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Partners for Patience…

by | Oct 7, 2020 | partner, Patient, William Ackerman

We were in a bad place.  We had sold software that we had barely started writing, and the customer was figuring it out through a series of conversations that had made it up the chain to the business leader.  My engineering team was obviously intimately involved, and as such there was a call with a LOT of people on it, including my Director, his Director, the Sales leaders, and I was invited to come.  “No… if everyone is on the call, you will have no one to blame, and we will be forced to make a decision on the spot.  I am not coming.”  He was stunned, a little pissed, and certainly not Patient…

… and I am not trying to blow my horn here – simply I had seen this playbook before, actually used it when I was the customer – more than once 😉 Part of being slightly older is you have made a few more mistakes than others, and so what appears as Patient is more like calluses 😉  As I worked my way up through the various organizations, there were many times I would rail against the “slowness” of the senior leadership, how they were “really out of touch”, and my favorite “had no idea what they were doing”.  Yea – and then I got there. 

Will at this point had stopped attending Stanford – 5 credits short of his degree, and was a successful carpenter, building things including set for the drama department.  He had named his business Windham Hill Carpentry, and was working with his cousin, Alex de Grassi, who turned out to be a pretty good guitar player in his own right.  So after the success of the first albums, they decided to record Alex and release his album in 1978 on his new label, Windham Hill Records. There is not much written about Alex other than he is “one of the most successful artists on the label” – I can’t find easily how many records that is, but anyone that follows this genre knows this name. Imagine the odds that cousins, carpenters, start a record label together, and complete invent a style of music… Again, watch the video to see how his hands create such amazing tones… 

In one particular role, I was working with a guy that was “slow”.  He talked slow, he moved slowly, and it was frustrating me.  Until he told me a great story.  They were negotiating with another business on a particularly complicated Federal Bid.  And they knew the other side was not Patient, so he was assigned to LEAD the negotiations.  He moved slowly through the Terms and Conditions, and started slowly laying out the case for their price…. and after 4 hours, a member of his OWN team lost his temper and said “Good lord man, how thick can you be???”.  They called a 15-minute break… and then picked up with the Patient and slow approach… without the impatient team member.  They got their price, and that guy became the head of all negotiations… 

What partners do you have – that know how to slow you down when you are going too fast?  I watched one time when a politician went charging into an issue – CLEARLY pissed off, and it was the current president 😉  I immediately said “That guys Chief of Staff did him no favors” – my wife said “Well what would you do?”  “Stand in the door, with my hands up blocking it, and say ‘not over my dead body'”.  And by that point, you would need to have standing, or calluses, or both.  You need those people ready, and enabled to do that … BEFORE you need them.  And as someone that can clearly get to PO fast, I slowly learned that lesson over and over until… begrudgingly I would start  Turning, Turning Back. 

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