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A Road Trip With My Son I'll Never Forget -- I know He Won't

A Road Trip With My Son I'll Never Forget -- I know He Won't

September 24, 2008

Last week, I had a very cool experience with my son that I know I'll remember it for as long as I live and I hope he does too.

I was speaking at a convention in Ocean City, Maryland, which is about a 3-hour drive from our home. So now that my son is a junior in high school and I didn't feel like driving all that way, I asked him if he wanted to come along and see his dad in action and see how businesses really operate - not from what you read about in Business 101.

Roadtrip! He skipped school for 2 days and I know he got a ton out of it. So did I!

The night before my speech, he got to see me step out of my comfort zone at a banquet as I introduced myself at every table handing out tickets with an invitation to attend my seminar the next morning. (By the way, if you're speaking at events and not promoting yourself while you're at the event, you're missing the boat!)

The next day, he got to see his dad in the front of the room using some new words - not those words! He got to learn words like Big Zig, hungry fish, Freedom Teams, Freedom Systems, core competencies ... all those things I talk about that are important to running a business. You won't find those words in any classroom!

I also hosted a lunch with the VIPs of the city including politicians, leaders from the chamber of commerce and owners of some of the largest restaurants and hotels in the city as I facilitated a brainstorming outlining a new vision for bringing more businesses to Ocean City. One person from the chamber of commerce took notes and posted them on Google Docs afterwards so others can share their ideas too. We came up with some great ideas and I'm excited to see some of those put into place.

How to keep those great ideas coming

Here's what's interesting. Usually when I go to a meeting, someone may take notes but they get stuffed in a desk drawer and nothing happens with them. But in this case the ideas kept flowing long after our meeting using Google Docs.

If you don't already use an online collaboration tool, I highly recommend it. Google Docs (http://docs.google.com) and PBwiki (www.PBwiki.com) are both free and are terrific resources for collaborating with others on a central document.

While at the conference, I also met with a handful of business owners in a series of one-on-one Quick Start Launches in which I talked with them about the challenges they're wrestling with. My son got to be a fly on the wall and listen in as owners opened up about their challenges. In just the 15 minutes I had with each person it's tough to solve all their problems but I know we came up with some answers and people felt good about their next steps.

I bring all this up because I got to see myself through the eyes of my son. If you ever have the chance to take your child with you on a business trip or see you at work, I recommend it. You'll both get a lot out of it.

You get paid to speak? Are you joking?

At home, my son sees me as, well, Dad ("Abba", as he calls me). But in this case he got to see me as someone who had the attention of business leaders, politicians and many others not just in the convention halls but outside too. Boy, was that a shock for him. Like he told me afterwards, "I think it's funny people will pay you to speak and we don't even want to hear what you have to say at home." How true. Like the saying goes, "You can't be a prophet in your own city."

It all depends on how you view yourself. Whether you're a speaker or not, if you view yourself as someone who has something to offer and you're willing to teach others so they'll benefit from your advice, doors will open for you. Literally!

Because I positioned myself as the expert, we met people we never would have met otherwise. We even got a private tour of one of my favorite places ... Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum.

Talk about a Big Zig! Ripley's is famous for grabbing your attention and keeping your interest - something few businesses seem to do well. Even my son now says, "If you don't have a Big Zig that makes you totally different, you're a loser." His words, not mine.

Anyway, inside the museum, we saw a wax figure of the world's largest man, Ripley's one-eyed dog, shrunken heads, two-headed animals, the world's rarest egg ... and quite a bit more.

Whether my son remembers me as the guy who rolled into town and caught the attention of the city's most influential leaders, or he remembers me as the one who got him a private tour to see the Mona Lisa painted on a lima bean doesn't really matter to me.

I'll remember it as two days with my son that will always be very special to me. Hopefully, he can begin to see himself as a leader in the business community someday too.

Taking you from where you are to where you want to go,

Jon