Friday, September 26, 2008

The Wave

When I was a young, confused recent uni drop out I set myself a goal with a list of “things” that I wanted to achieve with my spectacular (and yet completely unknown) future career. The list read as follows:
• I want it to be fun and exciting
• I want to be able to be really successful at it and make a great income
• I want to be able to have an impact on the lives of the people I deal with

It wasn’t until I started selling real estate at 19 that I realised I could tick all those boxes with that career, so I started getting my teeth stuck into it.

In thinking about what I do with my life going forward (I’ve now sold my real estate businesses) my mind is drawn back to that list, especially point 3.

I’ve been quite lucky with my real estate businesses to feel and create that “impact on people” in a big way. Many real estate agents do. We’ve all had clients cry, scream, jump up and down because they’re so delighted / moved / emotional, and it’s a lasting effect in many cases. Just this weekend a former client came up to me and chatted about his experiences when I sold him his house (back in 1999!)

But in a recent experience that I want to share with you.. I realised that what I’ve done so far is not going to be near enough for me and it’s made me reassess some of my goals for the future.

The event came about when I was recently fortunate enough to have John Anderson, founder of iconic travel brand Contiki, speak at Success with Attitude, a conference I co-organise here in Tasmania. John was exceptionally well received by the audience and actually brought more than a few people to tears during his speech.

One of the most touching parts for me was when John mentioned that these days, even after he has sold the company, each time he sees a Contiki coach touring young people around, he looks up, smiles and waves. He said something to the effect that the people on the coach have no idea who he is, but he knows what he’s done for them and thousands of others.

Having been on a Contiki tour (my first trip outside of the country) I know exactly what John’s talking about. I had an amazing time, truly life changing and completely memorable.

It got me thinking about the different types of impact businesses can have on their clients. It made me realise…

It’s not about frequency of use
I’ve travelled Contiki only once, but I have more brand passion for it than say, Microsoft (even as I type this blog into a Microsoft product, sporadically checking my email in another and doing my finance homework in a third) whose products I use every day.

It’s about how much you can stay in their hearts
Knowing the brand power is such that the average family saves for seven years to get to a Disney resort, I’m sure Walt would give a posthumous and knowing wave to each person entering the gates.

I would imagine my fellow smartcompany blogger Naomi Simson’s Red Balloon Days has that same potential to create a lasting impact when someone is gifted one of their amazing experiences.

Should we chuck the rest?
Am I saying that businesses that don’t tug at the heart strings are bad or evil? Certainly not! I’d be lost without my ability to “Google”… I’m just not going to send Larry and Sergey a valentines card (yet).

I even have a business of my own – – which is a vital help to real estate agents, but is unlikely to get me words of praise equivalent to even one experience helping someone sell their largest asset or trekking across the countryside.

It’s not about size (really!)
I know people who worship at the altar of Steve Jobs for their spanky new macs, iphones and ipods, but I’d be just as inclined to hug the staff at the tiny restaurant, Magic Curries I went to last week in Hobart for the exceptional dining experience I had there.

It doesn’t matter what your business is… if it’s still around after you’re gone, will you have justification in knowing you’ve had a hand in changing people’s lives for the better?

My new aim after seeing my new role model John Anderson speak is to try to emulate some of the effect he’s had on the world, in my own way. Stay tuned. Thanks John!

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