In most cases I would say in order to achieve anything, you must take it upon yourself to seek out that which you are attempting to achieve. But once in a while, someone will knock on your door. It’s at that moment you should be prepared, equipped to act and react.
Forgive the ensuing vagueness, but until there is clearance to discuss more I must remain ambiguous.
Recently I was approached, out of the blue, by someone in a very high position in a given medium that was interested in my unique perspective on a platform of given topics. Let’s call him “Jon” for now. I did not envision ever crossing paths or even reaching out to someone like Jon. I just didn’t think myself worthy, on many levels. But nonetheless the introductory email came in and then a phone call followed. Jon expressed interest in my perspective and shared with me his broader offering. It made perfect sense. I was immediately interested. In the following weeks we went back and forth, sharing ideas, formulating a plan, and generally just connecting. Before I go further, let me point out how important personal connections can be even beyond the substance of the topics at hand. In any space I operate, whether it be my financial services company, my Jiu Jitsu training/competing, my legal consulting or just my fantasy football friends community, I always maintain a positive and hopefully endearing connection. I thrive on those connections because of what they can afford. A great personal connection in a business or work environment can afford latitudes and luxuries otherwise not attainable. People do business deals with people they like. It’s just a fact. Bids and quotes are not always won by the lowest price or easiest contract to sign off on. Deals can happen over dinner and drinks at steakhouse or after the last putt on the 18th green.
Back to my situation with Jon. An opportunity presented itself, I wasn’t really prepared because how can you really be prepared for an unforeseeable unknown? So I did the next best thing. I was responsive in my communication. I was diligent in my responses. I was thorough in my preparation for each communication. I made sure when I emailed there were no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. I made sure I was prepared for each telephone call, preparing questions beforehand and making sure to make myself available for any questions or vetting. I was also punctual with call in times and ‘deliverables.’ This has been instilled in me for a long time. I once had a baseball coach in college who passed along a very simple mantra: “Be there. And be on time.” Seems so simple, but often deals and opportunities are won/lost by ignoring such basic rules. Real life example: A couple of years ago, my financial services company was being vetted by a large, well known private equity firm for acquisition. We had calendared introductory calls with the principal of the PE firm. Those calls were calendared via MS Outlook and all participants received/acknowledged the call in times via the calendar with email notifications. On two separate occasions we waited on the conference call for over 20 minutes each time. We reached out via email each time to see if we had messed up the times, knowing that was highly unlikely. Word got back to us via an intermediary that we never sent out the calendar notifications and that we had lied when we said we made the call ins. It left a very bad taste in our mouth. Without going into too much detail, the mood was set in those early moments. In later conversations we discussed M&A terms that were favorable but because of a bad personal connection we walked away from the deal because there was no personal synergy.
Let me wrap this up by saying that yes, always be aggressive and assertive in your desires, professionally and personally. But when the figurative knock on the door comes, be prepared, or at least be responsive, professional, and thorough. It can go a long way.
Looking forward to sharing more specifics as they come in. For now, happy holidays. A time to be thankful for sure.