4January 2020

Keep Your Cool: How to win friends and influence people

It was 1976, and Rudi was ready to go on his first big promo tour.

And as you might guess, marketing heli-skiing was a different game back then than it is in 2020 (yes, it’s 2020 now).

In those days, heli-skiing was a brand new thing. Most people had no clue that it existed, or why, or where it could get you with your skis on.

The work was education – bringing a concept to the masses, via an awe-inspiring slideshow, and convincing them, in person, to join him for the adventure.

He didn’t have the budget for a movie, so Rudi rallied the best technology he could afford.

The new thing at the time was a double slide projector setup, which went beyond the single projector limitations of slide, chook-chook sound, moment of black screen, next slide.

A double projector setup meant seamless transitions, even fade in and fade out. Fancy.

He had a custom box made for the whole rig for travel. (It’s collected all sorts of personality over the years, as you can see.)

His first big presentation was in Basel, Switzerland.

Four hundred people would be waiting to hear about this new thing called helicopter skiing.

The night before, sleeping fitfully, Rudi had a dream.

In it, a man walked through the room in the middle of his presentation, tripped over the power cord and sent the projector and all the slides flying all over the floor.

He awoke startled, and it occurred to him that he should label all the slides so that if they ever did get out of order, he’d be able to recreate the show.

So he got out of bed right then, found a pen, sat on the floor, and carefully marked A1, A2, A3, etc., on one set, and B1, B2, B3 on the other.

Once they were all labelled, he went back to bed and slept till morning.

The next day, everything was ready to go.

Hundreds of people in their seats. Rudi up front, looking out at a sea of faces he hoped to impress enough to follow him to Canada and the backcountry.

A scene of pure entrepreneurial gumption if there ever was one.

Time to shine.

After two minutes of introduction, the lights were dimmed and the show about to start.

Then a guy walked in late, tripped over the power cord, and sent everything, including all the slides, flying all over the floor.

The crowd gasped and groaned, feeling the pain and embarrassment on his behalf.

Rudi paused, chuckled to himself, and proceeded to vamp his way through the new few minutes, telling anecdotes to his audience, while carefully replacing every slide in order, thanks to his premonition work the night before.

Ten minutes later, everything was back on track, and Rudi still remembers it as one of his best shows ever.

Afterwards, one soon-to-be-heli-skier after another approached him, amazed at how he managed to keep it together when the chaos hit and the pressure was on.

“I’d follow you anywhere!” was what they said.

And they have.

Sometimes how we act communicates even more than what we say.

Especially when things get sticky.

Trust is often built not because we see someone being perfect, but because we watch them handle a setback with grace.

We all know, eventually, there’ll be someone who’ll trip on the cord in our lives, so to speak – there’ll be a day when the slides go flying.

Today is the first page of a 365-page story that will be the year 2020.

No matter what your expectations, I hope you have some good people in your corner all the way through.


Oh yeah, and if Rudi dreams up anything else to watch out for, I’ll let you know. He’d probably say he knows how to ‘follow his dreams’ in more ways than one. Give the man a van and a clipboard, and find out what happens next.





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