To be successful, be “nice.” At least, that’s what I’ve found while interviewing many of the world’s most successful people. In my book, there are many examples of how the big names, like Quincy Jones and Martha Stewart, were very nice to me. Yes, even Martha. It’s almost like; the bigger the name, the nicer the person – and it happened again recently.
I was honored to be the only other business speaker chosen by the largest bank in Norway to give a talk along with Richard Branson, at a private VIP event for top CEOs and highest-level government ministers. I was staying in a nice, small boutique hotel in Oslo, and the night before the event I was on my way down to the lobby, in the tiny elevator, when the door opened at another floor. Thinking it was the lobby, I started to rush out – and bumped face-to-face into Richard Branson.
Stepping back, startled, I blurted out “Oh…Hi!” Also surprised, he repeated “Oh, hi!” and laughed. We chatted a bit, I thanked him for the interview he had given me a couple of years ago, and then I said, “I’ll be the speaker before you at the bank event tomorrow.” Now, with the thousands of people he encounters, I’m sure he didn’t remember me, but he quickly replied, “Well, if I’m speaking after you, I hope I don’t disappoint the audience.” I searched for a hint of irony or humor in his face, but there was none. He was very sincere.
I replied, “You’re very kind, but people are coming to hear you, not me,” and as we said goodbye, I suggested that, since we’re both named Richard, the event should have been called, “Two Dicks Speak.” He laughed, and as he was whisked away to a TV interview, I thought about his comment and how it was another example of a big name being “nice.” Are they nice all the time? Probably not. They’re human. But, being nice is all about serving others. And “Serve” is one of the eight traits that lead to their extraordinary success.