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Tuesday, July 17, 2012


A few days ago I had a conversation with a truly remarkable man. I had just finished the task of sticking a vehicle license disc on my windshield when I became aware that someone was standing a few feet away from me and my open car door. "Pardon me", he said. "I didn't mean to startle you. My name is Daniel. I couldn't help admiring your car, enthusiast that I am. The power of the 3.2 liter engine under that hood is phenomenal." My interest was engaged immediately, and I introduced myself in turn. A highly animated discussion about cars ensued, and several minutes flew by.

When at the end of our conversation I parted with a ten-dollar note, the gesture was made to help out a friend who was temporarily down on his luck, and not as a matter of alms extended to a beggar. Strictly speaking, the latter label would not have been misplaced; I understood from our talk that Daniel used to be a reasonably well-off racing car owner who had been reduced to penury by the vagaries of the currency market. Now meals were coming his way courtesy of the kindness of strangers he met on the street. From my encounter with him, though, the identity that lingers in the mind is that of Daniel the knowledgeable car enthusiast, thanks to the effect of his references to torque, thrust and the like. Curiously, I feel an occasional pang of guilt that I couldn't give him more than the ten dollars I was able to spare, because psychologically he left the sense that he "deserved" more, not because he demanded it, but because the status he projected seemed to qualify him for something more than charity!

The lesson that Daniel taught me is worth sharing. Whether it be in meetings with bank managers to seek loan assistance for our business, in boardrooms where we are pitching our services to corporate executives, or in a first encounter with congregants who are considering offering us a pastorate, the attributes we choose to project our identity can make or break our prospects. Are you a hapless fellow who got nasty surprises when he tried his hand at business and now needs to be bailed out, or are you the visionary who will raise the bank's profile when it is known that the bank has associated itself with your success? Are you a chancer who is trying her luck with a fly-by-night advertising idea or are you the ad wizard the marketing managers have been waiting for all their lives? You will definitely be treated like the persona you choose to project in any context in which you hope to succeed in life.

Daniel helped me sell a few of my books. Fresh from my conversation with him, I went to drop off some clothes at a laundromat, where I chatted up the proprietor. I found myself sharing things I know about business, drawing from my experiences and the tips I present in the book I wrote. In the end, I couldn't resist mentioning my book, and what a pleasant surprise it was when the proprietor asked for a copy! During a chance meeting with a close relative, I offered advice on her transportation and real estate businesses, if truth be told not as a sales pitch for the book, but when we were saying goodbye she insisted on buying a copy. I have a couple more such stories to tell, but let these two suffice to illustrate the point that benefits accrue when we put our best and most relevant foot forward.

Do you have thoughts on this, or similar experiences you wish to share? Do please feel free to share them by clicking on "comments."

1 comment:

  1. Daniel is an inspiration, and i think the lesson learned is a very valuable one.


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