#TGW: The Right Answer

April 29, 2016

By Jon Cooper | The Good Word

– There can be nothing more infuriating than calling someone on the phone and having the call go straight to voicemail.

It’s exactly what you’d expect when trying to reach a Power 5 conference basketball coach like Georgia Tech’s new coach, Josh Pastner.

Yet Pastner admits that going straight to voicemail is not only what a percentage of callers to his cell phone — not his office phone — expect but what they prefer.

It has everything to do with his voicemail message.

“People call all the time to listen to my voicemail because I change it constantly,” Pastner said. “It’s a good message. People call it all the time. They’ll text me and say, ‘Don’t answer. I just need a lift. I need some encouragement. Please don’t answer.’ So they’ll call and I’ll hit decline.”

This art of the inspirational voicemail goes back as far as Pastner can remember. He recalled at 19 that then-director of player personnel for the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers Jeff Weltman and then-Clippers’ general manager Elgin Baylor, an NBA hall of famer and one of the 50 greatest players of all-time, used to called it for a while after giving him a “interview” for head coach. They didn’t hire Pastner but still stayed in touch.

“They started calling me constantly to listen to my voicemail,” he said, with a laugh. “They loved my voicemail message.”

It’s become a tradition wherever he’s gone and Pastner has an ever-growing list of followers.

Here is a transcription of his current message.

“Hello, this is Josh Pastner. I’m not in right now but if you leave your name and number, clearly, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. As the tremendous, great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about the word of integrity he said, ‘When your character is built on spiritual and moral foundation, your contagious way of life will influence millions.’ Have a great day and a day filled with positive energy. Talk soon.”

Pastner likes to change the message every couple of weeks but admits that he hasn’t been able to do so recently, as he’s been kind of busy — changing jobs, recruiting for the Yellow Jackets, moving himself and his family to Atlanta.

“I’ve had the Dr. King quote for a couple of months now,” he said. “Of course, he’s got many, many great quotes but I’ve had him, I’ve put like Ralph Waldo Emerson on there. You name it I’ve had it on there. I try to change it every three or four months, sometimes even every two months. I haven’t changed this one in the last four and a half months so I need to change it.”

He won’t just change his message for the sake of changing it. There is a criteria.

“You have to be positive with a really good message, something that’s uplifting so when people call they like it,” he said. “Give them a little pep in their step.

“I try to keep my very message positive. I’m a real positive guy, I’m about positive energy,” he added. “Being honest, being straightforward, no fluff, tell it like it is. I haven’t changed my voicemail in the past few months with this job and everything else, I I just haven’t had time but I will when things slow down.”

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