I ran into an ex-colleague of mine at a restaurant recently, and it was a lot of fun catching up. It was not the best of times for him – after doing the first half of a project successfully on time and on budget, his customer gave the second half of the project to a low cost competitor. He was at the restaurant for a final lunch with his project team, and that is when I ran into him.
His boss was my boss too – and someone who I still treat as my mentor. So I asked about how he was doing. My friend burst out laughing – and told me about the conversation he and the customer CIO had before he left for lunch.
Apparently, his boss met with the CIO after he was told that his firm lost the business. The CIO totally expected him to push hard to reconsider the decision – which is the routine thing to do for vendors who lose consulting business. However, this time – that is not how it transpired. My ex-boss didn’t say anything about the lost business – nothing at all. Instead , he told the CIO – “Remember I told you we should celebrate your go live big time? Right now I am going to reserve the best restaurant in Napa for us to go celebrate the day after your go live next year. Nothing is more important to me than your success” . That was it – no push for business, no bitterness, nada. Even more striking is that this deal being lost put his quarterly targets at serious risk.
Knowing this guy over the years, I wasn’t surprised one bit when i heard this and knew why my friend was in good humor recounting the conversation to me. We were both equally in awe of the guy. That is how he operates – he knows that a genuine relationship is timeless, unlike transactions that he might win or lose today. Given his success rate on big deals is more than 80% of the time as I remember, I believe that is a successful strategy.
It is a lesson he has tried to teach me and everyone else that he mentors – and shame on me, I have not mastered it yet. But this story was enough to help me get back on track and keep the long term in mind, no matter what. I thought I will share this with you folks too in hopes that it might help inspire some of you, like it did for yours truly.