Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Keys to Gladwell's Apartment

Many people have heard about Malcolm Gladwell.

Not so many have heard about Mike Shanks.

Until now.

Gladwell is the best-selling author of works such as "The Tipping Point", "Blink" and most recently, "Outliers - The Story of Success". He is at the top of his professional heap, achieving rock-star status in the arena of publishing and public speaking. His publisher shelled out a cool $4 million advance for "Outliers" and he routinely addresses companies like Microsoft, HP or Intel, commanding fees in the range of $50,000 to $80,000. It's at gigs like these Gladwell gets to tell tight-assed executives why much of what they do is wrong, pronouncing focus groups as an absolute waste of time and money. He contends, "They have a conservative bias, and they are a tax on revolutionary ideas, which I think is foolish in this day and age."

Meanwhile, Shanks is every bit the business rocker as Gladwell, albeit currently playing on a smaller stage. The former car parts salesman is an Ontario franchisee with Canada's fastest growing franchise system, PropertyGuys.com. Father of two, Shanks is also a dedicated blogger, runner and has racked up some impressive numbers and awards in the PropertyGuys.com system, which now includes 116 locations stretching from Victoria BC to St John's NFLD. His accolades include:

Top Performer - Central Region PropertyGuys.com 2008
Most Listings - PropertyGuys.com 2008
Franchisee of the Year - PropertyGuys.com 2007
Top Marketing Concept - PropertyGuys.com 2007
Exceptional Customer Service Award Overall - WOWCambridge.com 2007

As fate would have it, Gladwell and Shanks just happened to have grown up in the same part of rural Ontario and share passions that revolve around reading, writing and running. A mutual friend (John Carson) was able to introduce the two as part of a project to promote the upcoming Festival of Excellence, a world class track and field meet at newly renovated Varsity Centre, University of Toronto. The world's fastest human, triple Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Usain Bolt will headline the June 11th event. Videographer Brian Mullins was on hand to capture Shanks and Gladwell, one-on-one.

A day after this interview was recorded, Shanks shared these tidbit with TSB about the Malcolm Gladwell most people never get to see:

"He is a very intellectual but approachable guy. I guess when you meet a famous person, it always floors you when you discover how normal they really are.He still hangs out with the same people and still sees his old friends. He has got this three-bedroom loft apartment in the west village, adorned with lots of books, dominated by a huge bookshelf. True to his Canadian roots and liberal views, as he looks up from the laptop that sits on his desk, there is a laminated poster of Pierre Trudeau".

"We headed out for a 5-mile run and I could only keep up for about the first mile through Battery Park before John and Malcolm took off. After we got back to the apartment and had showered and changed, it was time to leave. John Carson and I had about a 5-hour window with time to kill before our flight back home. Malcom asked about what we were going to in between time and at that point offered to let us leave his luggage at his place. He had to be somewhere else, but said not to worry handing me the keys to his apartment with instructions where to leave it. After he left, I turned to John, saying, I can't quite believe this but I am actually holding the keys to Gladwell's apartment".

For Mike Shanks, holding those apartment keys was symbolic. Representing an accomplishment, he once thought beyond his reach. Mike would be the first to tell you there were many moments of self-doubt, anxiety and worry as he navigated his way through the forest of obstacles standing in the way of every entrepreneurial start up.

Out·li·er: noun
1: something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body.
2: a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample.

Within the world of Canadian franchising and the rapidly shifting real estate industry, PropertyGuys.com is an Outlier. And within the ranks of its 116 franchisees, Mike Shanks often stands alone.

Some wonder why people like Shanks follow the path to success Gladwell has laid out in "Outliers". It's not difficult to understand if you have had a front row seat, watching this story unfold since October of 2006 when Shanks graduated from PropertyGuys.com University. That's when Mike decided to bet his future and that of his family, on a vision for something bigger than himself.

For starters, he has put himself in the right position, immersed with a dynamic group of renegade entrepreneurs who have achieved national recognition for the way they are revolutionizing a multi-billion dollar industry.

That was only the beginning.

In other words, it's one thing to buy into a franchise system ... it's another thing altogether to actually work the system.

And few work it like Shanks.

In the words of his business coach: "There isn't an hour or minute of the day when he is not focused on PropertyGuys.com. From taking calls from customers, visiting with clients, talking to the media, going to the corner store or crossing international borders, Mike is constantly bleeding the brand and living its values. He has zero gap between knowing and doing. The kind of guy who actually lives the Nike slogan. In other words, if you suggest Mike that he go out and do something, he is quick to jump into the rabbit hole without wasting a lot of time analyzing, fussing or second-guessing. He is one of the few who truly gets it when it comes to just making things happen, recognizing that growth and wisdom lies in embracing uncertainty - especially in these changing times when we all need to be more fluid in our thinking".

Mike Shanks of Cambridge, Ontario is squeezing every ounce of creative, emotional and intellectual gasoline out of a vehicle known as PropertyGuys.com. To do so, often means putting yourself out there, heading to the skinny part of the branch, tasting fruit that many desire but few dare reach for.

What about you?

Is there something you are burning to achieve?


You and I both own a Door Called Potential. Existing in our imagination, opening and closing with every thought and conversation. Serving as either a barrier or entry point to fulfilling potential waiting on the other side.

What is the equivalent in your life to being handed "The Keys to Gladwell's Apartment"?

Is there anything preventing you from unlocking that door?

"The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore" DALE CARNEGIE


1 comment:

Ken LeBlanc said...

Congrats Mike … You might have held on to Galdwell’s key for just a few minutes; but I know you already own the key to ultimate success with PropertyGuys.com. I’m glad you’re on my team!