Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Me In Mediocrity

“When small men attempt great enterprises, they always end by reducing them to the level of their mediocrity.” Napoleon Bonaparte

After getting back from my holiday, I had a meeting set up with an acquaintance of mine that had been introduced to me from a mutual friend. Let's call my acquaintance Johnny Laemass. I was going to introduce Mr. Laemass to a senior manager that I know at a large, locally based multinational company.

The intention was to match-make the two for a very decent work contract that would have benefited Johnny's company greatly, and satisfied the managers needs to the T. This company was a perfect fit for Laemass. It was exactly what he specialized in, located near his office and with a lot of upside opportunity to grow along with this big multinational.

As I looked through my emails I noticed a few from him. It was clear that Johnny Laemass had a healthy ego. That's ok, but it was also apparent that Laemass was a taker not a giver. He began to dictate his terms of the potential contract to me, saying what he would do and what he wouldn't. How he'd like to add a charge on for his travel time and work that he deemed as outside of the contract. Hey, we hadn't even got in the car yet to go. I followed up with him on the phone, because sometimes the nuance of email can be misinterpreted. But you know, Laemass was even worse on the phone.

He began the conversation with a very 'Me' based attitude, instead of learning more about the company and preparing potential solutions for the trouble spots they were having, he looked for ways to maneuver this would-be contract to his favour. I thought "What am I doing talking to this guy - he clearly doesn't get it." I thought I'd mull it over and set up a meeting with Laemass before introducing him to the senior manager, because after all he was introduced to me by a friend who said he was highly capable and talented. And to be fair, he was.

Anyways, at 10:40 in the evening the day before our scheduled meeting, I get a call from Johnny Laemass with a few more potential scenarios to run over. This time he wanted to know if it was ok to break the contract midway through, if he didn't like it. Yeah, well I suppose it is if you are the kind of guy that lacks integrity and is ruled by mediocrity.

As Schwarzenegger would say, the introduction was 'terminated'. I had a plan B introduction planned anyway that worked out greatly. She wasn't as experienced as Laemass, but was willing. And her willingness to listen and honestly serve the customer was what won the contract over and made a happy marriage for both.

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