People ask me, “What was one of those ‘business life lessons’ you will never forget?” I’m not sure if there is just one lesson, but a few;
- Always be on time
- Never overpromise
- Your reputation in this industry is everything – if you have a bad one, you may as well go work at a fast food chain
- It is ok to be self-assured, but don’t get cocky
- 1st impressions are not always the best, sometimes a 2nd chance is warranted
It was in the very early days of ASM, I had secured my first client (Artcraft Management, Inc.) and had negotiated my first portfolio deal for them. I was going down to meet my new Artcraft Point of Contact (Bob Withers) and was going to take him out to lunch and discuss new opportunities that I had found for the Artcraft portfolio as well as hand deliver checks that exceeded over $100,000! I arrived about 15-20 mins early for my meeting with Bob, so, I decided to go around the Artcraft offices mingling with all the employees I had gotten to know and ignored the time (because I was this hero bringing over $100K in new revenue, I was full of myself) .
I finally stopped by Bob’s office and asked him if he was ready to go to lunch (probably 20 mins after our scheduled appointment). Without looking up, Bob asked me to take a seat (which I did); he then asked me what time it was and what time our meeting was scheduled…at this point, I knew I had screwed up. He went on to say how disappointed he was as he was looking forward to meeting me and had heard so many positive things from others about me. He was angry that I had disrespected his time along with the value of the relationship I was forging with him/Artcraft. He stated that if that was the way I treated clients, he was ready to dissolve the relationship with ASM immediately. All I could do was sit there like a kid being lectured by their parents. I apologized, handed him the checks and slunk out of his office knowing I may have just doomed my company.
When I got back to my office, I wrote a long apology email to Bob and assured him that if he gave me/ASM a 2nd chance, that what he experienced that day from me was an anomaly and would never happen again. Luckily, Bob gave me that 2nd chance…and I believe I lived up to my promise as Artcraft is still a valued ASM client.
Bob left Artcraft a few years later and I actually reconnected with him when he started working with another ASM client. If my memory is accurate, about 15 years after this incident, Bob and I were in a meeting together reminiscing about the “good old days”. I brought up our first meeting and said “thank you for putting me in my place” and that I will never forget that encounter (as I never want to disappoint a client or provider like that again). He was surprised by my gesture as he had felt bad all these years about how harsh he was with me, but, to me, it was a wake-up call and one that I appreciated and I appreciated that Bob was kind enough to look past the swagger and give me a 2nd chance.