contest or challenge tied to the theme. Today’s Red Ribbon challenge was “Wear as many red items of clothing or accessories as you possibly can.” The class with the largest total of red items wins a prize.

My son’s class has won this contest every year since kindergarten (they’re in fourth grade now), so they were all fully primed for the challenge. The girls had painted their fingernails red. The boys had painted their fingernails red. Kids were wearing red underwear. The class parents brought pins, buttons, ribbons and other red accessories and passed them out to the kids before school. One boy was wearing three shirts, four jackets, two hats and a scarf. The topper was a girl in the class who showed up wearing 356 red items (her mom had taken a dress and covered it all over with tiny red ribbons).

But as we arrived at school, my son saw lots of kids walking towards campus not wearing any red at all. He was shocked. “Mommy, what’s wrong with them?” he asked. “Don’t they know it’s Wear Red Day?”

I said, “Sweetie, most people in this world don’t read directions, pay attention, or make one bit of extra effort. If you do even ONE of those things, you’re going to be way ahead.”

My partners and I always talk about the concept of “being an A student,” and how it applies to business. If you’re an A student, you go above and beyond without even thinking about it, because it doesn’t occur to you there’s any other way.

The thing is, most people are C students. So if you’re even a B student (you answer the phone, reply to the e-mail, meet the deadline, deliver what you promise) you’re ahead of 90 percent of the pack. Be an A student (pick up the phone, send the e-mail, beat the deadline, deliver more than you promised) and there’s no limit to what your business can achieve.