It was probably about two years ago when I first met Lee Ann at Office Depot in Fargo, ND. I was working for another business and stopped in one day to have a small print job done. A fiery redhead behind the counter started to barrage me with questions East Coast style. At first, it came as a surprise in how direct and forward she was. We’ll just say she didn’t hesitate to tell me her opinion, to say the least! There was something I loved about her, though, in her brash and forthright way of talking and doing business. I appreciated it. There was no BS behind it. It was just get to the point.

Over the next many months, I started stopping in more frequently with print jobs for my own business which I had started. It seemed like every time I stopped in Lee Ann was the one to wait on me. With each visit, she began to ask a little more about myself and my business, as well as give me a little more shit in a fun way. If there was one thing about her, she never hesitated to throw a little sarcasm or make a joke at my expense, but we always had a good laugh about it.

Eventually, as we got to know each other more and more, when I’d walk in the door I’d hear a yell from the print center, Hey, Patrick! And it always brought a smile to my face. We eventually started talking about other items outside of my business, especially as my wife started making stops here and there and she got to know her as well. Orders I would send by email she always made sure to take care of herself and communicate back with me, always getting anything done within the time frame I needed them by, even if it was hard to do.

A few months ago, I was placing another order for some one-sheeters that I frequently had done there and Lee Ann stopped me and asked, Hey, would you want to create a business poster for me that I can put up in here similar to that one? as she pointed to a two by three foot poster board promoting a local business. I said Sure! I told her that I’d have it for her in a week or two.

A few weeks went by and I hadn’t prioritized the poster board. I walked into Office Depot and was immediately called out by Lee Ann Patrick, I’m still waiting on your poster! I laughed and told her how busy I had been as she just smiled and laughed.

A few more passed and I finally got the promotional board done and emailed over to her. She replied back to me by email WOW! This looks awesome! A week or two went by before I was finally able to stop in and personally see the board firsthand in the store. Of course, as soon as I walked in the door and she saw me she immediately pointed it out and smiled. All I could say is It looks great, Lee Ann! Thanks so much for putting that up! As I expected, she played it off like it was no big deal and gave me all the credit, but deep down I know she was beaming inside. Before I left that night, I made her take a picture by it for me.

Lee Ann holds a soft spot in my heart, as she has truly seen my professional transformation over the last few years with every order I’ve placed with her. Every one-sheeter or folder or speaking handout that she’s run for me has led to the next advancement for me career-wise. It’s led to the next talk or getting in the door with the next business. She never questioned what I was doing or why. Lee Ann has only encouraged me, made positive comments to my wife about how my career is taking off and how much potential I have.

She’s one of those people we all wish we had more of in our lives. Someone that can speak the truth to us no matter what. Someone that can give us some shit and make us laugh about it once in a while. But more so, somebody that truly cares about the success of others. Someone that just wants to help in any way possible. It’s never mattered to Lee Ann what her role has been along my journey, she’s just glad she can be part of what I’m doing and do what she can to help out.

Since she’s placed that poster in her store, I’ve had multiple people say they’ve seen it in there and I even have a business deal on the horizon because of it.

Lee Ann truly shows that business isn’t just about customer service. It’s about relationships. It’s about caring. It’s about helping others when and where possible without ever asking anything in return. She’ll definitely get my business as long as she’s there or wherever she goes.