By Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Author’s program note. I didn’t have to think twice about the music to accompany this important article. It’s “Friendship“ recorded in 1940 by Judy Garland and Johnny Mercer. You’ll find it in any search engine. Go now. When you find it, give a listen. It’s a peppy little number, touched by American corniness and with a special message for wartime: we’re in this together. And not just in war, either.
Luck, of course, the kismet that erratically injects itself into the business of living, is a always an unpredictable factor… but so is the ability to seize that opportunity when it knocks… and to grow it into your personal empire. This is the story of one particular man who when serendipity came, seized it with gratitude and enthusiasm, riding it for a lifetime of security, profit, and, yes, affection, the plus perfect beneficiary of partnership, its care and maintenance.
“A fairy tale.”
My 87-year-old father, a lifetime of business success under his belt, one day startled me with his description of my nearly 20 year relationship with Sandi Hunter and George Kosch. “It’s a fairy tale,” he said. “That’s what it is.” What he meant was that this was a relationship which, on the surface, was improbable, even unlikely; but which once existing one could never imagine being without. Let me tell you how it happened…
One day nearly 20 years go, the telephone rang in my Cambridge, Massachusetts office. It was George Kosch. This call was the result of a crucial business marketing insight and tactic: always make it easy for your customers to find you and connect with you. I was, I believe, the first author in the history of authors to include follow-up details (and a catalog, no less) in every copy of every book I wrote; (to date there have been 18 such). Such vital, business-building details were also included with every article as well as with the usual business marketing communications. They were also, and powerfully, supplied to the world each time I went on radio, television, and ultimately the ‘net. Over time this constant infusion of total follow-up information provided a fruitful critical mass that resulted in a constant stream of leads… and lucrative, fortune-building business.
George was one of the many people who responded… and responded… and responded. For I was that most normal and prosaic of prospects: the one who wasn’t paying much attention to what the marketer was trying so hard to get me to see. Like all prospects, when George The Marketer rang my phone (as, remember, he had been invited to do in one of my books) I had other fish to fry, other places to go, other people to meet. Now from a distance of 20 years (and everything therein) I shudder when I think of how nearly life might have been so very different. Here the “what if’s” surface…
What if he hadn’t bought the book?
What if he hadn’t read it?
What if he hadn’t believed my invitation to follow-up and so didn’t do it?
What if he had not followed-up when I, already comfortable and with too much to do, didn’t pay attention… since follow up was necessary and required to make the future happen?
Faced by such questions, one at last, and perforce, comes to believe, no matter how rooted in rationalism you may be, in the power of kismet… what my father called the “fairy tale”.
But George knew this about marketing: that if you have carefully selected your prospect… and you are sure of the benefits you can deliver… then, to get the benefits you want, you must try and try again to induce your prospect to stop! Pay attention! Get enthused! And, finally, desire what you wish him to desire. And George did just that, introducing me to a subject I knew nothing about… which was to become the basis for the remainder of my life. George Kosch, then as now, was a visionary… far ahead of everyday reality.
I didn’t know it, although it is to my credit that I quickly came to see, but I was firmly rooted in the past… while he was a link to the future. I had made a fortune from publishing books, specialized card-deck advertising, and from the laborious, fatiguing and very lucrative lecture circuit which at its height saw me lecturing on a regular basis at nearly 30 colleges and universities and at one professional association after another. It was a grueling pace. George offered something better: he offered the future… and no man can ever be offered a better, more compelling gift.
George snagged my attention finally and for good when he offered me, via his electronic bulletin board, the opportunity to bring my popular business columns (which appeared in both print and in my nationally syndicated radio program) to a wider audience. I didn’t need to be offered twice. Here’s why…
In those days, these bulletin boards were wildly popular. From our vantage point with the glorious Web in place, it may be difficult for some to conjure up their attraction, but it was substantial. I remember one never-to-be-forgotten dinner party I attended where every guest, posting messages throughout dinner, kept jumping up to see all the avalanche of responses which just kept pouring in. It was rude, of course… but it was undeniably exciting and eye-opening. George Kosch offered a way into The Way Things Would Be, Like It Or Not!
I so liked it, and was so intrigued, that I flew to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada… because, by then, I had an inkling that in this unlikely place, with its uncongenial temperatures, my future was to be found… and I was right.
There at the airport, young, good looking, friendly, curious of course about their guest, were George Kosch and Sandi Hunter. I can see this moment sharply in my mind’s eye. It was a meeting full of possibilities which became, through careful stages, probabilities… then certainties. I have been a student of humanity since the day my eyes first opened on the human comedy… here I found two of the best. The first impression was impressive; nothing that has happened since has done anything but improve it.
The three of us promptly decided on a partnership which I think I may safely say has proven so beneficial to us all — and the world we have served. Here are some of the reasons why it works so well:
1) We each have our fields of expertise and so defer to the experts in their area. George takes care of the technology he knows so well; Sandi is an expert in Web design and handles all the myriad “back office” and customer service details. There her deft touch, efficiency, organization and, above all, kindness are put to the test daily. She never fails. I remain what I have always been, the marketing man, the creator of endless blog copy.
2) We say less than we know. A successful relationship is predicated upon empathy, discretion, a carefully nurtured ability to know what to say, how and when to say it. It means giving up the often destructive luxury of saying anything that comes to mind. This is what the young and careless do, thinking they are honest, when they are simply immature
3) We value the others and say so. We are, they from Ontario, me from Illinois, by heritage reserved. But that only make our words, when given, the more affecting. We make it a point to remember… for it easy to take for granted that which must always be recalled and celebrated. We do not take each other for granted.
4) Above all else, we are there for each other. I have never had to struggle to make these fine people adhere to any undertaking; they have never had to remind me to do something promised. Lifelong relationships flourish because the people involved do what they say they are going to do… their word indeed their bond..
With such people, success, while never inevitable, is likely… and so it has been.
Which is why, soon to be 65, I embrace each day with unbridled enthusiasm… for I know that I am making the next portion of the great adventure of my life with just the right people. When you find yours, grab on to them as if your life depends on it, for it does…
About the Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Dr. Jeffrey Lant is also the author of 18 best-selling busines books.
Republished with author’s permission by Graham Lee – The Income Zone
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