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IFAI Expo keynote speaker Mark Scharenbroich: “acknowledge, honor and connect” with employees and customers

October 16th, 2018 / By: / Expo News

Keynote speaker Mark Scharenbroich has straightforward advice for growing a business: Make a true connection with employees and customers and positive results will follow. Scharenbroich shared his humor and motivational wisdom with a packed room at ATA’s 2018 Expo annual meeting October 16.

Rain, wind and cold outside the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas, didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of Scharenbroich and Expo attendees. Scharenbroich, in fact, advocates an attitude of gratitude, reminding people that when they’re having a bad day, they should write a list of 12 things for which they are grateful.

Scharenbroich’s philosophy of “acknowledge, honor and connect” is founded on the idea that all humans have two core needs: the need to belong and the need to hear “nice bike.” That reference to a nice bike is based on his observation at the Harley Davidson 100-year anniversary several years ago. Thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts attended the event, and all they needed to hear from one another was two magic words—nice bike—which triggered an instant connection and camaraderie among strangers.

When Scharenbroich talks about acknowledgement, he means “be present.” “It’s like a meat raffle,” he explains. There are only two rules: You have to buy a ticket and you have to be present to win. Being present and interested in your customers and employees makes all the difference in achieving goals.

The concept of honor refers to “creating cool experiences for people,” says Scharenbroich. He uses the Rolling Stones as an example. He and his wife once attended a Rolling Stones concert, and “The band members don’t just call it in. They don’t cheat the audience.” Everyone in the audience knew that the Rolling Stones were doing everything possible to give the performance of a lifetime.

Scharenbroich talks about his parents when giving examples of how to connect with others. His mother was known as “Aggie, the retainer lady,” because she would go through the school cafeteria garbage bins to find young students’ accidentally discarded retainers. Parents and children greatly appreciated—and remembered—her kindness and humor.

Scharenbroich’s father, a stoic World War II veteran, was not one to hug others. However, upon visiting the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., he greeted another veteran—a stranger—and quietly gave him a bear hug in gratitude for his service. The interaction was brief, but the connection was enormous and emotional.

Scharenbroich is an Emmy award-winning speaker and the author of Nice Bike: Making Meaningful Connections on the Road of Life.