Three Lessons Kids Teach You About Business Success
“My see,” were the words my two-year-old daughter Maggie used last
week as she extended her arms toward an older woman sitting in the
window seat on a spring break flight to Mexico last week. The adult
translation of those words is, “Excuse me ma’am, your window seat is
better than my middle seat. I would really love to climb over this
armrest, jump on your lap and hang out with you for a few minutes so
I can look out that window. You good with that?” This woman was
obviously well-versed in the ancient language of baby babble, and
knew exactly what Maggie was saying. She pulled up the armrest, held
out her arms and without hesitation, Maggie plopped onto her lap.
They then began cloud gazing while getting to know each other.
My first reaction as a parent was one of hesitation. After all, I
was a product of the “don’t talk to strangers” era, and not only was
Maggie talking (I think), she was bouncing on the knee of a complete
stranger. My second reaction was as an adult; thinking there was no
way that woman could want my drooling two-year-old climbing all over
her. After several minutes of visiting, Maggie waved bye-bye to the
woman and happily scampered back to her Barney video. And this was
only the beginning. Throughout the week Maggie sat in several more
laps, high-fived countless strangers and waved kisses to a dozen or
more people she had gotten to know. As I watched, I began thinking
at what point and at what age will Maggie become weary of new faces,
put her guard up and perhaps stop trusting people she doesn’t know?
At what point will strangers stop randomly smiling at, waving at,
and openly trusting her?
Then I thought…what a shame. Why does it all have to end? Well maybe
it doesn’t. While I don’t expect strangers to randomly pinch our
cheeks and blow us kisses walking down the street, maybe there is
something we can do that will make people want to open up to us
more. Because if they open up to us more, we can then learn more,
influence more and serve more. So how do we do gain access to the
hearts and minds of as many people as possible?
Kid Lesson #1: Trust
others as you did when you didn’t know any better!
Trust others, and they will trust you. It’s a nice little game of
give and take. If your defenses are always up and are skeptical of
other’s intentions, other’s defenses will be up, and they will be
skeptical of your intentions. So this week, let’s think of one
person who you are reluctant to trust and trust them. Make the first
move. Might you get burned? Yep! But when you open your doors, more
good than bad will enter. And surrounded by more good than ever, you
can be taken back to a time when, like Maggie, people felt even more
compelled to smile at you, laugh with you and let you know that
their day is better because you helped them “look out the window and
into the clouds” for just a bit.
Kid Lesson #2: Put
yourself “out there” by being fearless:
Sure, most kids are afraid of things like green beans and cough
syrup, but like Maggie, most have no problem “cold calling” people
they don’t know. Why? Because they don’t yet have a fear of
rejection. Even without a psychology degree, most people can tell
you the most successful salespeople, entrepreneurs and business
leaders attack opportunities that average performers deem
So this week, think of three business opportunities or potential
clients who others think you have absolutely no chance of getting.
Then identify the highest person in the decision-making chain and
make the call, pay the visit, send the creative e-mail or deliver
the singing telegram. Regardless of how you do it, just put yourself
out there. And take comfort in knowing the top is not crowded. Most
of your competition is too scared to take the risk that you are
about to take.
Another way to put yourself out there is to by identifying one smart
person who you are dying to learn from. Not your buddy in the
office, your manager or even your current mentor. Think about
somebody big such as the author of your favorite book or a magazine
writer you love, the host of that business radio show you enjoy, the
speaker at that last seminar …whomever! Why not? Most people,
regardless of their VIP status, are willing to help anybody gutsy
enough to ask.
Cameron Johnson, a well-known author at age 23, has sold more than a
dozen Internet businesses, and is now a contestant on Oprah’s Big
Give. He talked about a time when he was an eight-year-old kid,
sending a letter to Donald Trump, Plaza Hotel, New York City. It was
addressed just like that … no street number, street name, zip code –
nothing! He didn’t tell his parents he was sending it, but in the
letter he asked Mr. Trump if, when he came to New York, Donald would
give him a tour of the room where Macaulay Culkin stayed in the
movie “Home Alone - Lost in New York.” When his family arrived at
The Plaza for their vacation, the hotel manager’s first words were,
“You must be Cameron!” Not long after, Cameron and family got a
five-star tour of Cameron’s favorite room by none other than Donald
Trump. So what’s the point? Because Cameron was eight-years-old and
didn’t know any better, he put himself out there and his
high-profile prospect, Donald Trump, responded by giving him access.
Kid Lesson #3: Give
access to expect access:
Kids will not only talk to anybody, but they will let just about
anybody talk to them. How about you? Will you give access to just
about anybody? Let’s face it, we are all crazy busy and don’t have
a ton of minutes to burn every day. But if you expect people to call
you back (access), you better be somebody who calls others back. If
you expect that high level decision-maker to let you in, you better
let that salesperson calling on you “in.” If you expect advice from
that VIP, you better be willing to give advice to that rookie. Those
who get to the top in business and in life are those who are the
most selfless. And because it is so natural for the top performer to
give help and access to others, it is easy for them to ask for it
So there you have it, kids. Let’s turn back the clock by trusting
more, fearing less and by opening ourselves up to those who need our
help. And by acting in this childish manner, you are about to find
yourself with a lot more customers, contacts, mentors and friends
than you ever dreamed possible.
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