I am a fan of boxing and a big fan of Anthony Joshua. Having been asked by a few friends why exactly I am a fan, I have had to look inwards and think hard about that question. The answer is that I see much in his story that I have a parallel but different narrative to, in my my own walk in life and business.
Much more than that, I am wowed by a guy so young yet grounded, a deep rooted self belief in strong values that could only have been taught by life's rocky roads. And the unflinching confidence, borne not out of pride, but a deep understanding of who he is and what he is capable of.
If like me you watched on TV rounds 5 and 6 of his fight with Wladimir Klitschko, you will probably appreciate the sometimes razor thin line between the potential to 'not fulfil' expectations and the rise to world superstardom. But that is not what this piece is about.
Well, I wasn't a special guest of his for any reason and was part of a line up of people waiting to take a picture with him. He must have been there taking pictures with various people for more than an hour prior to my coming up and so I walked over once I was waved on and met this young man with a beaming smile- the unified heavy weight champion of the world. I spoke first "man, I know you must be tired by now so won't take much of your time". His response "oh no, I am not tired at all, I genuinely love doing this, meeting with the people". So I asked him for a proper punching pose and without flinching he gave me one of the best boxing poses of the night for my picture. He went on to have a quick chat with me and introduced another member of his team he thought had something in common with me. A minute or two and our encounter was done.
When I got back to a boxing fan who was no real fan of his and I narrated my exchange with AJ. A broad smile came on his face and he said, "my problem with him has always been that I thought his niceness and seeming humility was fake, now that you have told me this, I genuinely have to give him credit". Neither the fan nor myself could have imagined such a genuinely pleasant reception from a Mike Tyson or many of the previous heavy weight champions while at the top of their game. Don't get me wrong they'll probably do it for kids; but with AJ, you knew you had his full attention those couple minutes no matter who you were.
I learnt a lot about the link between marketing and the customer experience in the fan's response. AJ has portrayed an image and unwittingly, even I was going to touch and validate that image by seeking a meeting with him. Luckily my experience reinforced the image and I am a stronger fan of the AJ brand. I returned to work rededicated to strengthening our systems to ensure that when customers come to touch and validate our start up brand, we are found to be consistent with what we say we are.....all the time and at every contact point. That is not as easy a journey as the simplicity of it's fact; but it is a road we are willing to take, to be the best in our chosen industry.
Yemi is director at Charis-The Training Company