How’s THIS for a Tip?

by Andy Wood on February 20, 2008

in Consumers, Gamblers, Hoarders, LV Alter-egos, LV Stories

MarvinThen there’s Marvin Burchall.

Two years ago, Marvin is on the job in his native Burmuda, waiting tables at a resort. And from his perspective, that’s all he was doing. His job.

Lynn Bak saw it a bit differently. She saw an outgoing, approachable young man whose impeccable service and attention to detail revealed a professionalism way beyond his 23 years.

Lynn Bak is paid to know these kinds of things. She coordinates the School of International Education in Bermuda for Endicott College, whose main campus is in metropolitan Boston. She travels to the Elbow Beach Bermuda resort every three weeks or so. And a couple of years ago, she got to know Marvin.  You won’t believe what happened next.

To him, Lynn was just another customer – another visiting tourist. To her, Marvin was an exceptional young man.

Marvin had dreams of running or even owning his own resort one day. He had started in housekeeping, then became a waiter and assistant bartender. But he knew to fully accomplish his dream, he’d have to return to college. Little did he know that college would come calling him.

Lynn Bak was so impressed with Marvin that she recommended him to Endicott president Richard Wylie as an excellent candidate for the Boston school. Wylie had the chance to meet Marvin last October. He, too, was impressed. Soon the president was making Marvin an offer he couldn’t refuse – a full scholarship to a $34,000-a-year private college, including room and board.

“How could I say no?” Marvin said in an interview with the Boston Globe. “I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me. I knew I had to take this and run.” He added, “I had never heard of Endicott College, and now look where I’m sitting. I was just doing my job. It’s kind of surreal, really.” He’s now in his first semester.

Marvin still sees all of this as an amazing chain of random events. Those who know him see it differently. So should you.

To understand how Marvin got it right – how he made choices in 2005 that will literally serve him the rest of his life – it’s helpful to consider how he could have blown it.

  • He could have played the victim card. Marvin’s story is all the more extraordinary when you learn that his mother died of brain cancer four years ago, and that he recently spent several weeks in the hospital because he was assaulted from behind with a baseball bat. Lesser men would have given in to self-pity and fear. After all, life is painful. Why risk it?
  • He could have treated his customers like objects rather than people. To someone with a consumer attitude, customers are bit players, whose job it is to dispense money. They are just a means to an end. Marvin saw people as, well, people.
  • He could have decided to play it safe and stay in Bermuda. That’s where his family is. It’s where his familiar surroundings make him feel at home. Accepted. Pleasing to others.
  • He could have decided that a man with his dreams and obvious talent and intelligence shouldn’t lower himself to serving people. He could have spent a lifetime going round and round in circles, trying to be a “big wheel” (pun intended).

How about you? What can you do today, where you are, to demonstrate

  • remarkable service,
  • authentic concern for people,
  • a delighted attitude toward life, and
  • a healthy balance between contentment and ambition?

That is how to use your life as an investment.

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