Flight — check, Hotel — check, Presentation — check, upgrade — check, Business cards — check.

As a high-tech professional for the past two decades, there was a lot of travel involved to customer locales across the globe. And a measure of my self-worth involved trying to get into the not-so-privileged United business class and the overflowing lounge at airports. And a typical customer meeting involved a lot of planning and careful juxtaposition of dialog between the sales, SE and myself to either rescue a precarious situation or help further a deal through the pipeline. Rinse and repeat.

Same old — Same old — not really

And then a refreshing trip to Vancouver, Kamloops and Okanagan last week that was so dramatically different from anything I had ever undertaken. The trip had one objective — to meet an individual — Corey Sigvaldason — whom I had virtually connected less than two months ago thanks to the introduction by the amazing Jos Duffy (the how and why of my non-high-tech network of friends that I have amassed over the past year is the subject of another blog). And our friendship was further cemented driven by a common desire for a purpose greater than ourselves. That was reason enough for me to make the trip. Not to close a deal or further a prospect. Or sell something. Just to meet a kindred soul and see what comes of it. That was the ROI. No chasing business class upgrades or fancy hotel suites.

Over the next two days, we spent over 12 hours driving in his imposing F-150. And my throat was dry (as was his I suspect) from our animated conversations. And it was the easiest of dialogs. With a perfect stranger. A common shared purpose. And no personal ax to grind! And then the magic that happened during the day on July 11.

Its called Magic

As we drove to downtown Kamloops, we discussed what I should be talking to this group of small business owners and entrepreneurs who meet regularly as part of the KNG (Kamloops Networking Group). And Corey suggested that I start with ‘Why’. And I did. And the rest is history. Wait — let me fill in a few details. I started off how a typical “break the ice” conversation at a lunch table at a conference or an event might unfold “What do you do” to which my response is “That’s the wrong question, instead ask me why do you do” would guarantee a rich and deep conversation every time. And then my writing journey with the Sparrow story. The experimentation with #IPoP. And then the question that I eagerly look forward to was offered up by Tim — I promise it wasn’t planted! Isn’t there a great risk of doing something brand new and experimenting? To which I responded with the golden reply. The world will judge — you are a loser, a hero, an also-ran. As I was judged when I lost my job 13 years ago by a good friend who blurted out “How could this happen to you?” The only way to keep your center of gravity anchored is to pursue a purpose greater than yourself and indulge in constant experimentation. The greatest risk is not doing either.

And after my short ½ hour speech, Corey and I embarked upon our two-hour journey to Okanagan. And as we were driving his smartphone started lighting up. The messages read “That was awesome it changed the whole dynamic of the meeting. Everyone got up and shared their why and spoke from their heart. It was very refreshing and real”. “the presentation was bang on and the roundtable sharing was wicked, thanks for being honest everyone”. “It was uplifting, informative and had such a good feeling to it (those who were there know what I mean).”

Impact, Impact, Impact

And my heart and spirit soared. Corey was grinning ear to ear. We had accomplished something amazing. Left the audience with so much energy and positivity that they continued the brainstorm and sharing long after we had departed. Not one of the 1000+ customer meetings I had in corporate life left me with this sort of fulfillment. And honestly, I had not even prepared a fraction of what I used to prepare for customer meetings. And yet the manifold impact was evident — more than any meeting I had ever had in the past.

Why? Because this was a pursuit from my heart. Helping people find their purpose. And challenge each other with the most basic of human questions — Why? But not shock and awe with my own greatness (there isn’t any so that was easy) but rather talk about extreme vulnerabilities, self-doubt, failure and yet persevering through that. Making a human connection.

Game on

#WOW. Corey and I will have more to do together in the future (besides dealing with running out of fuel on top of a mountain with no gas station in sight for 100km either direction until a kind family rescued us). The journey has just started. Its unlike anything I have ever experienced. New lands. New people. No pre-conceived agenda. Except for the desire to make an impact and help. And I have confidence everything else will follow — business, customers. Thank you @Corey and the amazing folks at #KNG for renewing me with energy and purpose. That’s my ROI.