Be the bus
About 80% of the people I pass today will give me a big smile. Many of those will also wave, give me a thumbs-up, or flash a peace sign. It doesn’t happen every day, but it happens every day that I’m driving my 1966 VW bus. When I hop behind the wheel of the 50 year old van, everyone around me gets put under a spell. They turn into adoring fans, eager to strike up friendly conversations and take our picture. It’s easy to see why driving the bus is so enjoyable. Who wouldn’t love the free attention? What I’m more curious about is; what makes everyone who sees the bus so instantly enamored, and compels them to express their emotions to the driver? If I could answer this question, then maybe I could apply the traits of the magical bus to my personality. I could receive the same adoration when I walk down the street alone without the hippie mobile. I would also apply these traits to my company. Customers would then smile and be full of feelings of nostalgia when using our product, or at least give it the peace sign when they pass it on the shelf. I believe there are two characteristics of the VW bus that attracts most of its’ fans; She’s humble and fun. I also believe that if these same characteristics were developed by a person or a company, they would be equally as adored as the old icon. I wouldn’t say the bus excels much further than any other vehicle at these characteristics, but where she is unmatched is that she never wavers from these personality traits. This consistency in character is crucial for individuals and companies who seek the same glory. In a word, the bus has integrity. 1) The bus is humble. There is no pretentiousness about her. She arrived in this country at a time when intimidating street machines with monstrous chrome engines roared through America’s streets. The flat, engineless front of the bus resembles a smiling face. This is an important tactic to borrow from the bus; smile first. The bus receives an abundance of smiles because she is actually the one who’s already grinning at every one she passes. The driver sits close to the front window, easy to wave at. One look at the bus and you assume the driver must have the same cheery nature, and it makes you smile. If your company is built the same way as the bus, valuing reliability and a pleasant user experience, then your customers will be instantly recognized as smart and happy consumers, receiving all the adoration and thumbs up that goes with it. 2) The bus is fun. Even though she’s German, we’re talking about the American kind of fun, being anti-style and rebellious. It’s no secret that fun people have more friends. Is your company fun to be around? If you’re the leader, then I argue that there is no duty more important than setting the mood for the entire company. Being professional and being serious are not the same thing. No company ever failed for not being boring enough. Be funny and let others have fun. A fun atmosphere is a productive environment. A person or company who does things differently doesn’t have to worry about comparison or competition. You get to chart your own path. Enjoy the freedom of the open road. Peace.