I Got the Hook – Client Meeting
I enjoy going to see my clients. It is the best part of my job. I probably has to do with it being about the only time I get to be my own boss. I make all of my own decisions and can handle my clients the way I decide.
I also happen to be at my best when I am out on the road with my clients. For one reason or another they like me. I would guess that it is because instead of telling them what I think they want to hear I’m honest with them. If someone has made a mistake (including myself) I let them know. I do not give them long winded sales pitches. I do not blab on and on about products and service I know they will not ever have a use for. I’m straight with them and most of the time I ask them about what their business is all about.
I have learned a whole lot from my clients. About how to treat people. How to run a business. How to manage time. How to cut through bullshit and solve problems.
It is no surprise to me that Tuesday morning’s meeting with the president of a company in Northern Wisconsin (and I’m talking WAY NORTH) I was given an education.
Firstly, I was sitting in a conference room with the CFO, treasurer, and assistant treasurer of the company while we waited for the president to wander in. All three are women and they all in the room expecting to wait for him to show up five or ten minutes late. It almost felt like they wanted to say, “He’ll be here when he is good and ready. No sooner.”
When he did walk into the room it was apparent that he was well into his 70’s. I got out of my chair to shake his hand and oh………………… hmmmmmmmmmmm…………I can’t shake that. That’s a large metal hook. I quickly withdrew my right hand and extended my left in what I will now refer to as “The Running Man Arm Pump Move” I shook the man’s hand and we sat down.
Now, I don’t care that the guy has a hook, but I was interested. I mean so many thoughts raced through my mind:
How did it happen? Was it some kind of freak accident or did you lose it in a war?
Have you ever dressed as a pirate for Halloween?
Ever thought about one of those plastic hands?
Do you use it to eat?
Ever barbecued shrimp with it?
I’m sure I could have come up with a few others, but those were the first to come to mind.
As I handed out presentation materials I watched him sift through the material. He licked his fingers to turn pages. He used the hook to keep his place. It was quite the system he had for himself.
As we got to the business aspect of the meeting (He has a granddaughter who lives in Brooklyn and we talked about New York for about 20 minutes) it became apparent that he didn’t care how much money it cost to run his pension plan. He liked doing business with my company and he wanted to do the right thing by his employees. (both things that make my life much easy) He wanted to make sure his people had money so that they would not run out of money when they grow old. He cared. He wanted to reward employees for years of hard work (and his employee’s do hard work) Their well being matters to him. It was refreshing. He didn’t want to do less to help his bottom line. He wanted to do more to share in the good fortune he had.
He should teach a class in business school. (And if his students didn’t pay attention he could scratch the hook on the blackboard)