Dad couldn’t advertise. He couldn’t even randomly hand out business cards or leave a stack of them on the table. In his profession, it was considered improper to market oneself like that. He never got rich, but he was able to take care of his family very well. He couldn’t buy ads and social media didn’t exist, but he could give a handshake and let someone see the glint in his eye.
I remember dad’s success and his professional encumbrances of the day. He was an accountant, beginning in the late 1930s. I remember them as resource and inspiration in this world of banner ads, social media, tweets and digital connections (instead of human connections), and the incessant outpouring to tsunami-like levels of advice, mandates, decrees, epistles and stone tablets that declare lack of SOE, cross-links and search algorithms will doom….DOOM….you and your business.
I sometimes seek a quiet place from all the advice from LinkedInTwitterFacebookInstagram advisors and talk to my dad, though he has been gone almost 35 years now. “How did you do it, dad?”
Dad didn’t smile big, nor did he “laugh out loud.” Mom said he did in his younger days, but that was long before my time. But when he smiled, you felt liked and you felt like smiling, too. The smile was part of the charm, or the charm came equipped with a smile. I don’t know which was which, but I do not that smiles aren’t shared digitally. They are shared face-to-face. See someone, smile genuinely and enjoy their company. Let them enjoy yours. Set your attitude in the morning, smile at the person in the mirror.
Convincing, warm handshakes (not overpowering, not lame and not practiced), go a long way in the face-to-face world (please don’t tell me that is the analog world). Hugs work when appropriate and when they are mutually appreciated. Hugs should never be affectations, but should be inspired because they are real. Look someone in the eye when shaking their hand. That moment should have a feeling to it. Even when you are shaking hands out of etiquette (remember that word?), do it with sincerity and warmth.
Smiles and handshakes are part of the many interactions that create this crazy thing called connections. The number of followers on LinkedIn…those are not connections. The people who are your Facebook friends…nope, not connections. The 140-character limited snippet talkers and sharers…nope, not connections. Not real connections. Make real connections. Smile, shake hands, look for the glint in their eyes and let them see yours…it means you’re both alive. Connect. Do business…or don’t. But connect.
I was but a lad when I recall seeing the soles of dad’s shoes as he rested in his favorite chair, feet up on the ottoman, after a long day of work. He had holes in the soles of his shoes. He and mom married during the Great Depression, so they both had plenty of stories of worn out shoes. They both had challenging childhoods, with dad not even getting a pair of shoes until he was 12 or so. There were tough times for dad’s business, and new shoes sometimes had to wait. All that to say … he wore out shoe leather. He called on clients and potential clients, met new people and stayed connected to long-standing clients. His fingers were like lightning on a 10-key calculator, but the real work was going out and about, and that takes shoe leather.
Dad worked. Work didn’t scare him, though it took a few years and several jobs in his young man days to find the right profession and boss (himself). He did well and he struggled. He had a client who had a new “investor” who wanted dad to keep two sets of books. Dad said “no” and the client was lost after many years of good-paying work. In one meeting, dad lost half of his income at the same time he had two teenage kids in private schools. Education mattered; his kids mattered; his wife mattered; his family mattered. Dad worked. He never, ever surrendered.
I’m not sharing these thoughts as part of a social media or marketing strategy. I’m sharing because I love to write, because my dad inspired me and because I care about your happiness and success.
Thanks, dad. I think I’ll delete this next batch of emails about social media and go visit someone or call them.