Sunday, October 6, 2013

Calculating the reward of risk - By David Pride

I am not sure where I got my addiction for projects, businesses and personal growth. I started my first business when I was around 12 years old when I convinced a gentleman with a very large estate in Windham to let me mow his lawn and also install his fresh sod. I would ride my bicycle from Varney Mill Estates all the way to his house on the other side of town. He had heard about me through a flyer that I had printed off my home PC advertising lawn work and car cleaning. I couldn’t believe he called and I especially couldn’t believe that every day he bought me an Italian from Corsetti’s and paid me $11 per hour. I felt rich. I also felt proud that I had taken the risk of riding my bicycle around town dropping off flyers and trying to sell my services on the spot. 

At age 16, I was recruited into the Amway business where I learned about all kinds of things including relationship marketing, people skills, and how to influence buying decisions. I remember taking many risks with that business and learning a lot about what went into building a network marketing business. I can recall walking the aisles of Shaw’s in North Windham looking for a “sharp prospect.” When I spotted someone (usually two or three times my age) the pitch would begin. “Hi” I’d say with a smile (Risk #1). Sometimes the person would respond other times they would shuffle along ignoring me. If they said “hi” back I would continue guiding the conversation. “You look kind of familiar to me, do you have kids who attend Windham High School?” (Risk #2, setting the hook) They would respond with either “yes” or “no.” I would continue if they said yes, “Very cool, I attend Windham also – I’m a freshman. I’m hoping to own my own business someday and, in fact, I’m working on something right now that I’m very excited about. Do you ever look at other ways to make money?” (Risk #3, the call to action) They would respond with yes or no and I would continue guiding the conversation and eventually get a phone number, email or shot down. Either way, it was a victory to me. My goal wasn’t just to get phone numbers from random people, it was to say hello to 25 people a day and have 25 conversations a day. I knew if I did that eventually I would have a successful business – and I did. Often working with, encouraging, and coaching people in there 50’s when I was just 17 or 18. I quickly found the risk of getting shot down, laughed at, or being told about basements full of soap – was worth the reward. The reward in this case was never a huge financial return, but the admiration of my peers and mentors.

I eventually left the Amway business to pursue other goals in my life and quickly found myself amazed by what can happen with the Internet and how it opens the world up to anyone. So, one night sitting in my home I finished reading a book about an amazing young man named Waleed Rashed in Egypt. The book was titled, “The Instigators” and it was all about how Waleed used Twitter and Facebook to successfully overthrow the corrupt Egyptian Government. 

When I finished the book I decided that it would be pretty amazing to meet Waleed, or at least attempt to. So, I went online and connected with him on Facebook and Twitter. Soon he was writing me a private Facebook message asking me why I wanted to be friends with him online. I shared with him how inspiring his story was and soon we were connected. Me in Windham, Waleed in Cairo, Egypt. One year later Waleed introduced me to Steve Wozniak co-founder of Apple, via Skype (they were speaking together at a conference about World Change in Singapore), it was an amazing moment in my life when Waleed handed his iPad to Woz and said, “David, meet my friend Steve Wozniak.” Once again, the reward far outweighed the risk I took by introducing myself to Waleed one year prior.

By the time you read this article I will have once again realized the reward of risk. I am scheduled to have breakfast with the founder of TED Talks, Richard Saul Wurman, and discuss an idea I have that I believe will change the country. Richard and I connected not serendipitously, but by me putting in a large amount of effort, asking for a meeting, and eventually – booking it. It still seems like a dream. Once again the risk of Mr. Wurman not returning my call or emails was not scary enough to outweigh the reward to spend time with a man who has inspired millions.

Where does this leave us? Where does it leave you? Each of us have a story within us, a victory we are meant to win, and a battle that needs to be fought. Take risks, apply strategy and expect the best. Socrates once said, “The secret to change is not to focus all of your energy on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Let’s build something together and if I can help you, I’m happy to.

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