February 10, 2019

The ultimate networker

I had trouble keeping up with him last week.

Since Wendy bought him a wheelie zimmer frame (with go-faster stripes), it’s as if he’s turbo charged.
Flies around the place at a rate of knots, he does.

He’s my 94 year old Dad.
We call him ‘Pa Bear’.
We’re in Palm Bay, Florida.
And it’s 7:00 am, which is time for his morning walk.

The sun is already blazing silver-gold on the horizon, such that it hurts your eyes to walk in that direction.
So, Dad guides me around Lockmar Estates, on one of his favourite routes.

These are not like English estates, mind you.
Every house is a low, attractive, lawn-surrounded, double-garaged, palm-tree-shaded spread.
With prices one-third what we’d pay in South East England.

What’s obvious, as we’re stopped by half a dozen other strollers during our journey…
Is that everybody, for a mile around, knows him.

And he seems to know everyone else.
Not just who they are, but all about them.

He’ll tell you who just bought that house, and for how much.
Why the last couple packed up and sold up after just 12 months.
Who is sick. Who is dying. Who just died. And how.

He’ll tell you what, and how, their children are doing; and which ones are at University, studying what.
Whose children are throwing teenage tantrums.
And who is about to get a divorce.

I’ve been doing this walk with him for at least 10 years now.
And I still can’t figure out how he does it.
How he knows what he knows.

But one thing is for certain…
Everybody trusts him.
Everybody shares their heart and soul with him.
And I seem to be the only person with whom he shares these decades of private thoughts.

How does he become the fount of all knowledge?
Well, I’ll tell you.

He does it… because he cares about people.
About what really matters in their life.
And they sense that.

I remember once asking a Financial Planner to talk with me about his achievement in saving his unpleasant, miserable, high-earning client £24,000 in taxes.
He was puffed up with it. Chuffed to pieces he was.

I asked him a simple question.
“Why was that important to your unpleasant, miserable, high-earning client?
You saved him £24,000 in taxes, in order that… what?”

He stared at me as if I was talking a mixture of Greek and Chinese. His mouth wide open and moving silently, like a fish.
He couldn’t answer the question.

Within a few seconds, we could both see that he had no real idea about his client’s life at all.
Merely enough so that he could sign him up as a client.
Then do his professional thing.

What had happened was little more than a well-structured, technically-correct, honest exercise.
Which earned a nice fee.
Whilst satisfying the ego of his client, in ‘getting one over’ on HMRC.

All rather pointless, really.
Nobody’s life changed for the better.
Apart from the nice fee.

The exercise had as much connection to the client’s beating heart of a life, as trying to connect my android to a network from a peak in the Himalayas.

The financial planner had never bothered to find out what his client really, really, really wanted in life.
Because he really didn’t care.

When we care enough about people in business that we truly understand the impact our service has on their life.
When we care deeply about that.

Then so much more that is good will flow our way.

Just ask Pa Bear.