While everyone understands that “being helpful” can be good for business, too many organizations are “only willing to be helpful to the extent that there is a return on investment,” author and motivational speaker Kevin Brown said during XChange 2019 on Sunday.

“Heroes help people with no strings attached,” Brown said during the opening keynote at XChange 2019, which is being hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company this week in Las Vegas. “It’s the ‘no strings attached’ part that we have trouble with … We like the rules of engagement, the conditions–‘I’ll do this for you if you do this for me.'”

But heroes, both inside and outside of business, have recognized that just “being helpful” when there’s an immediate ROI is not enough to make a profound difference, said Brown, author of “The Hero Effect.”

In his hour-long keynote, Brown shared examples from his own life of people who went the extra mile, even without promise of reward, to be helpful.

In the anecdotes he shared–a hairdresser who provided stunning service during his first appointment, a chef at a Disney World restaurant who cared for his young autistic son’s dietary needs, an early mentor who taught him to become a salesman during a rough period in his life–the extra efforts made a huge impact on everyone involved.

For instance, the hairdresser got a client for life, Brown said, while in the case of the early business mentor, a lifelong friendship resulted. The Disney World chef ended up implementing a new dietary needs training program for her staff–dubbed the “apple pancakes experience,” since that is what the chef had gone out of her way to make for Brown’s son, Josh.

“How do you own a moment in time so fully and completely that it transcends special needs, race, religion, gender, and every other label we like to slap on each other? How do you do that?” Brown said. “You want to take your business places it’s never been? You want to grow your people to a level they’ve never even aspired to? You want to give back to your home and your communities in ways that it never has been [given to] before? It starts right here in this space. Because if you don’t own this, somebody else will. There is somebody hot on your heels right now. An up-and-comer, striving, growing, reaching. And they’re ready to clean your clock.”

Everyone is “chasing satisfaction,” but satisfaction is not enough, Brown said.

“We’ll pay a premium for someone who does more than they’re paid to do,” Brown said. “In the absence of it, we will become commoditized and have to compete on price alone.”

Chad Hodges, vice president of business development at Rancho Cordova, Calif.-based Enterprise Networking Solutions, told CRN that Brown’s talk resonated with his own “pay-it- forward” mentality in business and life.

“Some people have a tendency to hoard knowledge, because they think it’s going to make them more important, or better. But the reality is, our time on this earth is short. So let’s share as much as we can,” Hodges said. “I think if you’re going through life only wondering what you’re getting out of it, you’re never fulfilled.”

Juan Fernandez, vice president of managed IT services at Oklahoma City-based ImageNet Consulting, told CRN that he believes many in the IT industry have “lost sight of the human aspect of caring.”

“[Brown] mentioned that today–we’re not paying attention to the smiles, and whether or not we’re generating a smile. We’re paying attention to whether or not I’m going to pay my bills, or what my bonus is going to look like, or am I going to make my quarter,” Fernandez said. “We’ve lost a lot of the human aspect of why we became business owners. And it was to change something for the better.”

Brown said that investing yourself “fully in this moment” with other people is the key to really making a difference–whether you’re working in customer service or running the whole business.

“I mean no disrespect by this, but anybody can do what you do. With enough training and time, I could do what you do, and do it at a high level. With enough training and enough time, you could do what I do, and do it at a high level,” he said.

“The fact that you’re brilliant at what you do, the fact that you’re the best of the best at what you do, the fact that you help move people from where they are to some place better, solve their most pressing issues with excellence–that is icing on the cake, ladies and gentlemen, but that is not why people come to you,” Brown said. “People don’t come to you for what you do. They come to you for who you are.”



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