Ducks Quack; Eagles Soar

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Mar 24, 2012

“Ducks quack.  Eagles soar.”
Wayne Dyer

In one of Harvey Mackay’s books on leadership he tells a wonderful story about customer service. While he was waiting in line for a ride to the airport, a bright and shiny cab pulled up.

Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey. He handed him a laminated card and said, “I’m Wally, your driver.  While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d like you to read my mission statement.”

Taken aback, Harvey read the card… It said, “Wally’s Mission Statement: To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.”

This blew Harvey away.  Especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside.  Spotlessly clean!

As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, “Would you like a cup of coffee?  I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.”

He said jokingly, “No, I’d prefer a soft drink.”

Wally smiled and said, “No problem.  I have a cooler up in front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice…”

Almost stuttering, Harvey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke.”

Handing him his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.”

As they were pulling away, Wally handed him another laminated card, “These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.”

And as if that weren’t enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him.  Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day.  He also let him know that he’d be happy to chat about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.

“Tell me, Wally.  Have you always served your customers this way?” 

Wally smiled into the rear view mirror.  “No, not always… In fact, it’s only been in the last two years.  My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do.  Then I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day.”

Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself.  He said, ‘Stop complaining!  Differentiate yourself from your competition.  Don’t be a duck.  Be an eagle.  Ducks quack and complain.  Eagles soar above the crowd.’”

“That hit me right between the eyes,” said Wally.  “Dyer was really talking about me.  I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle.” 

“I take it that has paid off for you,” Harvey said.

“It sure has,” Wally replied.  “My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year.  This year I’ll probably quadruple it.  You were lucky to get me today.  I don’t sit at cabstands anymore.  My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine.  If I can’t pick them up myself I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action.”

Wally was phenomenal.  He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab.  I’ve probably told that story to more than fifty cab drivers over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it.

Wally the cab driver made a different choice.  He decided to stop quacking like a duck and start soaring like an eagle.

What a great story!  As I look around my world today, I wonder if the noises I make will sound more like a duck or an eagle.

Think about it.
Dr. Don Meyer is President of
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA
Responses can be mailed to