Rockport, Massachusetts is located about 30 miles northeast of Boston on Cape Ann. It is there where I found myself fantasizing about sailing, and where I decided to start a small business that would eventually finance my very own sailboat. This is just one of my stories that will involve sailing.
At the time, I was flying a small kite off the rocks and was enjoying the breeze, the blue sky, the salty air, and the peacefulness of simply enjoying a Sunday afternoon. That is when the idea hit me. My new company would focus on kites and other toys that flew.
I soon came up with the name “FLYING HIGH,” and I began waiting for a storefront to become vacant. When I saw that the old toy store would soon be closing down, I pounced at the opportunity to secure a lease. I was in business and would soon be the owner of my own “sloop.”
The problem was, I was still holding down a full-time job nearly five hours south of Rockport… in Bloomfield, New Jersey. I would leave Bloomfield at 5 pm on Friday and drive to Rockport, getting there before 10:30 pm… if, and when the traffic cooperated. I would open my shop on Saturday and Sunday and be back in New Jersey Sunday evening by midnight. I was young enough not to allow the distance to dampen my enthusiasm.
Once I got the shop up and running, so I could stay open all week, I put an ad in the local paper seeking a knowledgeable manager. “Personal, well-mannered, take-charge manager with a genuine passion and knowledge of kiting wanted ASAP.”
An interested candidate quickly responded. We set a time to meet the following day at 9 am. At ten minutes to nine the following morning, a boy walked through the front door with long scraggly hair, an unkempt beard, a sports coat of at least 40 different colors and, a pair of cut-off jeans sporting a pair of somewhat soiled orange sneakers. My guess was he was just old enough to vote. (Maybe) Enter Darren Donovan.
This was not the “model character” I had in mind representing me and my company from Monday thru Friday while I was electronic components 267 miles away. But since I pride myself on being both kind and understanding, I greeted Darren with a genuine fake smile and offered him a seat behind the cash register trying to hold back a full-blown belly laugh.
In the back of my mind, I kept reminding myself that a closed shop had little chance of generating “any” revenue. After learning that Darren was indeed passionate and knew a great deal about toys attached to a string, I decided to toss all caution to the wind and see firsthand what would come from the next five days. He was to start the next morning starting at 10 am.
At 10 am the next morning another man walked into my shop. He had short hair, no facial growth, a golf shirt tucked into matching blue Bermuda shorts and wearing a pair of polished boat shoes. I took a closer look as he approached me as I said, “Darren, is that you?”
The very same boy I had interviewed the day before was standing in front of me looking like he was auditioning for the Harvard Glee Club. I asked him what caused the overnight “about-face?”
He said he wanted to know if I cared more about kites or the clothing selection of a new hire. He was testing me. Once he realized I respected his knowledge, he decided to play ball. As luck would have it, he turned out to be the ideal hire; and I learned that day to look deeper into a person for the traits that count the most.
A few years later, I realized it was time to sell my shop since I had achieved my goal and I had no intention of moving to Rockport. Who better to take the reins than Darren Donovan, who I understand later became a key committee member in the town of Rockport.
The lesson here should be clear. Although first impressions can be important, there is usually more to the story. Do your homework, and then provide opportunities and support for people to succeed. I will always consider Darren Donovan to be a feather in my cap.
Mike Marchev is always looking for a few more proactive travel professionals to join his Sales and Marketing Club. email@example.com.
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