Recently I had the honor to be invited back to my Collegiate alma mater to give a talk to the current Business Students. Since this was my first trip back to the Business School in 34 years, I was a bit perplexed as to how I could give a talk and relate to students who faced far different challenges than those I had faced so many years before, remembering that during my tenure as a college student there were:
- No Personal Computers
- No Cell Phones
- No Internet
The on rush of anxiety set in as I thought about what I would discuss while trying not to be the “Old Guy who showed up in class…” With a gracious introduction to the students, I was given the opportunity to talk about any topic I thought relevant.
I chose “In Search of B Players”
As my talk to the students began, I quickly explained that I was not interested in those who were 4.0 GPA students. I was not there to meet, greet, talk with or interview Valedictorians, or by implication, those on the “Dean’s List”. Rather I was there, as an honored guest in search of “B Players.” With the blood quickly draining from the face of the Dean of the Business School to a ghostly shade of white, and horror painted across every Professor’s face, I was quickly convinced I had captured the attention of all.
With the room now silent and surely focused on “Who is the Crazy CEO”, I began to explain a philosophy that would either have me blackballed for another 34 years, or have every student set upon a path of success for the next decade.
I want “B Players.” I want team members, individual contributors and fellow managers who are well rounded, well versed and experienced in life – those that adhere to a basic set of Principles:
- BE Interesting
- BE Memorable
- BE Committed
I want “BE Players.” The world we face today is one that is filled with an electronic tether at all times. Our connection via smart phones, Phablets, Tablets, Laptops, emails, texts and Snap Chats continually fills us with a relentless barrage of digital noise, and one that leaves us numb.
But rarely does it provide us the interpersonal talk that makes us memorable, interesting, even trustworthy based upon an ability to sympathize, empathize, and relate. It too often reduces us to simply another blah blah blah infomercial. We become the human form of Beige.
With the room as silent as my last Sales Forecast meeting, I quickly explained that the pace and success of business today is done by those that are interesting and memorable. The internet NEVER sleeps – it delivers – email, newsletters, infographics as well as a “Limited Time Only Value” every moment of every day. To have success, you must stand out and differentiate from not simply a nearby business, but hundreds and thousands just like it around the world.
So how do you stand out? How do you make a difference from the 719 other emails, texts and tweets that were all delivered in the last 2 hours?
- BE INTERESTING
- BE MEMORABLE
- BE COMMITTED
The talk ended. Students applauded, the Dean once again had blood flow and color, and the Professors were less panicked. While it was not the chat that will solve World Peace, nor allow Dogs & Cats to live on the streets in harmony, it was one thing.