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LEADRSHIP AT THE PEAK – Tony’s photo studio


George W Nyabadza

“TAKE a stool,” Tony said with a serious look and deep concern for his client’s comfort. The client, in his formal wear, looked a bit out of place in Tony’s photo studi

o but the exterior demeanour didn’t change Tony’s customer service at all.


The client had just been requested by his lawyer to supply two passport-size photos for inclusion in some legal documents that had to be submitted in the morning. The request to the client had come by way of a call to his mobile phone while driving from the office to an early evening meeting, so a diversion to the nearest shopping mall to have the photos taken was called for.


Unfortunately for him, by the time he had weaved through the evening rush traffic to find parking and locate the mall’s only photo shop, it was close to half an hour after close-down. Desperate and hopeful for some kind of a miracle, he asked the mall security if they knew of any one who provided the service. The security service officer with a hint of a smile, advised that the only photo shop in the mall had closed half an hour before, but if the client desperately wanted the photos, he could go across the street to where someone could help him.


The client looked across the street and back at the guard “across the street, where?” he asked since no open shop was visible, only a milieu of people rushing to catch the public taxis home.


“There, just across the street beneath those trees, there is a photo guy there.”


The client recalls thinking to himself “this can’t be real, but hey I have no choice, let’s go and explore”. And so he crossed the street towards the corner stop. Tony, the entrepreneur, manned his open-air studio like any small business the client has ever dealt with.


“Good afternoon, and how can I help you?” The client felt like he was in a dream. All about him, human traffic was flowing determinedly towards the public taxi rank and at this street corner beneath some budding trees, as if on a small island, he was being welcomed into “an open air studio”.


“Do you do passport photos? I need two now.” He expected Tony to answer in the negative since he couldn’t see any processing equipment anywhere; “Yes, I do. They will be ready in 10 minutes but you must pay me first before I take the photos and develop them.”


The deal was sealed, payment made and the client was asked to stand against a white wall, which would provide the required background. As if conjuring a trick, Tony dug deep into some bags by the roadside and pulled out an instant camera which he used to take the shots.


“Take a stool,” Tony said with a serious look and deep concern for his client’s comfort. The client looked around and still dreamlike, took the proffered stool. There were only two; the CEO’s (that’s Tony) and the client’s. With 10 minutes to kill, the client decided to enrich his understanding of the human experience and asked Tony his usual opener: “So Tony, how did you set up your shop?”


Tony began to speak and the client almost subconsciously began to tick off the key points of Tony’s discourse against the mental checklist he had developed from years of researching effective leadership and personal development.


Slowly, he smiled to himself when he realised that all the successful people construct their lives around the same principles; a deeply painful experience that forces one to rise above limiting circumstances like loss of a job or no job at all, understanding that all great things begin small (do not despise the day of small beginnings), fully appreciating his circumstances and therefore holding onto the vision while managing life’s daily challenges and giving great service to clients.


Tony may seem like a small time businessperson, but he is on his way to building a great empire. He may not have invested years into researching how to become a success, but he is applying these right principles on a daily basis leaving achievement no option, but to follow. I left Tony with a commitment to invite him to attend my next seminar free of charge.

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