There are business books aplenty about the steps and secrets to wealth, and videos and seminars about leadership, as well as roads and maps to success. But, if you want to see the physical road one entrepreneur has traveled, and continues to travel, look for the black, customized Airstream RV; the vehicle decorated, on both sides, with the colorful logos of a series of popular games.
Look for Eric Poses, the Founder of All Things Equal, Inc., makers of Loaded Questions® and a series of other commercially successful games for creative minds. Those games, made with pride in the USA, represent far more than a roll of the dice; they symbolize the power of introducing a brand to consumers, of meeting and socializing with fellow Americans, by touring America.
Along the way, in national parks and offbeat places, from the comfort of his cabin cruiser to the red Naugahyde booth of a parkway diner, Eric takes notes and writes questions (so many, many questions) on cards, napkins, matchbooks and scraps of paper.
The method behind the questions is the cause for an “instant sensation” (built with care over the course of nearly two decades), which is now one of the country’s best-selling independent board games.
Eric’s second annual road trip is an inherently social exercise, complemented by the power of social media.
That means he uses social media to tell a story. He combines images and text that, much like playing Loaded Questions®, reveal rather than promote.
Each Facebook post is a snapshot of a different part of the country, complemented by news – updates about where Eric is, and where he has been – that fans can use for their own benefit.
News you can use: That is the smart way to enhance the online conversation with friends and consumers. Give people what they need or want through this venue by ridding yourself of vanity.
This strategy is a case study unto itself, not a classroom hypothetical for business school students to analyze with questionable data and dubious charts and tables; it is an example of the immeasurable power of personal relations with retailers and distributors, and global companies and regional merchants and local storekeepers.
The value of upholding time-tested traditions, of shaking hands and greeting workers, of walking factory floors and thanking people for their support, these customs are incalculable – but there is no doubt they are incalculably strong.
In so many words: Nothing resonates more effectively than authenticity.
Consumers know it when they see it, and, through his stops in Atlanta and Stone Mountain, Georgia; Bentonville, Arkansas; Amarillo, Texas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Portland, Oregon, and Los Angeles, California, people who have meet (or plan to meet) Eric can leave feeling better about themselves and the revival of common courtesies.
Again, they can also see these things, and read about these events, through social media. They can share posts of substance and style, content that exudes genuineness and a wry sense of humor.
The Lesson for Every CEO: The Presents of Being Present
The lesson of Eric’s literal roadwork is, to use a more pedestrian allusion, a matter of excellent footwork.
That is, every CEO has the chance to get up, and get out; every CEO has an opportunity to forge alliances and secure partnerships, to persuade the public, and win the hearts and minds of consumers not with vacuous ads and meaningless slogans, but with sincerity and purpose.
If a CEO wants to understand the mood of the country, it would be wise for that man or woman to travel the country.
He or she can commission focus groups, hire outside consultants and have senior vice presidents compile reports galore. But there is no substitute for observing the folkways of, and eliciting feedback from, the citizens of such a diverse continental nation.
Far from being a chore, this journey is an escape from the office.
It is an adventure.
It is fun.
Start by following Eric’s RV.
Lewis Fein is an independent marketing and media relations consultant, based in Southern California. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.