Growing up as an Air Force Brat, I was afforded many opportunities that most couldn’t relate to. I was able to travel the world and live what I grew up to know was a “lavish” lifestyle.
My fondest memories were being overseas, especially in Japan, and being engulfed in the culture. I loved the weekends because my family would go off base and go shopping at all the bazaars, local shops, and shopping centers. What I loved most about these ventures was the experience they provided me with. Although there was a language barrier, the seller always made me feel like a princess. The way they would bargain with my mom just so she could get the little figurines I wanted was everything. They way they would rub the kimono fabric on my skin, the way they would gesture me to smell something, the way they would hug me and smile once my mother purchased something meant the world to me and I was only a little girl. I too loved how they would pull out a Japanese calendar in an attempt to point to a day for us to come back, and guess what, we always went back, for that same if not better experience. To this day, I will not forget those times because they made me feel good.
Let’s fast forward to this place adult-hood (dum dum dum). My parents broke the news that my dad was retiring. Not more traveling and no more living off his dime. It was time for me to be a big girl (ugh). At first, this didn’t seem too bad, just unfortunate. I didn’t travel out of the county anymore, just places that I didn’t mind driving to. My spending habits were still all over the place so nothing changed with my shopping. All was well.
Then, my mother’s breast cancer had taken a turn for the worse. On the flip side, her physician staff was great. No matter the news they had to share, it was always a great visit. They way they cared for her during her last days, the special treatment they provided to my family, the laughter, the smiles, everything allowed for a memorable experience. It was never a dread to go to the hospital all because of the experience they provided us with.
Soon after my mom passed, I had my first son. Talk about someone’s money being funny. There was no traveling and no shopping (for myself at least). Times were hard, not only because of death and life but because I couldn’t afford the experiences that I loved so much for others to create for me. I didn’t want to feel like I was being wasteful or frivolous with my money. I thought I was being selfish if I did these things for myself and my child was the one thing that is supposed to get everything from me. I thought that wanting to feel a certain way through self-care and retail therapy were unrealistic expectations.
But there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I had gotten back to myself and realized that if I didn’t take care of myself, that I would be no good for myself, for my newborn son, and everyone around me. So, I said to myself “there has to be a better way, something has got to give”. So I got back on the prowl to find the services I wanted. I would call places, look them up, read reviews, and ask my tribe had they ever been somewhere. As expected, I received mixed reviews, outrageous pricing, crazy travel time, long waiting periods and wasted time. But, I didn’t give up on myself. I eventually found the best places (for me at least) that had high-value products or services, quality customer service, and respected my time and pockets. I treated these experiences as investments. As long as the owners or service providers continued to create lasting, memorable experiences, they had a loyal client in me. I would continue to spend my money with them and refer them to others in my tribe.
People may not always remember what you say, but they always remember how you made them feel. So you my dear friend, must create those experiences. Give your customers, your clients, or whomever it is, a reason to keep coming back to you and spend more and more money, plus tell all their friends. Create those experiences and success will follow suit. If you need me, I will be there every step of the way.