February 1, 2014

New York, New York, USA - January 12, 2014: National Retail Federation board meeting and board reception. Photo by Ian Wagreich / © Ian Wagreich PhotographyThe other week I came back from our annual National Retail Federation Show in NYC.

The highlight must have been meeting President Bush!

He shared a remarkable story about his first meeting with President Putin in Moscow where he had requested a one on one with Putin, without staffers.

As they both settled in for their meeting, Putin who had a stack of cards, presumably with talking points, started to talk to him about a specific economic issue. When it came to his turn, Bush asked Putin to share with him the story of Putin’s mother’s gift of a cross from Jerusalem. At first Putin ignored the question, but President Bush repeated the question. Putin was visibly moved, and went on to tell how important it had been to him, and how relieved he was when it was saved during a fire at his Dacha. President Bush revealed that he felt that he had penetrated Putin’s facade and enabled him later to believe that at that moment he could trust the man.

It struck me, how of all the questions President Bush could of asked, he chose to ask about a gift. The gift is truly an unique way in which we can find the humanity in others. It is such an under developed tool. It allows us an opportunity to connect in a personal way and let’s us escape for a moment our official hat in business or diplomacy.

The gift allows us to demonstrate we care about others. To this end it can be a very powerful tool and is essential to both the diplomatic and corporate world.