What A Tour Guide Taught Me About Running My Business

I recently returned from a lovely three-week vacation to Haida Gwaii. Formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands, they are located off the northwest coast of British Columbia. Isolated and rugged, they are truly unique.

The last four days of my visit was spent touring Gwaii Haanas National Park Preserve, protected by the Haida Nation. Our guide, Ollie, was truly exceptional and watching him run the tour for the ten of us, gave me insights on how to run my financial advisory business.

Genuine: This can neither be faked nor taught. It is who you are. From the moment we met him, it was clear Ollie genuinely loved what he did and was committed to ensuring we had an exceptional time.

Knowledgeable: Even with a modern, electronic instrument panel, I was amazed how Ollie was able to guide our Zodiac through inlets and around islands, to all the special places he knew. He was familiar with marine life and the astounding trees, providing names and history.

Professional: Ollie was warm, friendly and accommodating, but he was in charge and a true professional who assumed leadership and ensured safety protocol was followed.

Trustworthy: After the first day, whenever Ollie asked if we wanted to go somewhere he suggested, we all agreed, joking we were in his capable hands. Literally and figuratively, he never steered us wrong.

Honest: Ollie never promised on what he could not deliver. We saw only the tops of a couple of humpback whales before they submerged for a deep dive. However, we were compensated with a large colony of noisy sea lions. In business, don’t promise what you have no control over; deliver what you can.

Connecting: Wherever we went on Gwaii Haanas it was obvious how respected and well-liked Ollie was by the Haida people. Haida Watchmen guard five culturally sensitive sites, including a UNESCO designated one. They were warm and welcoming, happy to have us there and encouraging us to spread the word. Ollie explained that his company often brings family out to the isolated Watchmen sites for a visit. Helping out reaps its own rewards.

Exceeding Expectations: I expected to see astounding scenery and to have amazing experiences on my visit. I was not disappointed and this would have sufficed. However, at the end of our first day, as we headed to our accommodation, Ollie stopped the Zodiac and began pulling up a long rope. Eventually, a metal cage filled with prawns surfaced. He put them in a bucket, took them to the cook at the lodge and we enjoyed prawns at dinner. This was unexpected but delightful (and delicious!).

I try to apply these qualities to my business but it was insightful to be an objective observer and see how another’s approach to their business pays off.

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