I think a big part about building million-dollar businesses and being successful in whatever you do, is understanding people and being able to be empathetic and build rapport with other people. It's been a key for me because I've been successful in the corporate world, I've been successful in retail businesses, and I think a lot of that comes back to my childhood and growing up in Hong Kong, where there was a constant change-over of people. So many people came to Hong Kong for two-year stints, up to maybe five years, max. It was unusual to live there as an expat for an entire childhood like I did. A lot of people would come and then leave within sometimes even a year period. I got really used to meeting people, making friends very quickly, and being okay with the fact that they then had to move on. But I was actually quite shy as a child and wasn't really naturally forthcoming in groups.
I think what made a huge difference for me was getting into my first school play. One of my teachers, (I was taking drama - we all had to take theater arts in school), and one of our teachers was directing the school play. She invited us to come and audition for the play, and I had a friend who was pretty experienced; she was in most of the school plays. She rallied to get me the part, she was like, "Oh, Cyd was the best." So even though I was shy, I got this first part, which was only one line in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." But the experience of being in the school play environment, which was… I think we're talking three to six months of rehearsals with people from all different age ranges in the school, and our school went from right after grade school up to when you graduate to go to university, so we had a range of ages from 11 up to about 18. I found myself in this environment where we were rehearsing together with all these different kids of different ages, and I really loved it; I loved the whole community of it.
Then of course, once I stepped on stage, said my one line, which actually turned out to be funny, had the audience laughing and responding, I was hooked, I just loved it. And then I was in pretty much every school play I could fit in around my busy work schedule, because I was also dubbing in the film studio, when I could fit in a school play and the rehearsals, then I would do almost every school play, and usually get one of the lead roles because I got better at it. I think being able to stand on stage in front of thousands of people just gives you a lot more confidence around people, and that's a really good thing to have;
Confidence is a great thing to have in business. Being able to build rapport with people will make everything a lot easier for you.
You don't necessarily have to be a friendly person who gets along with other people to succeed in business, but certainly the businesses I've gotten involved in, definitely the more you can make friends with people, understand what's going on with them, understand everybody has a different reality, a different version of the world, and try and be understanding of what their experience of the world is and not try and make them fit your experience of the world, that can be really, really helpful, too, in your customer service and providing a great experience for your customers. If you want to learn more about how you can build rapport with people, and understand what's going on with them psychologically, I highly advise doing at least the basic level of neuro linguistic programming, NLP.
This really opens up your whole mind frame around how people think, how to communicate with them more effectively, and I've found it to be super, super helpful in all of my relationships, from personal right through to business.
Cydney O'Sullivan, Founder of Millionaires Training