The irresistible pitch that turned a carpenter into a CEO

Many summers ago, working as a PR intern, I met the guy next door. Next door was a fledgling advertising agency, and my neighbour, a home renovator by trade, was trying his hand at account services.

So of course I had to ask: how does someone go from building houses to building brands? What’s the connection?

My new friend described how, as a contractor, he’d spend hours at the kitchen tables of his clients. This spot, he quickly realized, was the inner sanctum of family life. Dreams, ideas, ambitions: kitchen tables revealed all. No matter the topic, he listened carefully. He asked questions and questioned answers, measuring what family members said they wanted against how they actually interacted with the space and one another. Designing a home, he explained, was about channeling information, insight and intuition into a solution that fit his customers perfectly.

In under a minute, he’d turned a non sequitur into a selling point. The way he saw it, the way he told it, the leap from kitchen table to boardroom table was the most logical career move in the world.

Today, my old neighbour is president and CEO of a global advertising agency. So clients must have also bought the connection. And a lot more.

A good story – wrapped in an irresistible insight, a twist that rings true – has inspired my approach to communicating ever since.

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