“Nice Bike!” Connecting with Fellow Travelers on Life’s JourneySubmitted by Bernhardt Wealth Management on February 4th, 2019
At the end of August 2003, traveler Mark Scharenbroich found himself driving his rental car down the freeway in Milwaukee, surrounded by bikers clad in black leather, all of them astride gleaming, roaring Harleys. Unsure of what was going on, he also noticed signs lining the highway that said “Harley Rocks!” “We Love Harley!” and “Welcome, Bikers!”
When, accompanied by the fleet of thundering motorcycles, Scharenbroich passed the Harley-Davidson factory, he saw the biggest sign of all: “Welcome Home!” Then it hit him; he was in Milwaukee, the home of Harley-Davidson, during the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding. He was surrounded by hundreds of bikers from all countries, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and appearances. There were white-haired retirees and tattooed youngsters, customized choppers with “ape-hanger” handlebars and sleek roadsters that resembled two-wheeled luxury sedans. But the one thing all these riders had in common was their love of their “Hogs:” they were gathered in Milwaukee because of the thing that united them—their enthusiasm for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Marveling at the spectacle, Scharenbroich reports, “All I could think was, ‘How cool would it be to have a Harley and be a part of this event?’” Admitting that not only did he not own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, he says he had never previously even dreamed of owning one nor had he ever thought of himself as “a Harley kind of guy.” But on that day, in that setting, surrounded by hundreds of people from all walks of life and all parts of the world who shared the Harley connection, Scharenbroich confesses that he wanted to feel that same bond, to experience it for himself.
In his book, Nice Bike! Making Meaningful Connections on the Road of Life, Scharenbroich says that the short phrase providing instant connection for those Harley riders was, “Nice bike!” He says you can walk up to any Harley rider, known or unknown; young, old, or in between; glance at their motorcycle, smile, and say the words, “nice bike,” and instantly forge a connection with an otherwise perfect stranger. He explains that this happens because all humans share an inherent need for such connections. We are hard-wired for them; we cannot survive long-term without them.
Scharenbroich’s observation is borne out by recent research. A recent study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science reported that social isolation is as strong a predictor of early mortality as obesity and other “well established risk factors for mortality.” This research is also confirmed by the recent work of psychologist Susan Pinker, who reports in her popular Ted Talk on the interviews she carried out on the Italian island of Sardinia, home to more than six times the number of centenarians (persons 100 years of age or older) on the Italian mainland, and more than ten times the number in North America. What makes this small island a “breeding ground” for long-lived people? Pinker says it’s the fact that these people live in communities that provide strong social bonds and plentiful face-to-face interaction. They know the importance of saying, “Nice bike!”
At Bernhardt Wealth Management, we have built our approach to investment and financial advising on forging strong relationships, strong connections with our clients and considering their interests first—always. Scharenbroich’s Nice Bike! resonated strongly with us for that reason, which explains why we chose it as the twenty-first annual holiday gift book that our clients received last December. Nice Bike! is full of solid advice for establishing, building, and maintaining the connections that are crucial to us all. I hope you’ll order a copy from your favorite online or local bookseller and learn more. If you do, send us an email and let us know how the book helped you.