Mary Kay Ash is one of those truly inspirational entrepreneurial stories.
Born in 1918 in Texas, Mary Kay's early years included a failed marriage and frustration when a man she had trained was later promoted for a job over her (yes, that's how it used to be).
But undeterred, Mary Kay created a business plan for her idea, Mary Kay Cosmetics. She raised $5,000 for the venture and started building an outrageously successful company. As of 2008, Mary Kay Cosmetics had more than 1.7 million consultants worldwide and revenues exceeding $2.2 Billion.
The secret to Mary Kay's success was her unwavering commitment to making those around her feel good and achieve success.
In fact the following quote and technique sums it up perfectly: "Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, 'Make me feel important.' Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life."
What gets me so much about this is that it's as far from rocket science as you can get. I mean, doesn't every kindergarten-aged child know this? Treat others well, and perhaps more importantly, I love it when others treat ME well.
Seriously, we all love to be treated well. I go to the same bagel shop every Monday (I have two others to choose from) because they know my name and give me a big smile when I come in. And when I come in on the weekends with my kids, they give me an even bigger smile. That makes me feel good. And it results in hundreds of dollars annually that I spend at that shop.
And the woman who works the front desk at my gym and gives me a smile and asks how I'm doing every day. Should it be a shocker that I haven't changed gyms since I moved to my current home six years ago?
This technique of looking at everyone as if they had a sign around their neck saying 'Make me feel important' can do wonders for any business.
Customers will love you. Employees will work harder. Investors will want to fund you. Partners will want to affiliate with you. And so on.
Think about someone you love to do business with. Or someone who you just see around sometimes who is really pleasant. Don't they make you feel good? And if you had the choice of spending money with them or some other organization, wouldn't you give it to them?
Of course you would.
So, start visualizing everyone wearing a 'Make me feel important' sign around their necks. And start treating everyone special. The rewards may not be instantaneous, but they will come. And when they do, they will come big. As in the $2 Billion per year that Mary Kay Cosmetics brings in because they're consultants, partners, customers, vendors, etc. are all made to feel special and important.
And come to think about it, Tony Hsieh's Zappos.com has pretty much just done the same thing. Zappos has made its vendors and customers feel extremely important, and as a result, created a Billion dollar company. You can do the same!