Doing your research and small but personal gestures can make all the difference. Spot the difference (and lack of) within and between the following two stories.

No:1 David Beckham on signing for Manchester United as a schoolboy:

David Beckham tells the story of having to decide whether to sign schoolboy forms at Manchester United or Tottenham Hotspur… Ted, his father, was a United fan but his grandfather loved Spurs. The London club was closer to home too.

When David and Ted turned up to a meeting with Terry Venables, the Spurs manager had his feet on the desk. “What’s his name?” he asked the scout…. “Is he any good?” “Yes, we rate him.” Venables turned to Beckham: “We’d like you to join Spurs,” he said

Sir Alex Ferguson took a different approach. He phoned Ted at home. He discussed why he rated the youngster. He knew his strengths and weaknesses. When David turned up at Old Trafford to discuss schoolboy forms, it happened to be his birthday. Ferguson had organised a cake…

No:2 Brad Bird on working for Pixar instead of staying at Warner Brothers:

Brad Bird recalled that when he first started talking to Pixar about doing The Incredibles, he wasn’t sure if he would take the offer: he was still considering staying with Warner Bros. “But it took me a month to get a meeting with the administration of the studio I’d just made a movie for. And in the meantime, Steve [Jobs] knew the name of my wife, asked how my kids were by name – he did his homework. I thought, ‘What the hell am I doing talking to Warner Bros.?’ It cinched the deal.”

The featured image at the start of this post is just one example of Virgin Trains personalising their service, with water bowls provided for canine travellers at stations complete with a little humour to make you smile:



  • Tiny gestures matter by Matthew Syed, published in The (London) Times, 22 May 2014
  • Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull, published by Bantam Press, 2014

Featured image: Virgin Trains water bowl for canine travellers, photo by author

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