It's not always the thought that counts: A Christmas lesson in Entrepreneurship
It is said that you never forget your first love or lessons attached to that experience. I agree. It’s not because I don’t have an absolutely magnificent husband now, I do. However, I experienced many firsts with “Austin” that I will never forget just because they were well…first.
With him I had my first kinda date (It was on the porch). My first kiss (that too was on the porch). The first time a male outside of my daddy told me that they loved me (yup, told me at midnight on the porch).
Among all those firsts, one stands out that I will remember forever. It’s when I truly learned what Christmas was all about and indirectly learned a skill set that I now use as a CEO.
The relationship between Austin and I became pretty-strained one year in the months before Christmas. My dad finally let us off the porch, but Austin and I didn’t spend as much time together as I thought we would. He would cancel dates and wouldn’t take the initiative to schedule time together. Missing him, missing us…caused tit-for-tat arguments and rifts that we wouldn’t otherwise have. We were still together so to speak. Not one day went by when we didn’t talk or he didn’t make sure that I had anything I needed.
Now, as Christmas drew closer, I knew I would get him a gift because it was the “right” thing to do. It's the thought that counts, they say. But honestly, I didn’t give much thought to what I got him. I think it was a sweatshirt and hat. Not that I had much to work with, but it was that un-memorable. He came over Christmas morning and I gave him my gift. He was so excited! He put on the hat right away (he loves baseball caps, I do remember that) and hugged me and thanked me.
Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a box. It was wrapped so extravagantly. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it was SPECIAL. I could tell by the sly look in his eyes and in the way he handed it to me. A hush fell in the room from my siblings and parents who were literally two feet away (well, at least we weren’t on the porch). I sat in the floor and opened a gorgeous, delicate gold bracelet-styled Wittnauer watch. At that moment, it became the most expensive thing I had ever owned. I couldn’t say a word. Tears welled up in my eyes. I hadn’t asked for a watch or anything else for that matter, so it wasn’t that. It wasn’t really the gift at all. Suddenly, everything we had gone through that season made sense. I realized in the weight of that moment, that all the times he was telling me no, he was working, saving and sacrificing for that watch. All the haircuts he couldn’t get, the gym shoes he didn’t buy, the restaurant we didn’t go to and the movies we couldn’t see were sacrificed to create THAT VERY MOMENT. What made the watch special was what it cost him. Not in money, but in sacrifice. Given where he worked at the time, I know it cost him all he had and that sacrifice was indicative of how he felt about me. I will never forget it.
What does this have to do with entrepreneurship? EVERYTHING. There is a new “CEO” born every minute. New gurus, with menial experience and even less practical application are popping up in your feed hourly. Am I right? They are charging top dollar without cause and more importantly without sacrifice. What I have learned is, that if I want to make “Wittnauer Watch” moments for my clients there has to be a cost on MY end, before there is a cost on their end. How dare I charge them 18500.00 for a package that hasn’t been proven, documented, data analyzed and above all, FAIR. Every product you offer should have gone thru trial, error and then weighed by what it costs you to deliver it. I’m not talking about the interest rate on those student loans that you have racked up because of your degrees, or what it cost to promote on your website. I am talking about REAL costs, like …
…the cost of failure
…the cost of wisdom
…the cost of skill
…the cost of experience
…the cost of recognition
…the cost of triumphs and more
When clients see what I give them, share with them, help them with, handle on their behalf and fix for them they need to know that that skill came with a price. They should know that the strategy, book, class, package, speech or project that I offer is priceless, precious and that when they receive it, it’s real, it’s transparent and it’s all I have.
…make the sacrifice now so you can make game changing, life altering moments for your clients in the future. — cdj
Now, you can stop where you are now and give the customary “baseball cap” kinda service. Or you can take a step back, gain more wisdom, get mentored, up your grind, dig in on your work, put in the extra time, give up frivolous things and EARN what’s necessary to give a Wittnauer type experience. It's NOT just the thought that counts, it's the sacrifice and sacrifice looks different for each individual. Sacrifice is quite frankly at the root of the true Christmas story. The depth of the eventual sacrifice is why that story is STILL being told today.
Its been over 30 years since that Christmas with Austin and it is just as vivid to me today as is was then. THAT type of moment is what I want for each and every client I engage. I continue to pay the price to be like Austin was that day. I have learned to sacrifice more, give from the heart and in turn become valuable and yes, unforgettable.