Let me tell you three stories that illustrate the attribute I’m referring to.
“One Little Podunk Client”
I’ve watched my dad grow a successful CPA firm for the last 30 years. He does very well for himself and has employed many people over the years with very little turnover. Today, new clients just seem to come his way with little to no marketing or advertising. However, it wasn’t always this way for him. There was a day where he had no clients and was scrapping just to make ends meet. He was going through some old stuff one day and showed me his tax return from when he was about 35 years old. It said $14,000.
“How’d you live off that,” I asked? He told me that it was really tough… but then began to explain how all of that changed. He started telling me about this “one little podunk client,” an older lady who had a simple tax return and didn’t pay him very much at all. Someone like this might get neglected or overlooked based on their perceived value to a CPA. But my dad taught me that you should never treat people different based on their perceived value to you. “I can trace about 95% of the revenue this firm does today back to this one little podunk client.” If my dad had treated her in a way that reflected her immediate monetary value to him 30 years ago, he might not be where he is today.
To this day, my dad has always considered “perceived indifference” to be the downfall of almost every service based business.
A Bum At A Porsche Dealer
A while back, my friend’s dad told of an experience he had while buying a Porsche. He was down in Oceanside CA where he lived. He was a self-made millionaire. Had a sweet house overlooking the beach. But the dude always dressed like a bum. He’d walk around in old, ripped jeans with paint stains from 20 years ago on them. Sometimes he wouldn’t shave for quite awhile; and he’d wear those old funky Hawaiian shirts on a regular occasion. When you looked at him… he was the last guy you’d think would be buying an expensive car.
But one day, my friend’s dad decided he wanted to buy a Porsche. So, off he went to the dealership. When he walked on to the lot, he looked like a bum. He said that as he walked around, he observed that the sales guys would look the other way and shun him. They made a judgement based on his perceived value to them. But there was one guy that came up to him and treated him just like any other preppy that showed up on the lot in a posh, 3-piece suit. While all of the other sales guys ignored my friend’s dad, this guy was authentic and real. He understood that it pays to treat everyone you meet the best that you can… all the time, regardless of perceived values. My friend’s dad pulled out cash… and this guy made the easiest sale of his life. The other guys got nothing.
Nike’s Ankles Are Broken By Steph Curry’s Crossover
Recently, Steph Curry’s Nike contract was up for renewal. This was in 2013. Nike treated him like an average player because in 2013, they didn’t perceive the value he’d have in 2014-2016. When they met with Steph and his father, they pronounced his name wrong with no correction. They used a canned slide deck that accidentally had Kevin Durant’s name all over it. They essentially sent in their “B Team” to meet with Curry because they didn’t assume he had the same value as someone like say, Lebron James. While their perceptions of Curry might have been accurate at the time, all they had to do was treat him as if he was Lebron James. It wouldn’t have taken that much more effort. That was an estimated $14 billion dollar mistake.
So Curry left Nike and went to Under Armour. Morgan Stanley analyst Jay Sole estimated that Steph Curry made a $14 billion dollar impact on Under Armour’s brand as a result of his current popularity. Nike is kicking themselves. You might think to yourself that Nike is too big to care. But they care. You can bet they’ll probably be spending millions on training their people to treat their “under the radar” athletes with more respect.
Success always seems to follow people who don’t treat people according to their current perception of monetary value. You’re going to see all aspects of your life improve when you resolve to treat everyone you meet as if they were the most important person in the world.