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Shedding light on an unforgettable impression

Following on the theme of our previous blog entry, you might get a kick out of this story. We’re focusing on an unforgettable impression someone made on us by going to lengths to do something nice (and smart). Maybe it’ll spark an idea for you in your business dealings…


We recently went to a conference in Pennsylvania where many hundreds of inventors had gathered from around the world to get attention and–just maybe–land a retail or licensing deal.

Each inventor had a 10×10 booth with homespun decorations and marketing materials. We were surrounded by amazing people who were giving their ALL to bring their great ideas to market. Very inspiring.

We were there to broadcast a radio show from center stage as part of our “Success in the US” tour and to feature some of the premier inventors participating in the event. You can hear the show in our archive.

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As we walked the aisles, we were amazed more by the creativity and guts being displayed by the inventors than by the inventions themselves.

One gentleman walked up to us shyly and said in a drawl, “I drove 18 hours from Alabama to talk to you fellas. Here… look at my new coffee maker….” Another person handed us not one but MULTIPLE business cards, raving about her new blow-up bed for pregnant women. It had a big hole in the center–perfect for a nicely rounded belly. Other inventors encircled us, asking if we’d bring them on the show.

One inventor we met was much less aggressive. We found him working at his booth. His name was Tariq, and he’d created a line of luminous lamps carved out of amber-colored rock salt. He was having them fabricated in Pakistan and imported to the US. They were like nothing we’d ever seen. Cube shapes, pyramids, columns, large, medium, small–he had every variation, each one lit and glowing.

Unlike many of the other inventors who were shoving their cards into our hands, this gentleman kindly requested one of our cards and said in passing he’d be happy to send along a free sample to us. “Sure,” we thought, “like he’s really going to even remember that he just said that.” But it was a kind gesture nonetheless.

Well, two weeks went by. We hadn’t heard a peep from the many inventors who had shoved their cards into our hands. And then a very heavy box arrived via FedEx. We didn’t recognize the name on the outside. We tore it open, curious.

To our amazement, inside were two rock salt lamps packed tightly with crumpled Pakistani newspaper. A note read, “I hope you enjoy this lamp. Thanks for stopping at our booth. I enjoyed your radio show. Please stay in touch. Tariq.”

Wow. He actually followed through. He sent us 12lbs. of electrified rock salt! And what an impression he made on us! In one fell swoop he COMPLETELY set himself apart from the pack.

Since receiving Tariq’s lamps, we’ve emailed back and forth and struck up a nice rapport. We keep the lamp in our office (though it doesn’t fit our décor) as a reminder of how easy it is to make a gesture, make a positive and enduring impression, and make a friend out of someone in the business world.

And you never know what good will come of it. In this case, maybe we’ll do a formal “Hook-Up” on our radio show with a retail buyer and Tariq on the line and let Tariq do a pitch in front of a national audience.

Have you ever made a Key Move like this that made a difference in your business relationships? Has anyone made a big impression on you that you won’t soon forget?

Share your thoughts about ways to set yourself apart from the pack.

About the Author: Rich Sloan

Rich Sloan is chief startupologist and co-founder of StartupNation and host of StartupNation podcasts. He is also co-author of the acclaimed how-to book, StartupNation: America's Leading Entrepreneurial Experts Reveal the Secrets to Building a Blockbuster Business. Rich encourages you to [...]

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