Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How I Became a Starbucks Stalker - Pt. 7

Over those next few weeks, J and I met regularly at the Starbucks. He at one table and me at the other. He seemed eager to spend the time sharing with me his philosophies on life and people and demonstrating his incredible ability to start a conversation with just about anyone with little more than a disarming smile, assertive interest and a well placed question.

Though he had promised me an answer to my question about how this connecting stuff was going to help my business, he never readdressed the question at least not directly. Looking back I now know why. It was something that my connection adventures were bound to reveal to me in their own time and they did...one fateful morning.

One of the many people I had managed to connect with over those recent days and months was a man named Bob. An important real estate agent and owner of a growing agency in town. One day Bob sat down next to the tables where J and I were seated and he had a pained look on his face as he reviewed some documents. Sensing he was frustrated, or perhaps angry at something, I asked if he was alright.

"No I am not alright. My office manager hit me we a request from our agents to upgrade all this equipment in our office and I can't make heads nor tails of it," he said as he threw up his hands.

"What kind of equipment are you looking at if you don't mind me asking."

"You name it, she wants it. Our phone system is apparently on it's last leg. The copier hasn't worked well in years and now apparently the printer is broken." He threw down an apparent proposal in frustration.

"I don't know if you know this Bob but I am in that business." His head suddenly popped up. "I would be happy to take a look at what you are being proposed and give an opinion if you want."

"I had no idea Steve. Hmmm of course I would be thrilled if you could help me."

"I don't do anything with phones but I know someone who does. In fact I just recommended them to a big client of mine and they were thrilled. I would be happy to connect you with them as I know they would take good care of you. As for the copier and printer stuff, I can certainly give you the benefit of my own experience and tell you if what we have to offer would be competitive or not. At least give you some things to think about and ask your current vendor." And with that, I rolled up my sleeves and dove in.

The next day J and I met at our usual spot and he remarked about what he had witnessed with Bob. "You looked like you were in your element yesterday and I could tell Bob sure appreciated your help." I smiled but said nothing. "People need to get to know you as a person before they are willing to get to know you are a business person. A lot of people don't get that. I think you do."

I smiled though at the time didn't credit the interaction with Bob as anything more than dumb luck - being at the right place at the right time with the right expertise was I am sure what I was thinking. J somehow magically sensed my self doubt and said, "Kid, trust me. It wasn't dumb luck." His magical psychic powers continued to shock and amaze me.

J leveraged my recent lesson with Bob to illustrate a better picture of what had really taken place. He showed me that Bob and I would never have even known one another had I not taken it upon myself to say something to him when he first crossed my path. He also managed to show me that it took focusing my time and energy on Bob each time I saw him helped make it safe for Bob to engage and want to get to know me as well. My unique questions allowed me to get a further glimpse into the world of Bob each time we met and every question answered became a new connection and dialogue jumping off point. Although along the way I had learned Bob was a successful business owner, I never allowed my own professional interests to pollute my engagement with Bob and hence why he trusted me when the time came to help him.

Everything that J said to me made sense. Like coming out of a fog I remarked to J, "It wasn't dumb luck at all. No, it was as if a plan was meticulously carved out for Bob and I and I simply played my part." My analogy was met with prideful acknowledgment. J raised his hand to give a high five and my hand instantly raised up to meet his.

"Business will come to you my boy," J said as we slapped hands. "But not because you have a strategy or a plan to make it so. No, it will come to you because when you are genuinely interested in helping people and being a resource to them, good things are returned to you. And you only get the chance when you reach out to make a....."

We both said the word connection in perfect harmony.

The seeds of my own Ripple Effect were not only planted but were beginning to take root.

1 comment:

terri said...

It's amazing to see how the Ripple Effect took shape. I'm loving this story!