(Click on the play button to watch the video)
I self-published the first edition of 212 the extra degree in the summer of 2002.
Two things came together to make that happen (a lot more, really ... but two primary things). 14 years earlier (1988) I was selling copiers and fax machines in my first job after college. In an effort for some professional development, I scraped together $99 (what at the time felt more like $1,000) and went to the Warner Theatre in Washington D.C. to see Brian Tracy talk about the psychology of selling.
I loved it.
One of the thoughts he shared was how in horse racing, the difference in speed between the horse that finishes first and the horse that finishes second is often very, very small. However, the earnings difference between the two horses can be exponential.
Fast-forward 13 years (October 2001). I was almost 4 years into the company I'd co-founded in 1998 (it's what evolved to be GiveMore.com today). I had an early morning breakfast with a friend before the workday started. We didn't work together ... it was a networking breakfast. Both of us understood the value of making those extra connections with people.
We talked about business ... about sales ... about how to better handle the challenges of the day. At one point, he shared with me how one of his managers used the boiling point as an analogy to help his team see the value of extra effort ... the value of that one extra degree between 211 and 212.
I had an immediate flashback (like in a movie). I remembered that horse racing example from so many years earlier and wondered if it was true. So, I started to do a little research which led to more research. Over the following months, all of it started to form the framework for what ultimately became a short manifesto that's now important to many people in many different ways (professionally, but also personally).
It started as an ebook ... really just a digital file I emailed people. Because I felt readers should get a little more for their money, I designed the 212 logo and put it on stickers and sent them out. The idea was they could use them as reminders to "Be 212" ... putting them where they'd see them often ... refrigerators, bathroom mirrors, bumpers, etc. (With awareness, comes responsibility.)
About a year later, as 212 (two-twelve) gained popularity and people asked if they could buy multiple copies to send out, I added some thoughts and ideas and did a small run of a printed version (fairly ugly now, but beautiful to me at the time ... designed using Microsoft's Word ... I was a PC guy back then ... my wife and kids still thought I was cool though). That led to more printed versions and the creation of 212 products and gear (t-shirts, coffee mugs, posters, etc.).
As of 2014, in its various forms, the book has sold more than a million copies (outside the mainstream publishing system).
It's been wonderful to watch.
In 2007, we (our GiveMore team here and some talented partners) made our first video to illustrate the 212 concept. I really wanted it to be 2 minutes and 12 seconds but it ended up coming in at just over 3.5 minutes. Turns out ... it was actually 3 minutes and 32 seconds ... 212 seconds ... a cool and fortunate accident that I didn't realize until a customer pointed it out 6 months after we started selling it.
As organizations shared with us how they used the video (as a tool to discuss the importance of extra effort and to open and close meetings and events in an inspiring way), we asked ourselves how we could help people do it even better. That led us to creating a do-it-yourself PowerPoint® presentation that helps people introduce and discuss the material. We scripted it and added discussion questions and ideas to help people make a meeting of it.
In 2013, I thought it was time to two-twelve our video and ask ourselves how we could make it better and more meaningful for people. Not very 212 of me to wait that long, I realize.
So we started to think about what we'd learned over the years about the real message behind 212 ... after sharing the message with thousands of people in live settings (at annual corporate events, at association meetings, among leaders in education) ... after talking with hundreds of people about what it means to them and how it's helped them (to be better at work but also to be better fathers and mothers, better spouses, better students, better athletes, to fight through difficult periods of their life).
How could we bring it all together as clearly and as inspiring as possible with no fluff (and in 2 minutes and 12 seconds)?
We didn't hit the 2:12 timing goal, but the message ... I believe it's one of the most important truths behind everything ... that extra effort, care, and attention ... matter. And that so often, it's the small things that make all the difference.
I'm looking forward to what's next.
(That's some of the GiveMore team enjoying the video.)
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Who is Sam Parker
Sam is one of the people behind GiveMore.com. With the help of the talented people he works with, Sam developed and wrote the material you'll find on the site. His goal (and the team's) ... To make good things happen for other people.
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