Sunday, January 21, 2007

How People Treat You as the President

Part of live-blogging a start-up is relating real experiences and decisions that happen to you along the way. When you start running a company, people treat you differently, even some of the folks with whom you already had standing relations. Suddenly, you are the president in their eyes.

Why? I don't know, it's not like Geoff Livingston has been suddenly transformed into Lou Gerstner. Far from it, as I am running a 2.5 person agency in an executive suite solution. Granted I have a vision, and the vision is significant, but a little humility goes a long way when you assess the real chips on the board.

Nevertheless, it's true. I am suddenly treated differently. For the most part it's because people want something from me, like business, leads, etc., or some sort of weird Hollywoodish "I want to be near the CEOs" type of power mentality. Here are some of the ways people treat you differently:

"I like the name of your company." Please, this one was insulting. I still regret naming the company after myself, the price for making a 10 minute decision on naming in my rush to leave firm x, and go out on my own. Nevertheless, such blatant butt kissing was transparent. The conversation was ended immediately.

A trip to Bank of America to establish business credit yielded a clerk who could not stop hoveling and saying, "Yes, sir," "Yes, sir," "Yes, sir." I tried to treat the guy like an ordinary fellow, but he would have none of it. He was very interested in trying to upsell me into everything, though. End result was politeness from me until I could get done what I needed to, and then a quick smile, a thank you, and a fast departure. This type of experience is becoming increasingly common. Some people see the title/position and they want to sell you, and will do everything they think they should to get there.

The best friend approach. Now everyone's your buddy. No questions about it, we see eye to eye. This is particularly amusing when it comes from folks who wanted nothing to do with you in the past. OK, glad I'm not beneath you anymore. Hmm.

I realize these forms of treatment will only increase as we become more successful. The best thing to do is remain humble, be open, but aware that in many cases -- not all -- but in many, there's an agenda. And that's OK, it's business.

The one way in which I am treated differently and like is the sudden acceptance by other execs and CEOs. Though I am a neophyte, it's as if they realize that I, too, deal with the same issues and matters that they do, including the above forms of treatment. Many successful entrepreneurs and execs share their experiences with me. This is invaluable, revealing some of the trials that may lie ahead, as well as strong insights into current situations.

Here's something for folks that may feel like they want or need to treat execs differently, at least from my perspective. Fact: I don't want to be treated differently, including being regarded as a walking billfold. Salesmanship requires a good relationship, not a good hustle. I am not any better or worse than the guy or gal who mopped the floor after the office closed. My actions will not be judged by the ammount of wealth I amass, instead by the number of folks and causes that I can positively benefit. We are all on a journey here so if awareness will allow for it, let's treat each other like brothers and sisters.

In this vein, we just ordered new cards and there is no title on my cards. I want to establish a company that's about the clients, the results, and an attitude of selfless service (in a Jeffersonian sense). Besides, if you look at my name and the name of the company, you should be able to figure it out.

OK, quick biz update. A new blogging client is in the works. This is great and will be a lot of fun. The Huntington flood situation is getting hot and heavy. Since the flood does not directly affect business anymore, in the spirit of staying on topic I am going to start journaling about this on my personal blog, geoffonlife.

Looks like things may become litigious with a non-payment issue. I guess dunning is the dark part of business. It's unfortunate - but somewhat common - that getting paid is difficult with some folks. Glad that I have accountants and lawyers for this uncomfortable part of biz. Otherwise it's all about fulfillment right now.

OK, Monday's quotes:

"The civil rights movement in the United States was about the same thing, about equality of treatment for all sections of the people, and that is precisely what our movement was about." - John Hume

"Therefore, relationships are a day-to-day work of art." - William Shockley

"Relationships change after time." - Linda Evans


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