By Aaron Hand
There are certain companies in this world that understand how to create loyal customers. Whether they make coveted motorcycles or simple cardboard boxes, they understand that everybody wants to feel like they belong to a group; they want to be acknowledged and honored, and they want to feel connected.
Mark Scharenbroich took the stage Monday as a motivational speaker keynoting at this week's Emerson Global Users Exchange in Nashville. He summed up the way people want to be made to feel they belong with two words: "Nice bike."
It refers to the two words that every owner of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle wants to hear. And it also makes reference to a company that understands how to connect with its customers.
When Harley-Davidson celebrated its 100th anniversary in Milwaukee, Scharenbroich found himself there by chance, in a rental car, surrounded by leather-clad, tattooed, bandana-wearing Harley riders. Although he had never before dreamed of owning a motorcycle, Scharenbroich said, "That day, I wanted a Harley. I wanted to be a part of that group."
Everyone needs to feel like they belong, Scharenbroich said. "When we don't belong, we're on the outside looking in." To get that feeling of belonging, we—not only as companies, but also as individuals—need to acknowledge, honor and make meaningful connections.
To acknowledge means to ask questions, but also to listen for the answers. Scharenbroich quoted Barbara Jordan, the first Southern, African-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives: "It's more important to be interested than interesting."
Scharenbroich shared several stories of the people in his life who showed a sense of passion in how they served others; the way they "nice biked" those around them. He mentioned Julia Child and her passion for cooking that brought in viewers. He talked of shop teacher Leroy Radovitch, who encouraged students to make their days great. And he spoke of Vietnam veterans, who said the hardest part of fighting was coming home to a country that didn't acknowledge them or honor them or try to connect with them or "nice bike" them in any way.
He encouraged Emerson Exchange attendees to make the most of their time at the conference by engaging in conversation with those around them, really listening to what they have to say and making meaningful connections.