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What is Your Trumpet?

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I recently had a 10 minute appointment with the decision makers of a major retail chain. This meeting would be the culmination of years of blood, sweat and yes, tears. My objective? Get a second meeting. A second meeting would mean they were interested and that interest would ultimately lead to getting ChopSaver lip balm placed in their stores.

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As I walked in, I was accompanied by Curt, my lead salesman. But more importantly, I had my trumpet. Yes, I am a professional trumpet player and at various points in my journey, I have sometimes downplayed (no pun intended!) my previous life as a musician in order to appear more “businesslike.” Silly me. In recent years, I have returned to my musical status and story (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPfBW0ZFVds) as a way to break the ice, to get people’s attention and to get a conversation started.

In this case, I didn’t even have to play it. I just carried it in and set it on the table. Eyebrows raised, a few chuckles were heard and Curt, my partner, made a brilliant comment. Something to the effect of “If this meeting goes well, Dan will play a short little tune. If it goes badly, he will play a really LONG tune.”

And in an instant, what could have been a very sterile, dry, intimidating meeting was transformed into human beings connecting and having a conversation. The mere presence of my trumpet shifted the energy in the room, ever so slightly, in my favor. Without playing a note, eyes and ears were opened just a little bit more than they might have been.

Was I nervous still? The term “out of body” comes to mind. But they bought it. They saw the potential and they gave us a direction. And we got that second meeting, with an even better outcome.

So what is your trumpet? What is your prop or device or grabber you can use to break the ice, shift the energy, or change the mood, ever so slightly? It doesn’t have to be a physical object, although that can certainly help. Everyone has one, a line, a story – something that makes you different. Use it. Don’t hide it under a bushel. You never know where it will lead you.