"Do you know who I am?" This saying, made famous by Barry Hilton, ‘the cousin’, has a deeper meaning than most people understand. There is a famous business line - bit of a cliché – but so true: ‘it's not what you know, it's who you know that counts!’ To a certain extent this is very true and in business, as in life, you will find that the contacts you make and keep (some even from your school days) will and can serve you in your future. But I would like to take it one step further: who really knows you and what you do? In other words, “do you know who I am?” Getting people to know of you, or about you is called marketing. Getting people to understand what you do and why you do it, is one of the golden secrets I wish to rant about this month.
Have you ever been at a family function and a cousin shows you his new phone? Everyone oohs and aahs, until you ask where he got it from, and why he never came to you because you sell phones. He gets a really puzzled look on his face and says, “Oh! I didn't know that you sold phones. I knew you were in the telecommunications industry but I didn’t know…"
Have you ever bought something only to find out a good friend or family member has a contact and could have saved you 50% off the asking price?
Just the other day at my daughter's school a parent informed my wife that her advertising agency had been asked to recommend a comedian or humorist for a countrywide road show. My name was raised by the client as their number one choice. The parent insisted that, “Gavin Sharples doesn't do road shows!" After speaking to my wife she was told that road shows form a large part of my business. It was clear this parent didn't know, “who I am and what I do".
As much as we try and keep people in the loop, situations like this will always arise and things will fall through the cracks. There is also a fine line between marketing, advertising, informing and being a spam irritation. Be that as it may, I believe that whether you work within a corporation, small business or are self-employed, it is very important that everyone you come into contact with knows about you, what you do and why you do what you do.
Here is a nifty exercise that you can do in order to spread the word. Do a fun ‘20 question survey’ asking people questions about you and how well they know you. Give a prize to the person who answers most of the questions correctly. Design a business questionnaire and a personal one. You could perhaps combine the two depending on how well you want your clients to know you.
Questions could include:
• What is my full name?
• Do I have brothers and sisters?
• Am I married and do I have children?
• What is my job title?
• What are my hobbies and do I play sport? (If so what are they?)
• What am I passionate about at work?
• What do I do?
• What don't I do?
• What do I believe?
• What are my values?
• What do I love?
• What is my style?
• What are my pet peeves?
• What do I hate so much that it causes heart palpitations and steam to pour out of my ears at high-pressure?
So with this idea in mind and being a person who likes to walk the talk let me answer some of these questions for you as both an example and a way for you to get to know who I really am.
Do you know who I am?
My full name is Gavin Sean Sharples nee Van Der Merwe. I was born Gavin Sean Van Der Merwe and at the age of 21 I legally took on my mother's maiden name as I was the last unmarried male of our Sharples clan in South Africa. I was raised and educated for the most part in the south of Johannesburg at Meredale Primary and Mondeor High.
I was 6 years old when I first stood on a stage to entertain my entire school. I was in grade one. Another boy and I were to recite ‘10 in the bed’. One of us (probably me) lost count, counting backwards and instead of merely carrying on we had a stand-up argument on stage, much to the delight of the entire school and staff. For some strange reason I never interpreted the laughter as being directed at me or us but I felt a sense of power at being able to make an audience laugh. The recognition and attention I received after the event was extremely rewarding and I suppose this event caused me to lose all fear of being on stage. At the end of the year we were again asked to recite the same nursery rhyme and again we had a ‘stand-up’ argument much to the amusement and applause of the audience.
After leaving school I was called up to do national service in Palaborwa but opted to study teaching. Four months at the Johannesburg College of Education were some of my fondest memories - as most hormonal young men, like myself, were outnumbered 60 to 1 by young hormonal females. I intended to change my direction of study, from education to psychology but Magnus Malan had other ideas and issued me with my call up papers. As a child I always wanted to be a policeman and make a difference, so I enrolled in the South African Police Force and studied psychology through UNISA.
With the increasing political turmoil in South Africa at the time, my studies were put on hold. I rose to the rank of Detective Sgt and resigned after four years. To this day I still consider those four years as being a degree in human nature. In the course of a 24-hour day I would work with everyone from paedophiles to Supreme Court judges and everyone in between. It was a real-life, experiential crash course in the best and the worst of our species.
I backpacked around Europe and America for a few months.
I sold door-to-door for the SPCA.
I sold door-to-door children's educational toys.
My 1st full-time job was at a company called Tedelex, selling telephone answering machines in the then Eastern Transvaal.
I sold property for De Huizemark and insurance for Liberty Life.
I became an insurance broker.
I opened a security business with two friends, one of whom was shot and killed in an armed robbery 30 days after we opened our business.
Two years later we sold the business to a larger security company and at the age of 28 I decided I was in semi-retirement.
Cellular phones then hit South Africa and after complaining about poor service I found myself submitting a training contract proposal to someone at Vodacom to train and motivate their staff. After 2 years MTN made me an offer I couldn't understand. Shortly after that speaking agents began calling and asking me if I did keynote presentations. At that time I was doing full day training. They told me I could earn 3 times the amount for just doing one hour. I was in! Word spread and 19 years later I am still on the speaking circuit having fun and hopefully making a difference.
What do I do?
I am a high impact keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, humorist, and MC.
I have written 3 best-selling books and have 20 books still in me.
I have stopped writing books to focus more on writing manuals. The current manual I am working on is called The MANual: a manual on how to be a real man, because real men don't wear pink shirts!
I speak mostly on change, action and RESULTS in all areas. I suppose you can call me a ‘how to: action and results expert!’
