“What do you do?” he asked. “What do you need?” he responded.

The world looks different when you view it through the lens of opportunity.

BY ROY HARRYMAN
 
In the midst of a celebratory and boisterous room came a booming question from the back.
 
“What do you do?” yelled a stranger to a man busy pouring beverages for guests.
 
Not missing a beat, the host responded, “What do you need?”
 
“I need a Hispanic grandfather!” was the reply.
 
From this seemingly odd dialogue came the first modeling gig for my friend Simon Casas, a Hispanic grandfather, professional bass guitar player, human resources consultant and general polymath.
 
I caught up with Simon recently after a few years apart and was, as always, motivated by his ability to see opportunity where most miss it.
 
“I’ll try almost anything,” he told me over coffee at a local Hy-Vee. “I’m on a brochure somewhere but I haven’t seen it yet.”

A few weeks after that photo shoot, he was enjoying a conversation in a lobby with a couple of “new” strangers. They wondered if he might be interested in appearing in a commercial. He auditioned, but did not get the part. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
 
I have long moonlighted as a free-lance writer and communications consultant, and Simon and I were exploring ways to expand the work. When the topic came to prospecting for leads, he saw the glass half full where I saw it half empty.
 
There’s more water in my glass now, thanks to Simon.
 
What about overcoming objections? He suggested this: “Would you have any objection if I (came by your office, gave you a bid …).” When the question is phrased that way, very few people ever object, he said. It avoids setting off defense mechanisms.
 
He views business networking as making friends, without manipulation or expectation. And he’s someone who makes friends everywhere he goes. It seems effortless. People seek him out.
 
When you go through life with a mission to make friends, he says, things happen.
 
There’s a ton of wisdom packed into this Hispanic grandfather, and I’m privileged to be the recipient of just a little bit of it. He’s motivated me to tackle some projects that I might have shied away from in the past.
 
“What do you do?”
 
“What do you need?”