My friend, Bob Burg, asked me to share this story.
A few months ago, I took my son to see Alice Cooper. While I was buying those tickets, I noticed an option for a VIP experience, including a meet and greet with Alice himself. Being a fan of his music since I was 13 years old, I splurged and bought the tickets.
Normally, a meet and greet means you get your picture taken, an autograph, and then you’re quickly rushed out of the room so the “star” can get on with their life. This wasn’t the case with Alice.
When we showed up, we were ushered to the front of the stage to watch the band do their sound check. Then we toured the stage and got pictures with some of The Coop’s props. We were told to be at the backstage door as soon as the concert ended, and we were.
Twelve of us were ushered into a room with chairs lining three of the walls, and on the fourth wall was a table and two chairs for Alice. It took a while for him to show up, because he had to take a shower and, oddly enough, eat White Castle. When he entered the room he bragged about being in the White Castle Hall of Fame; they sent him 200 hamburgers and milkshakes for his crew.
And here is where the story gets interesting. The agreement says you get your picture taken with Alice and up to three items autographed. But he provided so much more than that, including a lesson in leadership and gratitude.
One young woman sat next to Alice and opened a bag. In this bag she had three small ceramic dolls. They probably didn’t cost more than $10 each. The ceramic dolls were designed so that the person buying them could paint them however they wanted. She painted them to look like Alice Cooper, his wife, and his personal assistant.
Alice was thrilled. He acknowledged her gift, and asked his assistants to come over and look at the wonderful artwork this young lady did. Then he made the photographer take pictures with him, her, and the small dolls. The young woman who painted the ceramic statues was beaming with joy. Clearly, it was the greatest experience of her life.
Another woman asked Alice to draw a small devil on a piece of paper. He told her that he didn’t know how to draw a devil but he knew how to draw his profile. She said that would be wonderful, and he sketched out his profile with a sharpie. She then told him that she was going to have the profile and his signature tattooed on her leg. Alice, having no tattoos, asked to see all of her artwork. He took a sincere interest in each of her tattoos and asked her questions about each piece. There was no doubt in her mind that she was the most important person in the room at that moment.
One man happened to catch a cane that Cooper threw into the audience at a concert many, many years ago. He brought the prop with him to ask Alice to sign it. Alice said, “I have a special gray marker just so I can sign something like this.” As he was signing the cane, the man asked him why there was black electrical tape all over the cane, suggesting it must be for the grip. Alice told him that it wasn’t for the grip, but for the balance. Then he made the gentleman stand up and he taught him to spin the cane just like he does on stage during his show. It’s impossible to describe the joy this man felt and being coached by Alice Cooper, one of his heroes.
We were backstage with Mr. Cooper for 35 minutes. He was in no hurry to leave. He gave each person’s his undivided attention and focus, making them feel as if they were the most important person on earth. He was clearly grateful for their devotion, and as gracious as I’ve ever seen from any human being.
It was a lesson in leadership. It was a lesson in how you treat other people, regardless of their station in life. It was a lesson in how important it is to give another human being your full attention and focus. I was impressed, and I was schooled by a master.
- When you are in a room with another person who needs your attention, do you give them your full focus? Or, does the small screen of infinite distractions make the experience less than it should be.
- Are you grateful for the relationships that you have and are you as gracious as you should be?
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Filed under: Leadership