by Bill Ruhsam
Sometimes, the simplest things are the most profound. Many times, the most obvious things are often ignored. A good percentage of the time the most common sense principles are the ones most disregarded. Perhaps, it’s because we are so intent on making a living that we forget about making a life.
One of the most forgotten principles for personal success is a word ignored by almost everyone–Goodwill. It is a principle so underused, yet so powerful, that it could take us to the heights of success. It remains underused because people overlook the disarming power disguised in subtle terms such as compassion, kindness, empathy, unselfishness and caring.
In marketing classes in MBA school, we learned many useful things about advertising strategy, marketing to consumers, studying statistics of a sales campaign and getting the order. To this day, I use the tools of the trade to help me in my business. But one thing that hardly anyone touched upon was the concept of “Goodwill.”
Goodwill is not just a number on the accountant’s balance sheet, but is an invisible, little-used tool that all of us have at our disposal. Let me explain. Most of us could help solve someone else’s problems, either with a telephone call, an introduction or referral, a signature or other obvious means. But we refuse to do it. Why? I’ll tell you why. Because we feel there’s nothing in it for us! Or we are afraid to get involved.
Let me tell you a true story. It was many years ago. A young woman walked into my assistant’s office. She was looking for a job, but we had none to offer. Just the week before, all job vacancies had been filled. At the request of my assistant, I spoke with the young woman. She only wanted to work for the summer and then would complete her last semester of graduate school and return home to her country. She had been looking for a summer job for almost four weeks. No one wanted to hire her and train her to work for such a short period of time.
I remembered my days as a graduate student and felt her anxiety. Although there was no sound business reason to do so, I told my assistant to create a job for her. Afterall, she needed help and it felt good to help someone without figuring what was in it for me. I hardly saw her until the last day when she came into my office to say goodbye. She thanked me again for the job and handed me a business card.
“This is my father’s card,” she said, “If you ever visit my country, call my dad, he’d be very happy to meet you. I’ve told him all about how kind you and your employees were to me. In my country, my dad is a member of Parlianment and an important man.”
And that’s how I ended up having lunch with the mayor of Nairobi, dinner with the Vice President of Kenya and making business alliances that brought my company profits hundreds of times greater than the salary we had paid for summer help.
On top of that, I enjoyed going on photo safari to the Serengeti Plains of East Africa, walking along the beaches of Mombassa and sipping Pimms#3 at the Mount Kenya Safari Club, while enjoying the fantastic view of the snow-covered summit of Mount Kenya. Even the Kikuyu dancers reminded me of exciting adventures in foreign climes.
This is not an isolated case. It’s just one of the more obvious ones. You never can tell who will lead you to that next contact, that profitable contract or the added financing you were looking for. It is important that we treat everyone with dignity and respect. REMEMBER: Business does not do business with other businesses. People do business with people.
The Internet is not about computers, technology or even marketing. That would be like saying cars are about the internal combustion engine and the laws of thermodynamics. The Internet is about people and communications. If we communicate with honesty and feelings, we’d find that most others respond in kind. So whenever the opportunity arises, do something for someone else who is powerless to do it alone. Don’t worry about what you are going to get out of it. The Universe has a way of repaying in ways far too strange to understand. Earn “goodwill” and you’ll prosper beyond belief.
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