As a speaker, I travel a lot. The Vancouver Airport Gate 85 Starbucks baristas always ask, “the usual?” Even the customs officials know me by name.
The airport routine has become so repetitive for me that I can be oblivious to things going on around me. That all changed recently when a smiling gray haired woman sat next to me and started to chat while we waited for our flight.
Within a few minutes I found out that she was in her seventies, practiced yoga daily, had lovely grandchildren, and was off to visit family in Las Vegas. With half an hour to go before boarding she said she “needed to move around a bit.” I expected her to take a walk. I was wrong.
My newfound friend took off her jacket revealing several tattoos on both arms and her neck. She noticed me looking and said: “you have some nice ink on your arms too young man.” Then the real fun began.
She pulled several colorful segments of tubing from her backpack. She snapped them all together into what turned out to be a portable hula-hoop! Within minutes she was barefoot and dancing with her arms in the air and the hoop twirling around her hips. She was in heaven.
Some people stared. Some pointed and whispered, but it didn’t take long for a crowd to form. Pictures were snapping, people were clapping and suddenly everyone around her smiling.
When they announced the boarding of our flight, the hula-hooping granny took a bow to thunderous applause. She unsnapped her hoop, put her shoes back on and wished us all a safe journey. I don’t think I’ve ever posted a better Facebook update and picture than she provided me with that day.
The lesson I have for you is this: don’t be afraid to be yourself.
This simple little lesson can work miracles in business and in life. It might make some people stare and point. Or, it might bring about thunderous applause and smiles all around. It turns out you can learn a lot from a tattooed hula-hooping granny. So, next time you see me, don’t be surprised if I’m not covering up my tattoos. In fact, I think it’s time for a few more.
Nolan Burris is an author, former travel agent, failed musician and self-professed techno-geek. He’s also a popular international speaker both inside and outside of the travel industry. He is the founder and chief Visioneer of Future Proof Travel Solutions (futureprooftravel.com) based in Vancouver, Canada. Nolan’s believes that if can change the way business works, you’ll change the world. His goal is to spread the message of integrity and ethics in a techno-driven world.