I am generally called in to open a conference or meeting in order to set the tone.
I am also used in the middle of a conference to break up the day.
Mostly I am used as the closing act of a conference in order to pull it all together and leave the audience with a serious but fun message to take home. The thinking being that the last thing the audience remembers about the conference is having ‘serious fun’.
I am also asked to MC the events and then to close with a keynote, making references to the events and speakers that have been used.
What do I believe?
I believe people talk too much and do too little.
I believe that positive, recurring actions will and can solve almost anything.
I have a passion for sales and applying back-to-basic actions and change in order to get results.
What are my values?
- Awareness: to see and shed light.
- Authenticity: to be me!
- Fun: try and find the fun in every situation.
- Love: as a REASON for everything.
- Truth: trying to live mine.
- Integrity and Honour: being true to me.
- Courage: to act because of and in spite of fear.
- Belief: in me to take action.
- Action: the secret success formula of life.
What is my purpose?
Love, light and laughter
Everything I do I try to do out of or because of love.
I try and shine light on things that are in the dark or are hidden.
I try and make people laugh because it's just a cool thing to be able to do.
I am driven to show people how to rehtnik their tnhiknig. To raise people's awareness and to get them to take action in their lives, marriages, businesses, with their children, wives and husbands.
Things I love!
My family. My health, wealth, wisdom, love, joy and abundance.
I love what I do, and how am I able to do it.
I love honest and true friends, loyal and uncomplicated clients and people without dandruff.
I love a hot shower to end and start a day, I love a good clever movie, an interesting non-fiction book and I love it when a stranger stops for another look.
A love strawberry milkshakes, Rooibos tea, cheese burgers and chips (from hotel room service), Malva pudding and Crème Brûlée.
I love most music from Richie and Buble', to Bon Jovi and Nickleback, just don’t give me country or Opera or people butchering Killing me Softly on Idols.
I enjoy poker with my friends, ‘5 card draw’ or ‘7 card stud’, I just don't play ‘Texas hold em’ - I think it's a game for mugs.
I loved George Carlin, God rest his soul, and Dianne Lane is on my: “it’s okay to leave me for” list, with my wife (she has Ryan Reynolds and a few others).
I am big into moments and the essence of things. It's the little things in life that are precious to me and seeing kindness in any shape or form always touches my heart and makes me cry.
What's my style?
• I'm a straight talker and I don't beat around the bush.
• I tell people what they need to hear and not what they necessarily want to hear.
• I say the things to staff that management wishes they could say but fear the Labour Court and the CCMA.
• I like to laugh, joke and have serious fun. I believe the art of learning is to disguise the lesson. When people are laughing you can say almost anything to them and plant the seed.
• I believe laughing is like jogging on the inside. I believe in all the medical, personal and psychological benefits of laughter as I have written about before.
• I don't work well with others who don't work well.
• I am blessed that I am pretty independent and can choose my clients. Some clients call me in to check me out. What they don't know is that I am actually checking them out. If they are selfish, egotistical idiots I won’t work with them. They can keep their money and I will return when they have left.
• I hate meetings and think they are a waste of time. Use Skype or the phone if we must connect.
What are my pet peeves?
People who are late, people who are rude, people who think they are better than others, people who are pedantic about the pronunciation of their names. It's ‘Car-ren’ not ‘Kae-ren’, it's ‘Candeece’ not ‘Candice’. I always reply, “Yes but is it snotty, insecure, stuck up or poor self-image - ‘couw’ or ‘cow’?”
Small talk and people with long bushy nose and ear hair.
What do I hate so much that it causes heart palpitations and steam to pour out of my ears at high-pressure?
Bigots, idiots, obnoxious know-it-alls (there can be only one), complainers, doomers, gloomers, lazy people, black or white racists, affirmative action (putting people in positions they are not qualified for because of the colour of their skin), BEE, incompetence, violence, crime, corruption, discrimination, entitlement, stupid people with opinions, injustice and things that are not fair, men who wear pink shirts, gym guys who shave their heads bald with tattoos and goatee’s - who wear Tap Out shirts, people with MBAs who tell you they have MBAs, any crime or discrimination against children and any crime or discrimination against women.
What should people know about me?
I have many action keynotes because most of my business is repeat performances where I am asked to come back. I am really sick and tired of people saying, “oh we have heard him, we have had him!"
I am the only humorist on the continent.
I can customise any presentation to fit a theme or outcome.
I am currently writing manuals to solve almost every area in people's lives. If you have a challenge in your business or personal life, send for the action manual.
I am still the busiest Keynote speaker on the African continent - a fact that has never been challenged although many have laid claim to this. It is said and stated not to brag or boast but as a marketing statement (in demand is an indication of results) and a warning that time is my limitation, making clients aware, to avoid disappointment.
I believe I am only as good as my next gig.
I don't remember names. At all!
I do what I do because it is fun, it pays well, I get to make people smile, and maybe, on occasion, I am the right message at the right time for someone. So, that is a glimpse of Gavin Sharples.
I dare you to do this exercise on yourself and/or your business. Being open and transparent is always a great way to build relationships. When people know you and what you do they treat you differently and will probably use you more.
Most importantly (just in case you haven't already got this) it is an exercise in identifying and getting to know yourself, your values and your purpose.
As Shakespeare once said “know thyself". Then he followed it with, “and above all else to thine own self be true, and it shall follow as the night, the day that thy canst not be false to any other man." …. or something like that!
Have a great month and always remember the question that you should constantly be asking is "do they know who I am?"