In business (and probably in life) It makes an incredible difference when you have one value.
One big value - not a whole load of little values.
One big value that others value.
One value around which your reputation is built & spread.
One big value that makes a difference to how you approach everything.
That big value that's valued by others - through it, you change lives (sometimes without ever knowing it).
I'd like to tell you the story
of how one big value changed my life in so many ways it would take a book to spell them all out.
Most recently, I wouldn't have gone to Chicago last week if it wasn't for the influence of a woman who had one big value.
it's hard to believe it's 12 days since I first met Jane Boyd face-to-face. Even harder to believe we've been friends, working together, for 29 months. It's 29 months since I first read a blogpost she wrote - the one that had such a big impact on my life & the lives of many others.
We were worlds apart:
I was in Cork Ireland, she was in Vancouver. 4,463 miles - 8 time zones - one click.
It was really a bit of idle curiosity that led to a life-changing relationship. [The Internet is a dangerous place. You never know what could happen to you when you click on a link.]
Here's the story.
Today, I'm back from a business conference in Chicago called Genius Shared. There, I worked with a roomful of talented & well-connected people from North America. I'd never have invested 7 days of my life there - if it wasn't for the way Jane Boyd communicated & behaved her Big Value.
The details of her blogpost don't matter now. What matters is the one big impression she made on me while I read the blogpost. [Read the details here. They are ever so relevant today]
She stood for one thing: Generosity.
It wasn't simply that she was generous.
There are plenty of generous people. And many bloggers say it's good to be generous. "What goes round comes round" is one way of putting it. "Givers gain" (the BNI motto) is another.
We all like generous people. They attract us - for obvious reasons.
It was the singular focus of Jane Boyd
that gripped my attention. She seemed to be advocating generosity as the way to be in business. Give people your best ideas, service, connections. Dedicate yourself to being generous. [That's what I've always remembered from her blogpost.]
When you think about it - you can't dedicate yourself to several things. Many people & businesses declare they have six values - and fail to behave consistently on any of them. The most you can consistently follow is One - I think.
Jane Boyd's blogpost attracted & intrigued me.
Who was this woman in Vancouver? What was she doing for a living? Was she really living the message I was getting?
Generosity in business is counter intuitive.
People might take advantage of you, and rip you off. To give more than you get could be a recipe for bankruptcy. It could be the stance of a fool. We are all programmed to be suspicious - it's a survival mechanism learned way back.
Could generosity be not only desirable - but also viable? If it could be made to work well, it appealed to me. I wanted to find out more about what Jane Boyd had to say & share.
This first contact with Jane Boyd didn't happen in a vacuum.
I was already tuned in to Chris Brogan - and through him to Jacqueline Carly (see their first book together). Jacqueline Carly led of a group called #12er - I was a member. Because I was in that group, I became aware of other members, including Jane Boyd.
My curiosity got the better of me.
I wrote a comment on Jane Boyd's blogpost. She'd got me thinking about generosity. To leave a comment on someone's blogpost is an act of generosity - isn't it?
Then I went shopping in the English Market in Cork
& behaved generously towards a couple of German tourists. Later I recorded & posted an audio podcast on AudioBoo about generosity. I felt the blogpost had influenced me. A stranger in Vancouver had changed my life in Cork - via the Internet.
The great thing about using both Twitter & Audioboo is that you can enrich what you have to say - by a factor of ten.
Jane Boyd listened to the audio. We started sending each other direct messages via Audioboo.
Twitter & Audioboo led on to Skype calls. Google+ hangouts, Google+ communities & even Facebook. For over two years we connected via the Internet.
Lots of people do this now - it amazes some people how real such relationships can become, in comparison with traditional face-to-face.
But we connected another way:
Generously, Jane Boyd introduced me to AJ Leon & Misfits-Inc. AJ, Melissa & Jessie M White came to Ireland in [date]. Thanks to Jane's introduction via Twitter, I met them in the White House Bar in Limerick. We recorded part of our chat. And celebrated our connection with Jane.
The Misfits & I clicked immediately. They were stars in their own right. But, as far as I was concerned, they were important emissaries from my generous new friend Jane Boyd. She'd let me into her circle, I felt so lucky & grateful. Together, Jane's friends & collaborators broadened my horizons. All sorts of potential projects started to germinate in my mind.
The contact I had with AJ Leon & Misfits led to AJ speaking at SmarterEgg in Cork in 2013. Jane Boyd was the lynchpin for that set of connections. [Aodan Enright, Roger Overall & Mark Cotton are important players in the whole story - a lot of which has to wait until the whole novella is written]
I hadn't a clue what SOBCon was
until Jane urged me to sign up for SOBCon Chicago in June 2012. I wasn't ready to invest in an international trip into the unknown. Instead I used Twitter to link with the SOBCon community. I followed the hashtag #sobcon. I joined in "tweet chats".
What astonished me
was how welcoming SOBCon people were. Individually & collectively. They struck me as a remarkably self-supportive community of talented well-connected people.
Being welcoming and being generous are so close. I felt I'd fallen into my ideal community - thanks to the generosity of Jane Boyd. My experience of SOBCon on line proved to me that it was possible to have great community life on line. When generosity is at the heart of everything. That's what I concluded.
My image of Jane was confirmed by the people she mixed with. You can't be generous without mixing with generous people. The company you keep shows what sort of a person you are. It does matter who you hang out with.
My instinctual confidence that I was right - that Jane was genuinely generous - was supported by the evidence I gained through every contact she led me to.
This is so important. We all need to trust our own instincts - and we need additional confirmations.
This journey that began via Twitter & a blogpost led me to delve deeper into the role of generosity in life & business. But that was only the starting point for a journey that's still going on: Building working relationships with people. Gaining a deeper understanding of how values work in practice.
And I've only scratched the surface of what I'd like to say.
But the core message I'd like to share with you is here. Your big value matters. Much more that you realise. The number one value that influences your behaviour is what others pick up. Others notice.
Whether you like it or not, your number one value is the one on which your reputation, relationships & potential collaborations hang.
Better to major on one big attractive value than to try to be too much.
That's what I've learned from experience.