First, let me set the scene. When I was a partner at 3Seed, I had the opportunity to go to Phoenix with partners John and Julie to attend, sponsor, and participate in the Inc. 5000 annual conference, celebrating the 5000 fastest growing, privately owned companies in the USA. I arrived in Phoenix and took a look at the lineup of speakers, surprised to see that one of my business ‘heroes’, if you will, was going to be speaking.
If you don’t know Marcus Lemonis (aka The Profit from the show on CNBC), he is a self-made entrepreneurial success story, and somewhat of a badass. Not the kind of badass that you don’t want to face in a dodgeball match, but more like a business badass. He doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his approach to business, and I was an instant fan when I saw season one, episode one of The Profit.
So that’s the background. Now for the story.
When I realized he was going to be speaking, my goal was to hear him speak, then figure out how to get a picture with him. Little did I know that he would be on a stage, speaking in a huge room with an audience of thousands. I worked my way up to the front and found a seat in the middle of the second row. What luck!
Marcus come on stage, told a moving story about his life and why he is the way he is. As a fan, I found it intriguing, and it gave me some insight into his character. He also interacted with the audience, called a few people out regarding their business practices, then finished with a story about his grandfather, after which he exited the stage. No photo op. Oh well, at least I got to hear him speak.
I headed back to our booth and talked about 3Seed with some visitors, then took a quick bathroom break. On my way out of the bathroom, guess who was on his way in? Marcus, who just wanted to splash some water on his face. I was so surprised and unprepared for this moment that I looked at him the way a little kid would look at giant Mickey Mouse his first time at Disney World and I blurted out, “Hi!” It was my star-struck combination of excited, friendly, creepy, and awkward greeting. I must have taken him a bit by surprise, because he blurted back in the same tone, “Hi!” Luckily he had a big smile on his face, and not a ‘stalker alert’ kind of look.
Anyway, I told him how watching his show gave me some ideas of how we could better run our business, then asked him if he would mind if I got a picture with him. Not only did he agree, but he said, “I would love to get a picture with you, I’m glad you asked.” OK, now I was feeling much better. I fumbled around for my phone and realized that I was physically shaking. It was funny, because I am so much NOT the kind of person who is easily thrown off my game, but this was different.
As his assistant got the camera/phone ready, Marcus unexpectedly put his arm around my shoulder for the picture. Wow, this guy really was genuine, friendly, and truly a good guy. You hear so many stories about people you see on TV who are totally different when the cameras are off, but he was the real deal. He asked me about the number 3 on my shirt and I told him about 3Seed and invited him to stop by the booth. He showed up near the booth, but was accosted by so many people on his way to see us, that he couldn’t make it before his next speaking engagement. That’s OK though, because he wanted to give everyone the same opportunity that I had outside the bathroom.
To wrap up, here is why I hold Marcus Lemonis in high regard. His business style focuses on three things; People, Process and Product, with People being the most important. He showed that in his interactions at the conference. If your business can get the three P’s nailed down, you will be successful. I truly believe that. Work on that, and check out The Profit if you get a chance.