Thursday, October 19, 2006

Three Keys to Business Success

It was my pleasure to introduce David Chalk today as the opening keynote speaker at the SOHO SME conference in Toronto.

Chalk is the wunderkind who became a commercial pilot at age 19 and owned what may have been North America’s first computer superstore, Doppler, in Vancouver. He now has a training company called Chalk Media, and you may have seen his computer-reporting TV show, on TV or on recent Air Canada flights.

What’s amazing is he accomplished all this (and more) despite having a severe form of dyslexia, which resulted in him being labeled as “retarded” in primary school and still leaves him with poor hearing, reading, analytical skills and memory. “I can see the movie Groundhog Day three times and not know I’ve watched it,” he says. Without his notebook on which he records where he is and what he’s doing, he could wake up in a hotel room and not know where he is or why he’s there.

So when David Chalk tells a group of Canadian entrepreneurs that they can achieve more than they think they can – he’s not blowing smoke. When he says, “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% what we do about it,” that’s no longer just another motivational cliché.

David credits his mother with believing in him and inspiring him to tap into the right side of his brain – the home of creativity and innovation. With his mom’s help, David discovered three keys to success:

Attitude: “Every day when you get up, look at the possibilities of the day.” One of his key themes is that “We are brought up to believe that the world is scarce, everything you want you have to work hard for…We don't realize we have the power to create the environment we want.”

Listening: “The one thing you have to change if you really want to be successful is how you listen,” says Chalk. Listen to understand, not just for a chance to interrupt. Listen with empathy. “Empathy is the magic that we never think about. And it comes from listening.”

Integrity: “Do what you said you would do. Do what you know you should do. Do what other people expect you to do.” Quoting a statistic that the average person lies 17 times a day, he encouraged the audience to “get their integrity back: stop the lying and live a life of integrity.” Honour your word and keep your word.

The key, says Chalk, is to open yourself up to others by not worrying about your ego. “If you let the ego go, you have absolute power to do anything.”

“When you create joy and happiness with another person, you feel good. And that feeling good is the magic that gives you the power to do the things you want to do.”

Magic in business? Today David Chalk made us believers.

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