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Tell me a story

Early in October 2007, Mike Miller resigned from the RB Sunrise Rotary Club.aaeaaqaaaaaaaagbaaaajgmxmjrlzjrlltzkntgtndlhyi05nwuwlwy5otrjogfmntixza

President of RB Financial in San Diego, Miller said he was “tired of being nickel and dimed,” with fines for his birthday, wedding anniversary, etc.

Club members wished him well and assumed he’d never attend another meeting.

Two weeks later the Witch Creek fire swept through town. Mike and Teresa Miller escaped from their burning house with 10 minutes notice.

Word went around the Rotary club like…well, like wildfire. And the following Saturday 40 Rotarians and spouses appeared at the Miller property to search for any surviving valuables.

Lunchtime brought one of our members carrying a dozen pizzas, salad and sodas. Mike watched in amazement as a table and checkered tablecloth were set before him.

“Why are you all here?” he asked. “You were in trouble, Mike. We came because you were in trouble,” was the answer.

“But…I resigned from this organization two weeks ago,” he protested. The response; “Yeah…we didn’t accept your resignation.”

Not another word was said on the subject and we spent several more hours helping before going on our way.

Nobody was terribly surprised when Mike returned to Rotary’s 7am meeting the following Tuesday. Crying, he announced “You will NEVER get rid of me; I’m in this organization for life!”

I recount this story whenever someone asks me what Rotary’s about. It explains our philosophy of “Service Above Self” far better than discussing the 1.25 million members in 34,000 clubs throughout 200 countries.

Consider this whenever you’re explaining your own organization. Remember that anyone can quote facts and figures about real estate, but only you can tell the tearjerker about the couple you helped move cross-country to be with their only grandchild.

Stories about larger goals and customer successes you aided are an important differentiator in today’s business world. They show your depth, character, and humanity.

Such an approach multiplies reasons for someone to buy from you. You’re obviously not just about trying to make that extra dollar.

As we careen into a new year and a new reality, remember how much competition you’ve got for every customer.

Now, more than ever, it’s critical to develop strategies for connecting with your clientele. Mike Miller has shown us the way.

The 2032 campaign just started

votingEven as we gratefully watch the 2016 campaign fade in our rear-view mirror, rumblings have started for the 2032 presidential race.

Yes, I said 2032!

Last night’s dinner at Grub found me chatting with Christian, the cashier. I’ve known him for years as my daughter’s classmate in RB’s schools.

Now 21, he looks at the world around him and says “We can do better!”

Yet unlike so many people both his age and mine, he’s getting involved now to improve things later.

I shared with Christian how I’d once envisioned myself in the US Senate and the tale of a college friend who spent a full evening mapping out a 20-year strategy to accomplish my goal.

His plan included where I was to live, whom I should meet, and where to raise money from.

And though I later decided against running for elected office, the planning concept wasn’t lost on me.

Like Christian, you too should be organizing your thinking for meeting long-term objectives. Knowing where you want to be in 15 years is fine, but the difference between wishes and reality is having in place a plan…and then implementing that plan.

As we find ourselves staring down the throat of another year, the smartest business owners are rebuilding their strategic and marketing plans. They’re organizing their thinking, finances, operations, and marketing with an eye towards the coming three years. Those that will be the most successful are planning for both the short-term (12 months) and the long-term (10 years out).

Over three decades I’ve encountered every imaginable reason to not plan for success, including lack of time and an unwillingness to be tied down. Invariably these excuses are said by people who later whine about loss of sales and careen from one crisis to the next.

Here’s the thing: if you take the next six weeks to examine who you are as a business and why you do whatever you do, you’re guaranteed to go a long way towards actually implementing your dream.

Then, regardless of whether you change your mind along the way, you’ll at least have a place to begin the conversation.

Finally, for those who are unhappy about this election’s results, go talk with Christian. He’ll give you hope for the future.