One sunny day, I stopped at a tiny produce stand at the edge of a cornfield (Ohio). It sold an unusual assortment of fruits, vegetables, bakery goods, and crafts…
Grandpa Farmer said the corn was picked this morning from his field but the other things were from all over. The blackberries and peaches were part of a cooperative exchange with a family farm in Georgia–local truckers just added his shipment to their usual transport loads and made an extra stop at the farm in the towns they passed. He said he also barters an exchange of his corn and melons for fresh baked goods from a local restaurant (Der Dutchman).
What I thought was remarkable was that even in 2010 and the days of social media and networking, these family farmers were still exchanging goods and services the old-fashioned way. Their B-to-B (business-to-business) offline business model was still built on personal relationships and trust. Getting fresh products to individual customers. Going the extra mile, literally.
There were about five shoppers there at the time I was there. None of us knew each other, and none of us really even gave each other eye contact. But, we all probably lived within a short distance of each other.
In older times this would have been an important social time to exchange family and community news. This face-to-face exchange also made it easier for people with disabilities to be included in the community. It took people with all sorts of skills to work at the farm and stores, and they were each a person connected to families and neighbors–not just strange strangers.
Other than my questions, there was no conversation other than Grandpa Farmer asking us to “pay with the smallest bills possible.”
But while this was typical B-to-C (business to consumer) social behavior for 2010, considering the centuries-old social and business exchange model of corn for blackberries, and corn for snickerdoodle cookies, I was feeling nostalgic and wishing for the past face-to-face friendly social interactions of an ancient market square and a community where people actually knew and cared about each other.
Seth Godin, the marketing and social media guru wrote a book called Linchpin: Are you indispensable? (Penguin, 2010) about the power of one person to make a difference, and be remarkable.
If this farmer really understood this, he could have been the Linchpin, he could have made shopping at the produce stand a different experience than shopping at the large superstore where the produce looks great but there are no plows, wagons, or rows of corn anywhere in sight. He missed his opportunity to build relationships and make his customers loyal friends instead of just people who were asked to pay small bills.
So I guess my takeaway is that online or offline, the way we communicate and build our business model, deliver products, and interact with our neighbors and customers can be personal or impersonal. The method of delivery, the social media are not what make the difference.
PEOPLE MAKE THE DIFFERENCE.
The Aaron difference
Most people say my son Aaron, who has the label of autism has few social skills. In fact, some experts would say people with autism cannot even have social interactions, that is the definition of autism. But I’d be willing to bet if Aaron had been with me, while we were at the produce stand he would have sung, “Old McDonald” a hundred times and gotten everyone there to join in. Everyone there would be smiling by the time they left. Aaron would have given them a personal and memorable experience. Aaron would have been the Linchpin. He would have made sure everyone connected.
Who are the Linchpins in your life? Who is so indispensable that your life would be different without them?
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward.
All the best,
In case you missed it:
Day 1: “Every Day for 30 Days” Blogging Challenge or “IBP” (Individual Blogging Plan) Day 1 of the 30-Day-Every-Day Blogging challenge. (click here)
Day 4: An Avalanche and an Aaron story (click here)
Day 5: “The Host” vs. the Home Stagers vs. Aaron (click here)
Day 6: “There is no spoon?” Disability Style (click here)
Check out what my challenge partner Alison Golden of The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman: