When I was about 16 I had my first real business.

It was a video production studio on the Central Coast.  This was back in 1979 and the total set up cost me about $40k which was a lot of money back then (you could have bought a house for that much).

Not long after I set the studio up an elderly gentleman dropped in to ask me for help making a decision on what video camera he should buy (well, I say he was elderly, he was probably about 65, which doesn’t seem that old now, but you can imagine, for a 16 year old, it sure seemed that way!).

I spent several hours with him over a number of days helping him make a decision.

A couple of weeks later, he returns and wants some help choosing a video player.

Then, a few more weeks pass and he’s back to ask how to edit his home movies.

And a bit later, he wants some advice on how to use the camera …

He was a lovely old fellow and I spent a fair bit of time with him.

I didn’t charge him for anything, despite his offers to pay me.

Anyhow, fast forward several months and an opportunity comes up to pitch for a promo video for a local business.  The budget was about $30k, so it was a big deal.  I pitched for the work not really expecting to get the job, as it was for a club and I was under age.

Surprisingly, a few weeks go by and I get a call from the president of the club advising me I had won the job.

You can imagine how excited I was.

This was a big project with a real budget that would make a tremendous difference to my business.

The president went on to ask me if I knew why I had won the job.

Of course, back then my presumption was that I was the best person for the job, but to my surprise, this wasn’t the reason why I had won the business.

Turns out the old guy I had been helping for several months was the father of the president of the club.

Because I had decided to support this man get his home video studio up and running, I won my first major contract.

And then, after I delivered the video, I received a call from another major company asking me to pitch on yet another job.  Turns out the CEO of that business also sat on the board of the club!

Then after another few months I got yet another opportunity referred to me by another board member.

My business was off and running… all because I took some time and helped an old man with his video camera.

I could have just as easily fobbed this guy off, or told him to go and read some brochures, instead of taking the time to help him.

You never know who you’re speaking with or what the future holds.

Be present, be generous, be giving and let the rest take care of itself.

 

Edit suite pictured here was my second studio circa 1984.

One Response to You never know who you might be speaking with

  1. Great story Mark and very true.

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