I met Kevin about a month after I decided corporate America and everything that went with it wasn’t my thing anymore. I’d started a business advising and HR consulting company.
If you’ve followed any of my posts, here, or elsewhere, you know that banner outside my front door would read “I didn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground!”
A friend told me about his boss who he thought could use my services. He’d started his business ten years earlier. In the interim he’d built a pretty successful practice with a couple locations and had his eyes set on a few more.
Kevin was one of those people who knew what to touch and when to touch it and if he didn’t touch it chances are it wouldn’t work anyway. During our first meeting he readily admitted that he had no people skills and spent a lot of time in conflict with his team members. They stayed because the wage was good and he offered performance bonuses that weren’t a mainstream practice in his industry at the time.
He might have been a jerk but he was smart jerk.
We met for coffee one morning and he was“professionally polite.” He told me he didn’t really have a need for my services and gave me a“Thanks for stopping by and have a nice day! Why are you still here?”
He started calling me every now and then, though. He’d ask a question or suggest we have lunch and pick my brain. I never thought much of it because the calls were far and few between. When I’d give him a suggestion I might get an email that said “Thanks for your help. Your advice worked out well for me.”
That was about it. Until one day…………..
The phone rang. It wasn’t Kevin. It was one of his managers. She asked if was I available for lunch?
I could have told her I was busy, I mean I ain’t a social service agency but Kevin and I had established a relationship by then and BTW, I could have told him “pay me or quit calling me.”
There is a reason I didn’t.
My intuition told me there was some value in establishing that relationship. It could lead to other opportunities. Kevin was and is a leader and well respected in his community and sans the lack of people skills our values, both personal and professional were in alignment.
Marketing Messiah Russell Brunson said in a recent podcast. “Five good friends beats a hundred thousand subscribers any day.” I saw him as potentially one of those “good friends.”
There has to be a relationship first though. I mean I can teach my sixteen year old grand daughter how to sell something but learning to value people is something that takes time.
When I sat down he looked across the table and said “I guess I need to start paying you, huh?”
That relationship lasted almost 9 years.
If I drew one of those things that resemble a family tree he would be the trunk and the twelve or so referrals he gave me over the years would be the branches on the tree. He invited me to speak at a state conference for his industry as well as conduct his management retreats. He introduced me to a whole bunch of folks and even had me interviewed by a trade publication he was on the editorial board of.
Trust is not something you pour water on, stand back and watch it sprout in fifteen minutes. It comes from a cultivating a relationship and that, my friend, takes some time.
I could have turned away after my first meeting with him or stopped taking his phone calls.
A number of people told me he was taking advantage of me being a newbie.
That, would make me just like everyone else. I ain’t, like everyone else.
I do have people skills and I do understand what it is like to run a business and be a coach and try to figure out stuff all on my own and I know that before I write a check I am gonna make damn sure the person I am writing it to knows what they are talking about. In the beginning Kevin would call every six to eight weeks and ask if I had a minute to talk. It was a test and when I passed that test I was given another one so that by the time he had a real issue he knew the value of my services because he’d seen tangible results from the issues I helped him with in the past.
We don’t create trust on the golf course or at the tapas bar. It comes when people SEE our integrity in action not just hear us blather on about it.
The relationships? It’s why we do what we do anyways. Ain’t it?
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