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Mike, headlamps and the passion of a leader

I’ve been a member of Recreational Equipment Incorporated for more than 20 years.  REI started out as a small mountain-climbing buyer co-op, and I was into mountain climbing in high school and college.  REI has grown to become an international member co-op with retail locations across the US and around the world, and their gear has gone far beyond ropes, carabiners and pitons.

Their equipment now even includes headlamps – incredibly bright LED lights mounted on elastic – that you wear on your head in order to see (and be seen) in the dark.

Which brings me to Mike. Mike is a senior sales leader at my local REI.  As an REI member, I got a discount coupon recently  – if I spent $100, I got $20 off my purchase.  Unfortunately, the jacket I was buying was just under $100, so I couldn’t get my discount – unless I found something else to purchase.  I asked Mike what else was popular right now.

For the next ten minutes, Mike waxed eloquently about the value of a personal headlamp.  He showed me different models, talked about various features, had me try several on, shared how he used his headlamp, how every family member has one, what safety benefits a headlamp provides his wife who is a runner etc., etc., etc. – Mike is into headlamps!  And his energy became infectious – I got excited, asked some questions, got more excited, and a few minutes later I found myself walking out of REI with a jacket, a headlamp and my $20 discount. His passion convinced me that I would find the headlamp valuable.  I became a believer.

Leaders – does your passion generate that type of enthusiasm?  Mike did two things for me the other night: one, he got me to see the wonderful benefits of a headlamp, and two, he reminded me of the power of a leader’s passion in influencing others.