Recently, I was chatting with a great friend of mine who runs his own successful business. He’s a fantastic guy who is loved by everyone. His network of friends, business contacts and acquaintances is huge. He is smart, pragmatic and has the best “bull-sh*t detector” on the planet. He can be gruff at times and is not shy about using colourful language.
He has the heart of a lion but is the least self-centred person I know. His opinions are strong but all of them are well considered. He’s right, most of the time too! He has a rock-solid moral code that is reflected in everything he does. He is generous with his time but doesn’t suffer fools or people that are less than genuine.
While he is not the wealthiest or most successful person among his peers, he is nevertheless recognised as the “go to guy” when sensible advice, an introduction or just a shoulder to cry on is needed. He is always available. He freely shares what he knows, including his contact base. Some of the introductions and deals he has brokered have made millions of dollars for other people. Other times he has provided career advice and helped people get jobs.
He does it for free and is embarrassed when people make a fuss about him. He told me that he does it because “it would be a waste of his talents, if he didn’t”. He “wants to set an example for his kids to follow, not based on making money but on sharing what you have”. He lives and breathes this mantra.
Interestingly, he now avoids formal entrepreneurs/executive network groups and private business clubs. He has been a member of both and says “with some exceptions, these groups are full of people that value the status of membership above the actual benefits. When you have a group of people that are always wondering how much everyone else is worth and what car they are driving, then you have a recipe for disaster. ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ is a terrible way to work and live.” With a chuckle, he added, “I haven’t got time for golf anyway!”
My friend came from a poor family and left school when he was 15. He did a trade apprenticeship and then at the age of 22 started his own small business. The business went broke when he was 25. He owed his creditors $120,000. Rather than walk away, he decided to repay the $120,000 plus interest. It took him five years. At age 30 he started again. He’s now 45 years old and his business turns over $30m per annum, is highly profitable and employs 45 people. Employees rarely leave and most of his original creditors still supply him.
A few years ago, he founded his own charity and donates large amounts each year to his pet project – helping to feed the poor in one of the world’s most disadvantaged countries. Hardly anyone outside of his family is even aware of it.
Along the way, he has learnt a lot of lessons. One of these was the importance to keep giving even if you get nothing back. This guy is so believable and loved and, through his generosity, he embarrasses others to start giving back. He never asks for anything and never talks himself up. He quietly walks the talk and people just feel an obligation to him.
Almost his entire contact base has at some time or other been a client of his business. Most will be future clients too. They also refer other business to him. He never asks for it. Because he is focused on giving and solving other people’s problems he attracts business – lots of it.
It’s interesting, isn’t it?
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image thanks to Batman