Two years ago around Thanksgiving, my Mom read an article in the newspaper talking about a group of Chinese professors and students studying at the University of Minnesota who were looking for an American home to spend Thanksgiving at. Eager to deliver an authentic Thanksgiving experience, my Mom invited over two Chinese students and a Chinese professor.
Thanksgiving was great and we inevitably asked them if there was anything they wanted to experience while in Minnesota. They mentioned the Mall of America and one or two other things.
Then someone mentioned seeing a professional basketball game.
With Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets in town, we thought a Timberwolves game would be fun. As it turned out one of the professor’s friends was a reporter in China and would be covering the game for a Chinese news outlet. The professor said he would be able to get me and my brother tickets to the game and possibly sit in the press area.
When we picked the professor up for the game, he had the tickets in hand, but informed us that his friend was ill and wouldn’t be there. This was a little disappointing since I assumed it meant we’d have to sit in the free tickets, which were about high enough to be in air space.
We walked into the Target Center and after passing through security, one of the first things we saw was the entrance for press and courtside ticket holders.
Without hesitation, the professor walked up to the lady guarding the entrance and said “Where is the Chinese press area? We are meeting someone.”
And just like that she pointed down the hall.
I felt a little bit of shock as we just walked through the press/courtside entrance sans anything more than a $10 ticket.
Then the professor asked another security guard “Where is the press area?” and he pointed us in the right direction.
I still couldn’t believe it.
We took seats in the press area, but were missing a chair, so me and my brother not wanting to draw any attention, since I knew we weren’t supposed to be there, each put one cheek on the chair.
This seemed odd to the professor, so he flagged down security and made sure we got another chair. Two minutes later we had another chair.
All of this was kind of shocking. He were me and my brother, 22 and 19 sitting in the press area when all we had were $10 tickets. Not one of us had a laptop or notepad like the other reporters. Yet, we ended up watching the entire game from the press box.
People buy confidence:
It’s not really what you say, but how you say it – one of the most important lessons someone can learn in sales. The security guard bought the professors tone, speech, and confidence. If he had approached her saying “We think we have a friend in the press area. Can we visit him?” we probably would have been denied.
People don’t know what you know:
They didn’t know that we didn’t belong there. It could have been an easy assumption, but because of the high degree of confidence from the professor, they didn’t question us. Sometimes too much knowledge can be burdening. It’s good to remember that not everyone knows what you know and where you’re coming from.