I’m not sure why I thought of it this morning, but it brought a smile on my face while driving into work. When I was working with Apple we were having a problem selling technology into the enterprise market and central offices of school systems. The upcoming release of a new operating system based on UNIX was going to get the geeks to start buying into Apple at the higher levels. Our bosses wanted to bring in someone who was an expert in the new operating system and had experience setting up large networks. They found a consultant who had done huge installs for city and state governments.
During his first week everyone flew into DC and met at the Reston office to hear his new plans and really just to get to know him. He was a sharp dresser and had the job history to back up all his claims. He laid the groundwork for the sales staff and the engineers for a great presentation that would surely close the deal. Our boss told him that we had a very important meeting with the Charleston School District that would be worth millions of dollars. She insisted that he be there and give the presentation to make the deal.
The meeting was set for a month away and everyone was excited, especially those of us who received commission. Jump ahead a month to the morning of the meeting. Our engineers and sales staff are sitting in the conference room at the Charleston School District setting everything up for the presentation. We hadn’t prepared anything because everyone had placed confidence in the “hired gun”. We had everything ready to go, but he was a no show. Our boss was fuming!
She went outside to try his cellphone again. We were already running about 10 minutes late and everyone was getting antsy. She came back in and told us that we would have to go forward without him. Panic fell on our faces, scrambling together to try and delegate the presentation and who was going to do what. We muddled through and did an ok job. The decision makers didn’t look too impressed and I don’t blame them. After everything was packed up we went to our boss to get the story.
Our “hired gun” who still lived in LA had flown into Charleston, WV the night before the meeting. He went outside the airport and told the taxi driver what hotel he was staying in that night. The taxi driver told him he had never heard of it before. Long story short, the meeting was in Charleston, SC. He talked the taxi driver into driving him to Charleston, SC almost 600 miles for I think $400. We were too upset to laugh at it at the time, until we walked outside.
We walked out the door of the office building and a taxi pulls up with our hired gun stepping out. He paid the cab driver and our boss clearly says, “I hope you don’t plan on putting that on your expense report.”
That whole story for the simple statement, “You have to be present to make a difference”. It didn’t matter who we had hired to close the deal. He wasn’t there so he didn’t make a difference. Think about this the next time you are in a position to make a difference. You have to be present, mind, body, spiritual. You have to be fully there.