32 of us are gathered in an upstairs restaurant and function centre in Mumbai.
It’s just after 7 p.m.
There’s a picture of another restaurant in Mumbai projected on the wall. It’s from 6 evenings ago when we began the 2015 B1G1 Study Tour. Tonight we’re going to re-live those memories.
The energy is high. Starters are served and the conversation volume keeps rising.
My job tonight is to link the pictures of each tour day to individuals in the room so that they can come to the front and share their story. But what happens is beyond anything you could imagine.
We begin with Sammi from MegaZip. Sammi’s the front-of-house Manager for this leading adventure park attraction on Singapore’s Sentosa Island. On the Welcome evening just 6 days before he told us about what might be called his ‘troubled past’ where he’d ended up on the wrong side of the law and with tattoos over most of his body.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Sammi and the MegaZip team,” I say. And to rapturous applause, Sammi, Mira, Ayu and Ed come to the front of the room.
Sammi takes the Mike. “Thank you,”he says. And then there’s a long pause as he looks around the room taking care to connect with each pair of eyes looking back at him.
“Being here on this tour with you has been incredible.”
Then another long pause…
“What I’ve experienced with all of you has completely changed my life.”
Then he tells us why. And his fellow team members all have similar stories, each one recounting a number of ‘moments’ that for them were life-changing.
Accountant, Scott Hendrickson from the California-based firm of Vicenti, Lloyd and Stutzman expresses it by talking about those ‘moments of connection’ and how he’d see, just like Sammi, that small things make HUGE differences. “It’s impacted my life forever,” he says.
And his colleague Jenny Domiguez who’d told us 6 days earlier about her volunteering experiences in places like Ecuador said, “Nothing I’ve ever done compares with this.”
And Meagan Holmwood continued the theme. And then she added,”Before I came on the tour, I’d loved doing B1G1 in our firm. But I simply did not realise the impact we were having. This has made it so life-changing and so real. My challenge now is to share that in such a way that others get it too.”
And that, right there, is the crucial point.
Sarah Gaff was on the tour with husband Rodger and 17-year old daughter, Ellie. They run an air-conditioning business in Mittagong in rural Australia.
She ‘nailed’ the point like this: “Because of what every single one of us has experienced here, I am so surprised that B1G1 is not massive. If people only knew what was going on, thousands of businesses would be joining B1G1 each day.”
And that’s it.
Clearly, we’ve not been great at, as Sarah put it, ‘letting people know what was going on.’
Back at the dinner, each guest is continuing the life-changing theme. Sarah’s husband, a fairly big burly ‘bloke’ tells how he didn’t want to come on the tour. He replays for us his mates at the club back home saying in disbelief, “India!!!! You’re kidding. Why the heck are you going there? You can get in the ski-boat and have an awesome time here. You going crazy or something?”
And the tears flow freely from him when he recounts the depth of the impact.
“When I looked into the eyes of those elders up at that school where we were inaugurating the e-learning system, I realised just how lucky we are and how often we forget that. I realised that I am them.”
Looking into the eyes and sharing a new perspective is everyone’s challenge now.
We’ll be doing our level best to do that and perhaps make true what Tour Participant Aynsley Damery, Partner at Tayabali Tomlin said on this ‘farewell’ night.
“We’ve all seen some amazing impacts this past few days. So let’s just imagine that as we leave the tour, each one of us could simply share all of this with another 10 business owners. Just imagine ………”
Perhaps when it’s over really is just the start.