Warning: This is a self-promotion story for use in job search purposes. Quite true - but like me, you probably do not like self-promoting people either. Now you are warned.
I would like to tell you a little story about Tour de France, the inauguration of the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark, a rally for vintage motorcycles and more. I know you are asking yourself what the relevance is but please read to the end and you will understand.
Back in 1997 I was deeply involved in the promotion of my beloved sport, gliding. As we were floating around as tiny dots in the sky, we were far from visible enough in the medias. When the medias finally covered results from our competitions that took place in remote and abandoned areas they did not manage to convey in an respect what went on in the air and what made it so exciting to fly from one end of the kingdom to the other without engines.
Then, after Bjarne Riis’ victory in Tour de France in 1996, I got an idea: If we cannot persuade the press to come to us, then maybe we could come to the press? And thus was born the idea of “Tour de Denmark for gliders”, a national competition where we would fly from one end of the country to the other, visiting a number of towns on our way who loved to be at the centre of attention, even if only for a single day. The idea was presented at a gliding seminar and, immediately I had a project group of 6 people to help materialize the idea. After two years of work in our spare time the first Tour de Denmark was launched in 1999 and immediately became a huge PR-success. During the first Tour we got at least 4 minutes in prime-time national TV and we cannot count the amount of appearances in local and other media. At that time, it was anticipated that it would take a Danish World Champion to attract the interest of the medias and, enormous amounts of money and effort had been invested into that idea. With our tiny project with a tiny budget we far exceeded the PR value obtained by a Danish World Champion in 1984.
Our event, by the way, was dedicated to general sports rather than elite sports. The fun, the colourful aspects of gliding, the humans, not the tough, competitive aspects. To us, that is what made gliding a sport for all. Part of the inspiration came from some reports that I had seen from a rally for vintage motorcycles. Quite clearly, that rally was not a matter of being first but a matter of having fun with your passion. It was a brand-new way of marketing our sport at that time. By flying from town to town we managed to communicate to the world that gliders are capable of far more than short jumps around an airfield. The advent of cellular phones and the web in those years further enabled us to create a decentralised event like this. The recent inauguration of the Great Belt Bridge was another contributing factor utilised.
I am not a media person. In fact, I am way too shy to stand in front of a camera and respond to open-mike questions. I was not even a formal project leader but it was my passion for gliding and my ability to see new opportunities and my ability to make a group of people feel passion for a common goal that made it all possible. Everything, I could not do, I had other people do. The local gliding clubs at the route managed the local press, a guy used to be in the media, handled the interviews in front of cameras, a web- and digital photo shark handled the home page (a brand new way of reporting from events at that time). I was the manager and project leader but not the big-boss type. On the contrary, I let the other guys in the project team unfold themselves in the stage light. I was just the grey eminence who walked behind everybody else, followed up and prepared to intervene should anything come out of control. It was my project, but it was so imperative for its success that I let the project participants feel that it was theirs. That is why I could not allow myself in any way to steal the stage light. After all, that was their only salary and motivation. You can maybe imagine the amount of disturbance going through my stomach when writing this? Or sitting at a job interview and reporting of my success stories?
Now, maybe you understand where I am headed with this story? It is the same personality that I unfold in work life! I involve myself 180% in the mission of the company, I affect management and colleagues with my passion, I see new opportunities and I manage to make my colleagues work together towards new goals while obeying common values. Personally, I never cared for titles or career. I just want US to succeed. It is not about ME. Some people say that is a leader profile, but I never saw myself as a leader and I never strived to be one. I am as much a technical nerd who likes to fiddle with details if those details are part of a larger, meaningful context. It is about the Cathedral, not about chopping stones. Yes, one day we might have to sit down and chop stones but the next day we may have to find out how to arrange those stones or decide who does what. Otherwise it does not matter how many beautifully crafted stones we have. It is that attitude that has given me such a wide profile because I always take on whatever it takes to make US succeed even if it is far from my job description. My managers have loved that attitude and I always had their support.
I am still that fiery soul.